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Moderation needed.

Bob Horton horto005 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
Wed Mar 13 08:17:24 EST 1996

Chris Kenedi wrote:
> While the worst offenders do cross-post somewhat haphazardly, I
> don't think a strict rule would be apporpriate.  For instance
> cross-posts with immunology and parasitology would seem to be
> occasionally appropriate.

Well, the filter could be adjusted to allow this sort of 
thing. For example, you could allow cross-posts to other 
bionet groups, or to a total of two/three/whatever groups, or 
you could allow some people to cross-post more widely than 
others (like bionet administrators). But my proposed filter 
would not stop multiple postings of the same message to 
different groups. This is different from cross-posting, 
because all the followups don't get sent to all the groups 
automatically. If we had had just the original polio cvaccine 
post, for example, without every followup from every one of 
the couple of dozen newsgroups that carried it, it wouldn't 
have been a problem at all. And the discussion of the topic in 
this group would have died quickly. Its the cross-posting that 
makes these things into Threads of the Undead.

A filter such as I propose would not keep anyone from posting 
to any group they like, without getting permission. You could 
post to bionet.immunology and tell them about a thread they 
might find interesting in bionet.virology. And/or people 
interested in both parasitology and virology could just read 
both groups. There wouldn't be a huge amount of traffic to 
sort through in these groups, if it weren't for milk, 
broccoli, and polio.

Or maybe you could have a moderator approve all cross-posted 
threads, i.e., use a semi-automatic filter.

>         I would also tend to think that the people having the discussions
> on milk and the such are quite aware of the innapropriateness. I
> suspect a simple rule against cross-posting would encourage them to
> develop software that simply re-posted to the group.

I think most of the followups in these threads are from people 
who are not aware even of what bionet is supposed to be 
(witness the complaints asking why these arguments are being 
posted to alt.folklore.herbs.) People just click the 
"followup" gizmo, and post to whatever groups are in the 
newsgroups field. Its all WAY too automatic.

Again, I think SIMPLE reposting of some articles would not be 
a problem - its posting all the @#$%#$ followups that is the 
problem. Sure, some dedicated opponent of vaccination could 
write a script that would re-post every followup from each 
group over here to bionet. This would be an escalation of 
hostilities, and might require us to take more drastic action, 
like recruiting a live moderator. But we don't have to YET, 
since a filter could eliminate the vast majority of the noise 
we get NOW. My guess is that these guys would never bother to 
do the re-posting thing, for a variety of reasons to which I 
have previously alluded. If they do, we should deal with that 
when the time comes.

>While I support moderation, I would hope the moderator might allow
> some leeway in consideration of unconvential approaches and
> hypothesis while still discussing the topics and issues of virology
> that are the focus of active reaserch.

My point is that there is an excellent correlation between the 
objectionability of posts, and the number of newsgroups to 
which they are posted. This means that an automatic filter 
could be used to get rid of the vast majority of the wacko 
stuff, and almost none of the serious postings. We could have 
a robot moderator (a Boterator?), who could do a fine job 
without even being very smart. So all the smart people could 
spend their time doing science, instead of filtering messages.


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