TIBS newsgroup proposal

Ellis Golub ellis at biochem.dental.upenn.edu
Fri Oct 14 08:26:30 EST 1994

In article <37k2v6$eun at net.bio.net>, kristoff at net.bio.net (David Kristofferson) writes:
|> Way back in the dim dark
|> 80's I was always encouraging people on the net to make use of the
|> newsgroups as a forum to provide feedback on published research
|> reports.  Unfortunately, despite numerous exhortations, this never
|> took off with only a few exceptions, e.g., the BIO-INFO group.  It
|> seems like one of the major obstacles was simply that people didn't
|> take the net seriously and wanted credit for their contributions.

	One problem with getting stimulating, informative discussion on the
net seems to be lack of focus.  By encouraging comments about published
articles, there should will be a regular supply of topics to stimulate
focused discussion.  Whether this type of forum can ever rise to the level
of respect accorded "published" communication really depends on the quality
of the material.

|> I believe that Jo answered this in her message when she said that the
|> editors intend mainly to make sure that the postings are not abusive.
|> This is a real potential problem on a medium like USENET where people
|> can really get nasty at times when they are hiding behind their
|> terminals.  This is a major reason why the group needs to be
|> moderated.  A lot of ego can be at stake, and this problem may
|> ultimately lead to the demise of this experiment.  This is what made
|> some of my previous contacts hesitate to embark on such a venture.
|> Interest was definitely expressed, but everyone wanted to see how it
|> would work with someone else first 8-)!!!!!!!!!

The issue of moderation (ie editing) is crucial.  Contributions, that
is original submissions of data and interpretation, should be subject to peer
review just like in the print media.  Comments, questions and discussion of
published or electronically submitted material should be edited only to
insure a civil academic debate on the issues.  The extent to which we
can put the tradition of flaming behind us and engage in true debate will
determine the success or failure of these efforts.

|> TIBS is probably an ideal first candidate for such a venture as it
|> publishes a lot of review articles.  This makes it possible that
|> comments will be directed more likely at papers cited in the review
|> instead of at the author of the review him/herself.  Hopefully the
|> discussion would therefore be more reasonable and less emotional.

I agree with Dave's conclusion, and I support this experiment.

Ellis Golub

Ellis Golub                            Phone: (215) 898-4629
Biochemistry Department                FAX:   (215) 898-3695
University of Pennsylvania             ellis @ biochem.dental.upenn.edu
School of Dental Medicine             
4001 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6003

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