What/who is bionet

clark at mshri.utoronto.ca clark at mshri.utoronto.ca
Tue Sep 18 22:12:54 EST 1990

David Steffen writes (in response to a comment that the bionet newsgroups 
could become a vehicle for more interesting discussions than now occur):

[Original posting deleted]

[first part of response deleted]

}  These was a mini-discussion (micro-discussion?) of some of these
}issues on bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts a few weeks back.  One issue
}raised there is that access to the groups still is a bit too
}user-hostile to make joining by the people whose expertese is in
}biology not computers.  A second was how one should best respond to
}questions so as to minimize noise (noise?) while maximizing
}information flow.  The consensus reached is that for many questions,
}the appropriate approach was:
}1) Post the question, requesting response by email.
}2) The questioner should collect, summarize and post the response for
}general edification.
}This seems to work rather well.

	Let me add my two bits worth. I vaguely recall this discussion, but
I don't remember that the conclusion was as clear cut as this. If it was, I
should have spoken up then. 

	Have you ever been to a seminar where, during the question period 
at the end, a member of the audience gets up to ask a question of the 
speaker, then finishes it off by saying "Don't give the answer out loud so  
everyone else can hear it; write it on a slip of paper and pass it to me 
later!"? These newsgroups should be like large round-table discussions, 
where everyone has a chance to say their piece, and hear what other people 
have said. Often, in other newsgroups (for example, info-vax on Bitnet), a 
question arises for which several people respond, each with a different but 
equally valid solution. Often someone proposes a solution that is, shall we 
say, sub-optimal, and someone else replies to point out the flaw or an 
unanticipated side effect. Often a question is asked that I would like to 
know the answer to as well. If all the responses go to the original poster, 
rather than to the newsgroup as a whole, all these opportunities for 
information exchange are lost. Consider the current thread of discussion. 
If none of the responses to the person who first asked about Bionet had 
been to the net, this discussion about how they should be used would never 
have arisen.

	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).

	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.

	In terms of making it easier for network novices to get involved in 
newsgroup discussions, it  might help to have the return address of the 
*newsgroup* as part of the message. For example, I wanted to reply to this 
last night when I first read it, but I had to get the address of BIONEWS 
from my office before I could respond (I don't keep it on line). Here is 
what the header looks like that I receive:

}Date:   17-SEP-1990 12:54   Expires:    1-OCT-1990 00:00
}From: edu%"steffen at merlin.bcm.tmc.edu"
}Description: Re: What/who is bionet                               
}Received: From STANFORD(MAILER) by UTOROCI1 with Jnet id 0992
}          for BB_01 at UTOROCI; Mon, 17 Sep 90 12:41 EST
}Received: by Forsythe.Stanford.EDU; Mon, 17 Sep 90 09:41:14 PDT
}Received: by genbank.bio.net (5.61/IG-2.0)
}        id AA28492; Mon, 17 Sep 90 08:18:13 -0700
}Received: by genbank.bio.net (5.61/IG-2.0)
}        id AA28417; Mon, 17 Sep 90 08:15:35 -0700
}Message-Id: <9009171515.AA28417 at genbank.bio.net>
}To: bionet-news at bcm.tmc.edu
}From: steffen at merlin.bcm.tmc.edu (David Steffen)
}Subject: Re: What/who is bionet
}Date: 17 Sep 90 14:58:26 GMT
}Sender: usenet at bcm.tmc.edu
}Nntp-Posting-Host: merlin.bcm.tmc.edu

	Perhaps Dave Kristofferson could modify the newsgroup so that the 
appropriate return address is included? One further point. The return 
address of the poster is often not decipherable by a network novice, so why 
not include it after you signature to make it easier?

Steve Clark

clark at mshri.utoronto.ca  (Internet)
clark at utoroci            (Netnorth/Bitnet)

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