PHOTOSYN as a Newsgroup

Una Smith smith-una at
Tue Dec 8 15:35:06 EST 1992

[some stuff deleted]

>> Una Smith, smith-una at

> Jonathan Marder, marder at

>But my main concern is what to do with the specific case of PHOTOSYN.
>This was set up on LISTSERV because that is what I knew about two years
>ago.  In retrospect, it would probably have been better to have started
>with Bionet/Biosci.

I've been a PHOTOSYN subscriber off and on for a number of years (and
enjoyed it), and I notice that log files of all traffic are apparently
not kept.  Why not?  That's a standard feature of most LISTSERV groups.

The TAXACOM group keeps a very nice list of plant taxonomists:  the 
list is available via anonymous ftp on, and is maintained
by a volunteer (the name changes every few years) identified in the list.
It would be quite easy to produce such a list, starting with the current
PHOTOSYN subscribers (LISTSERV command REV PHOTOSYN). 

>The main response I am getting from the present list members is "don't
>change anything - we can handle the present system so don't complicate
>things."  Indeed, I hope that any changes made have minimal impact on
>those subscribers who chose to remain subscribed via email.

Yes, that's the usual feeling.  LISTSERV users generally like LISTSERV
and don't want to learn a separate protocol:  the same set of commands
(subscribe, unsubscribe, send, nomail, etc.) work for many lists.  Also,
the response is virtually immediate:  no waiting a week, as is now the
case with the Bionet e-mail subscriptions that are handled by BIOSCI.
BTW:  every LISTSERV user should get a copy of the LISTSERV REFCARD,
which is a very useful document.

>For the non-technically minded, the single issue at stake is "do we want
>PHOTOSYN traffic to increase?" (I am taking careful note of responses on

This is an important question, and it does affect where in Usenet you
choose to put PHOTOSYN.  See below.

>> Perhaps it's time to create a new domain:  I propose "bio", and thus
>> bio.photosynthesis!  I will be happy to propose this formally in
>> bit.admin if Jonathan Marder, owner of PHOTOSYN, likes the idea.  Or
>> he could propose it himself...

>I can't see myself embarking personally on this crusade (tho' please go
>ahead Una).

It involves nothing more than a statement of why the alternatives are
less ideal, when requesting the gate from the folks who watch over 

>IF we get PHOTOSYN into the Usenet, I want it done smoothly and sensibly
>via whatever mechanism works best.  I personally have enormous respect for
>the way Dave Kristofferson has developed the Bionet hierarchy (I think that
>Una Smith agrees with me on this).  I am fully sympathetic with Dave's
>attitude to the LISTSERV system, and very much appreciate his valuable

As do I.  Dave Kristofferson has done more work than anyone else to 
create the Bionet hierarchy, and he's naturally proud of it.  I agree
whole-heartedly with most of what he's done, and what he has said he
plans to do in the future.  I have also invested a lot of my own time
in Bionet, and I feel entitled to say how I think it could be made 
even better.  I would like to see the Bionet domain of Usenet grow to
include all professional biology newsgroups, but the historical paths
of both BIOSCI (as separate from Bionet) and the LISTSERV groups makes
that impractical or impossible for quite a few biology interest groups
at this time.  Someday, I am sure, these groups will all be integrated
in a rational way, as technology changes and biologists become
universally comfortable using computers (perish the thought! ;-). 

>advice.  I also want PHOTOSYN to find a sensible spot in the Usenet
>hierarchy (i.e. bio.photosynthesis or bionet.photosynthesis sound equally
>good to me, Una).

Dave presents two alternatives:  the bionet hierarchy, which is quite
professional, or the hierarchy, which is not.  Why didn't Dave
put his groups there in the beginning, thus improving the professionalism
there as some of the other sci.* groups have done?  Well, he didn't, and
consequently is full of lay speculation and the biologists hang
out in the bionet groups.  Consequently, seems on the surface a
pretty awful alternative to bionet.  However it is not so bad at all.
The group is pretty chaotic, but is not. is a gated LISTSERV group, BIOTECH at, and
it's traffic is quite reasonable.  Dan Jacobs <dan at is the
list manager/owner.  There are 280 LISTSERV subscribers.  It seems that
Dan Jacobs handles the gating himself rather than using the service
offered at American University, but some 216 other mailing lists are 
gated into Usenet, most by American University (data from bit.admin
periodic posting on gateways).

I've changed my mind about the hierarchy, and would now
recommend a gate into, at least on a trial basis.
Jonathan:  for your purposes, I think this is the way to go.

>One advantage of "bit.listserv.photosyn" is that it could be a temporary
>measure to test the water. 

Yes.  Ditto "" or "".

>Also, I am not sure if we would even make the
>necessary vote on Bionet (i.e. my impression  is that the present
>subscribers to PHOTOSYN would see little to gain).

That's a very good point.  As some bionet.general readers may recall, I
was one of the people who harrassed him about establishing voting rules
for the bionet groups last year.  I think the rules are good and
necessary, but they weren't designed with the transfer of pre-existing
groups in mind.


      Una Smith      Biology Department       smith-una at
                     Yale University
                     New Haven, CT  06511

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