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Re: Public: Science news posts & Mediocrity



Amanda, Walt, all,

Between you, you have brought the issue nicely into focus in many new and 
constructive ways. However, what I meant was something slightly different 
from either of your (perfectly valid) perspectives. It is:

1) These news posts are on-topic in at least a vague sense (although, 
they seem to get sent to at least three other groups I've never heard of, 
so just how relevant can they be?!). I would hate for the group to lose 
its ability to discuss questions of the origin of life, intelligence, 
etc. For my money, NASA-style exobiology is worth discussing. BUT...

2) Count how many mails from the group are *discussions* of these topics, 
versus how many posts are simply re-posts of news iotems. I get a ratio 
of roughly 2 news posts per one discussion post. It is this ratio which I 
object to. These news posts dominate the list. To me, that makes them 
indiscriminate. If all these posts are so interesting, hopw come almost 
none of them spur any further comment? These news posts are the biggest 
volume of traffic on the group.

3) As regards Amanda's point that technology isn't up to a more 
targretted way of distributing these posts - sorry, Amanda, but you're 
wrong. Two ways: (a) Larry adds the address of any interested parties to 
a group email list in his email address book. He types in 'to: exo news 
group' - and the computer does the rest, easy; (b) set up a separate list 
for people who want to subscribe to this particular information service, 
again easy.

4) My point is basically that subscribers to the open SETI League list at 
the moment get two separate 'feeds', regardless of which they want. They 
get speculation and hard information about SETI and how to do it - and 
they get an exobiology news service . Of course the group should be able 
to decide what it wants - I'm just saying that at the moment two subtly 
separate things are getting conflated. If you want to discuss the 
importance of something with a friend who is also interested (and 
perfectly capable of acquiring their own data), do you insist on sending 
her/him a whole newspaper before you open the subject for discussion?

No one claims these posts are not interesting to those who want them. The 
point is, it's perfectly possible to send them *only* to those who want 
them - say a group which was expressly interested in five to ten posts a 
day about exobiology. There are other reasons for joining this email 
group - and if you joined for another reason, these posts are a huge 
irritation. I'd love the chance to have them on a separate email list - 
so that those who wanted got them, and those who didn't, didn't. That way 
we'd get to hear about them only when they were relevant to the 
discussion in hand.

So what do youy say, Paul? The traffic is going through the SETI League 
server anyway. How about putting it on a separate subscribable list?

Richard