PART 2 - MODERATING THE BIOSCI/bionet NEWSGROUPS

Mike Cherry cherry at stout.Stanford.EDU
Sat Feb 25 14:54:20 EST 1995


In article <3ikl5s$i3v at decaxp.harvard.edu>,
Keith Robison <robison at lipid.harvard.edu> wrote:
>You could invert the approach -- simply have a list of offending
>addressess which cannot post.  Of course, most of the "spamming"
>seems to be of the one-shot, hit-and-run variety, but the only
>conceivable mechanism capable of dealing with that is human
>intervention.

I don't agree.  Most of the "problem" messages are necessarily a one
time thing.  Its all those people who have just heard of bionet that
try to figure out what to do and post a subscribe message.  The
spammers are generally from all over the place.

D. Kristofferson <biosci-help at net.bio.net> wrote:
>: the registration process via an e-mail server, then they should also
>: be able to subscribe correctly to the newsgroups.  If they can't do
>: either, then they would have to seek help at the tech support
>: addresses.

I'm not sure that I see this whole registration/moderation scheme as a
good thing.  I fear that it will simply restrict, or at least create
an unnecessary difficulty to, those that want to post a message.
There are already lots of lurkers on the lists, those that only read.
If more and more people are moving to news readers then it will be a
little strange to require someone to first e-mail a message to
register themselves.

D. Kristofferson <biosci-help at net.bio.net> wrote:
>: On the other hand, the registration process could be more stringent,
>: requiring users to actually give some kind of proof that they were, in
>: fact, researchers, and not just curiosity seekers.  This topic could
>: be the subject of intense debate, I'm sure 8-).

I do not agree at all the we should be limiting the posting for
high-school and undergraduates as others have suggested.  This is
obviously the wrong direction an scientific/education open list should
take.

I do agree that the whole news system needs to be dropped and a new
system used.  The whole system is more or less as it was 15 years ago
when there were only a couple hundred newsgroups.  I'm not sure what
the system will be but I feel it should include less focus on
particular news groups and more on automatic keyword/content
searching.  Something like the neighboring used in Medline.  The
system should also be general enough that small groups can be formed
to share ideas without the intervention of a news admin.  This will
clearly require big changes and may just be wishful thinking.

I think a big part of the problem is the number of messages that
appear.  Scanning the subjects is not always that helpful, you still
want to read the message.  Then if there is a problem that you can
answer you need to take the time for that.  Many people are still just
trying to get up to speed with e-mail.  Using a news reader helps but
it is a different program than they are already using.  Generally
people know of bionet but it is just something else that would be nice
to read There is a pile of journals that they should be reading too.
People are just too busy and adding one more thing that they need to
do is difficult.  Nothing new here just the same old problems that
have always been talked about on bionet.

So to bring this to a rambling end.  If the purpose is to make bionet
easier for those that will take the extra effort to jump throw
whatever hoops are put up, then the registration is okay.  However, I
assume the point is to attempt to make bionet more accessible and
interesting to the general scientist, not just the current group.  I
don't necessarily see the registration/moderation as doing that.
Clearly my arguments suggest that the purpose of bionet should be
refocused and maybe not pretend to be an open environment if that is
not the purpose.  Unfortunately, I think the biggest problems are not
solvable with the current usenet environment.

Mike



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