IMPORTANT: How to prevent future newsgroup voting problems?!?

BIOSCI Administrator biosci-help at NET.BIO.NET
Thu Jun 30 19:01:22 EST 1994

Thanks to everyone for sending in suggestions to date.  I will reply
at greater length after the 4th of July holiday.

> 	Let's be clear on what the history is.  In the 2-1/2 years since
> the "Great Reorganization and Newsgroup Creation/Cancellation Policy Debates"
> only two occasions come to mind in which there was overt solicitation of
> votes outside the bionet hierarchy, and in only one of those is there reason
> to believe that the outcome of the vote was affected.

Actually I am seeing several mentions of CFVs *within* the bionet
hierarchy which is not strictly in conformance with our policy either
after the CFV has gone out.  I could also up the count on any vote by
sending out the CFV many times during the course of a month just on
BIOSCI/bionet.  The 80 vote limit was decided upon based only on two
announcements of the CFV on bionet.announce and a limited number of
preapproved announcements in other fora.

(text deleted)
> such behavior has consequences opposite to what was intended.  Additional,
> "administrative" enforcement procedures would just open a can of worms
> better left closed.

I agree completely which is why I'd like to devise a system which does
not require *any* "enforcement."

> 	The so-called "prototype newsgroup" addition to the "policy" is
> an excellent feature for groups of biologists with focused interests who
> really want an email list, with the bionet administrators overseeing the
> mechanics of subscription and message distribution to ensure it runs
> smoothly, leaving the biologists free to focus on their discussions.
> 	I do not think it has been, or ever would be, a reliable "litmus
> test" for eventual creation of newgroups within the standard hierarchy.
> These groups do not get equivalent exposure, and are less likely to grow

Not currently, but this might be changed.  You are right that no one
using only USENET would see them, but we could do something like make
a monthly posting on bionet.announce advertising the status of each
group and mentioning how far away it is from achieivng the "necessary
level" of participation to become a newsgroup.  What this "necessary
level" is has to be defined.  More next week ...

> much beyond the original creators of the group.  People "visiting" a
> newsgroup via a reader, and possibly becoming an active participant,
> is the most common mechanism for newsgroup growth.  It's more rare to
> "visit" a purely email group via an active subscription mechanisms.


> 	It would be better (IMHO) to lift the time restriction for the
> purely email groups, and the concept of them as "prototypes."  They should
> be handled equivalently to what will be done for the "profs" groups.  If
> the usage is very light, the bionet administrators should check with the
> subscribers to assess whether the group is still truly desired.  If the
> useage does become substantial, the subscribers themselves can seek creation
> of a standard newsgroup to lift the burden off their personal mailboxes.

This is essentially what we do now.

> 	The disadvantage of purely email groups, at present, is that they are
> not adequately archived.  Something should be done about that, by somebody or
> other...

All "prototype" groups are completely archived in our FTP area on  The monthly files can be browsed using gopher to examine
individual messages.  However they are not WAIS indexed as we only do
this for the newsgroups.  The idea originally was not to let them get
too settled in their ways because (1) we did not want to encourage the
use of e-mail versus news and (2) the groups were only going to be
around for 6 months anyway.  If we decide to change this, we can
modify the indexing procedure.

More next week ...


				Dave Kristofferson
				BIOSCI/bionet Manager

				biosci-help at

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