Why the bionet hierarchy is desirable (was: Why does bionet have a top-level hierarchy?)

Paul Brandt tcv at seqanal.mi.uky.edu
Fri Aug 19 12:06:02 EST 1994


Peter Trei (ptrei at bistromath.mitre.org) wrote:
:      Judging from some of the traffic in here, this may be a sensitive
: topic, but I'm really curious.

:      Following the recent flap over us.*, and the hopes of some people
: I know to create a new top level hierarchy, I'm trying to research the
: origin of current top-level groups ouside of the big-7 + alt.

: * Why does bionet.* exist as a top level hierarchy: Why aren't these
:   groups under sci.bio?
: * What's the history behind this? How long has bionet been around?  
: * Did it experience resistance or propagation problems when it was
:   created? It's still only around 50%.

: 					thanks,
: 						Peter Trei
: 						ptrei at mitre.org

Peter,
   I can't speak to the history of the bionet.*, but I can tell you that 
if these groups were moved to the sci.bio.* I would probably stop reading
them.  These groups are tailored for, and I hate this phrase, the "serious
scientist".  The sci.* groups tend to get a lot lay people asking what to 
them are serious questions, but which to someone trying to get a 10 kb
PCR to work, for example, aren't really that important.  I imagine that if
the people currently reading the bionet.* hierarchy had to wade through 
hundreds of messages from "crack-pots" and people asking for medical 
opinions a lot of them would just give up and stop participating all together.

    David Kristofferson is right when he speaks of the bad image USENET has 
among the older generation of scientist (read as: tenured, full professors 
and equivalents).  When I tell them what is available through the bionet.* 
groups they are usually surprised because their image of USENET is of
alt.sex.*, pornographic ftp sites at Lawerence-Livermore and flamewars 
launched by alt.syntax.tactical or whatever else Time magazine publishes.
I think that for these groups to be taken seriously, by the people they were 
intended to serve, they have to remain separated from the sci.bio.* hierarchy.
The bionet.* groups have been remarkably free of flamewars and non-scientific
"stuff", outside of bionet.general, and in order for them to be used in the 
manner they were intended it would be desirable for them to stay that way.  

    Regarding low propagation, I have not been at a site where the bionet.*
groups weren't carried.  I think if you are at a site where biological
research was being conducted on any significant scale at all the newsadmin
at that site would feel obliged to carry the bionet groups.  I know if I ever
moved to a location where they weren't carried I would strongly suggest 
that my newsadmin add them.  It may be a blessing that these groups have
low propagation, thereby keeping the non-scientific postings to a minimum.
The low propagation may also reflect the fact that many sites would have 
no need to see these groups, for example, microsoft.com.  A site 
is pretty much obliged to carry the big-7 groups in order to be taken
seriously as news provider, but as just noted some sites would have little
need for the bionet.* groups, so why carry them.  Merging the groups under
the sci.bio.* hierarchy would also cause some sites to carry groups which
they would not normally carry.

Paul








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