Bionet FAQ sheet (was Re: Bionet hierarchy)

Roy Smith roy at
Wed Apr 22 14:24:38 EST 1992

Unfortunately, I cannot find who said this:
> 4) Even if only one FAQ sheet is ever written, post it to all the groups.

kristoff at (David Kristofferson) writes:
> This means that people who subscribe to all of the newsgroups by e-mail
> will get ***26*** copies of the FAQ sheet.

	I am not necessarially convinced that posting a general FAQ sheet
to every single group is a good idea, but I certainly disagree with David's
reasoning as to *why* it isn't.

	News is a far superior technology to email.  Not only is it more
efficient, but it is more reliable, and more powerful as well.  It provides
a very efficient way to send the same message to multiple groups (i.e.
cross posting).  Most modern news reading software also provides a very
good mechanism to show such articles just once to a person who subscribes
to more than one of those groups.  In my experience, most of the critisisms
of news come from people who don't understand it.  News isn't perfect, but
it's a heck of a lot better than email for either distribution of
information to many people or round-table type discussions.

	If crossposting means people who read bionet as email have to
suffer (and network bandwidth is wasted to support those email readers), so
be it.  It is always a bad idea to cripple your use of a good technology to
cater to people who use a poorer technology.  Especially when you consider
that the better technology is available for free for practically any
software or hardware platform you can imagine.

	News certainly exists for Unix, VMS, Macintosh, and DOS, and
probably for IBM mainframes as well.  And it can use just about any
transport mechanism you can think of.  Currently, NNTP over the Internet is
the most common, but uucp over plain old dialup modems still moves a lot of
news and historically was the only way.  In fact, news, can move over any
link that supports email (for example, bitnet).  It has even used reels of
magtape as a transport mechanism in the past, although I would consider
that a bit extreme in todays environment.  I image that a lot of hams pass
around news over packet radio links.  To the best of my knowledge, news has
not yet left the earth, but given the number of hams who have flown on the
space shuttle (and worked terrestrial contacts from space), my guess is
that it's only a matter of time.

	I didn't mean to get so long winded about it, but my point is that
there basically isn't any excuse for not running news.  If taking advantage
of the power of news exposes the weaknesses of email, maybe that's what it
will take to convince people who don't have news to get it, and that would
be a good thing.

	I wonder how many people who get bionet by email already have news
on their machines and just don't know about it?  Some of them probably just
need a newsreader on their PC or Macintosh to access a campus NNTP server
that already exists (and possibly need to have their campus news maintainer
prodded to get the bionet groups).  Some of them just need to be made aware
of it.

	BTW, if you are one of those people, try typing "news", "rn",
"rrn", "vnews", or "readnews" when you get a command prompt.  If it does
something other than complaining about an unknown command, chances are
you've got news on your system and I would urge you to ask somebody how it
works at your site, and if your site gets, or can get, the bionet groups.
If your site has some sort of on-line help facility, try looking for
information about any of the above, and/or "usenet" and see if you find
anything.  If it turns out you don't have news, but you or your site
administrator are interested in running it, feel free to contact me and
I'll be happy to do whatever I can to help you get it.
roy at (Roy Smith)
Public Health Research Institute
455 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA
"This never happened to Bart Simpson."

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