PHOTOSYN as a Newsgroup

Dave Kristofferson kristoff at NET.BIO.NET
Mon Dec 7 12:43:07 EST 1992

> If the list owner is happy to give over the list to Dave Kristofferson,
> then making PHOTOSYN into a Bionet group would be a good idea.  It would
> be good to collect all the professional biology groups together.  No
> doubt Dave could handle the subscriptions as a group, given a copy of 
> the current subscriber list, so current subscribers need not re-subscribe.
> I wish that listserver groups were welcome to establish gateways in the
> Bionet domain.  Listservers are not going away,

This is a subject which raises the hair on the back of my neck to some
extent so pardon my passion in advance!

LISTSERV in its current form is **NOT** going to be part of the
BIOSCI/bionet domain again.  We have already gone through great pains
to excise it in the past (note that there have not been any mailing
loops for a long time!!!!!).  If we have had any part in minimizing
its use, then it will have been time well spent (more below).

> and not everyone will
> have access to Usenet, no matter how useful Usenet is to those of us who
> have it.  And the more biologists who subscribe by e-mail, the more
> drudgework Dave et al. have to do rather than providing more interesting
> services, like better FAQ sheets.  

Not so.  We are shortly going to announce a new automated subscription
service based on a program called "majordomo" which will handle
subscription, unsubscription, and archive retrieval requests
***without mangling mailing headers of postings*** the way that
LISTSERV does (this affects the non-LISTSERV distribution schemes.
LISTSERV may work great in isolation).

> The listserver program has improved a
> lot in the past few years, and horrible bouncing mail problems have become
> rare in the 4 or 5 active groups to which I have been subscribed in the 
> past year.  So I think the listserver-newsgroup gateway deserves a second
> look for Bionet groups, especially with respect to existing listserver
> groups that want to join Bionet.

No.  I believe that this would be a major step backwards.  LISTSERV
may not loop among itself, but we have no desire to have to tie our
USENET newsgroup and mailing list administrative efforts in with a
zillion mailing lists running under LISTSERV at sites all around the
globe.  This would make it necessary to contact too many different
groups if something goes wrong (which *will* happen).  We have just
succeeded in reducing the number of BIOSCI administrative centers down
to a a manageable number of *two* and have no intention of
complicating the system all over again.  That would show that we truly
did not learn from the mistakes of the past.

> Are you listening, Dave?

Isn't it a bit presumptous to assume that I'm not?

> The ECOLOG-L mailing list, with nearly 600
> subscribers, talked about this for almost a month.  The concensus:  they
> would prefer a gate into a new group named, say, bionet.ecology, but they
> don't want to give up the listserver.  The Ecological Society of America
> uses LISTSERV at to keep a listing of job and conference
> announcements, and a number of other large documents.  The Smithsonian
> Institution also runs a listserver for conservation biology, where numerous
> documents are stored:  a directory of NGOs, a directory of field stations,
> copies of the newsletter Tropinet (published by the ATB), and other stuff.
> They might also like to have their mailing list, CONSLINK, gated into a
> Bionet group, but I don't think they want to give up the listserver.  And
> they shouldn't be forced to just so they can get into Usenet in the right
> place.  If Bionet doesn't become more open, the big mailing lists will
> probably end up creating another Usenet domain for non-Bionet biology
> groups.

There already are a number of listservers gatewayed into USENET.  We
don't have the resources (0.5 FTE of me and 0.2 FTE of Kenton) to
handle the kind of problems that this can create.  We have a certain
type of service (USENET and non-LISTSERV mailing lists) that we
believe that we can competently provide.  Trying to be all things to
all people would result in a significant deterioration of our service.

It is not my intent to try and "take over" the biological
communication world and bring everything under the BIOSCI/bionet
umbrella.  We want simply to provide a useful service *that works
consistently*.  If people are wedded to LISTSERV, then I suggest that
they try one of the other means of gatewaying in to USENET.  If they
want us to take over complete administration of their mailing lists
and newsgroups then we will be happy to assist.  We are not, however,
going to create an adminstrative and service nightmare for *everyone*
just because some groups don't want to give up the old software that
has been in use since god-knows-when on BITNET.


				Dave Kristofferson
				BIOSCI/bionet Manager

				kristoff at

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