What/who is bionet

Una Smith UNASMITH at pucc.Princeton.EDU
Wed Sep 19 10:11:02 EST 1990

>Steve Clark<

[I deleted Steve's comments about private mail vs. public postings.]

>        To summarize, please please please always respond to the net, not
>to the original poster (or at least as well as to the original poster).

Were the bionet newsgroups of the type having lots of traffic along
particular "threads" of discussion, the general awareness of certain
standard questions would be high.  Thus the new reader who asks "how
do I do [infinitely familiar trivial or not so trivial task], might
best be answered via private mail.  It generally seems to work out
well in other groups, with some replies going by the group, and some
by private mail.  (It is good form for the recipient to summarize and
post private answers, but in many cases the senders of private answers
*sent them privately* because for whatever reason they did not want the
entire readership to see them.)

Not only do we all get tired seeing the same old questions ("How do I
unsubscribe?" is a good one), but we get even more tired seeing the
same old answer times 'n', yet if the answers are all sent privately,
the number of redundant questions goes up.  Balance is what's needed.
Unfortunately, balance is hard to come by.  I suggest that we all try,
no matter what newsgroup or subscription list we may be reading, to
think before sending a reply about how to send it;  by private mail or
by public posting.  The decision should depend on how much you like your
reply (how carefully you phrased it, etc.) *and* on any other traffic
you may have seen on the subject already.

Toward that end, it's usually a good idea to set aside interesting notes
(in a mail file or notebook) and read the rest of the day's traffic
before deciding how (or whether) to answer the note.  Yes, this means
knowing a few more things about the software you're using, but the
result is generally a significantly more sophisticated discussion.
(And we all want *that*, don't we? ;-)

>        To address the other two points raised by David, one way to cut
>down on the 'noise' is to not quote the whole original posting and all the
>replies to it. Just the bit that is relevant to the point(s) to be made
>should suffice.

Yes!  Note that I cut out most of Steve's note above, but I also tried
to indicate that I'd taken a lot out.  Some readers might not see Steve's
original note (for a variety of reasons), so I have some responsibility
to (1) fairly represent Steve's comments, in both letter and intent, and
(2) to indicate where I may have altered the meaning of his message.
Some people may feel uncomfortable altering in any way the form or
content of someone else's message, but most regular posters to the net
quickly discover that it is possible, if not highly desirable, to
condense messages that have gone before.  Save bandwidth, but be fair!

[I have deleted Steve's comments about return paths in headers.]

  - Una            UNASMITH at PUCC                 : BITNET
                   unasmith at pucc.Princeton.EDU   : Internet
                   una at tropic.Princeton.EDU      : Internet

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