Rejected bionet. postings: double standards

David Kristofferson kristoff at
Fri Oct 13 12:36:57 EST 1995

I explained our policy about commercial posts in private to the person
who posted the complaint, and now it appears that we need to have yet
another public explanation of this issue.  The policy is contained in
the FAQ, but some of the wording in that section contains references
to NSFNet and is thus in need of updating.  The issues follow:

Every commercial supplier that I have talked to behind the scenes
usually brings up the argument about how valuable their products are
to researchers and how important it is to let them know about them.
There is, of course, an element of truth in each argument...

I always reply that once we open the doors to broadcast advertising
officially, we run a tremendous risk of annoying our readership and
ultimately destroying the newsgroups.  Recent spams (more on that
below) only reinforce this point.  We can not get into the position of
trying to decide which for-profit posts are "truly useful".  They are
all banned.

The fact that some people violate the rules willfully does not create
a "double standard" as was indicated in the original posting.  It
simply indicates that some people follow the rules and others don't.
This protest, in my opinion, is just an attempt to grab publicity, as
are attempts by other followups to talk about their products.

No journal allows ads in the middle of their articles.  Advertising is
always done in a separate section, and the advertising is used to
support the journal.  This is one of the few media that, because of
its open nature, some think that they can utilize without contributing
much to its support.  We have a mechanism of advertising through the
BIOSCI WWW home page.  We do not allow broadcast ads - period - they
annoy our readers and consume resources in our mail queue and archive
site.  If someone is trying to use the system for commercial
advantage, let them help support it.  The government is not going to
do so much longer, and we already have had *good* commercial citizens
such as Molecular Dynamics and Knight-Ridder Information who *are*
helping.  We would have a real double standard if we permit some to
get for free what the organizations that are sponsoring us are paying

Regarding the spams, we are in the process of converting several of
our newsgroups to moderated status at the request of their
readerships.  I am happy to entertain similar proposals from any of
the discussion leaders on our other unmoderated newsgroups.  We will
also be announcing some additional new technical developments within
the next month or so which will also help to mitigate the spamming

That's all that I have to say to this issue right now.  I made these
points previously in private and was met with this somewhat dubious
"double standard on spams vs. "useful" messages" response.  I'm now
making the same points again publicly.  I'm currently too busy trying
to resolve hardware problems on our aging computer to get sucked
further into USENET flame wars.

If the readers want to duke it out, be my guest.  As usual there are
supporters of both positions making posts.  If our overall readership
really wanted ads, I wouldn't be replying to so many complaints these
days about the rising tide of ads on USENET.  If the current trends
aren't reversed, busy scientists will simply abandon USENET - this
message is coming through to me from readers loudly and clearly on a
**daily** basis.  However, there is usually no longer any point in
protesting spams to the site in question because quite often the point
of origin is disguised and innocent people get hurt.  For the interim
we who still believe in the utility of this technology have to grit
our teeth a bit longer.  Others unfortunately already are abandoning


				Dave Kristofferson
				BIOSCI/bionet Manager

				biosci-help at

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