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Proposal for Usenet gateway

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  • Proposal for Usenet gateway

    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

    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