IMPORTANT pending BIOSCI revisions

Dave Kristofferson kristoff at GENBANK.BIO.NET
Thu Jan 23 15:20:31 EST 1992

> Article 189 in bionet.molbio.genome-program:
> ...
> demonstrates a very common problem.  Whatever the information sheet says, it is
> directing lots of people to send their subscription requests to the groups
> themselves.  This is, of course, causing many many people to waste time reading
> them.  The information sheet should be reworked (yes, you Dave :-) so this
> doesn't happen.
> But it does suggest a group name that MIGHT remove some of these from other
> groups (you can tell me if that's what would happen based on what these people
> see and are facing technically; it doesn't apply to me under unix with rn...)
> bionet.subscribe
> might do the trick...
>   Tom Schneider
>   National Cancer Institute
>   Laboratory of Mathematical Biology
>   Frederick, Maryland  21702-1201
>   toms at

First, let me apologize for my tardy responses.  I was asked on short
notice to give a presentation on GOS at the Miami Symposium and had
several other GenBank tasks to deal with after getting back, so I have
not had a lot of time to devote to BIOSCI outside of answering mail
sent to biosci at for the last several days.  Those who
have sent mail to my personal address for biosci subscriptions (sorry,
NOT the approved procedure) should get signed up later today.  Please
note that when I get in a time crunch, BIOSCI mail sent to the
biosci at address gets acted upon first, and personal
mail gets moved to the back burner.  When I go out of town someone
else often monitors the biosci address for me.

Several issues have been raised.  First, to reduce the type of
SUBSCRIBE messages above, I am going to split the info sheet up
shortly and set the automatic mailer to send the appropriate subset of
instructions to Daresbury, IRLEARN (the LISTSERV site), and GenBank.
This means that SUBSCRIBE instructions will only be sent out to users
of LISTSERV and not to people on USENET and at the other two sites.

BMC in Sweden has dropped out as a BIOSCI distribution site and a new
BIOSCI European node will open probably sometime in the spring to
replace it.  We are also proceeding to install an NNTP-based
distribution system between Daresbury, GenBank, and this proposed new
European node instead of passing mail as we do currently.  Each site
will extract messages from USENET news for distribution to their local
mailing lists and will handle any resulting bouncers locally.  This
should solve the problem, for example, of mailbox overflows in the
U.K. bothering BIOSCI users outside of the U.K.  At GenBank we will
also install a filter to attempt to redirect automatically any
one-line messages starting with words like SUBSCRIBE to our
maintenance address.

These steps should resolve most of the current complaints about
BIOSCI.  I doubt if having a newsgroup for subscription requests is
the best way to go.  

I also beg for your patience in implementing these changes.  BIOSCI is
essentially a volunteer effort at some of our sites and a small
part-time effort at others.  This means that it unfortunately often
gets dealt with in spare time only.  At GenBank, besides running
BIOSCI, I am responsible for the much more complicated task of phasing
out GenBank operations this year and ensuring a smooth transition to
NCBI by next October.  I am also responsible for a group of six people
here who are working full time on the GenBank project at IG.  The
contract transition creates enough challenges for me, and I would
greatly appreciate everyone's patience in resolving BIOSCI issues.

By August of this year I hope to be in a position to devote a
significantly greater fraction of my time to BIOSCI issues and I also
hope that all of the above BIOSCI tasks will have been accomplished.
We have been working on improving this system for several years now,
so I hope that we can stick it out and grin for just a few more
months.  I just will ***not have time*** to get involved in flame wars
over issues like versus, etc.

Regarding the bionet.followup problem mentioned in one of Tom's
earlier messages, this is created by "old code" still lurking in some
USENET newsreaders.  ***There is no bionet.followup newsgroup***, but
some newsreading software have code to direct any messages posted to
"net.general," an ancient obsolete USENET newsgroup, to
"net.followup."  Unfortunately the string "net.general" is a subset of
"bionet.general" and the code in question mistakenly redirects
bionet.general responses to a non-existant "bionet.followup" news
group which then produces an error message.  As usual this problem did
not turn up until after the bionet newsgroups had been established and
directory heirarchies created on many computers.  I post a fix for the
code provided by Roy Smith below.  We can also resolve this problem by
renaming bionet.general, but I have to consult with our systems staff
before doing this.  It is unclear how many USENET sites are "plagued"
by this problem.  Everyone, please feel free to drop me a private note
if your site is affected (not to the newsgroup, please), and if it is
clear that this is widespread, then we will look for a fix.  Please
don't expect an acknowledgement of your note though.


				Dave Kristofferson
				GenBank Manager

				kristoff at


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