A Biologist's Guide to Internet Resources (FAQ)
smith-una at yale.edu
Sat Apr 17 17:17:34 EST 1993
Last-modified: 17 April 1993
A Biologist's Guide to Internet Resources
Version 1.2, 17 April 1993
Recent important changes are noted with "*" and those new to this version
are noted with "+" in the margin of the table of contents. As ever, comments
and suggestions for additional material are more than welcome.
Archive keepers: I could really use help fleshing out section 3.2 !!
Una Smith Department of Biology smith-una at yale.edu
New Haven, Connecticut 06511
-*- 0. Contents
1. Conditions of Use
+ 2. Networking
1. Some Mind-Boggling Statistics
+ 2. Netiquette
+ 3. Usenet
*+ 1. Newsgroups of Special Interest
2. The Bionet and Bit.listserv Domains
* 3. Other Biology Domains
*+ 4. Sources of Information
4. Listserver Mailing Lists
3. Gateways into Usenet
*+ 5. Other Mailing Lists
*+ 6. Newsletters
* 7. Directories
3. Information Archives
* 1. Bibliographies
*+ 2. List of Archives
1. Online Help
* 2. Search Engines
+ 3. Software Archives
4. Access Tools
2. Anonymous Ftp
7. The Web
4. Commercial Services
*+ 5. Useful and Important FAQs
+ 1. What's a FAQ and where can I get one?
+ 2. Does anyone have an e-mail address for X?
3. How do I find a good graduate program?
4. Where can I get old newsgroup/mailing list articles?
5. Where can I find biology-related job announcements?
+ A. Assorted Listserver Mailing Lists
+ B. Bibliography
+ C. Contributors
-*- 1. Conditions of Use
This FAQ may be freely distributed, provided that it is not edited in
any way, beyond removal of the headers. It may be freely adapted,
provided that the adapted document is neither represented as being this
FAQ, nor as being written by me. Please cite this FAQ as the original
document. This FAQ may not be sold for profit, nor included in any
document that is sold for profit, in either the original or an adapted
form, without permission from the author. However, its use is explicitly
permitted in paper-based journals or newsletters that are provided to
subscribers at or below the cost of printing and mailing.
If you make significant use of any document, data or software provided
via the Internet, the authors would be grateful if you would cite them
or otherwise acknowledge their efforts. Virtually every service or
resource mentioned in this FAQ (and this FAQ itself) is the un-paid,
personal effort of scientists and graduate students.
This FAQ may be cited as:
Smith, Una R. (1993) "A Biologist's Guide to the Internet."
Usenet news.answers. Available via anonymous ftp from rtfm.mit.edu
in pub/usenet/news.answers/biology/guide. ~20 pages.
The most current version of this FAQ is posted monthly in the Usenet
newsgroups sci.bio, bionet.general and news.answers, and archived as
"pub/usenet/news.answers/biology/guide" in the anonymous ftp archive
-*- 2. Networking
The Internet has become an excellent place in which to look for academic
and professional position announcements, conference announcements and
calls for papers, and important notices about recent events in many
fields of biology, especially molecular biology. Generally, notices of
all forms appear on the Internet well in advance of traditional journals
and newsletters. Increasingly, scientific interest groups, both formal
and informal ones, maintain electronic discussion groups, directories,
digests and newsletters. These resources are distributed in three
principal ways: via Usenet newsgroups, (automated) listserver mailing
lists, and mailing lists administered by real people. Increasingly, the
two forms of mailing list have "gateways" into Usenet newsgroups.
-*- 2.1. Some Mind-Boggling Statistics
Recently, approximately 300 thousand articles per week were distributed
worldwide through Usenet (Anonymous 1993). This traffic constituted
roughly 40 megabytes per day of announcements, questions and answers,
advice and bits of program code, references, heated debates, and data in
various formats. There are now nearly a million registered computers
on the Internet, and thus tens of millions of people; an estimated
7 million people have accounts on 65 thousand computers carrying Usenet,
and nearly 2 million people read Usenet news at least occasionally
(Reid 1993b). There are several thousand world-wide Usenet newsgroups,
several thousand listserver mailing lists, and several thousand other,
generally small, mailing lists.
It appears that there are on the order of 10 thousand people who read
biology-related Usenet newsgroups (Reid 1993a), and there may be that
many using mailing lists for topics in biology. All together, there are
a hundred or so newsgroups and mailing lists (via listservers or others)
that may be of particular interest to biologists. Most are named below.
-*- 2.2. Netiquette
The professionally-oriented newsgroups and mailing lists follow certain
conventions of etiquette. These are none other than those used by most
people at public events such as academic conferences. In fact, most of
the science-related newsgroups (and mailing lists) are very much like
mid-sized meetings of any professional society, except that they never
end. The participants come and go as they please, but the discussions
and exchange of ideas and information continue as though they had a life
of their own.
Submitted articles tend to be of the following types:
* Discussions on topics of general interest. Discussions on specific
topics, techniques, or organisms are also frequent.
* Announcements of upcoming conferences or other events, or grant
deadlines. In Usenet, announcments can be set to expire (and thus
disappear from the list of current articles), and may be limited in
their distribution so that they are seen only by readers in the
appropriate organization or geographical area.
* Academic and professional job announcements, including many graduate
fellowships. These are generally posted in newsgroups/mailing lists
reserved for such notices, often in advance of publication elsewhere.
* Reports or comments on new books, papers, methods or software. Full
citation of sources is always appropriate and appreciated. Requests
for references or comments are also welcome and, when posed as specific
questions of general interest, often lead to interesting discussions.
Unacceptable articles include:
* commercial advertisements, political lobbying messages, and anything
not pertaining directly to the topic or purview of the newsgroup or
mailing list. Discussions about some commercial products, especially
books and software, are generally allowed as long as they do not
* Requests by students for explicit answers to homework and exam or essay
questions are generally not welcome. Requests for help understanding
problems in biology are welcome, but the requester should demonstrate
at least a basic understanding of the question.
Some helpful suggestions:
* Always include your full name and e-mail address
Put these at the end of your message, with your usual signature. You
might want to use a .signature file (standard on most Unix systems, also
implemented for Usenet and e-mail readers under VM/CMS) to make this
automatic. This is necessary because strange things often happen to
headers in e-mail or Usenet articles sent from one network to another.
* Send private replies whenever appropriate
Answers to very esoteric questions are often best sent directly to the
person who asked for help, rather than to the newsgroup; the choice of
whether to post a (public) reply or send (private) e-mail is a personal
decision. If you send a reply by e-mail, and would prefer that it be
kept private, you should say so in your note, because otherwise the other
person may share your comments with others. If the original poster
promises to post a summary at the outset, then all replies should be
sent by e-mail, unless they constitute an important re-direction of the
* Summarize the replies to your article
Whenever a question or request for information results in many replies,
it is expected that the person who posted the original article will
compile and post a summary of the responses.
* Use care when writing summaries
- The "best" answers should come first.
- All answers should be separated clearly, and nicely formatted.
- Redundant, irrelevant or verbose comments, and errors of fact or
spelling should be edited out. It is appropriate to use
More information about the Bioforum