A Biologist's Guide to Internet Resources (FAQ)

Una Smith smith-una at yale.edu
Sat Apr 17 17:17:34 EST 1993


Archive-name: biology/guide
Last-modified: 17 April 1993
Version: 1.2




	          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
			Yale University
			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
            1. Commands
            2. Archives
            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
            1. Telnet 
            2. Anonymous Ftp
            3. Gopher
            4. Archie
            5. Veronica
            6. WAIS
            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
    on rtfm.mit.edu.


-*- 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
      constitute advertisements.

    * 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
    original question.

    * 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 


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