Whether bionet/BIOSCI in the "modern" world?

Una Smith smith-una at yale.edu
Tue Apr 27 09:08:23 EST 1993

Jonathan Marder writes:

>I think that we all agree that universal gatewaying between email lists
>and usenet is a good thing.  However, Una's proposal would be for Biosci to
>give equal weight to both methods of distribution (i.e. some groups run
>from LISTSERV, some from usenet).  Tony was saying something different i.e.
>let Usenet continue to hold centre stage.

Actually, I think Tony and I agree completely on this issue.  My point is
only that, where an existing mailing list (usually, but not necessarily
via LISTSERVs) is in use, there are some good reasons to leave it in place.

>While Una claims that it is unfair that BIOSCI wants to control the email
>lists, there is actually nothing to stop her running a defacto gateway by
>crossposting between her chosen mailing lists and newsgroups.

Tony made the point very well that such de facto gateways already exist,
even for bionet groups.  I don't think BIOSCI's policy is unfair, only
un-necessarily narrow.  And I both understand and sympathize with their
position.  It doesn't hurt to think about alternatives.  The number of
biologists using newsgroups and/or mailing lists is going to become very
large in a very short time, and so too will the number of forums they'll
be using.  We should start now to plan for and design the most flexible,
extensible system we can, before the crowd gets here.  This thread is a
big step in that direction.

An earlier comment by me:

>> But since the bionet groups all have the same kind of mailing list
>> gateway, and BIOSCI controls them all,
>> 1. Fix the cross-posting mechanism so that cross-posting works properly
>>    in the mailing lists too.

Jonathan Marder's follow-up:

>This I strongly second (see Una, I can back you up on some things:-).
>I'm pretty sure that there would be NO way to do this with mutiple
>LISTSERV/USENET gateways.  Can it be done with email postings via Biosci?

(Jonathan, you're welcome to disagree with me any time. ;-)

No, I don't think there is a way to do this with LISTSERV mailing lists
at present, since the software is designed for use by separate, completely
independent lists.  But it sure would be a nice feature! 

Also, there are a number of LISTSERV features that I'd like for the BIOSCI
lists, including automatic distribution of files when updates are received
(sort of a custom periodic subscription separate from the mailing list). 
This would be good for distribution of long documents.  I am still not
comfortable distributing my 20 page FAQ to the bionet.general e-mail
subscribers each month.  They should have the option of specifying whether
they want to receive updates or not.  This feature could of course be used
by Usenet readers as well.  I'd also like to be able to see who the e-mail
subscribers are, or how many there are, or get a copy of the charter for
only the group I'm interested in.

For starters, I'd like to know what features are available now.  It might
be useful to this discussion to have a description of the software that
BIOSCI is using now to handle the mailing lists.


      Una Smith      Biology Department       smith-una at yale.edu
                     Yale University
                     New Haven, CT  06511

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