Use of BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups by commercial firms on NSFnet

Dave Kristofferson kristoff at GENBANK.BIO.NET
Thu May 16 13:29:44 EST 1991

I was approached by a publishing firm which wanted to know if it would
be appropriate to use the BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups for surveying its
readers about possible improvements to its journals.  Although I
recently became aware of a change in policy on NSFnet which now
permits commercial concerns to provide support for research and
educational customers over NSFnet, it was not clear whether or not
surveys of our readers by commercial concerns was appropriate.
Because of this, I contacted NSF and was told that commercial concerns
can conduct these kinds of surveys over NSFnet if the surveys are:

        1) posted to newsgroups specifically targeted to their
           research and educational clientele as are the BIOSCI/bionet
           groups.  Posting such surveys to a general interest
           newsgroup, e.g., rec.general 8-), would not be appropriate.

        2) for the purpose of improving services provided to
           research and educational customers.  New product announcements
           and similar advertisements do not fall under this heading,
           but surveys asking for feedback on existing products or
           features that might be desirable in new products are

Please note that many readers of the BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups are NOT
directly connected to NSFnet or Internet and thus may be governed by
other regulations.  It is the responsibility of the posters of
messages to determine the appropriate use of their network connection.
I can not possibly monitor this kind of point of origin issue on the
BIOSCI/bionet groups and will not attempt to challenge any surveys
that conform to the above regulations (however I will continue to nag
commercial advertisers if they overstep the bounds 8-).

I will also monitor the extent of this kind of traffic on the
BIOSCI/bionet groups.  If any danger presents itself of the newsgroups
becoming overloaded with customer surveys, we may restrict these
postings to a subset of the newsgroups, or have a newsgroup dedicated
completely to this purpose.

Commercial Job Postings:

Because I have received many requests from academic readers on the
topic of commercial job postings on EMPLOYMENT/, I also
inquired again about this issue.  Unfortunately it still remains the
case that NSFnet does not permit the posting of commercial jobs, so I
must continue to discourage this kind of posting on the BIOSCI


                                Dave Kristofferson
                                GenBank Manager

                                kristoff at

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