I have received a couple of messages wondering why I am coming down so
strongly on the recent posting about commercial workstations. Why
didn't I give out just a private "rebuke." The reason is simply that
this is the most blatant violation I have seen in the last five years
of BIOSCI and should not be allowed to slip by without public comment.
A private response essentially lets the poster get off without any
real cost at all.
Another person suggests that the information is "useful" etc. with the
implication that this justifies it's dissemination. There is no doubt
that advertising can be useful if it tells you what you want to know.
By this criterion every company that has something of use to
biologists would have a justification for posting their technical
reports to the network. Anyone who has been using the network for
just a short period of time usually realizes that this is not in
accordance with network guidelines. Since my colleagues and I are
responsible for the maintenance of the BIOSCI/bionet newsgroups, it is
part of our job to ensure that the groups are used properly. I didn't
seek out the role of censor, but it comes with the territory.
Should we allow HP and IBM equal time to refute Sun's spiel? What
about all of the software companies too? We could fill this newsgroup
up in no time with ads and many of them would be quite informative.
However, the point of this forum is to allow *researchers* to exchange
their opinions, ***not for the taxpayers to subsidize the advertising
costs of commercial companies over public networks***. The kind of
exposure that the recent posting obtained would have costed **many
thousands of dollars if put up as a journal ad**. On the other hand
according to the regulations if someone with absolutely no commercial
connections had posted the article, then there would have been no
violation. They would be required to acknowledge their impartiality
in their posting though via the usual disclaimer notice. It usually
turns out that there is enough experience on the net that this
information will out if companies just allow people to talk to each
other instead of jumping in immediately with their marketing spiel.
This whole system works on trust and this trust should not be
kristoff at genbank.bio.net