IMPORTANT: Serious violation of* vote

Una Smith una at
Mon Jun 20 15:24:07 EST 1994

David Kristofferson <biovote at> wrote:

>It has come to my attention that a graduate student who is personally
[snip, paste]

>                               Sincerely,
>                               David Kristofferson, Ph.D.
>                               BIOSCI/bionet Manager

	What is this gratuitous "graduate student" and "Ph.D." business?
	Such below-the-belt tactics are not worthy of this forum.

>opposed to the* proposal which is currently
>undergoing a vote, recently took an action in outright violation of
>stated BIOSCI voting policy.

	IMHO, David Kristofferson can state whatever policy he wishes
	to abide by, that we, as readers of bionet.* newsgroups, can 
	expect him to follow.  But I have signed no agreement to abide
	by his personal policy dicta, nor have I violated any official

>In a stated attempt to bring in negative votes from outside the BIOSCI
>readership community, an appeal was made in the news.groups and
>bionet.general newsgroups for NO votes on the following proposal after
>the Call for Votes was issued.  The voting policy, as can be seen at
>the end of the CFV below, has always explicitly forbidden the posting
                ^^^^^^^^^             ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>of vote solicitations after the issuance of the CFV ...

	The second CFV, included by David Kristeofferson, says:

        "Discussion of the newsgroup proposal is now closed and
        we strongly discourage posting any messages in other forums
        about the fact that a CALL FOR VOTES has been issued."

	I made no mention of a CFV.  I did solicit NO votes, though
	without giving instructions on how to vote (making it hard
	for readers outside bionet.* to cast their ballots).

	I made no mention of the CFV because I did not see the first
	CFV.  Apparently, it was not posted to bionet.general, where
	the discussion was held.

	Regardless, neither mentioning the CFV nor soliciting votes
	is "explicitly forbidden".  In fact, it is done routinely in 
	relevant newsgroups and mailing lists.

>In particular an appeal to the news.groups newsgroup is an attempt to
>have non-biologists, e.g., news systems administrators who may know
>nothing of the issues discussed about this proposal, send in votes to
>influence the outcome. ...

        On the one hand, David would like to use the freely available
        resources of hundreds of thousands of sites (on and off the
        Internet) that carry Usenet, to facilitate discussion among
        biologists.  On the other hand, he doesn't want the people
        who administer those Usenet sites to have a say about how he
        (and we) use the resources they provide.

	Usenet administrators are uniquely and expressly qualified to
	understand the issue addressed in this proposal.

>Assuming that there are no further posts in violation of our
>policies, I will abide by the outcome of the vote. ...

	These are not "our" policies, these are David Kristofferson's
	dicta.  Here, David threatens to abandon them, to suit himself.
        Note, he has *not* said he will throw out the vote (and thus
	keep the status quo of voting for all new newsgroups);  instead,
	he threatens to go against the expressed voter preference.

>Please send in to biovote at either your "YES ON PS-EXEMPT"
>or "NO ON PS-EXEMPT" vote before 00 hrs Pacific Time on 27 June ...

	Isn't this ironic?  David Kristofferson accuses me of violating
	a policy he claims to apply to bionet.*, and then violates that
	same policy himself, in the very same article.

David Kristofferson's accusations against me are completely unfounded,
for these reasons:

   (1)  It is routine to solicit YES votes for bionet.* proposals.

        I have seen it done many times, in many newsgroups and mailing
	lists, with David Kristofferson's prior knowledge and approval
	(I have done so myself).  I have never seen David threaten to
	throw out the votes for those proposals.  I merely followed a
	well-established and accepted procedure.

   (2)	I did not mention the CFV, nor did I give voting instructions.

        Anyone reading my article would have to read bionet.general or
        check the archive before voting, and thus would constitute (to
	some extent) a reader of bionet.*.

   (3)  I thought (with good reason) that the discussion period was
	still in effect.

        To my knowledge, the first call for votes did not appear
        in bionet.general at all;   when I posted the article, I
        thought the discussion period was still under way.  In
        fact, David Kristofferson had earlier promised to respond
        to certain comments, but never did so;  I expected the
	discussion period to be extended long enough for David to
	respond to the questions, but instead he pushed ahead with
	the CFV.  Thus, had I violated any rule, it would not have
	been intentional, but a mere consequence of David's action.

   (4) 	David Kristofferson also solicited votes, in bionet.announce.

	Bionet.announce has the largest mailing list of all groups
	in bionet.*, while bionet.general has the most readers via
	Usenet.  I did not violate David Kristofferson's dicta in
	letter;  if I did violate them in spirit (which I don't
	believe I did), then so did he.

Here's the problem, in a nutshell:

        On the one hand, David Kristofferson accuses me of soliciting
	NO votes, an act he says is forbidden, and threatens to ignore
	the outcome of the vote if it suits him to do so.

        On the other hand, David Kristofferson himself solicites votes
	from bionet.announce readers, and implies that YES votes are
	needed to counter what he represents as an influx of NO votes
	from elsewhere.

	Has there been an influx of NO votes because of my article??  I
	did not mention the CFV, and I did not say how to cast a ballot.
	Who is to say they are cast by non-biologists or non-readers?

David Kristofferson's accusations against me are unfounded and unjust.
Given that he is the proposer, the moderator, the vote-taker, and the
person who sends out the "newgroup" messages, and he has made much in
the past of being paid to do this by the National Science Foundation,
I find such accusations by him indefensible.

IMHO, if we are to discourage input by the larger Usenet readership,
and especially by Usenet administrators, we have the social obligation
to conduct our business according to the highest possible standards. 
I think such standards include voting on all new newsgroup proposals.

But I won't tell you how to cast your vote!  David Kristofferson has
already done that for me, above.  ;-)

	Una Smith			smith-una at

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

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