what is to be done about mail distribution?

James P. H. Fuller jim at crom2.uucp
Sat May 4 10:03:27 EST 1991

Dave Kristofferson writes:

>       The reasons that these problems persist is because BIOSCI has
> remained a collaborative effort between us and three other sites in
> Europe.  
> ....... 
> I am sorry to say that since reporting the looping problem to IRLEARN
> last Friday evening I have received absolutely no response from anyone
> there even though the weekend is long past.  I eventually resolved the
> problem myself by contacting the person at Ohio State over the weekend
> and getting them to signoff from IRLEARN.  I have also attempted at
> length to get the UK node to take steps to resolve some of the issues
> with their mailing system, but progress here has also been very slow.

     Is there such thing as a one-party collaboration?  Because it sounds
as if that's what you've got here.

> You may logically ask why have I put up with this for so long.  The
> reason is that many people on JANET in the U.K. do not seem to know
> how to reach some of our addresses in the U.S.  Even some novice
> BITNET users in this country still have problems mailing to Internet
> addresses.  Our goal has been to make this system as easily accessible
> to as many biologists around the world as possible.  We want to get
> wide coverage to convince people that this resource *is* worth their
> time and effort to learn.

     I understand, I understand!  On a much smaller scale I greatly hope
the system I'm writing from will be picked up by local biologists and that
they will be able to extract useful service from it.  Nevertheless there
is a line that can be drawn between providing a convenient service on the
one hand and perpetually tying peoples' shoelaces for them on the other.
The tireder one gets of the same novice problems (from the same old novices)
the easier it becomes to draw that line.

> So what is to be done??

     The person who is doing the work and solving the problems should have
a degree of control appropriate to the task  (I feel Rob Harper nodding
enthusiastically.)  If that entails taking over the mailing lists, then
do so.

> P.S. - Tom, the idea of simply announcing a deadline by which people
> have to convert to USENET does have certain attractions to it, but
> from the feedback that I continue to get each time USENET has been
> mentioned, this is still premature.

     There'll always be footdraggers with untied shoelaces.  I'll bet
lots of people would still be using smoked-surface kymographs instead of
strip-chart recorders if they weren't scared of being left behind.  I
gather that Dr. Kristofferson is not at the end of his patience yet, but
the day may come....

> Currently we have between 40-50% of our readers accessing BIOSCI through
> USENET.  When we get up to the 70-75% range then we may be in a position
> to contemplate this.  Our main concern has always been to serve our users
> and a forced switch particularly at this time would not be good service.

    Is that 70% level foreseeable?  What's the upward slope of the line here?
(Does it *have* a positive slope?)  Dr. Schneider didn't propose an instant
changeover but rather a switch at some future time that would be announced
far enough in advance to give the most laggardly subscribers plenty of time
to prepare.  Three months?  Six months?  A year?  Surely we can agree that
the ones who haven't got netnews running after a year's warning are the ones
who aren't going to do it at all.  When I first brought up the crom2 system
I knew no shell script language and no C, and in that condition of ignorance
it took me three evenings to install C news and the nn newsreader.

     OFFER: If there is anyone running a system similar to crom2 (see below
for details) and who would *like* to install netnews, send me a message and
I will cheerfully guide you through the process at any level of detail you

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