Can we improve this newsgroup?

evodevo evodevo at
Thu Mar 31 06:32:00 EST 2005


Dear all,
I received a couple of responses to my question, that I want to share with
you. All replies were to me directly, rather than to the
newsgroup. This is one of the things I am concerned about, because a lot
of useful information is exchanged between individuals, while the other
readers of the newsgroup do not benefit from the discussion.

This is why I suggested to change to the forum format, in which
postings are made to particular subheadings (Material requests,
Methods, Jobs, Conference announcements, Funding sources, General
Information etc.). Users have the option of Email notification of
replies to their posts or to topics of interest, or they can just
browse through all topics and read the answers themselves. Also, the
administrator has all options for open or moderated postings, etc. The
Xenopus tropicalis community uses Mailman instead of Usenet, which in my
opinion is OK and similar to what we have already, but it offers fewer
options to the users than a forum.

OK, here are the four responses that I will post without names.

Response 1:
I have always had a problem with questions not being answered in the
newsgroup myself. Often what happens is the question gets answered too
directly instead of to the newsgroup. The person may be inclined to email
someone directly and answer their question. Everyone who actually asks a
question has probably 5-10 people that would like to know the answer to
that particular question but would not post it. A forum style allows more
ready availability of people and ideas in certain areas of expertise. This
could streamline things.

Response 2:
Yes I think the major problem is the lack of access to answers by other
users, because no one wants to answer the same question more than once.
 Access to answers and others knowledge in a forum would allow people
to become more involved. Some people may not answer questions assuming
other people will, with responses posted a person may feel more
inclined to answer a question knowing no one else has responded.

Response 3:
I've noticed that sometimes people reply directly to me, and I have on
occasion replied not to the list either.  Maybe that accounts partly for
the low rate of "answers"

Response 4:
I moderate the Troplist, a mailing list for scientists working with
Xenopus tropicalis. The Troplist uses "Mailman" software, which is free
software available at:

One thing Mailman does is automatically archive old list postings in a
searchable index. For an example go to:
And click on "Troplist archives".

Mailman also allows list members to receive postings either one at a time
or batched and sent at a prearranged time. Some people like this option if
there is a lot of traffic on the list.

If you think this would improve the zbrafish group, I can forward this
info to the folks at Zfin.


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