CFD bionet.diagnostics.fetal-cell

Una Smith una at
Wed Jul 27 10:35:53 EST 1994

una at (Una Smith) writes:

>>Why isn't this proposal going in the* hierarchy?  It
>>would seem to fit there.

Lachlan Cranswick <lachlan at> wrote:

>It could be that the bionet has a much better reputation
>for allowing serious scientific usage of newsgroups and has
>superb technical backup in the form on mirroring to a mailing
>list and archiving.

Better reputation?  That's news to me.  Some of the*
groups are on topics of extremely high public interest, and
get a lot of traffic from people seeking free medical advice.
A newsgroup on diagnosing congenital defects etc. won't be
immune to that, no matter where it's placed.  If scientific
usage, rather than public outreach, is the primary goal, then
the newsgroup should be moderated.

Technical backup?  David Kristofferson isn't the only person
who runs a mailing list or keeps an archive.  Several of the* newsgroups are gated to LISTSERV mailing lists, and
have archives associated with the mailing lists, with superb

Fetal cell diagnostics is somewhat outside the purview of the
existing bionet.* newsgroups, and seems only marginally related
to the official charter that David Kristofferson has described.

>Also, from what I have heard and experienced,
>anyone who goes to the Usenet admins with a serious science
>newsgroup proposal is effectively told to get lost behind a
>lot of bogus technical jargon.

Nonsense.  Give us an example, if you really believe this.

>Moderation has the effect of lowering active participation in
>a big way.  Thus an unmoderated bionet forum is a good alternative.

Bionet.* is no different from the mainstream Usenet hierarchies
in this regard.  And the extent to which moderation interferes
with discussion is a function of the moderator's response rate,
not where in the namespace the newsgroup resides.

Let's hear from some experienced participants of*
newsgroup regarding whether a newsgroup on fetal-cell testing
should be moderated.

The major difference between bionet.* and the mainstream Usenet
hierarchies is that David Kristofferson will take care of every
administrative detail for you.  In 1987, this cushy setup was
tremendously helpful, since at that time the tools were harder
to use and biologists in general knew far less about them.  Now,
it's becoming reasonable to expect that many proposers of new
newsgroups could perform their own administrative tasks, if they
wanted to.  But they'd rather have David Kristofferson do the
skut work.  And who wouldn't?  David Kristofferson's time and
energy are finite, and thus valuable:  I think it is only right
that we be jealous of this valuable resource, and not spend it
without careful consideration.

The proposer of the fetal cell diagnostic group still hasn't 
replied to my question, now several days old:

	doesn't this newsgroup belong in* ?

	Una Smith			smith-una at

Department of Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT  06520-8104  USA

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