David Kristofferson kristoff at
Wed Dec 11 12:03:39 EST 1991

>> Hello,
>>        My name is Kim and I'm writing to see if there are any people who
>> would like to just chat about current topics in Microbiology.

I hope your appeal is answered.

> Hang on a bit and BIO-CHAT will be up and running. :)

In effect BIONEWS has already been driven by "popular vote" into a
direction different from its stated purpose.  Please note the
description which has been promulgated on this newsgroup in our info
sheet month after month for years now:

BIONEWS                      General announcements of widespread
                                interest to biologists

This obviously is not what is happening when we are being overrun with
"just for fun" postings, etc.  In effect people who are making these
postings are breaking "netiquette" already because when people ask to
subscribe to this newsgroup they are requesting to see "announcements
of widespread interest," not amusing conversational postings.  This
has resulted in many UNSUBSCRIBE notices coming in to me in the last
week or so.  However, I have no intention of trying to stem the tide
on this.  BIONEWS has, by popular demand, evolved into a forum which
is different from its original purpose.  We will recognize this fact
in the reorganization mentioned in my earlier posting.  However, since
so many people signed up for a lower volume announcements newsgroup,
we still need to provide the forum that BIONEWS was supposed to be,
thus the new bionet.announce newsgroup.  The moderation is necessary
to prevent that forum from also deviating from its stated purpose.
This reorganization is not an arbitrary decision; it is responding to
what people on the net have already requested by their actions.

If I was perhaps inappropriately facetious about the use of the name
BIO-CHAT, it is because I am still a bit disappointed that, with all
the extremely interesting mainstream scientific problems that people
could be discussing on electronic newsgroups, only the
MOLECULAR-EVOLUTION newsgroup has come close to fulfilling its promise
(METHODS and other more general groups are, of course, functioning
well).  It seems like it has to take an undergraduate English major
asking questions about menstrual cycles to get people exchanging
information on other scientific specialty newsgroups.  This question
***DOES*** encompass a lot of interesting biology, but IF THE BIOLOGY

Why does it takE SOMEONE WHO IS NOT EVEN IN OUR FIELD to ask a
provocative question that then necessitates an exchange of ten or more
messages over whether the question is really serious or not AND THEN

I have been trying to get biologists to use the electronic forums in a
serious fashion for over five years now.  Progress has been slow BUT
it IS occurring (300 steps forward, 250 steps back, etc.).  Although I
have been out of the lab for five years now, I have always been
tempted to start a discussion about some of the cytoskeletal problems
that I used to work on.  My opinions would probably be extremely dated
by now, but perhaps a BAD EXAMPLE of getting a scientific discussion
going would be better than NO EXAMPLE AT ALL.  Surely there are people
out there who are far closer to exciting research topics and who
could get a discussion going far better than I can.  Why not talk
about biological cycles, e.g., mathematical modeling of such or cell
cycle control, etc.  There is a wealth of new and exciting results
coming out all the time in this area.  Surely someone out there has
some interesting questions for debate???  Even if you are afraid of
spilling your lastest hot hypothesis, surely there must be
interpretations of results in the already published literature with
which you might disagree or ask the authors to clarify, etc.???  This
kind of discussion goes on at poster sessions all the time.  It could
just as well take place in this kind of forum.  Let's use our
imaginations and show a bit of creativity here!


				David Kristofferson, Ph.D.
				GenBank Manager

				kristoff at

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