BIOSCI/bionet miniFAQ & Fundraiser

BIOSCI Administrator biohelp at
Thu Aug 5 11:26:28 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 newsgroups.


 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.

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

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 as

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  For the METHODS-AND-REAGENTS list the USENET
newsgroup name is bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts, thus the appropriate
commands are

    sub bionet-news.bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts

    unsub bionet-news.bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts

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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