archive: Re: SETI Mailing List Wanted!

Re: SETI Mailing List Wanted!

David Woolley ( david@djwhome.demon.co.uk )
Fri, 7 May 1999 08:59:25 +0100 (BST)

> If you want to concentrate specifically on the hardware and software for
> SETI searches, I recommend the ARGUS list (see
> <http://www.setileague.org/admin/arguslst.htm>). The open SETI email list

I'm already on that list.

> was intended for those more general discussions, which makes it, by design,
> less focused than you may desire.

I'm not asking for this list to be just focussed on the engineering of
SETI search machines. In fact it is one of the interesting things about
SETI that it does touch on so many different areas of knowledge; it can
be interesting and informative when a thread wanders into some other area.

However, once you establish the principle that any thread root article on
any aspect of space science is OK because SETI involves space science,
you have also established a precedent for thread roots on any aspect of
psychology, economics, history, religion, politics, biology, language....,
because all these areas have aspects which are relevant to SETI, even
though the article isn't. If anything the tolerance of space science
actually represents a narrowness of the list, in that it is assuming
that the sort of people interested in SETI are only interested in the
physical sciences.

Most of the postings I'm referring to would be more at home somewhere
like sci.space.news (name?) and those interested should be pointed
to such other forums. Moreover, a lot of them consist of just a URL.
If they are relevant to SETI, the re-poster needs to add value to them
by including around half a screen of information which summarises the
item and explains the SETI implications. Without a summary I will junk
URLs immediately as they are too costly to follow just on the basis that
they appeared on the SETI list; I am also likely to junk un-summarised
full text, as my ability to pre-filter is being frustrated.

For borderline cases, like new planetary systems, I think a weekly
digest consisting of just half page summaries with pointers to web
or ftp resources, would be more acceptable.

The result of the current situation is a crying wolf effect, where the
relevant articles get ignored along with the irrelevant ones, in other
words thare are so many false positives that a true positive is going
to get missed.