Newsgroup vs. Dist. List

geoff doerre gdoerre at
Tue Mar 31 16:29:15 EST 1998

[This post is in response to an email Pat sent via distribution list 
about what should go where, Newsgroup or Dist List?]

Hi Pat--first of all, keep up the great work; we all owe you a lot.  
Here's my two cents in a nutshell:
		Dist List--*really important stuff*
		Newsgroup--everything else

Let me say right off that I'm kind of ambivalent about this; I don't agree 
with moderating newsgroups basically at all, but I realize sometimes 
commercial interests abuse netiquette, so it becomes necessary.  
(Although this may change very soon; a California-based internet 
promotions company just got slapped with a whopping fine for "spamming":  
sending unsolicited email to individual users; and the USENET may vey well 
feel some repercussions from this).

But it's my feeling that the bionet group wasn't cluttered at all, even 
before you were moderating, as compared to some of the other newsgroups 
I've seen.

It's my feeling that people who complain even about the posts you let 
through don't seem to appreciate the value and convenience of
your services.  After all, they could just as easily open any newsreader 
program, go to the USENET group, and weed through posts themselves.  But 
that's often too much effort, or difficult for the uninitiated to 
accomplish as easily as opening email.

I probably get twenty email msg.'s daily (and that's less than I used to) 
because I *do not* subscribe by email to newsgroups for just that 
reason.  Bandwidth is getting precious.  So it's my vote (if we're 
voting) that general interest items should remain off the distribution 
list, unless it's an urgent high prioority or time-sensitive matter.

I understand some people don't have access to newsreaders, even though (I 
don't mean to sound elitist) I'm not exactly sure how that's 
possible.  Perhaps your suggestion of another mailing list for 
newssubscribers is a good idea--but isn't that what a listserv is 
supposed to be doing?  (Here's where you send in your address, subscribe, 
and all the posts to that groups are sent to you).  Because I'm *not* on 
the bionet newsgroup listserv, but I *do* get (and want to keep getting) 
the distribution list from Pat.

I think it's a good idea to open debate about these issues, because just 
how to define what should and should not go on which channel is by no means 
easy.  Before you try to tap me to head the committee to look into this, 
I should say that I don't really have the background required, but 
I'd be happy to kick around ideas.

For instance, I'd suggest looking at FAQs and posting regulations of other 
comparable newsgroups (similar topics, audiences, volumes, and not just 
bionet) to see what they've come up with.  They're often very specific 
about permitting commercial solicitations (NO!), or about the length and 
relevancy of ongoing discussions ('Threads').

Where it gets more difficult is with relevant product offerings or job 
postings.  It's still my bias to let more rather than less go on the 
group, and to perhaps develop a custom FAQ (is there one?  I haven't seen 
it in a while, so maybe it should be reposted and/or updated).  This 
would be great for neophytes and compugeeks alike among us as a reference to 
which people can turn if they want to learn posting regulations or how to 
filter out certain types of postings ('Kill' files; how much less moaning 
there would be if everyone knew how to use theirs...)  Also, it would be 
reassuring to know just who has access to the addresses on the listserv 
or addresses which end up posted to the newsgroups, so that people don't 
worry about getting junk-email.

But to reiterate:  the Distribution List should be used sparingly, IMHO.

Lastly, I don't mean to insult anyone's intelligence; I know people have 
worked (and do work) long and hard on a great website and newsgroup.  But 
maybe it's time now to tweak it a little bit in terms of who the audience 
is, and to plan for the future.  So I apologize in advance for perhaps being 
redundant, or for stating the obvious (I don't want to have to explain 
'flaming' on this group).

I look forward to meeting you again, and welcome a chance to hear about 
this debate more (on the newsgroup).  

						      Geoffrey Doerre
						      (617)573-4151/4290 FAX

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