Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Jack Kramer - Biophysics kramer at beasley.CS.ORST.EDU
Tue Jul 9 12:03:10 EST 1991

In article <2255 at> toms at (Tom Schneider) writes:
>Wouldn't it be nice if there were an automatic way to obtain FAQ information
>from the news reader directly?  New users could learn about the group, and old
>hands could contribute to the growing body of knowledge.  All news groups
>would have this feature.  Everybody could learn what each news group is
>about also, since the original founding postings could be included.

The need for this was recognized early on by one of the fathers of
USENET, Gene Spafford.  His solution was to set up a newsgroup,
news.announce.newusers, where he periodically broadcasts the latest
update of basic information on using the newsgroups.  On machines that
I administer I always capture these messages and keep them in a public
reading area.  This relatively simple system seems to work quite well.

BIONET also has a similar model in Dave Kristofferson's monthly
postings on BIOSCI.  I know Dave does this mostly on his own time,
something which he has little to spare.  But perhaps with some help
from those most involved with the individual newsgroups 
this posting could be expanded to include a better definition for
each group.  Dave's, and Eliot Lear's, answers to my questions have
always been very helpful and I have often thought they may be of
interest to a wider audience.  If the BIONET newsgroup administrators
could set up one additional group such as "bionet.general.Q&A" it 
would provide such a vehicle for FAQ's.  In the long run this may even
save time for everyone involved since the same questions wouldn't
have to be answered several times individually.

Of course, local molecular biology computing host managers should
take primary responsibility for maintaining and teaching their
users.  Local, periodic, hands-on workshops work admirably.


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