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[Bionews] Improvements for BIOSCI/Bionet groups

BIOSCI Administrator biosci at net.bio.net
Sun Jun 26 16:38:08 EST 2005

Dear Bionet/BioSci readers,

Thanks much for bringing these topics up about moderation, spam,
and other news/discussion group technology.  These comments
echo others that I've heard, and it is time to discuss how to improve
bionet news groups.

Tony Travis <ajt at rri.sari.ac.uk> wrote in bionet-plants:
> Subject: Re: BIOSCI/Bionet has a new home
> I am one of the people responsible for the creation of bionet-plants  ..
> I've always thought that the BIOSCI newsgroups are both 
> interesting and useful, but that they need SPAM filtering rather than 
> moderation.
> Increasingly, people are using RSS and Blogs, and Wiki, to do the things 
> we once did with mailing lists because of the large amount of SPAM being 
> sent to lists/newsgroups like this. ...

The 'moderation' status of Bionet groups has more to do with
spam-reduction today than controlling discussions. Bionet groups have
been undergoing automated spam-filtering for several years, since the
MRC-UK home or before.  But spam filtering can only be applied to
moderated newsgroups, due to the mechanics how Usenet works.

All the new web-based methods (Wiki, RSS, ...) are useful and offer
good choices for biology discussion and news. They however are not
spam-immune.  These new methods are now recieving spammer's attention
and have growing problems similar to Usenet and e-mail lists.

Spam has damaged use of Bionet/BIOSCI groups greatly, though newer
web-only choices and other factors have also contributed to making it
less compelling than 10 years ago.

One of the continuing values of BIOSCI/Bionet I think is its widely
distributed public nature.  Many people learn of these biology
discussion groups via Usenet distribution or from the established
scientists who have used Bionet over several years.

I've taken over the task of Bionet administration to maintain and if
possible improve its value for public biology research discussions.  Good spam
filtering is a first priority.  I'm proposing for discussion that we
convert all of the active, but non-moderated groups into moderated
ones, to eliminate spam.  This also requires human moderator(s), as
spam filters are not perfect.  These can be a group of people, to
spread the effort around.

These groups are unmoderated, and appear active:
ag-forst  bionet.agroforestry     Agroforestry research.  
bioforum  bionet.general          General BIOSCI discussion.      
cellbiol  bionet.cellbiol         Cell biology research.  
fluorpro  bionet.molbio.proteins.fluorescent Fluorescent proteins and bioluminescence    
immuno    bionet.immunology       Research in immunology. 
jrnlnote  bionet.journals.note    Advice on dealing with journals in biology. 
methods   bionet.molbio.methds-reagnts    Requests for information and lab reagents.  
microbio  bionet.microbiology     The science and profession of microbiology. 
molmodel  bionet.molec-model      Physical and chemical aspects of molecular model..       
neur-sci  bionet.neuroscience     Research issues in the neurosciences.       
plantbio  bionet.plants           Research into plant biology.    
proteins  bionet.molbio.proteins  Research on proteins and protein databases. 
wantjob   bionet.jobs.wanted      Requests for employment in the biological sciences. 
x-plor    bionet.software.x-plor  X-PLOR software for 3D macromolecular structure det..

These groups are seeking new moderators:
audiolog  bionet.audiology         Research on audiology and hearing science
biochrom  bionet.genome.chromosomes Mapping/sequencing of eucaryote chromosomes
biojobs   bionet.jobs.offered      Job openings in the biological sciences.
btk-mca   bionet.metabolic-reg     Kinetics and thermodynamics at the cellular level
comp-bio  bionet.biology.computational  Computer and mathematical applications
gen-link  bionet.molbio.gene-linkage  Research into genetic linkage analysis
mycology  bionet.mycology           Research on mycology
staden    bionet.software.staden   The Staden molecular sequence analysis software
virology  bionet.virology          Research into virology.
womenbio  bionet.women-in-bio      Discussion of issues related to women in biology

Some of these are little used, and may be better discontinued
as bionet groups, depending on comments.  

There are good reasons that many of you know for non-moderation:
unfettered, rapid distribution of new messages. When the chore of
moderation falls on one person, it will eventually weary anyone, and
discussion can go silent. 

It is feasible and recommended that any group have several moderators
who have a continuing interest in the group, to avoid this. It is also
feasbile for Bionet groups to join a common pool that the same group
of moderators oversee (again mainly as human spam filters).

Here is the charter for BIOSCI/Bionet that has been in place for
many years now:

  BIOSCI/Bionet is a set of electronic communication forums - the bionet
  USENET newsgroups and parallel e-mail lists - used by biological
  scientists worldwide. No fees are charged for the service.
  BIOSCI promotes communication between professionals in the biological
  sciences. All postings to the newsgroups should be made in that
  spirit. While the general public may "listen in" to the discussions,
  these newsgroups are intended primarily for communications between
  researchers. There are other forums on Usenet such as sci.bio.misc for
  the asking and answering of biological questions from lay persons.

It is probably a good time to weed out the un-used groups, and those
that have strayed from bio-sciences discussion.  There is a longer list
here of of groups that are active and defunct: 

The bionet.general / bioforum group would be a good place to
continue this discussion.

-- Don Gilbert
biosci-help at net.bio.net

-- d.gilbert--bioinformatics--indiana-u--bloomington-in-47405
-- gilbertd at indiana.edu--http://marmot.bio.indiana.edu/

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