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Response to advertising (no biology content)

Mark D. Garfinkel garfinkl at iitmax.iit.edu
Wed May 25 10:19:45 EST 1994

In article <1994May25.124422.2038 at midway.uchicago.edu>
ecec at quads.uchicago.edu (Eric Cabot) writes:
>In article <2ru1d0$ont at hsdndev.harvard.edu>
>favis at RASCAL.MED.HARVARD.EDU writes:
>>Greetings Netters,
>>       I would like to encourage everyone to send their favorite Drosophila
>>sequence to the individual responsible for posting the thigh cream ad. [...]
>I think that everybody should follow their own conscience on this one.
> [much deleted]

	I agree with Eric that encouraging mass e-mailbombing is not
"in good taste." I also disagree with his decision to send an "obscene"
message criticizing the inappropriate post. Obscenity, in the usual
meaning of the word, I feel, only compounds the offense.

	The usual customary Usenet response to inappropriate postings
is simply to hit the 'n' key! Remember that, in a threaded newsreader
program, the reader selects interesting articles based on subject line.
*We* control the extent to which our time is wasted by inappropriate

	The alternative action for egregious violations is to send
a strongly, yet politely, worded criticism by e-mail to the poster,
and to "root" and to "postmaster" at the offending poster's machine.
Be sure to append a copy of the inappropriate or offending message.
On most computer systems, "root" and/or "postmaster" are the account
names used by the system's administrator. He/she will take appropriate
action, up to & including removing the offending user's account.

	For more information about net-etiquette, including guidelines
on what constitutes appropriate use of Usenet and on how to deal with
offending e-mail and/or postings, users ought to read relevant posts in
news.announce.newusers. Newsgroups such as news.admin.misc,
news.admin.policy, and alt.current-events.net-abuse have ongoing
discussions of specific cases, including April's highly publicized
"Green Card Lawyers" and this week's "thigh cream" poster. In the case
of the thigh cream poster, someone reported in news.admin.misc that his
account has already been disabled.

	Apparently the issue is not whether commercial advertising
belongs on Usenet. For example, bionet.jobs exists solely for the purpose
of posting positions wanted & positions vacant in the biological sciences,
and postdoc-offered postings occasionally appear in other bionet.* groups.
In addition, there is a biz.* hierarchy that is supposed to be solely
advertising (how many sites actually receive it is beside the point). The
issues are whether the advertiser posts the message in newsgroups
appropriate for the product/service offered, whether the advertiser
violates any legally binding agreement with his network-access provider,
and whether the advertiser's use of software to repeatedly post the same
message to hundreds or thousands of unrelated newsgroups (a practice
called "spamming") constitutes unfair/excessive use of network services.

Mark D. Garfinkel (e-mail: garfinkl at iitmax.acc.iit.edu)
My views are my own, which is why they're copyright (c) 1994

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