Re: SETI Helping outsiders learn, while focussing ourselves.

David Woolley (
Sun, 25 Jul 1999 10:35:04 +0100 (BST)

[ Looks like someone didn't read the cross-posting guidelines - dropped
  back to just the open list as non-technical and concerns that list ]
> 1. We need to _focus_ our club on doing real science, with real results.

But I thought that was not a private club list, but one
for the general discussion of SETI, primarily amongst non-professionals.

While the question can be validly asked about Paul's contributions,
I don't want the list to become just a project Argus list, although,
as pointed out elsewhere, I think it may have to move upmarket to
differentiate it from the newsgroups, which will otherwise drain it of
new members.

I was going to post the URL of the list description in response to an
announcement, on alt.sci.seti, of a new list with a charter that seems
the same as that I thought applied to this list; but I think I need to
hold off until I have the charter confirmed. (I've already emailed the
creator of the new list, but suspect that the list was partially created
so that he can be the creator of the list!)

Although I disagree with his tactics, it seems fairly clear that Larry
doesn't consider the list to be a project Argus one.

> on them. A prime example is Dan Fox's radio map of the Milky Way galaxy.

There is a tendency in this sort of organisation (Argus, not the list now)
to not know what the professionals have done; I strongly suspect that the
equivalent information has been available for decades in the professional
sphere, if you know where to look. All this self congratulation can be
dangerous in that it can lead to a false sense of complacency.

> media request may be unrecognized and lead to unfavorable publicity. Of
> course there are annoying requests for information from uneducated people who
> don't read the site. On the other hand, the site is not the most user

Remember the site is not related to the list, if I understand the charter

I think that questions at the what is 2 + 2 level (and a little higher) can
reasonably be pointed to text books, or ignored entirely++. Also there can
be some level of technical detail, relating specifically to project Argus,
at which commercial considerations come in and free consultancy requests are
rejected. But I think that individuals should try to answer questions about
general principles (and be free to answer the more technically specific ones -
I don't want commercial confidentially rules to be applied to Argus
technology). (I deliberately say commercial, as though the SETI League
is non-profit, it is still money, and its use for allocating resources,
that is driving this issue.)

> I propose that we explicitly remove the "outside email response" function
> from Paul's job. I propose that we set up another email list just for this
> function, and allow volunteers to subscribe to the list. Whenever someone has

I would say that was that list already; otherwise we should
surrender to the new list whose annoucement I posted.

Removing it from Paul's job will leave a vacuum in terms of communicating
between the professionals and the sophisticated general public. My
impression is that Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute aims their
general publicity down market, e.g. public lectures, where you cannot
establish any technical background, and that establish any technical background, and that SETI@Home are makeing a
total mess of theirs by letting rumours abound on alt.sci.seti, and
even this list, when they could actually use them as hooks for educating

I think Paul's real skill is as a publicist, and to deny him that would
be a waste of his talents.

> a question, let us have it forward onto this list, and let the list
> volunteers answer. This should take a big load off of Paul's shoulders. Of
> course Paul could monitor it.

++ On mailing lists in general, some people will actually try to answer
2 + 2 questions undermining those who give a basically RTFM response.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Sun Aug 01 1999 - 16:28:46 PDT