Re: Epistemologically Discriminated- SETI X-rated

David Woolley (
Wed, 28 Jul 1999 08:14:53 +0100 (BST)

> I finally managed to talk to one of the systems administrators
> (moronicus sp.), and he explained to me that all SETI related sites were
> rated as unacceptable to our company's policies. He said that access to
> recreational sites like that, would compromise the public image of the
> company. He was amazed that I had managed to connect a month ago.

It seems much more likely that this is the real reason for the block
and that you got through before because there were very few hits, but
SETI@Home has caused a lot of hits and they have done a *seti* deny rule
on URLs. I believe some companies use a positive vetting rule and
only allow sites that are considered directly relevant to the company's
business needs. Web browsing can be seriously costly in wasted
man hours.

> Maybe that META tag should be placed in the website, so we would not be
> indexed, and classified by their robots (see Brian Wong's message).

I find it difficult to believe that your system administrators would
have gone to the trouble of trying to construct a stop list by browsing
these structured indexes; its just too much work. If they are negative
vetting, they'll just look at the traffic and block sites that don't
look business related.

On the other hand, in spite of my reservations about recent design
changes, the SETI League site is probably the best SETI portal site
out there at the moment - most other sites take the view that their
brief is to promote their own organisation and close collaborators.
Denying it to search engines would be extremely counter-productive,
as it would make it a lot more difficult for people to find a good
list of sites.

You of course would need to use /robots.txt, not META to effectively
block indexing, especially if you wanted to do it selectively by
search engine.

> Bottom line is, no matter how we advance some people just do not
> understand
> the difference between science and science fiction, when SETI, or the
> space program is involved.

I note that the page for the Italian SETI list is actually under an
Area 51 sub-directory, so I suspect that some of the subscribers to
this list do not draw the clear distinction, although personally I
would have wanted to avoid any Area 51 association.

> The way it goes it seems we are being discriminated based on the
> research object. To me that opens a completely new way to experience
> minority issues.<grin>

You haven't told us what business you are in, but you need to demonstrate
to us that there is a clear business need for your employers before we
can question the reasonableness of their decision.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Sun Aug 01 1999 - 16:28:47 PDT