Your Announcement and Proposed Changes

Jeff Rawlings rawlings at
Fri Mar 3 20:33:04 EST 1995

Dr. Frank Heasly wrote:
> Quite frankly, I'm having a hard time finding the distinction between 
> "commercial" and "non-commercial" content.

I agree. I did an informal count in the bionet.methds-reagnts newsgroup
one day, and found that about 40-50% of the posts were directly relevant
to commercial interests (i.e., "Has anyone heard of X product, or a
product which will do Y," "How can I reach X company," "Which is the best
product for this application," "Has anyone else had similar problems with
X company or X product," etc.). It is clear to me that commercial
enterprises are essential to the practice of science.

> Clearly, blatant "in your face" advertising only 
> serves to annoy everyone.  However, it is important to recognize that
> advertising of that type also serves to alienate the very market that the
> advertiser seeks to cultivate.  It's a self-limiting activity: those who
> attempt to work in this way ultimately fail.
> I suggest that you need not embroil yourself in the contention
> between "commercial" and "non-commercial" entities. 

I agree here, too. I believe that the primary determinant of the value of
a post should be its content. Posts which are off-topic are the ones which
increase the noise in the bionet groups. These posts include random
advertisements (spams), (un)subscribe messages, and requests for help with
gardening, medical problems, or high school science projects. Because they
are off-topic, I can see clear value in trying to exclude these types of
posts from newsgroups intended for professional life scientists.

I also believe, quite strongly, that the commercial biotechnology sector
contributes immense value to the life science research community. To
convince yourself, just imagine throwing away everything in your
laboratory and library which originated in a commercial enterprise. There
wouldn't be much left. I, for one, welcome the scientific expertise and
technological advancement that the commercial half of our community has to

I will expand on this theme more in a future post, but first I want to get
some feedback on the ideas I have presented here (and those that Dr.
Heasley posted before me). I look forward to the discussion.


Jeff Rawlings                               rawlings at

     *Internet Consulting for the Biotechnology Supplier*

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