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No cross posts, no moderation

Robert Horton horton at biosci.cbs.umn.edu
Sat Mar 9 18:38:40 EST 1996

Dear BioNet ViroFolk;

Following the recent threads on polio vaccines, then fluoride, then
milk drinking, there has been a call to institute a moderator over this
group.  I oppose moderation because:

1) being a moderator is a thankless job, with sub-minimum-wage pay, and
no retirement benefits 

2) moderation increases turnaround time, and 

3) it just seems sort of desperate.

Instead, I advocate elimination of cross-posting by means of a filter/
cancelbot/whatever to prevent ANY post with more than one group in the
"newsgroups" field from appearing in a bionet group. If this is technically
feasable, I think it would cap the noise quite nicely, and it would sure
save some poor overworked would-be moderator a lot of hassle.

I just sent the following letter to Dave Kristofferson, BIOSCI/bionet
Manager, who will, hopefully, tell me if this suggestion is realistic
or not:

Dear Dave;

In article <4homcu$7s6 at net.bio.net> you wrote:

: We do not need to vote on moderation particularly if a group is
: getting overrun by lay people postings.

Would it be possible to institute a rule that articles to bionet groups
have no more than one newsgroup in the newsgroups field? All cross-posts
would be filtered out (unless they come from an Official Moderator-type,
maybe). This would eliminate the VAST majority of spurious posts in
groups like bionet.virology and bionet.immunology; the reason these weird
threads have so much traffic is that all the replies from all of the
newsgroups in which they appear are re-re-re posted to all of the other
newsgroups, ad naseum, e.g.:

Subject: (fwd) Re: Why do humans drink *cow's* milk?
Newsgroups; misc.kids,misc.kids.pregnancy,misc.kids.breastfeeding,
misc.kids.health,alt.activ ism.children,alt.folklore.herbs,

It seems to me that eliminating cross-posting would be very effective
in preventing replies from the devoted readers of alt.folklore.herbs
from appearing in bionet groups automatically. Sure, those folks could
post here if they wanted, but they would have to do it intentionally,
not just by replying to a post they saw in misc.kids. And we wouldn't
have to read all the replies to all the posts cross-posted to

Let's face it; not many people pay attention to where their cross-posts
go, even us scientists. And I bet we pay more attention than some of
the lay groups. Some considerable fraction of the traffic on these
weird threads is coming from people who don't even realize their
message is going to bionet.virology. And the muck-rakers who start the
things would be slowed down if it were even a tad more difficult to
cause the ruckus. Sure, they could write a script to bounce replies
from one group to all groups, but I bet they don't. Let's at least add
some challenge to it. It doesn't seem to me that there would be many
drawbacks to restricting cross-posting on bionet groups; messages
should be directed to a specific audience, anyway. We could put the rule
in the FAQ for bionet, make announcements, etc. and if it were really
necessary for some folks (like administration) to cross-post to all
groups, they could be given an exception.

Moderation just seems like too much work (sure, reading newsgroups is
fun unless you HAVE to do it), and I bet there wouldn't be any call for
it, if it weren't for these cross-posts.

- Bob

um..., er, I mean,

Robert M. Horton, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Dermatology
University of Minnesota Medical School
(I'm not really a virologist, but I sometimes play one in lectures...)

---                                       Have a :) day

"Scotty, try flushing the radioactive waste into the ventilation system!"

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