BIOSCI newsgroup creation/termination policy - LONG!

David Steffen steffen at
Thu Feb 27 10:30:38 EST 1992

My $0.02 worth on changes in creation/destruction policy for bionet groups:
(My summary of Rob Harper's summary of Dave Kristofferson's message

>>Point One: Do we have a quorum on BIOFORUM?/have the Bitnet people
>>had time to subscribe?
I think this is two questions; I did not infer the second from Dave's
message the way that Rob did.  The second question I have sympathy
for, but can any reasonable case be made that the Bitnet people
haven't had TIME to subscribe?  I assumed the issue that Dave raised
was that the Bitnet people haven't chosen to subscribe, but can we get
on with it without them?  To this latter question, I answer a
resounding YES!  I have no complaint if people don't care to be
involved in the discussion, but I then think it is appropriate that
those of us who do choose to get involved get to make the rules.

>>Point Two: Increasing the number of required YES votes to 80
>>Point Three: Terminate groups with less than one message a week
I have mixed feelings about these proposals.  On the one hand, I think
that these rules are not THAT different from the USENET standard, and
that there would be virtue in trying to abide by the USENET standard.
On the other hand, I see the aggresive termination policy as an
IMPROVEMENT over the USENET standard (which, as far as I know, has no
standard way for removing groups, e.g. comp.sys.northstar).

I will abide by Dave Kristofferson's wisdom on this issue; I would
vote YES on his proposed change, if it is submitted as such.  However,
during the discussion, I would ask him to comment on the following
Is it really true that there is a significant difference in the number
of groups that would be created at an 80 vs 100 vote level?  (I
understand the NO vote issue, but perhaps we could be compliant with
the rules by asking people to be VERY selective about NO votes.)  The
advantage with being compliant with the rules is that we would then
not have to exclude campaigning on other groups.  The discussion of a
plant group has already spilled over to, and thus under Dave's
proposed rules any voting on a plant group would have to be
invalidated.  Further, one of the points made on is that many
sites don't get the bionet groups, so people at these sites were
campaigning for sci.plants instead of bionet.plants.  Would be be
accepted at more sites if we abided by the USENET standard rules?

Finally, there are several, broader issues deserving of discussion,
probably after this discussion is finished:
(1) Would it be better to have fewer, larger groups than we have now?
for example, how 'bout combining the genbank and embl groups into one?
(2) Are there better paradyms for what the newsgroups try to
accomplish.  I read many groups other than the bionet ones, and they
have indicated to me the kinds of problems that will develop has use
of the bionet groups increase.
David Steffen
Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston TX 77030
Telephone = (713) 798-6655, FAX = (713) 790-0545
Internet = steffen at

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