CFD bionet.diagnostics.fetal-cell

Lachlan Cranswick lachlan at
Wed Jul 27 20:41:30 EST 1994

una at (Una Smith) writes:

>>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.

The idea that the internet could do good serious scientific
and social work would be news to a lot of people on
the Usenet - but it didn't stop hundreds of 
millions of dollars over the world being spent
trying to turn this idea into reality.  One could ask
why the Usenet cranks are allowed to get a free ride on
science and academic funding on internet infrastructure?

Based on the above type of argument, 
science newsgroups should only be created if
they have broad/bland public interest?  The bionet was 
formed to serve the specialist interests of biological 
scientists.  If the various internet funding agencies
compared what types of discussion occur on bionet compared
to the antics of the Usenet - which do you think they would
be more supportive of.  (NSF does stand for National
Science Foundation doesn't it? )

Based on what occurs, in the Usenet, it is far better to
wait for the abuse to occur before creating another
moderated newsgroup (i.e.,  As most
specialist science newsgroups are relatively low volume,
cutting it down further before a large amount of undersirable
posting occurs is not a good thing.  While repeated below,
if the proposers and supporters of this newsgroup do not 
want the possibility of a large and possibly noisy participation of
non-professionals - the bionet seems to be a good place
to put this newsgroup.

>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

What other institutions offer the ability to mirror newsgroups
and create mailing lists for scientists and academics - as 
opposed to computer gurus just creating mailing lists for 
their own personal "pet-interests"?
How many fetal diagnostic scientists out there have the know how 
and facilities to create a mailing list?

>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.

The idea of a bunch of non-scientists and cranks using major
amounts of infrastructure funded for academic work is also
outside the "charter" of much of the internet - but that never
stopped the Usenet clogging up with "stream-of-consciousness
drivel" - and also expanding out
to actively discourage serious use of a potentially powerful
and beneficial scientific and social resource.

>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.

Given that most scientists wouldn't have a clue or the
facilities of how to get this type of work done, David
and the other bionet people are providing a valuable service.

I personally don't see the logic about guarding this
newsgroup technology from the people most of the
money on internet infrastructure was spent to benefit.
The internet was put there for
scientists and academics to make use of it.  
It's a pity these repeating discussions can't be mirrored
to funding agencies such as the NSF to find out
what their views are of scientific usage of this
area - and the people who are trying to discourage it
for reasons that do not seem logical.

>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* ?

Well I guess we can keep saying the same things over and
over.  However, it the proposer's intension is to see a serious
specialist science newsgroup created, go for a bionet newsgroup
that also has the bonus of a mailing list and auto archiving.

If the proposer wants a more "mainstream" newsgroup which
is more optimised for non-scientists, try for a Usenet newsgroup.
(You might succeed unless you give in to the cranks who will
tell you the proposal is a waste of bandwidth, will be little
used, you have the wrong hierarchy and name anyway 
-  and you should go away and create a mailing list first.)


Lachlan Cranswick  -  CSIRO     _--_|\  lachlan at dmp.CSIRO.AU 
Division of Mineral Products   /      \ tel +61 3 647 0367 
PO Box 124, Port Melbourne     \_.--._/ fax +61 3 646 3223 
3207 AUSTRALIA                       v    

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