I'm interrupting the usual monthly posting of the BIOSCI miniFAQ to
bring you up to date on BIOSCI fundraising progress, a topic of
concern to your future use of this resource. Thank you in advance for
taking the time to read this message carefully.
Last year we announced that BIOSCI was going to adopt the U.S. Public
Broadcasting System model to fund its operations after our DOE/NSF
grant runs out later this year. Unlike PBS, we are not soliciting
contributions from users; we are only selling ads on our Web pages
solely to cover our operating costs. Our goal is to seek sponsorships
until we build up an operating reserve of about $100,000 and then
cease further promotions until we need to build the reserve back up.
(The accountants among our readership will be familiar with the
problem of deferred revenue which we can not safely utilize until ads
have been displayed for a period of time.) We have three sponsors to
date with a couple more pending. The process is time-consuming,
however, and we need your help as explained further below.
Our operating costs consist of our network connection, phone lines,
hardware maintenance (we hope to have new and faster hardware soon!),
plus 0.7 FTE of salaries covering UNIX systems admin, technical
support, quality assurance, i.e., testing, of our system, and
administrative costs (such as the time it takes to actually
find/write/call potential sponsors and raise money!). Although the
BIOSCI staff does get compensated for a portion of the work that they
do, this project has always received a lot of free after-hours and
"vacation" time labor, so we hope that no one will begrudge the time
that we do charge to the project to serve you. All of the three
part-time staff members, Dave Mack, Julie Lawrence, and myself, have
full time day jobs and families in addition to working hard to keep
this service running for all of you.
Besides having to relocate the project, we were very busy this last
year building new infrastructure such as our WWW hypermail interface
to the system. This was released last December along with scores of
WAIS indices for the newsgroups. Virtually everything is complete,
although we do continue to find and fix bugs (many through your
helpful feedback!). We are still having some problems with our WAIS
indexing. The archives continue to grow rapidly. We are running over
100 indexes now versus three previously and any systems crashes cause
greater havoc with the indexing than before! We are still working to
fix this as fast as our resources permit and appreciate your patience,
but we have been able to automate a lot of the infrastructure to
reduce labor as compared to past requirements.
We have also implemented new software to make moderation of
BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups much easier and combat the growing problem of
Internet junk mail and USENET "spamming." About 20% of our groups are
now moderated, many of them by the BIOSCI staff! This, for example,
made a major difference last year in the quality of content in our
EMPLOYMENT/bionet.jobs.offered newsgroup which many commercial
concerns and recruiting firms are using **without charge** to recruit
candidates for positions in the biological sciences.
We are also now in a position to have sponsors for individual
newsgroups as you will have noticed if you have visited
http://www.bio.net/ and clicked on "Access the BIOSCI/bionet
So, how can you help??
As noted above it can take a lot of time to contact potential sponsors
if I have to do it all myself. Our request is quite simple. You can
do two important things which will take very little time for you
First, please use our WWW system at http://www.bio.net/ to access the
archives. You can now post or reply to messages via your Web browser.
Your usage helps attract sponsors. The URL is http://www.bio.net/.
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 net.bio.net.
Our hope is to quickly raise several large corporate/institutional
sponsors on our heavily-used WWW locations (some stats appended
below), and then end this sponsorship campaign so that our resources
can continue to be used for service provision, not fundraising. Many
of our specialty newsgroup WWW archives are still used by small
communities of scientists (and they haven't been heavily promoted
yet). While these may be valuable niche markets to some advertisers,
it will generate more labor and overhead having to find these
sponsors, fairly price the locations, and deal with lots of smaller
sponsorships than fewer mid-to large sponsors. We are striving to
keep our operation as lean and efficient as possible since we are not
trying to make careers out of running BIOSCI. We are trying if at all
possible to avoid the administrative overhead entailed with processing
lots of small payments to reach our fundraising goals.
I'd like to thank all of you for your help in advance. In helping us,
you are also helping yourselves, not only in keeping this resource
available for all of the both large and small research communities
that we serve, but also by alleviating the need for us to go back and
compete with researchers for tight grant dollars! We promised NSF
when we were awarded the BIOSCI grant that we would carry out this
mission to make the service self-supporting. With your help, we will
succeed in continuing BIOSCI's work into its second decade. Thank you
biosci-help at net.bio.net
A list of our prime WWW sponsorship locations follow. Statistics are
for the four week period from 22 Jan. - 18 Feb. 1996 and usage
continues to grow.
The overall BIOSCI WWW pages are currently visited by users from close
to 5000 unique computer hosts per week. Web servers only log the
Internet computer/host name and frequently more than one individual
can connect to us from a particular host.
Main home page, http://www.bio.net, visited recently by about 2100
unique hosts per week
Main Newsgroups archives page, http://www.bio.net/archives.html,
visited recently by about 1200 Unique hosts per week
BIO-JOURNALS archive page, http://www.bio.net/BIO-JOURNALS.html,
visited recently by about 1000 unique hosts per week.
EMPLOYMENT archive pages: http://www.bio.net:80/hypermail/EMPLOYMENT/
and monthly header pages, visited recently by about 600 unique hosts
Address database search page, http://www.bio.net/addrsearch.html,
visited recently by about 450 unique hosts per week.
Methods newsgroup archive pages, http://www.bio.net:80/hypermail/METHDS-
REAGNTS/ and monthly header pages, visited recently by about 350
unique hosts per week.