BIOSCI newsgroup creation/termination policy - LONG!

Una Smith una at
Fri Feb 28 14:59:11 EST 1992

Dave Kristofferson:
>P.S. - sorry if anyone received two copies of Una Smith's posting.  I
>routinely look at this group both in mail and in USENET to make sure
>that things are working correctly and mistakenly thought that Una's
>discussion of the proposal was addressed to me instead of to the
>newsgroup, so I passed it on.  On closer inspection I saw that it had
>been posted directly into news.

My fault, my fault!  I directed a couple of comments directly to Dave,
which was perhaps a bit rude and certainly confusing for Dave, who reads newsgroups/subscription lists via e-mail.  Reading the same group via
e-mail and netnews would confuse anyone!  ;-)

I really enjoy discussions about the structure of electronic discussions.
The recent comments in this group have been especially interesting to 
me because of my familiarity with a very professional group in another
special-case domain:  Most readers of SAS-L, as its
habitues call it, are still e-mail subscribers, although SAS-L was gated
into Usenet about 4 years ago, and for a year or so there were long 
discussions involving a lot of cross-talking between e-mail (LISTSERV)
subscribers and Usenet readers.  It was very educational all around, and
I believe that those discussions were directly responsible for getting
Usenet to a number of sites.  But I digress.

The Usenet voting rule of a difference of at least 100 votes in favor
of a proposal is designed, I believe, in part to correct for lobbying
in inappropriate groups or by inappropriate methods (what constitutes
inappropriate is certainly an open question).  The ability to vote
against a proposal can sometimes be a real asset to the attainment of
concensus in decision-making, and I hope that the bionet newsgroups
eventually reach a level of participation and sophistication that 
such balanced voting can occur.  I do not mean to imply that standard
Usenet policies are either ideal or entirely appropriate for bionet.
However, I detect a general concensus that the present policies are
not adequate, and these inadequacies are likely to become greater as
bionet grows.  Fortunately, we have plenty of time to talk about what
we want for bionet, and (most importantly) the power to act on our

A suggestion for improving Usenet relations would be to produce a FAQ
(frequenly asked questions) sheet or other introductory/instructional
guide for the bionet groups.  The old "how to subscribe" document was
a minimal version of this, but now that Dave K. is writing/has written
two separate versions, one for e-mail subscribers and one for Usenet
readers, perhaps we could elaborate on them and include a statement of
charters and policies.  Perhaps a charter/policy statement should be
posted in each group at regular intervals (every month or so).

I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is, and help write such a

     Una Smith   una at    School of the Environment
                                     Duke University
                                     Durham, NC  27706

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