IMPORTANT - Reorganization of bionet.general

Foteos Macrides MACRIDES at WFEB2.BITNET
Thu Dec 19 12:55:00 EST 1991

>Fote, Rob, Steve, David, and Tom,
>        I have tried to include your proposals below.  Please edit
>**just your section** ASAP [...]

        Minor wording changes:


                                Plan B

Make available the options:

                bionet.general           BIOFORUM
                bionet.announce          BIONEWS

*****without a moderator for either forum*****.

The earlier proposed name DISCUSS for bionet.general has been changed to
BIOFORUM.  Regarding the earlier proposed BIOCHAT and BIOHELP forums:

postpone (or eliminate if no need becomes apparent) formation of the

general forum for very informal exchanges:

                bionet.general.biochat   BIOCHAT

and a general forum intended for seeking help at any level of sophistocation:

                bionet.general.helpme    BIOHELP

        If you've read this far, please continue.  This is important.

        Once again, Rob Harper said it well:

>Ultimately this question of reorganisation is *NOT* about moderation or
>how many new newsgroups. It is a question of networking.

        I do still, personally favor creation of BIOCHAT and BIOHELP, but
after specific discussion about them in a proper forum for general
discussions, and with a vote on each, based on their own merits.

        I do not have any direct experience managing public access forums.  I
do have many years of experience helping biologists become computer-literate
and network-wise.  These things cannot be accomplished overnight.  There must
be a process of learning.  New users must first learn to crawl, then walk,
then finally run on computers of the local area network.  They similiarly must
learn to crawl, then walk, and finally run on the wide area network.

        To do these things, they must find the capacity to feel vulnerable in
a strange environment.  The more senior they are, the more established they
are in their profession, the more difficult this seems to be.

        The first thing they must gain, is confidence that no matter what they
enter at the keyboard the computers will not explode.  Time and again, when
some have reached the point of reading this forum, I have been proven a liar.
They see that one CAN enter keystrokes which cause an explosion of seemingly
lasting consequences.  The problem out here in the field is not simply dribble
in the forums, it is excessive apprehension.

        When I posted my message making reference to David Steffen's use of
the word 'outsider' many readers may have perceived that as a flame, despite
the disclaimer in my signature.  I did not include his name (just in case
someone read it in isolation), and posted that message after receive private
e-mail of the sort Dave K. also receives.  Here is an exerpt:

>There's one [message] there about "outsiders", well, that's just
>like saying "ain't no niggers allowed here" _because_ you all are on
>USENET feed and it's an all comers deal on USENET!

        I know David Steffen personally, not just via electronic forums.  I
consider him to be my friend.  He is not a bigot, and he is not a snob.

        But just ONE WORD, one ill-chosen word in an otherwise scholarly
discussion of a problem, caused another reader, who does NOT know him
personally, to draw this inference.

        These things will happen.  You can't make these things go away simply
by not wanting them.  And each time they happen, potentially to any of us, we
will either drop out, or must somehow revive the capacity to feel vulnerable
in a strange environment.

        Flames (REAL flames) are so common in public access forums because
they are actually rituals to help quickly overcome a REAL obsticle, like the
Friday Night Fights at Woods Hole.   But once we do overcome it, the ritual
becomes very annoying.  I do not endorse real flames in the bionet/BIOSCI
forums, but other effective mechanisms must be substituted.  These forums (and
INFO-GCG) are the only strong draw for users such as ours.  If they cannot
learn the ropes in proper places here, the learning will not occur at all.

        What is wrong with creating proper, well-labelled places to cast one's
first message out onto the network, to gain expertise gathering and exchanging
information and thoughts on the network, while just reading what's in the
thoroughly professional forums until one feels confident enough to join in
there?  I was all wet, suffering the consequences of excessive apprehension
myself, when I initially criticized the name BIOCHAT, particularly if there is
a complementary BIOFORUM.

        Does anyone doubt that people like Rob Harper would keep close tabs on
a well-labelled forum like bionet.genenal.helpme/BIOHELP, and that therefore
people at all levels of sophisocation will use it?

        But we can discuss these matters later, in a proper BIOFORUM.

        I apologize to everyone, especially Dave and David, for my excessive
use of sophistry.  If any resentment persists, I hope you will eventually
forgive me.  I do need help from you, out here in the field.


 Foteos Macrides           Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology
 MACRIDES at WFEB2.BITNET     222 Maple Avenue, Shrewsbury, MA 01545

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