Your Announcement and Proposed Changes
biosci-help at NET.BIO.NET
Sat Mar 4 03:11:30 EST 1995
You sent me private mail some time back about this issue (in
connection, if memory serves correctly, with your running a seminar or
trade show introducing biotech concerns to Internet business
opportunities), and I explained the rationale behind BIOSCI's
commcerial use policy back then. I'll do so once again now publicly.
The fact that you found in the methods newsgroup that "40-50% of the
posts were directly relevant to commercial interests" is not
surprising since any discussion about scientific experimental methods
can attract the interest of some vendor in some way, shape, or form.
This is not, however, a reason to immediately open the methods
newsgroup up to commercial posts.
There is no doubt that the commercial sector makes a lot of biotech
research possible (but don't forget that the biotech researchers who
part with their cash and ultimately the funding agencies that provide
the cash make the commercial sector possible).
When companies buy ad space in journals that is all well and good
since they (1) help support the communication medium, i.e., the
journal, and (2) can only advertise to the extent that the journal
sets aside space for advertising.
On the newsgroups we are faced with a completely different scenario.
We prohibit the posting of ads because (1) the companies to date have
*not* been supporting the system and (2) if we didn't take a stand
against this there would be little in the way of "space limitations"
on the newsgroups to prevent ads from crowding out other posts.
Based on the steady flow of complaints that I get from readers about
ads creeping in to the newsgroups, I continue to believe that the
readership does not want to open the system up to commercial posts.
Obviously, limiting such posts to a single newsgroup such as, e.g., a
possible bionet.products group, is a partial solution to the problems
mentioned above. However, to date the queries that I have received
about setting up such a group have come almost exclusively from people
who were looking to profit through such a service, not from scientists
with the only exception being David States' recent post. David's post
was made simply in the spirit of helping us to raise money to replace
the current government support.
There is already a separate part of USENET, the biz hierarchy, which
is set aside for such issues. If you want to moderate a biotech
products group, my personal suggestion would be to do it in that area.
BIOSCI/bionet has always been dedicated for communication between
researchers, and my belief is still that the readers want it to remain
If the readership has changed it's opinion on this issue, I'd be happy
to reconsider. However, if someone was going to moderate such a group
in the bionet domain, my personal opinion is that it should be someone
who is non-partisan. Your position as an Internet consultant, not to
mention your use of your .signature file for advertising your
consulting business on our newsgroups, do not quite seem to fit that
biosci-help at net.bio.net
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