RFD: Make bionet.general moderated

Dave Kristofferson kristoff at NET.BIO.NET
Sun Sep 29 16:59:10 EST 1996

Cornelius Krasel wrote:

> BIOSCI Administrator (biosci-help at NET.BIO.NET) wrote:
> > bionet.general is supposed to be our free speech area in the
> > biological sciences.  Moderators take on legal liability for
> > approving/disapproving posts even if you say that you are only
> > filtering out ads.  The hierarchy needs an outlet where people who
> > have gripes can assume sole responsibility for their own behavior.  We
> > are happy to moderate every group in the hierarchy except for one for
> > the above reason, and bionet.general was designed to fit that bill.
> > 
> > The junk mail that comes along with it is an unfortunate price.
> I am aware that the issue of free speech is a very delicate one in the
> U.S. of A. As a European, I don't feel that a moderation which solely
> filters out unsoliticed ads and spam will affect freedom of speech in
> any way.

I don't think I made my point clear enough then.  Even though the
BIOSCI system is international, we are located in the U.S. and bound
by U.S. law.  We need a way that we as an organization can comply with
U.S. law if someone wants to spout off about something inflamatory and
we have to warn him without at the same time denying him access.
Having a free forum like bionet.general allows us that capability.  If
you were moderating the system, you wouldn't be obligated under U.S.
law, but we (and or other US-based moderators) have to deal with
issues like the above behind the scenes.  We can let people know that
bionet.general is a free speech forum but warn them that they could be
held solely liable for their posts there.  This is not a philosophical
debate between the U.S. versus other countries but something that we
need to do to have a legal outlet here.

> The forseeable problem for bionet.general will be that the signal-to-
> noise ratio will steadily drop and scientists will start to unsubscribe.

This has been an issue for some time.  If you want to create a
different newsgroup called bionet.general.moderated and leave
bionet.general as is to solve our problem above, I could go for that.
However, if you want to moderate a group, your help would be
appreciated much more on groups other than bionet.general.  Anyone who
participates in this group for some time has to realize that this is
an extremely diverse forum without a lot of rules.  If that really
bothered them I would assume that they would have quit a long time
back, especially since the spam problem has been with us for some
time.  Why not help us with something like bionet.software instead??
Seems like a much more valuable contribution to me.  However, if
everyone *really* wants to do this for .general, we could entertain a
proposal to create a separate bionet.general.moderated group and leave
the first one in place.


				Dave Kristofferson
				BIOSCI/bionet Manager

				biosci-help at net.bio.net

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