Why keep the vote for bionet.prof-society.*?

Una Smith una at doliolum.biology.yale.edu
Fri Jun 3 22:38:01 EST 1994

[Cross-posted to news.groups, where the graphs will be of interest
to many readers.  News.groups readers:  bionet.* is an "alternative"
hierarchy, like alt.* and bit.*, but it follows newsgroup creation
guidelines that are similar to those used in "mainstream" Usenet.]
The following graphs show the total number of people who read each
newsgroup on all sites surveyed for Brian Reid's April 1994 Usenet
Arbitron report, versus the estimated percent propagation of that
newsgroup across all sites that carry Usenet. 

For comparison, here are graphs for alt.*, bionet.*, and bit.*
(note, A = 1 obs, B = 2 obs, etc.):


         |                                A      A
         |                                 A
    2000 +                                     A A
         |                                A B  A A BA  A
         |                       A C B A DA DADBIHAAAAA
       0 +              BALHDNTXVZLZSVVKLNPRE A A             alt.*
         |                       B ADCB
       0 +               B    BAD BDDA                        bionet.*
         |                      BAA
       0 +          A  ABABJBOKZZA                            bit.*
            0         20         40         60         80         100

And here are 3 of the Usenet "big 7":

    2000 +                                               A CB
         |                                              ABHDD
         |                                    AA   ABDHGLWVJC
         |                       DAABDA AGDBEEKFMN PPZZZZZNB
       0 +              AAA A AABCA EBAACCCAF ACADDAEBFE      comp.*
    2000 +
         |                                              BA
         |                                            BICA
         |                           AB    AB ABCGBAEGHF
       0 +                 AA    CAA A  A BA  AAAA            sci.*
    2000 +
         |                                          C A
         |                                      B  FIA
         |                           A ACB  D EBGIGKF
       0 +           A    A    A AB B A   AA  B  B            soc.*
            0         20         40         60         80         100

Newsgroup propagation is positively correlated with readership for two
reasons:  you can't read a Usenet newsgroup if you don't have access
to it (i.e., it isn't carried at your site), and popular newsgroups are
carried on more sites due in part to popular demand.

Why is higher propagation desirable?  If a site carries Usenet but not
a specific newsgroup, someone at that site must work to find a nearby
site that carries the newsgroup, and negotiate with the administrator
there to provide a "feed" of that newsgroup.  The work involved can be
considerable, and if your local Usenet administrator isn't motivated
to do this for you, you may have to do it yourself (as I have done).
It would save a lot of biologists a lot of time if we did a few simple
things now to enhance propagation.

Over the past 6 months, the average percent propagation within all
Usenet hierarchies declined by 1-3%, except for news.* (-5%) and
alt.* (-7%), while at the same time the number of sites carrying
Usenet nearly doubled (data not shown).  Competition for space on
each Usenet site is intense.

As often stated by Usenet administrators in news.admin.*, they prefer
to carry newsgroups that are established in accord with procedures
that help to ensure that a newsgroup is both well named and desired
by a substantial number of readers.  Many also say that voting is an
important part of a responsible newsgroup creation procedure.  For
this reason, I think it is in our best interests to vote on every new
newsgroup proposal in the bionet.* hierarchy:

	Vote now to retain the vote on all newsgroups (and
	thus do more work now), to enhance the propagation
	of bionet.* throughout Usenet (and thus save work
	for ourselves and our colleagues later on).
Please vote NO on the proposal to skip voting for newsgroups in the
bionet.prof-society.* hierarchy.

	Una Smith			smith-una at yale.edu

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

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