Requests from the press (administrivia)

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
Date:         21 Nov 94 13:18:58 
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Dear readers,

I'm looking for your opinions.

In the past few months, the traditional press seems to have discovered
Usenet, and in particular this newsgroup, as an information resource.
I'm delighted that they recognize the expertise that's available here,
and hope that it may help improve the quality of the reporting, which
has often been dismally inacurate when the subject has been airliners.
However, I'm share the concerns of others that opinions expressed here
may be taken out of context to fabricate an "expert opinion" that
hardly represents anything we'd want to lay claim to.

I am also troubled that a regular stream of questions, from the press
or elsewhere, may simply drive away those people who have the most to
offer the newsgroup.  The charter of sci.aeronautics.airliners reads
as follows:

    A moderated discussion group on airliner technology: the design,
    construction, performance, human factors, operation, and histories
    of transport-category aircraft.

On several occasions I've asked Robert Dorsett, moderator of
sci.aeronautics.simulation and also the person who did most of the
hard work to create sci.aeronautics.airliners, for his opinion on
submissions that simply request information.  He notes that the
charter says this is a *discussion* group, not an oracle where one
can consult the experts.  He also has concerns (as do I) that some
students may simply try to use the group to have their research done
for them.

Based on this, I've accepted those submissions which asked questions
but which I felt had some potential to generate an interesting
discussion.  I've rejected many others, usually pointing the sender
to a previous discussion in the archives of the newsgroup, to other
newsgroups, which may be more relevant, or to more appropriate sources
such as Jane's or the local library.  Queries from the press seem to
fall closer to the latter case, but I've accepted them because I think
it's an interesting use of the net.

What do *YOU* think about this class of articles in general, and press
questions in particular?  Are the admitedly fuzzy rules described in
the previous paragraph ok?  Would you like to see fewer such articles?
Would you like to see more of them?  One possible alternative might be
to keep this stuff out of the newsgroup but to set up a mailing list
(or another newsgroup, if anyone wants to go to that degree of effort)
where those people willing to answer a variety of questions can help
without distracting the main group.

If you'd like to express an opinion on this, please send e-mail to  If there is a lot of response, I'll summarize
for the group.

Karl Swartz	|INet
1-415/854-3409	|UUCP	uunet!decwrl!ditka!kls
		|Snail	2144 Sand Hill Rd., Menlo Park CA 94025, USA
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