A Biologist's Guide to Internet Resources (FAQ)

Una Smith smith-una at yale.edu
Sun Mar 28 17:19:21 EST 1993

Archive-name: biology/guide
Last-modified: 28 March 1993
Version: 1.1

	          A Biologist's Guide to Internet Resources

	                         Version 1.1

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.

	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.  Data Bases
 +          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.  Frequently Asked Questions
        1.  Does anyone have an e-mail address for X?
        2.  How do I find a good graduate program?
        3.  Where can I get old newsgroup/mailing list articles?
 +      4.  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 above the "Version" line. 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.  ~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 pit-manager.mit.edu.

-*- 2.  Networking

    The Internet has become an exellent 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 (newsstats at uunet.uu.net 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. 

    The numbers are difficult to gather, but 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 otherwise) that may be of particular
    interest to biologists.

-*- 2.2.  Netiquette

    The professionally-oriented newsgroups and mailing lists follow certain
    conventions of etiquette.  It was not always so, but as the number of
    participants has grown over the years from a few dozen to several
    thousand, or even tens of thousands in the most popular newsgroups, the
    participants have gradually found it necessary to institute standards of
    behavior.  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.

    Articles tend to be of the following types:

    * Discussions on topics of general interest.  Questions on specific
      topics, techniques, or organisms are also welcome.  Above all else,
      the occasional lengthly discussions on various issues may be the
      single most rewarding aspect of the newsgroups and mailing lists.

    * 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 notices about
      lectures etc. may be limited in their distribution so that they are
      seen only by readers in the appropriate geographical area. 
    * Academic and professional job announcements, including many graduate
      fellowships.  These are sometimes posted in newsgroups/mailing lists
      reserved for such notices, often well in advance of publication in
      traditional paper journals or newsletters.

    * Reports or comments on new books, papers, methods or software.  People
      often report on interesting scientific news in the media, or forward
      items from other newsgroups or mailing lists.  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, frequently lead to successful discussions.

    Unacceptable articles generally include:

    * commercial advertisements, political lobbying messages, and anything
      not pertaining directly to the topic or purview of the newsgroup or
      mailing list.  Discussions about commercial products, especially books
      and software, are generally allowed as long as they do not constitute

    * 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.

    Quite a few documents have been written about computer network etiquette
    (or "netiquette");  several are available in news.answers.  Some of the
    advice bears repeating:

    * 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 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,
    and some people use software that strips the header information.
    * Write useful summaries   
    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.  That person is expected to
    exercise discretion and tact when compiling and editing the replies, to
    ensure a fair and accurate summary.
    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.
    Care should be invested in writing summaries:
    * The "best" answers should come first.
    * All answers should be separated clearly, and nicely formatted.
    * A simple concatenation of all the answers is not adequate;  instead
      redundancies, irrelevancies, verbosities and errors of fact or
      spelling should be edited out.  It is appropriate to use square

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