Chuck Miller rellim at MAILHOST.TCS.TULANE.EDU
Thu Jun 19 13:59:04 EST 1997

Andy Sonderfan wrote to me:

>Seems to me that the signal-to-noise ratio in Bionet.Toxicology is
>I know that the Charter states that the newsgroup will be unmoderated,
>but I wonder (given the high proportion of commercial or sexual postings)
>if you want to revisit that.  I know you polled the group for opinions on
>moderation early in 1996; a quick look back suggests that the respondents
>overwhelmingly favored moderation
>I'd be willing to wear the moderator hat from time to time; I'm sure
>others would willingly take a turn.  What do you think?
>All the best.

Hi Andy,

Yes, it is getting pretty scummy out there in netland.

I would love to moderate the news group and/or have others help in the
moderation. I think we were all in good agreement on the elimination of
non-toxicology related postings.

The problem that arises is that only one person (with one e-mail address
and password) can be used as the moderator. It is difficult to shift the
role of moderator from person to person.

Moderation will slow the rate of communication down, especially if the
moderator becomes sick or is busy writing a grant or paper, teaching, on
vacation, ect. I decided that I would not moderate the group because there
are times that I can't devote my efforts to this task. This would mean
"dead" time for the news group. I think that on of the big advantages of a
news group is the rapid dissemination of a message.

I agree that abuse of our news group is becoming worse every day. If you
are willing to moderate the group it will be fine with me. All the e-mail
would come to you and then you would pass it on to bionet for distribution
by forwarding it along with a password (this is the current mechanism).
This will eliminate most, but not all, of the unwanted postings as the
"party crashers" are getting more and more clever in spamming the news
groups.  Perhaps one possible moderation solution is for some group at Soc.
of Toxicology, NIEHS, CIIT, etc. to take on the moderation task. That way
if moderator A was not able to screen the mail then moderators B and C
could fill in. A single e-mail address and password would suffice in this

There has been significant discussion about this problem in other
(unmoderated) bionet groups. One hope now that Highwire Press (the same
ones that produce J. Biol. Chem. online) has taken over the bionet groups
is that some filters can be developed to keep the junk out. Perhaps if we
began all our posings with a standard greeting such as "Dear
Toxicologists", a text checking program could be used to discriminate the
legitimate messages from the spams. This mechanism could serve as a secret
door knock for legitimate messages. I will contact the folks at Highwire
and see if they have any plans for fighting extraneous postings.



Dr. Charles A. Miller, rellim at mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu
Bionet.toxicology news group:
Dept. Environmental Health Sciences, SL29
Center for Bioenvironmental Research
Tulane Univ. School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
1430 Tulane Ave.
New Orleans, LA 70112

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