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Is bionet.virology dead ?

Thalida Arpawong arpawong at dino.nci.nih.gov
Thu Oct 2 13:31:51 EST 1997

Marnix L. Bosch wrote:
> A little over a year ago it was decided to change the bionet.virology ng
> to a moderated format. The hopes of all the people who proposed and
> supported this idea was that by filtering out the garbage this ng would
> again become a forum for virologists to discuss virology. I have been one
> of the four moderators and I mmust conclude at this time that our goal was
> not met. The number of posts submitted to the moderators is extremely low
> (on average maybe 1 per day) and of those half or more are of the 'get
> rich quick' or other internet-nonsense format. Of the remaining posts
> quite a few are well meant requests for information, generally from
> high-school students working on a project. Often with some coaxing these
> are reformatted by the original poster so that they can serve as starting
> points for potentially interesting discussions, which unfortunately rarely
> seem to gain any momentum.
> Maybe it's time to reenter the discussion we had when moderation was
> proposed and accepted. Moderation has never been a goal in itself, but was
> adopted as a tool to improve the quality of the ng. As such it has failed,
> even though it may have served a function as a filter.
> Questions that I have are:
> - how much interest in there to continue this ng, in whatever format ?
> - should moderation be maintainted ?
> - are there any suggestions to make this ng come alive again ?
> At the same time I must take the step to remove myself from the moderators
> list. It turns out that my schedule is too unpredictable and I have found
> myself travelling during times that I was supposed to perform my task as
> moderator. I hope that either the other three moderators can step in, or
> that someone else comes forward.
> Marnix Bosch
> Marnix L. Bosch, Ph.D.
> Dept. of Pathobiology and
> Regional Primate Research Center
> University of Washington
> Box 357238
> Seattle, WA 98195-7238
> tel. (206) 543 7619
> fax. (206) 543 3873
I don't know if the ng is dead, but it might be. I found it devoted to
resolve homework for high-schoolers. Only a few discussions, like Ebola
outbreaks or whether viruses are alive or not, seem to attract the
attention of a few subscribers.
My feeling is that as no interesting in-depth discussions or idea
exchanges occur, real virologists in the ng have just forgot about it.
I don't think this is due to moderation. As the internet keeps growing
and more and more people (not necessarily scientists) get access to the
ng, the idea of becoming a sort of library is not attractive for most
scientists. If we go to a ng is because we consider it a forum to expose
our ideas and knowledge in a RECIPROCAL environment. Not only to answer
naive questions or suggest references.
I suggest to re-think the orientation of the group and create if
necessary a FAQ file for non-scientists and links to libraries were
youngsters can make their homeworks. Offer scientific links to virology
groups (as HIV or papillomavirus). Moderation will be necessary as
longest spams keep expanding on the net.
I hope this helps.

Best Regards,
Luis Alvarez, Ph.D.
luism at helix.nih.gov

------------ Forwarded Message ends here ------------

Marnix L. Bosch, Ph.D.
Dept. of Pathobiology and
Regional Primate Research Center
University of Washington
Box 357238
Seattle, WA 98195-7238
tel. (206) 543 7619
fax. (206) 543 3873

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