Editorial license in bionet
smith-una at yale.edu
Tue Jan 19 00:16:19 EST 1993
In "BIOSCI FAQs will be changed", bionet.announce, 13 January 1993,
David Kristofferson wrote:
"BIOSCI/bionet will no longer be distributing the FAQ
composed by Una Smith at her request (BIOSCI FAQ I)."
I objected when the article "Bionet (BIOSCI) FAQ I" appeared two weeks
ago in bionet.announce, under my name. It was not posted by me.
David and I had discussed making my FAQ a periodic posting together with
his own regularly posted documents. During the holidays he informed me
of his plan to distribute an edited version of my FAQ. I responded that
I would consider adding his changes to the current version of the FAQ when
I returned from vacation, but that I did not want him to distribute it.
David replied that it would be more convenient for him to distribute the
FAQ as he had indicated he would. When David did not get a prompt reply
from me (I was away), he assumed that I consented to his plan.
David changed most instances of the word "Bionet" in my FAQ to "BIOSCI".
He and I have argued publicly over whether these are equivalent. I argue
that there is an important difference, which revolves around whether the
"BIOSCI/bionet" hybrid that David and we have created will grow according
to the conventions of "owned" mailing lists or "public" Usenet newsgroups.
David's motives in arguing for strict ownership are good: he is concerned
that if he does not exert control, the professional quality of the bionet
groups will deteriorate. I appreciate David's custodianship of the mailing
lists, and I approve of most of what he has done, but I think the bionet
newsgroups would be even better if they were less tightly controlled.
Our argument has apparently made David feel the need to declare himself
"editor", then edit and post my FAQ. See David's own FAQ, "Consolidated
BIOSCI/bionet FAQ" (bionet.announce, 18 January 1993), where he writes:
"BIOSCI messages are distributed without editorial intervention
in most cases."
After the list of newsgroup names, he adds:
"** Note that newsgroups flagged with ** are moderated, i.e.,
postings are directed to a moderator (editor) who later forwards
messages (possibly edited or condensed) to the newsgroup."
As far as I know, I am the first person to whom this editorial policy has
been applied. It goes far beyond the occasional insertion of [bracketed]
comments at the top of articles. In effect, David has tried to "resolve"
our argument by putting his own words in my mouth. This is a violation of
my rights as an author and David's authority as a moderator. It made me
very angry, and I sent David e-mail demanding an apology in a tone designed
to frustrate and anger him, for which I now publicly apologize. Two wrongs
don't make a right, only a fight. I am sorry.
Una Smith Biology Department smith-una at yale.edu
New Haven, CT 06511
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