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Ton Van Den Bogert
12-12-1995, 10:52 AM
Dear subscribers,

Several of you (most recently Art Kuo of the University of
Michigan) have asked me if it is possible to read Biomch-L
postings through Usenet News. At the moment, this is not
possible, but maybe the time has come to change.

Usenet news does not go to your mailbox, but is stored in a
publicly accessible filesystem on your University or Internet
provider and can be read with special software or even with most
Web browsers. Such newsreaders can identify 'threads' (messages
with similar Subject lines), making it easier to follow
interesting discussions and ignore others. An advantage for the
list moderators is, that Usenet does not generate bounced E-mail.
We (that's myself, Krystyna Gielo-Perczak, Mike Young, Christoph
Reinschmidt, and Pierre Baudin) are spending a lot of time
dealing with those error messages, and adding/deleting/changing
subscriptions. We would rather spend our time on content than on
technical problems. But it's doable with five co-moderators.

Technically, it is easy to install a gateway between Biomch-L and
a newsgroup (say, sci.biomechanics) and we can have the best of
both worlds. We just have to decide which options we want.
Every solution has some advantages and disadvantages. The major
concern is, that Usenet tends to generate more junk and Biomch-L
will become less interesting and lose its best contributors.
This can be prevented by having a moderated newsgroup.

I propose (at least for a trial period) to start a moderated
newsgroup sci.biomechanics, with a bidirectional gateway to
Biomch-L. Biomch-L postings would automatically appear on the
newsgroup, but postings sent to the newsgroup would have to be
approved by a moderator, before they are distributed to the
newsgroup and to Biomch-L. People subscribed to Biomch-L on
LISTSERV would still be able to post without approval. I have
described the advantages already. Some disadvantages are:

- Delay of postings due to approval procedure (we have an
approval procedure already, applying only to non-subscribers)
- The REVIEW BIOMCH-L would no longer list everybody
- Someone would have to log in several times every day to see if
anything needs approval
- Because of the threading, Usenet tends to have more a
discussion format than a question-answer/summary format.
Sometimes discussions never end because people who occasionally
read the news may reply to a question before they realize that
the same points have been raised already. Such contributions
could be rejected by the moderator, of course.

Please note that LISTSERV would *continue* to operate. Any
change will just increase your options. The only consideration
is, whether these new options will have any unwanted
side-effects.

What do you think, should we give it a try? If you have any
strong feelings, in favour or against this proposal, send your
reaction to Biomch-L if you want to discuss this in public, or to
Art Kuo , who has volunteered to do the
groundwork for the gateway, or to me. After your reactions, we
will decide if we go ahead with this. Remember, we can always go
back to LISTSERV-only if we don't like it.

-- Ton van den Bogert
Biomch-L co-moderator