BIOSCI/bionet miniFAQ & Fundraiser

BIOSCI Administrator biohelp at
Tue Jun 15 03:04:05 EST 1999

                This BIOSCI "miniFAQ" is designed to
answer the questions that come up
                the *most frequently*.  The main
BIOSCI FAQ (Frequently Asked
                Questions) is accessible on the World
Wide Web at URL

                If you can not find an answer to your
question in this or other
                documentation, the BIOSCI technical
support staff answers e-mail
                queries sent to

biosci-help at

                We can only answer questions about the
use of the newsgroups and
                mailing lists.  We unfortunately do
not have the staff to do Internet
                information searches or answer
scientific questions.  Please post
                those to the appropriate BIOSCI/bionet

                        0) BIOSCI NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT!!

                        1) Using the WWW to access the
BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups.

                        2) What to do about "spams,"
i.e., junk mail, ads, etc.

                        3) Examples of subscribing and
unsubscribing to the mailing lists.

                        4) The BIOSCI user address and
research interest directory.

                0) BIOSCI NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT!!
                BIOSCI's government funding has been
expended, and we are now
                operating solely from advertising
revenue that we have raised from our
                Web site at  We
need just a few minutes of your
                time to help us serve you.

                You can do two important things which
will take very little time for
                you individually and will immensely
help us continue to help you.

                First, please use our WWW system at to access the
                archives.  You can post or reply to
messages via your Web browser as
                described in item #1 below.  Your
usage helps attract sponsors. If you
                contact any of our sponsors, please be
sure to thank them for
                supporting BIOSCI. It is critical for
them to get this feedback if
                they are to continue their sponsorship
for the long term.

                Second, if you work for a company or
organization that provides
                products or services of interest to
the biology community, please pass
                this message on to your marketing or
marketing communications
                department or other appropriate group.
 Please ask them to help
                support BIOSCI by sponsoring our Web
site and explain the uses and
                benefits of the system to the biology
community. If they are
                interested, they can then contact us
for further information at our
                tech support address,
biosci-help at

                1) Using the WWW to access the
BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups.
                As of 10 December 1995, all
BIOSCI/bionet full newsgroups are
                accessible through the World Wide Web
(WWW) at URL
                One can read and reply publicly or
privately to both recent postings
                and archived messages through one's
Web browser if it is configured
                properly to send e-mail.  Each
newsgroup is equipped with its own WAIS
                index.  The main BIOSCI home page also
has access to the BIO-JOURNALS
                Table of Contents database WAIS index
and the BIOSCI user address
                database described in another item
further below.

                2) What to do about "spams," i.e.,
junk mail, ads, etc.
                BIOSCI is a set of parallel USENET
newsgroups (the "bionet" groups),
                mailing lists, and a hypermail archive
at URL
                The same postings are distributed on
all media (except for a small
                number of mailing-list-only groups at  Unfortunately it
                is becoming a despicable practice on
the Internet (by a few people out
                to make a fast buck) to do automated
mass postings to thousands of
                newsgroups and mailing lists.  These
attempts to grab free advertising
                are refered to as "spams" in the
usual, somewhat boneheaded, net
                terminology.  USENET is more
susceptible to this practice, and many
                spams originate on the USENET groups
and then are passed on to the
                mailing lists.  However, spammers also
get lists of mailing addresses
                and hit these too, so neither medium
is immune.

                What should you do personally if you
get junk mail?
                Just delete it and move on without
reading it further.  Filing a
                protest is becoming increasingly
useless because spammers are often
                disguising the addresses where the
messages are sent from.  Unless you
                really understand Internet mail
systems, your attempt at protest by
                sending replies to the message will
often end up being sent to the
                address of an innocent person that the
spammer is victimizing.

                What can BIOSCI/bionet do to protect
its newsgroups?
                The only solution currently available
is to moderate the newsgroup.
                If this newsgroup is already
moderated, then you are in good shape.
                Moderation protects the USENET
distribution from about 95% of the
                spams that are being sent to date and
protects the mailing lists
                completely.  Moderation means,
however, that someone has to take the
                time to review each message before it
goes out.  We have set up
                software here that simply allows the
moderator to forward to an
                address at messages that
(s)he wishes to have distributed.
                This takes no more time than that
needed to read the message and pass
                it on, say about 1 min. per message.

                Most newsgroups currently have a
discussion leader who is responsible
                for their newsgroup.  The discussions
leaders and their e-mail
                addresses are listed in the BIOSCI
Information Sheet which is
                available on the Web at  If a newsgroup is being
                hit with too many junk postings,
please contact the discussion leader
                for that group and see if there is
interest in moderating the group.
                Please do not assume that by simply
posting a complaint to the
                newsgroup itself, anyone on the BIOSCI
staff will act on your
                complaint.  With close to 100
newsgroups to run, the BIOSCI staff has
                to rely on the discussion leaders of
each newsgroup to report problems
                directly to us at
biosci-help at

                We will moderate any of our newsgroups
if the discussion leader tells
                us that the readership of the group
wishes to do so and if a moderator
                is willing to do the work.  For most
BIOSCI/bionet groups, this
                entails only a few minutes of work
each day.

                Moderating a newsgroup will resolve
probably 95% of the junk postings
                on the USENET distribution. 
Unfortunately there are easy ways for
                determined spammers to override the
moderation mechanism on USENET,
                but we can protect our e-mail
subscribers from unwanted postings if
                the newsgroup is moderated.  You can
also access our newsgroups over
                the WWW at URL 
While this Web interface will not
                stop spammers from trying to post to
the groups, this will give you
                yet another way, besides using USENET
news, to keep the junk out of
                your personal mail files.  For those
of you with local USENET news
                systems, the Web interface will also
give you faster access to new
                newsgroups and recent postings.

                3) Examples of subscribing and
unsubscribing to the mailing lists.
                PLEASE NOTE: The BIOSCI management
does NOT act on
                subscription/unsubscription requests
that are posted improperly to the
                newsgroups and mailing lists.  People
who do this only bother everyone
                on the lists to no avail.  Please be
sure to follow the proper
                procedures below.

                Gory details are in the BIOSCI
Information sheets on the Web at
        Below we give an
example utilizing the
                METHODS-AND-REAGENTS list at both of
our two BIOSCI sites:

                Users in the Americas and Pacific Rim
countries who use the BIOSCI
                node at computer

                A) Determine the "listname" which is
the <=8 character mail address
                   for the group.  These can be found
in the BIOSCI Info. Sheet.  For
                   the METHODS-AND-REAGENTS group the
mailing address is
                   methods at  The listname
is the portion of the address to
                   the left of the @ sign, i.e.,
"methods".  The listname is used with
                   the "subscribe" and "unsubscribe"
commands illustrated below.

                B) Mail all commands in the body of a
mail message addressed to
                   biosci-server at  Do NOT
send commands to the newsgroup
                   posting addresses!  Leave the
Subject: line blank, any text on it
                   will be ignored.

                C) In the body of your message put one
or more of the following
                   commands with an "end" command on
the last line, e.g.,

                   subscribe methods
                   unsubscribe methods

                   Do NOT put your e-mail address or
other text on these lines.  The
                   server only allows you to cancel
your subscription if the address
                   on your mail header matches the
address on our mailing list.
                   Please ask for help at
biosci-help at if your address has
                   changed, e.g., if you know you are
on the list but the server tells
                   you that you are not a member.

                Users in Europe, Africa, and Central
Asia who use the BIOSCI node at
                computer (also known

                To subscribe and unsubscribe to/from
the BIOSCI lists, you need to
                specify the full USENET newsgroup name
with "bionet-news." prepended.
                The USENET newsgroup names are listed
in the BIOSCI Information sheet
                on the Web at 
                the USENET newsgroup name is
bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts, thus the
                appropriate commands are



                These commands are included in a
message addressed to mxt at,
                NOT to the newsgroup mailing
addresses.  As usual, include the text in
                the body of the message as text on the
Subject: line is ignored.

                To unsubscribe from all the lists at
the UK node, use

                    unsub bionet-news

                Please note that if the address in the
list is different than the one
                in your mail message header, you will
not be able to unsubscribe by
                this method. If you have problems,
please mail biosci at

                4) The BIOSCI user address and
research interest directory.
                Please take this opportunity to add
your name, address, and research
                interest information to the BIOSCI
User Address Database if you have
                not already done so.

                You can fill out the address form
directly through our Web page at URL

                The address database is reindexed
nightly for WWW access (the URL is
        If you are not
directly on the Internet but can
                reach it by e-mail, please use our
waismail server to access the user
                directory.  waismail use is described
above.  You can also request a
                user address form by e-mail from
biosci-help at

                Please check your database entry from
time-to-time to see if your
                address information is still
up-to-date.  Because of our limited
                personnel resources, we ask that you
resubmit a *complete* form to
                revise your entry; we only replace
complete entries and do not have
                resources to edit old forms.


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