Your Announcement and Proposed Changes

BIOSCI Administrator biosci-help at NET.BIO.NET
Tue Mar 7 13:48:07 EST 1995


> Is that really a better analogy? If we create a _separate group_ for
> commercial posts, IMO that is very much like having the product
> announcements placed together in the back pages of Science. Except that it
> would be better, because the announcements could be archived, and then
> they would be cumulative and searchable.

Unfortunately I have a lot of work to do today and will have to reply
to most of these posts later this week.

However, let me summarize a couple of points succinctly.

This thread started when we posted our announcement about raising
funds through our WWW home page.  David States replied that we should
think about raising revenue through broadcasting ads.  I replied that
such a move was considered but rejected.  On the admin side, it
entails adding additional administrative overhead for bill collecting.
It is also an unwise precedent to set for a number of other reasons
that were discussed, e.g., (1) who has any right to charge for
messages on a cooperative network like USENET when the contributions
come from the readers, and (2) I am very concerned that such a move,
even if supposedly restricted to one newsgroup, will simply accelerate
the amount of cheating in other newsgroups by people who claim that
"they didn't know the rules."  These newsgroups are open forums and it
is very easy for them to be corrupted and the readership driven away
if the wrong steps are taken.

Next, Jeff Rawlings resurrects the issue again trying to say that we
should do this simply because the information is so useful to our
users.  At least one reader replies that they can get this useful
information other ways and would stop reading the groups if they were
inundated with commercials.

Finally from the administrative side, we are trying to raise money at
NSF's request (instead of continually going back to Uncle Sam who is
going broke these days) via an accepted mode of Internet advertising,
i.e., the WWW.  As I mentioned above, we have no need to increase the
costs of the system by having to engage in bill collecting, AND

**** I see absolutely no need to provide companies with free
advertising if this means that they are not going to support the
system ****.

No other medium, i.e., print, radio, or TV, would operate in such a
ridiculous manner.

Regarding Jeff's scenarios of what consitutes a commercial, I will
reply at length later when I have time.  NSF never spelled out the AUP
in Koranic detail for good reason.  Our commercial use policy has
been publicly available in our FAQ for a long time, and I include it
below.

I also hasten to add in response to another post that we do not let
academic people do things like their own book promotions, etc., on
BIOSCI.  If these items are brought to our attention, we have taken
action against them.

				Sincerely,

				Dave Kristofferson
				BIOSCI/bionet Manager

				biosci-help at net.bio.net


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  WHAT ARE THE RESTRICTIONS ON COMMERCIAL ACTIVITIES IN THE BIOSCI/BIONET
  NEWSGROUPS?

BIOSCI is funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
which supports the Internet in the U.S. with U.S. taxpayer dollars.
NSF is responsible for setting Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for the the
NSFNet backbone section of the Internet of which BIOSCI makes
extensive use. Because of these reasons, BIOSCI users should adhere to
the following guidelines.

Commercial activities on BIOSCI are in general prohibited except as
noted below. People at for-profit organizations are free to read all
postings made to the BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups, but must ensure that
their postings to the newsgroups do not violate our guidelines.

Commercial organizations may post job openings on
EMPLOYMENT/bionet.jobs subject to the format restrictions for that
group. Commercial job posting format restrictions for the
EMPLOYMENT/bionet.jobs newsgroup are described above under the
question "Where should I post my messages?" Users who violate these
format restrictions consciously risk losing their network access.

BIOSCI readers without any financial connections to a company or a
product may discuss and/or post endorsements of a commercial product.
However, it is standard Internet practice to include in the posting a
disclaimer of any financial interest in the product/company. Note that
postings to newsgroups are subject to libel laws. BIOSCI advises
readers to think twice before taking potshots at products that they do
not like.

BIOSCI users often post general questions about problems that might be
solved through the use of a commercial product. It is EXTREMELY
IMPORTANT, however, that such general questions *not* be answered by
people affiliated with the product or company that might stand to gain
a sale as a result. For example, user X may ask, "Is there a product
that will allow me to separate protein A from protein B given the
following properties ...?", but, if user Y works at company Z which
sells a product that can accomplish this task, user Y does *NOT* have
permission to respond to the question. Responses can only be posted by
other scientists who might have experience in solving the problem in
question and who do not stand to gain financially by promoting the
product in question, i.e., they are not employees, consultants, or
connected to the company via other financial ties. As noted above,
postings endorsing commercial products should contain a customary
disclaimer stating the absence of financial ties of the poster to the
product/company.

Commercial companies MAY RESPOND to a public BIOSCI newsgroup if a
BIOSCI user asks a question directly about one of their products,
e.g., mentions it by name. The response should be limited to a factual
answer of the question posed and should avoid any hint of advertising
hype. Comparisons with competitors' products should be avoided
completely.

Finally, as a general rule, if you are unsure about the
appropriateness of your posting, before you post anything please send
a copy of what you propose to post to the BIOSCI adminstrator at
biosci-help at net.bio.net for review.

BIOSCI will takes steps to terminate network access to any reader who
willfully violates our commercial use policies.

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