Bionet (BIOSCI) FAQ I (much new, long)

Una Smith smith-una at
Fri Jan 1 04:03:01 EST 1993

           Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This FAQ sheet was last modified on 20 December 1992.

This is a DRAFT version of a monthly posting to the Usenet newsgroups
bionet.announce and news.answers.  Its purpose is to provide basic
information for people who are new to the Bionet domain of Usenet
newsgroups or are just beginning to read these groups via an e-mail
subscription (the "bionet" USENET hierarchy is also distributed by
e-mail as the BIOSCI mailing lists).  

This FAQ attempts to answer questions that come up frequently about
what Bionet is good for, not how to use it.  A second FAQ answers
frequently asked technical questions about the bionet/BIOSCI
newsgroups and mailing lists.

This FAQ also contains information about resources in biology that are
*not* available via Bionet, but of interest to Bionet users.

If you are new to Bionet, please read this article.  If you are an old
hand, please take the time occasionally to look at the questions index;
you might learn something new.

The questions below are presented as an index of sorts;  answers
(such as there are) are grouped together in the next section.  Please
contribute others (and PLEASE, if you contribute a question, include
an answer with it!).

============================== Questions ==============================

 1) How can I get a copy of this article?
 2) What are the Bionet newsgroups for?  How may they be used?  
 3) Are there any special "netiquette" rules I should know about?
 4) Special instructions for Usenet readers?
 5) Special instructions for e-mail subscribers?
 6) How can e-mail subscribers get Usenet at their site?
 7) Where can I get other helpful documents?
 8) Does anyone have an e-mail address for Dr. X?
 9) How to find a good graduate program?
10) Where I can get old Bionet articles?
11) Where can I find biology-related job announcements?
12) Where can I get journal contents online? 
13) Suggestions for freeware or commercial software packages? 
14) What to do about problem X with data base Y?
15) Are there other biology newsgroups or e-mail subscription lists?
16) What is anonymous ftp, and how does it work?
17) How can I access ftp archives from Bitnet?
18) What is Archie, and how does it work?
19) What is Gopher, and how does it work?
20) What is a WAIS, and how does it work?
21) What is the Web (or WWW), and how does it work?
22) Why do so many people contribute questions but not the answers?
============================== Answers ==============================

 1) How can I get a copy of this article?

    Save this now, while you're reading it!  The latest version is
    available for anonymous FTP (see question 16) from the BIOSCI
    distribution node at  It is stored in the
    file pub/BIOSCI/biosci1.FAQ.  A copy may also be requested by
    e-mail from biosci at

    This article is also posted monthly to BIONEWS/bionet.announce
    and cross-posted to news.answers.  It will therefore be archived
    at any site that archives news.answers, including (  To retrieve this
    article from via anonymous ftp, look for the
    file bionet-faq in the directory pub/usenet/news.answers.  If
    you do not have anonymous ftp, send an e-mail message to
    mail-server at, containing the lines "help" and
    "index";  you will be sent information on how to search the
    archive and receive files by e-mail.

 2) What are the Bionet newsgroups for?  How may they be used?

    The BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups are designed to enhance communication
    between professionals in the biological sciences.  The intended
    readership consists of practicing scientists.  The public may
    participate, but the primary focus of the newsgroups is to assist
    professionals in the field.  Because many biologists do not have
    access to USENET news software, the bionet newsgroups can also be used
    via e-mail and are known in that form as the BIOSCI mailing lists (the
    reason for the name difference between Bionet and BIOSCI is a
    historical artifact of limited interest 8-).  Each newsgroup, e.g.
    bionet.announce, also has an associated  mailing list with a
    somewhat different name, e.g., BIONEWS, and both are often
    mentioned together, e.g., the BIONEWS/bionet.announce newsgroup.  Lists
    of the available newsgroups may be obtained by sending a request to
    either of two Biosci distribution nodes, biosci at or
    biosci at

    A separate FAQ describing technical details of the
    Bionet newsgroups is posted each month on BIONEWS/bionet.announce
    following this FAQ.  Both of these FAQs can also be requested by
    e-mail from biosci at

    Please read/subscribe to BIONEWS/bionet.announce, a moderated group where
    important announcements are distributed.

    The Bionet newsgroups are intended as a forum for biologists of all
    flavors who want to exchange technical or other information, and
    to debate or discuss current issues in biology.  These groups are
    especially good for inter-disciplinary exchange, since the readers
    tend to work in many different areas of biology.

    These types of articles are acceptable (and frequently seen):

    * Discussions about experimental methods.  These normally occur on
      the METHODS-AND-REAGENTS/bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts newsgroup.
      BIOSCI readers can cite numerous examples of how their research has
      been assisted by tips gained through the discussions in this forum.

    * Questions on specific topics, techniques, or organisms.  There
      are a number of BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups dedicated to specialty areas
      of biology.  These forums, e.g.,
      MOLECULAR-EVOLUTION/bionet.molbio.evolution or
      POPULATION-BIOLOGY/bionet.population-bio are the appropriate
      place for more specialized discussions.  These often lead to
      interesting discussions, and are generally welcome, however
      esoteric they may be.  If your question is an extremely 
      easy or boring one, and you get the Bionet groups via Usenet, 
      you may want to consider restricting the distribution of your
      article to an appropriate region:  your university, perhaps, or
      your state or country.  This is done by entering the appropriate
      area on the Distribution: line when prompted by your news software,
      e.g., world, bionet, usa, ca.

    * Discussions on topics of general interest.  These discussions
      normally appear on the BIOFORUM/bionet.general newsgroup.  Above
      all else, many Bionet participants cite the occasional lengthly
      discussions on various issues as the single most rewarding and
      useful aspect of the Bionet newsgroups.  There is a certain
      element of psychotherapy in any discussion group, and the Bionet
      groups are no exception:  try to keep your comments rational,
      calm, clear, and concise.   

    * Announcements of upcoming conferences or other events, or grant
      deadlines.  These should be posted to BIONEWS/bionet.announce
      which is a moderated newsgroup (i.e., the postings are reviewed by a
      moderator before distribution; postings that are not announcements are
      forwarded to more appropriate forums.).  If you get the Bionet
      groups via Usenet, you should set an expiration data for such
      announcements, so that they go away once they are no longer
      relevant, and limit the distribution of your announcement to the
      appropriate geographical area.  

    * Reports or comments on new books, papers, methods or software.
      People often report on interesting scientific news in the media
      or statements issued by various governments, or forward items
      from other groups or subscription lists.

    * Requests for book or article references.  If what you really
      want is for someone to do a bibliographic data base search
      for you, you are probably better off sending private e-mail
      to someone who is likely to be able and willing to help you.
      Otherwise, feel free to ask;  requests are frequently answered
      with full bibliographic references, often in BibTeX or Medline

    Unacceptable articles include commercial advertisements, political
    lobbying messages, and anything not pertaining

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