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moderation needed ?

Ian A. York iayork at panix.com
Sat Jan 13 11:18:45 EST 1996

In article <marnix-1201960629470001 at fae2xx.biostat.washington.edu>,
Marnix L. Bosch <marnix at u.washington.edu> wrote:
>This newsgroup has been inundated over the past year or so with threads
>that narrowly border on virology, and have little scientific 
content. [... moderation? ]

Imposing moderation on a currently unmoderated group can't be done,
practically. There are three options. (Incidentally, to avoid the irony of
filling b.v with off-topic posts complaining about off-topic posts, think
very hard before replying to this.  Consider sending replies to me, and
I'll post a summary if necessary.]

(1) Do nothing, and trust that the sanity will return.  Unfortunately
Usenet is still exploding, and sheer numbers mean that there will always
be background noise from the rude and lazy.  Things won't always be as 
bad as they are now, but they're not going to return to the halcyon days 
of old.  

(2) Start a new, moderated bionet.virology group. 
(Bionet.virology.moderated; or better, bionet.moderated.virology, since
this provides a hierarchy for the rest of the bionet groups if and when
they want to go this route.) Right now, I think this is a bad idea; I
don't think the noise problem is quite bad enough yet.  For comparison,
other groups that have gone the moderation route seem to have had between
100 - 200 (or more) messages a day before shutting the door.  (In general 
they seem to be happy with the results, incidentally, based on a very 
small sampling.)  Bionet.virology is at around 30 or less.

(3)  Retro-moderate.  Bionet is its own hierarchy, and as such is not 
fully subject to the netiquette of Usenet.  It would be considered 
acceptable by most to issue third-party cancels for inappropriate posts.  
However, that seems to me to be an awfully big stick to go after the 
problem, and would be guaranteed to cause some complaints; most people 
may agree with the practice, but those who don't disagree very strongly 
and loudly.  It also requires a certain amount of technical knowledge.

I think that, so far, things are not bad enough to require the fairly 
considerable amount of work involved in the latter two options.  Let's 
wait and see what happens.  I might be more interested in a new moderated 
hierarchy if the number of noise posts is such that the volume is double 
or triple what it is now.  

Ian York   (iayork at panix.com)
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney St., Boston MA 02115
Phone (617)-632-3921     Fax  (617)-632-2627

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