Changing BIOSCI - My 2 cents worth

Richard_Heath heath at mbcf.stjude.org
Wed Mar 8 22:02:49 EST 1995


Well, Dave K. has asked for the "general reader" to respond to his CFDs on
moderating and sponsoring the bionet, so here is my 2 cents worth.  I will
first say that I am purely (merely?) a bench scientist - I have no connection
with any newsgroup or commercial company.  Just your (a)typical scientist who
likes to find out what is going on outside his own lab without actually having
to leave it.  I mainly follow .microbiology, .general and skim methods &
materials and a couple of others.  

E-mail lists:

I don't use 'em, and, personally, don't care what happens to 'em ;-)

Moderation:

I am not against moderation per se - I don't like the (un)subscribe messages or
ads any more than any of you.  I do not, however, want to see a situation
whereby people are discouraged from posting.  While I know that bionet is
supposedly a professional forum, I do not feel it is our place to prevent
non-pros from joining in.  [I know that sci.microbiology is meant to be the
place for them, but since I don't have access to it on my newsreader...].  The
auto-registration method seems to me to be the most workable put forward so far
- prospective posters getting an automatic e-mail request to sign up when they
send their first post.  I can see that some people may have a problem with
this, but if the process is quick enough, and simple enough, then most punters
should be happy.  Most deamons I have come in contact with have been very quick
to get responses back - the whole thing should be done in minutes.  A longer
timeframe *will* put some people off. (actually, IMHO, some people should have
to get an "Information Superhighway" driving licence before even being allowed
near a computer, but that's another story...)  Universities, biotech companies
(yes, even companies) etc could get bulk approval too, so the average
student/researcher doesn't even know what is happening (hmm, sounds
familiar...).  Those who subscribe to aol or compuserve etc should register
themselves individually.  

Question:  How would this affect people who want to use anonymous servers?  I
don't know much about these things, but do see some posts from @anon.penet.fi.

I am still not really convinced, however, that moderation is really required
yet.  The number of inappropriate posts to the groups I follow is not high,
and, with a newsreader, can be easily ignored.  True, most people who post to
M&R should probably take a peek at Current Protocols or Maniatis first, but
that won't change under any of the proposals put forward! ;-)

Advertising & Sponsorship:

Advertising in the existing newsgroups should *not* be allowed - I think nearly
everybody is agreed on that.  Companies tend to behave pretty well - I have had
some responses from companies (to a query I posted on methods&reagents) through
personal e-mail which addressed the question and were not hard sell.  M&R
exists to discuss technical problems related to protocols and reagents: 
companies should be free to respond as they see fit, within the existing
framework.  The idea of a new group for product announcements is an interesting
one.  I think that it might even work.  Keep the ads in one place, and read or
ignore them as you chose.  

As to the sponsorship issue, it seems clear from what Dave said that the bionet
is going to need to get money from somewhere.  Maybe companies could be
_encouraged_ to make "donations" in return for using a .newproducts group? 
(Note:  I'm not suggesting an outright charge).  

In summary, I'm not really sure either on the direction that the bionet should
go, but it seems that Dave's suggestions are mild enough to not effect the
service to the end-user significantly, while cutting down on some of the junk.

Thanks to all the BIOSCI people for running a very useful service!

Richard.



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