fw:RFD: rec.aquaria reorganization

Well, folks, here is the official RFD (Request for Discussion) for the
split of re.aquaria.  Dustin Laurence (laurence at cco_caltech.edu), who
wrote the RFD, has asked me to post this to the mailing list.

Note the proposal for the creation of a an aquatic plant newsgroup,

Discussion of this topic, by Internet norm, will occur in the
newsgroup news.groups.  We can sure talk about it here (if it has not
already been beaten to death :-)) but there will certainly be a much
wider audience in news.groups.  Also, since this mailing list has
grown by a hundred people since the last discussion of this topic
here, I'd like to suggest that people who want to discuss this
proposal here take a look at our archives first.


Shaji Bhaskar                                              bhaskar at bnr_ca
BNR, 35 Davis Dr., RTP, NC 27709, USA                      (919) 991 7125

---forwarded message from ---->

                     REQUEST FOR DISCUSSION (RFD)
                     rec.aquaria reorganization

Author:       Dustin Laurence, laurence at alice_caltech.edu
Co-proponent: Wayne A. Powell, wap at inforamp_net

(Note: while Dustin is happy to answer e-mail about this RFD and will
do his best to do so in a timely fashion, other committments may limit
his e-mail activity during the discussion period.  We suggest that
e-mail be directed to Wayne unless there is a specific reason to do

Summary:    (All groups to be unmoderated)

            RENAME rec.aquaria -> rec.aquaria.misc
            CREATE rec.aquaria.marketplace
            CREATE rec.aquaria.tech

            CREATE rec.aquaria.freshwater.misc
            CREATE rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids
            CREATE rec.aquaria.freshwater.goldfish
            CREATE rec.aquaria.freshwater.plants

            CREATE rec.aquaria.marine.misc
            CREATE rec.aquaria.marine.reefs

    Each newsgroup in this RFD will be voted on separately and will
    pass or fail independent of the other newsgroups.


After discussion and approval in the *.aquaria groups, this RFD will
be officially posted to news.groups, news.announce.newgroups,
rec.aquaria, alt.aquaria, sci.aquaria, alt.aquaria.killies, rec.ponds,
sci.bio.fisheries, bionet.organisms.zebrafish.  In addition, copies
will be mailed to the managers of the following mailing lists for
AQUATIC-PLANTS, and KILLIES. Subsequent discussion will be directed to
news.groups.  After a discussion period of 21-30 days, if there are no
overwhelming objections to any of the proposed groups, there will be a
Call For Votes (CFV) posted to the same groups as this RFD.  If
significant changes are necessitated by that discussion, the revised
RFD will be posted for another discussion period before the CFV is

After the official posting of the CFV, the voting period will be at
least 22 days.  The actual vote will be counted by a neutral votetaker.
Each group that passes, by receiving 100 more YES votes than NO votes
*and* twice as many YES votes as NO votes, will be created five days
after the end of the voting period unless the vote is deemed irregular.
Any group which fails a valid vote may not be voted on again for six


The usenet aquarium newsgroups, rec.aquaria, alt.aquaria, and
sci.aquaria have maintained a steady, sizeable message volume since
their creation.  They enjoy an enthusiastic and dedicated readership
whose long-term committment is evidenced by the amount and complexity
of material that has been made available.  The existing (already
>200k) FAQ for rec.aquaria has just been expanded and rewritten, a
>150k FAQ for reef aquarists is maintained separately, an ftp site and
several web sites provide permanent reference material, and recently a
hard disk to provide a permanent home at Caltech for the archive and
the Krib web pages (which were losing their former site) was purchased
with donations from the net.  For those interested, these documents
are available at:

        Pointers to various web pages, including the regular aquaria
        faq and the archive:

        Regular FAQ:

        Reefkeeper's FAQ:

        Aquaria ftp archive:
                                                 (South Africa mirror)

There are also many active mailing lists on various aquarium topics
(the addresses listed here are the contact addresses, not the list
addresses themselves):

    The bitnet AQUARIUM mailing list (listserv at emuvm1_cc.emory.edu)
        241 subscribers, many messages per day.

    The BETTAS list (listserv at listserv_arizona.edu)
        135 subscribers, a few messages per day.

    The CICHLIDS list (mail-server at mailmill_com)
        >200 subscribers, many messages a day.
        Requested a specialty newsgroup.

    The DISCUS-L list (listserv at mitvma_mit.edu)
        ~150 subscribers, ~10 messages per day.

    The GOLDFISH list (howardr at col_hp.com)
        ~90 subscribers, ~7 messages per day.
        Requested a specialty newsgroup.

    The AQUATIC PLANTS list (majordomo at actwin_com)
        ~200 subscribers, ~9 messages per day.
        Requested a specialty newsgroup.

    The KILLIES list (no information was provided)

The fact that several of these lists would prefer to move to a
newsgroup (often because the workload is too great for the list
managers) demonstrates that a reorganization of the aquarium
newsgroups is long overdue.

A reorganization was discussed at length in these newsgroups starting
in April of 1994; much of the discussion is archived at

    ftp://ftp.cco.caltech.edu/pub/aquaria/incoming/reorg .

While the aquaria newsgroups have in the past been resistant to a
split on the grounds that it would inhibit cross-fertilization between
specialties, this discussion made it clear that the newsgroup volume
had become great enough to be problematic for a large majority of

Early on it was agreed that only rec.aquaria would be reorganized.
The redundancy in the current scheme with three groups should be
reduced rather than increased, and because rec.aquaria receives the
greatest volume (In March 95 it carried over 3000 messages) it should
remain the primary usenet aquarium newsgroup.  However, because every
possible combination of these groups are received at various sites,
alt.aquaria and sci.aquaria should remain as they are rather than be
removed.  Finally, this reorganization provides an appropriate
framework for the addition of more specific newsgroups at a later

The results of Michael Sawyer's straw poll were posted on May 3.  Out
of 62 votes, 60 were in favor of a reorganization.  Similar majorities
supported the creation of two main rec.aquaria subgroups: .freshwater
and .marine .  (The corresponding groups in this RFD appear with a
.misc suffix only because of the non-requirement requirement that this
be so.)  The poll results, further discussion, and the judgement of
the author leads to the proposal for the creation of three additional
groups.  It should be noted that the year delay in producing this RFD
is a result of the author's outside commitments, not a lack of
interest on the part of the long-suffering readers who have waited
patiently for its completion.


GENERAL charter

The rec.aquaria.* hierarchy provides the primary USENET home for
discussion of all topics related to home aquaria.  Discussion of other
closed aquatic and marine systems such as public aquaria, ponds,
aquaculture, and mariculture are also welcome, though these topics may
be better served by other newsgroups, such as rec.ponds; further
afield but still relevant are sci.bio.fisheries and
bionet.organisms.zebrafish (all of which are unrelated to and
unaffected by this RFD).  However, the primary focus of the
rec.aquaria.* hierarchy is to support the private aquarist.

The divisions into topic specific subgroups is meant help the reader
find discussions on the topics that they are interested in, not to
inhibit them, so the charters of these newsgroups should not be
interpreted too narrowly.

Crossposting is discouraged unless absolutely necessary; if a post is
of potential interest to aquarists in both .marine and .freshwater
then it probably belongs in .misc instead of either.  Sometimes
crossposting to two groups is fine, but otherwise posts should simply
go to .misc instead.  However, crossposting is never appropriate
between .marketplace and the other groups.

(The following section is conditional on the passage of
rec.aquaria.marketplace; if that group fails, then the current
consensus-defined commercial posting policy will stay in effect and
apply to all groups on this RFD.)

Commercial postings

Advertisements and other commercial posts are a contentious issue on
the aquaria groups.  Since the following may be unfriendly-sounding,
it should be emphasized that companies are invited and encouraged to
maintain a presence on the net, and if you avoid these pitfalls you
can expect a lot of appreciation for your efforts to be more
accessible through the net.  For more useful information on
advertising on the net in general, see the Advertising on Usenet
posting in news.announce.newusers .

Non-advertisement posts from companies and their representatives
(including ongoing individual moneymaking ventures) require special
consideration as well as actual advertisements.  Both are governed by
the Golden Rule of commercial posting in rec.aquaria.*:

    The newsgroups exist for the benefit of their individual readers.
    Companies and individual moneymaking ventures are _invited guests_
    of the individual readers.  As guests they receive special
    consideration (rec.aquaria.marketplace), and are expected to take
    special care not to interfere with the normal workings of what is
    essentially a meeting place for private hobbyists.  One corollary
    of this rule is that readers should have a choice as to whether
    they see (and often pay for the downloading of) ads, which is what
    motivates much of the following.

Advertisements are restricted to rec.aquaria.marketplace, as provided
in that groups charter.  Companies and their representatives are
encouraged to contribute to discussions in the other aquaria groups;
however, it should be understood that criticism of companies and
products is part of the purpose of those groups.  If your company or
product is discussed, you are welcome to post your side of the story.
You should definitely not reply to every article or insist on having
the last word--a good rule is that you should post to the thread no
more often than other individual contributors.

E-mail advertising is never acceptable unless explicitly requested.
If a reader didn't specifically ask for your advertisement, don't send

The above guidelines should eliminate most problems before they arise.
Companies that abide by the spirit, not the letter of the law and keep
the "guest" aspect in mind should find the rec.aquaria.* hierarchy a
friendly place to advertise their products and a uniquely valuable way
to obtain feedback and meet their customers.  For more general
guidelines on what types of advertising are and are not acceptable on
usenet, see the Advertising FAQ in news.announce.newusers .

Unwelcome posts

Flames, while never on-topic, are particularly harmful when directed
at new readers.  The aquaria groups were once one of the friendlier
places on the net for beginners.  This is no longer true in many
people's minds because of the responses that are often aimed at
newbies (either to the net or to the hobby).  Flames and other
non-constructive criticism aimed at those seeking help are unwelcome
and should be directed elsewhere (try alt.flame, /dev/null, or shout
at your monitor).

Binary files, even those related to aquaria, are generally not
appropriate (though _very small_ files may be ok).  The correct
procedure is to make the file available by ftp, by WWW, or post the
file to an appropriate alt.binaries group (for pictures this would
probably be alt.binaries.pictures.animals or
alt.binaries.pictures.misc), and then post a short note in the aquaria
groups explaining where your binary post can be found and what its
subject line is.

Companies with hundreds of items to sell will have catalogs that
outgrow rec.aquaria.marketplace, and should instead maintain an ftp or
preferably web site and post its location (if done properly, this is
more convenient for your customers as well).  Advertisements disguised
as advice ("your problem can be solved by our widget, as I've said to
everyone who has posted about this problem"), non-ad ads (.signature
files that advertise, for example, though short unobtrusive contact
information is OK), and ads for non-aquarium products are never
welcome; the net does not generally take kindly to this sort of
transparent subterfuge.  Neither is e-mail advertising; interested
readers will read rec.aquaria.marketplace .


RENAME rec.aquaria to rec.aquaria.misc (Unmoderated)

   Rationale: A general discussion group is needed, and to avoid heavy
            political fire it must be named .misc .

   Charter: Topics not covered by the other groups, and topics that are
            appropriate to more than one group (rather than
            crossposting).  Not all topics fit neatly into the usual
            freshwater/marine division (notably brackish aquaria), not
            all topics have a large enough following to warrant a
            separate newsgroup at this time, and some topics are of
            broad interest to many types of aquarists.  Also
            appropriate are such things as pointers to more specific
            newsgroups, ftp and web sites, and other "meta-issues."
            If you don't know where to post it, it probably belongs

            The only things that do not belong here are those that
            clearly fit well into one of the other groups; subjects
            that are popular enough to warrant their own group should
            not drown out smaller specialties in rec.aquaria.misc .

CREATE rec.aquaria.freshwater.misc (Unmoderated)

   Rationale: Mandated by an overwhelming majority.

   Charter: Topics specific to freshwater aquaria which do not fit
            into one of the more specialized newsgroups, as well as
            topics which fit into multiple specific freshwater

CREATE rec.aquaria.marine.misc (Unmoderated)

   Rationale: Mandated by an overwhelming majority.

   Charter: Topics specific to marine aquaria which do not fit into
            one of the more specialized newsgroups, as well as topics
            which fit into multiple specific marine newsgroups.

CREATE rec.aquaria.marketplace (Unmoderated)

   Rationale: Needed to avoid disputes over the appropriateness of
              advertising, allow ads to be found easily without
              burying or being buried in general discussion.

   Charter: Ads related to aquaria and aquarium products and
            inhabitants by private individuals and businesses.
            Companies with hundreds of products must share the
            newsgroup with hobbyists trying to unload their spare
            tank, so care may be needed to avoid posting too often.
            Posting once a month or so would nearly always be
            unobjectionable; regularly posting every week would almost
            certainly be too often.  More important than numbers is
            simple courtesy; if a post from somebody trying to sell
            their living room tank is lost in a hail of commercial
            ads, then the newsgroup cannot serve one of its primary
            audiences.  Similarly, huge catalog listings are
            inappropriate.  (Instead post pointers to ftp and web
            sites with your on-line catalog; this works very well.)
            Discussion of ads posted here should also take place here,
            and posts should never be crossposted between
            rec.aquaria.marketplace and another rec.aquaria.* group.

CREATE rec.aquaria.tech (Unmoderated)

   Rationale: There are many topics which are common across the
              freshwater/marine dichotomy, and this split is not meant
              to interfere with the interaction of the two branches of
              the hobby.  Many of these topics relate to the technology
              of aquarium keeping.  While the organisms and special
              techniques vary, both freshwater and marine aquaria face
              a similar set of fundamental problems and often rely on
              similar devices in their solution.  This newsgroup also
              allows those not interested in the gritty details to avoid

  Charter: Discussion about the technology of aquarium keeping,
            including homebuilt gadgets as well as commercial devices.
            Discussions of the technical details of such devices
            belong here, though the rationale for their use may be just
            as appropriate in another newsgroup.

CREATE rec.aquaria.freshwater.cichlids (Unmoderated)

    Rationale: Cichlids are a large specialty within the freshwater
               hobby, and have an active mailing list with over two
               hundred subscribers.  This mailing list has
               specifically requested a dedicated newsgroup.

    Charter: All topics related to both old- and new-world

CREATE rec.aquaria.freshwater.goldfish (Unmoderated)

    Rationale: Goldfish are the stereotypical beginner aquarium fish,
               but they also enjoy a dedicated following of skilled
               aquarists and an active mailing list that has acquired
               ninety members in about two months.  This mailing list
               has specifically asked for a dedicated newsgroup.

    Charter: All topics related to goldfish and their kin.

CREATE rec.aquaria.freshwater.plants (Unmoderated)

    Rationale: Planted tanks have an enthusiastic and voluble following
               among freshwater aquarists (much like reefs have in the
               marine branch).  This group provides a home for planted
               tank specialists and also allows the large number of non-
               plant aquarists to avoid the many strictly plant posts
               (a subject of some grumbling in the past).  In
               addition, there is a large, active plant mailing list
               which has specifically requested a dedicated newsgroup.

    Charter: All topics related to planted (freshwater) tanks.

CREATE rec.aquaria.marine.reefs (Unmoderated)

    Rationale: The fundamental division of the marine hobby is into
               reef and non-reef aquarists.  This group provides a
               home for reef specialists while allowing non-reef
               aquarists to avoid the large number of reef related
               posts.  This newsgroup is the single most requested
               specialty newsgroup in my private e-mail, and I fear
               violence if it is not included!  (Not really, but the
               support is large and vocal--I would sooner worry that
               there would be nothing left in
               rec.aquaria.marine.misc .)

    Charter: All topics related to marine reef aquaria.

Dustin Laurence, laurence at alice_caltech.edu
Wayne A. Powell, wap at inforamp_net

For my sanity's sake: I read all my mail, but simply can't reply to it
all anymore.  I try to help everyone I can, but I can't help you with
the FAQ contents, since I didn't write it, nor freshwater questions,
nor if you haven't read the relevant sections of the FAQ.