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Re: Public: Science news posts



Greetings, all,

        Welcome to the SETI League Public emailing list! I hope this will be
a very useful forum for SETI-related discussions and debates. It seems that
we have a debate in progress immediately, concerning the definition of which
subject areas are 'on-topic' for this list. Here are my purely personal
thoughts.

        The Web site describes this list as:

> The Public email list, an open forum for general discussion of SETI
science, > technology, philosophy and strategies. ... This unmoderated list
is open to the > general public. 

        It is in the nature of unmoderated email lists to be relatively high
in traffic and low in signal-to-noise. It helps if posters make an effort to
match message content with subject line, so that subscribers can efficiently
scan and delete messages they're not personally interested in.

        The Web site goes on to say:

> Since the Public list is subsidized by SETI League members through their dues 
> contributions, several constraints have been imposed upon this open forum. 
>    Open discussion of both microwave and optical SETI projects, astrobiology, 
>    and speculative scientific studies related to extra-terrestrial 
>    intelligence, is welcome. Such discussion should emphasize rigorous SETI 
>    science, as conducted by the SETI League, Inc. and other recognized, 
>    reputable scientific organizations. 
>    No discussions of UFOlogy or paranormal phenomena... 

        <other points deleted>

        In my opinion, this definition implies that any discussion of
science which is relevant to life in the Universe is therefore on-topic on
this new emailing list.

        In this connection, Richard Burke-Ward said:

> It seems as though the posts of vaguely SETI-related science news are to 
> continue on the new e-mail system Paul has set up. Please don't take 
> offence, Larry - I know many people find your posts interesting and 
> welcome.

        I don't really know what Richard means about 'vaguely SETI-related
science'. In my personal opinion, the search for conditions suitable for
life in the Solar System (eg Europa), and for planets around other stars,
for example, are strongly and closely SETI-related subjects. Discussions
about such projects also seem to be on-topic according to the Web notes
quoted above. I've probably misunderstood Richard's concerns, I think. Can
you help me here, Richard? What do _you_ think is on-topic for this list?

        Richard went on to suggest technological solutions to the perennial
problem of sifting email messages to pick out just the interesting ones. At
the moment, artificial intelligence is not sufficiently advanced to
distinguish between e.g. astro-biology and radio SETI discussions. The
solution has to be, that the subscribers to the Public list evolve an
widely-agreed definition as to what is 'on-topic', and then people endeavour
to stick to that.

        Looking forward to it!

        Thanks,

        Amanda Baker