What is a 'commercial' post?

Jeff Rawlings rawlings at silcom.com
Mon Mar 6 17:27:49 EST 1995

Dave Kristofferson said:

> [...] I explained the rationale behind BIOSCI's
> commcerial use policy back then.  I'll do so once again now publicly.

I believe I understand the rationale, which is similar to the reasoning
behind all newsgroup charters: the desire to restrict off-topic posts,
which contribute to noise in the group. What is still unclear to me are
the details about what constitutes "commercial use" or a "commercial" post
- there is a large gray area. In our previous communication, you implied
that clear guidelines are elusive because this gray area is impossible to
define. I would like to try to define some of those gray areas.

This post has two purposes: to discover bionet's current policy for each
of the hypothetical situations below; and to find out whether other bionet
users would like to see such hypothetical announcements. For each
situation below, the post might originate from a university, a non-profit
organization, or a for-profit organization. I have included possible
examples for each case. 

In making your determination for each situation, please assume:

   1) that the post would be an announcement to bionet.announce;
   2) that the hypothetical poster is a member of the biology research 
      community, with training and professional experience;
   3) that the post is short, to the point, free of hype, and related to 
      the professional conduct of biological research.

(Please note that I have included a couple of examples that are clearly
against current bionet policy, for the sake of completeness.)

Situation 1:  Announcement of a _new_ product or resource, related to
research, which costs money to buy or use.
   A) University: rare; for example, a professor announces her new book, or 
                  a university offers technology transfer opportunities.
   B) Non-profit org: a protocol guide, ethics guide, scientific 
                      journal, or other reference material.
   C) For-profit org: announce new reagent, instrument, scientific 
                      journal, bibliographic database, or other databases.

Situation 2: Announcement of a _new_ information resource, which is free
to the biology community.
   A) University: WWW site, grad program info, etc.
   B) Non-profit org: WWW site, newsletter, free catalog of services, 
                      scientific journal, databases and archives.
   C) For-profit org: WWW site, newsletter, protocol references, catalog,
                      application guides, scientific journals, databases of 
                      research-related information.

Situation 3: Announcement of a scientific meeting of some sort.
   A) University: Seminars, symposia, classes.
   B) Non-profit org: Seminars, symposia, conferences, classes.
   C) For-profit org: Exhibitions, workshops, seminars, symposia, 
                      conferences, classes.

Situation 4: Announcements of funding opportunities.
   A) University: tenure-track position (better for bionet.jobs)
   B) Non-profit org: Grants offered, by government or foundation sources.
   C) For-profit org: Grants or other funding opportunities for academic 

I am sure that there are others I haven't included, but I think this is a
good start. For each category or specific item that you believe to be
inappropriate for annnouncement in bionet, I would be interested in an
explanation based on your needs or the needs of other bionet users. Also,
for those 'prohibited' categories, I would like to know if the bionet
users out there would like to see an alternative newsgroup for such

Thank you all for your time. I hope this message and the responses it
generates will clear up some murky issues, and improve the bionet system
for everyone.


Jeff Rawlings                                   Internet Consultant
rawlings at silcom.com                                             and
rawlings at cco.caltech.edu                         Research Biologist

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