RFD: sci.philosophy.natural moderated

Will Wagers (wagers@computek.net)
27 Oct 1995 04:46:10 -0000

moderated group sci.philosophy.natural

This is an official RFD (Request For Discussion) for the creation of the
Usenet newsgroup sci.philosophy.natural. It outlines the proposal for this
new group, and is - as it says - for discussion. This discussion should
take place in the newsgroup news.groups. Please keep the discussion out of
other newsgroups and mailing lists in order to disrupt them as little as

Please *do not vote yet*. The minimum required discussion period for the
RFD is 21 days. The CFV (Call For Votes) shall be announced at a later

RATIONALE: sci.philosophy.natural

sci.philosophy.natural will meet a long-standing demand for a moderated
newsgroup for the scholarly discussion of and publications on ancient
natural philosophy (science) without flames and without unfounded
'speculative' postings. The proposed newsgroup would not replace any
existing groups. There is a small overlap with *many* existing newsgroups
and mailing lists in that subjects appropriate to sci.philosophy.natural
are occasionally discussed there. One purpose of sci.philosophy.natural is
to bring these discussions under one roof to faciliate interdisciplinary
scholarship. In some cases, this may result in offloading some traffic from
high volume newsgroups and mailing lists. It would still leave any and all
posters the forums that currently exist, so there is no question of denying
anyone an outlet for their ideas. The small number of newsgroups and
mailing lists which regularly deal with topics appropriate to
sci.philosophy.natural may regard the proposed newsgroup as a means of
publishing finished articles after the rounds of specialist comment and
criticism have occurred.

Minority viewpoints are seldom embraced and are often actively discouraged
on many specialist moderated newsgroups and mailing lists which are
dominated by a small group of established "experts". sci.philosophy.natural
welcomes minority and controversial viewpoints which are *justified by
scholarship and which pass moderation*.

The number of potential readers is difficult to estimate due to the
interdisciplinary nature of the group. However, a small survey for a single
subject area encompassed by sci.philosophy.natural drew 132 interested
readers or contributors. Many mailing lists from which
sci.philosophy.natural would draw participation have 300+ members.

CHARTER: sci.philosophy.natural

sci.philosophy.natural shall be a moderated newsgroup dedicated to the
discussion of and publications on ancient natural philosophy. All
viewpoints and levels of knowledge are welcome, subject to the moderation
policy described below. Because natural philosophy is such a broad subject
and because lively debate on issues is encouraged, this group is moderated
by a panel. Prospective articles are assigned to a moderator with skills
appropriate for approval. This method will hopefully lead to the fastest
turn-around time and least intrusion possible. Articles will *not* be
rejected based on whether the moderator(s) disagree with the views
expressed. The text itself will either be accepted as-is or rejected. In
some cases, the moderator may suggest changes.

Moderation policy:

* Articles may be full-length or extracts, requests for information,
announcements of relevance, etc. Lengthy quotation (more than 30 lines) of
source material must be accompanied by commentary or by other text which
ties it to on-going discussions. Articles which quote substantially the
same source material repetitively will not be approved. Articles consisting
of materials which are available on-line at ftp or WWW sites will not be
approved, rather pointers to sites may be given. Moderator(s) may waive
this rule at their discretion.

* Articles which contain personal attacks of any sort will not be approved
for posting.

* Articles which confuse politics with other subjects will be refused.

* Flameless disagreements are welcome; but, if a thread looks as though
it's never going to be resolved, the moderator(s) reserve the right to
terminate it or suspend it until new evidence is produced.

* Blank messages, test messages, advertisements, MAKE.MONEY.FAST, binaries,
uuencoded messages, and so forth, will not be approved posting.

* This is *not* a forum for the discussion of purely 'speculative' works,
such as those of Von Daniken, etc. So if you want to post something arguing
that aliens built the Pyramids, expect it to be rejected unless you can
offer citations from accepted professional journals. You will still have
the existing news groups in which to post.

* Moderator(s) may, at their discretion, change the Subject: lines for
threads which have strayed from the initial subject.

* Articles which include excessive quoting (e.g. an article which quotes an
entire other article in order to add a few comments at the end) will be
trimmed by the moderator(s).

* An article *must* have a valid reply-to address or it will not be
approved for posting.

* Cross-posting is strongly discouraged and requires a compelling reason
for approval.

* Rejected articles which would be acceptable after editing will be
returned to the poster with an explanation and suggestions for change.
Articles rejected for other reasons may be shared with the other moderators
for group consideration if the poster wishes to appeal.

* Any article that contains more than fifty percent quoted material (and
the author's signature shall not count as original material for purposes of
determining the proportion) may be trimmed or rejected at the discretion of
the moderator(s). In exercising this discretion, the moderator(s) shall
take readability considerations into account, such as the amount of quoted
material at the beginning of the message, and the size of the blocks of
quoted material. If the entire length of the article (excluding header and
signature) is less than 24 lines of 80 characters, then the requirement of
50% original material may be waived at the moderator's discretion.

* In keeping with Usenet netiquette conventions, signatures should be
restricted to 5 lines. Moderators may, at their discretion, trim signatures
to four lines before posting articles. Signatures may not sport commercial,
political, obscene, or contentious figures or slogans.

* Scholarly postings are considered the intellectual property of the
poster. If you intend to quote original material, e.g. to another newsgroup
or mailing list, permission must be sought from the original poster.


The proposer of the group is the initial moderator and is responsible for
recruiting others. If the number of moderators fall below four (4),
volunteers will be solicited. An automatic script will be used to share
postings among the moderators.

It is important to have a clear policy to cover the possibility that there
is conflict in the affairs of the moderation panel itself. It is generally
believed that moderators will come and go throughout the course of the
group, and in all cases the goal will be a consensus amongst the panel
regarding the addition of new moderators. A standard group decision process
will be followed: a motion will be made to add a new moderator, and if
there are no objections it will go ahead. Friendly relations are certainly

If there is an objection to a motion, and a group decision is not reached
by discussion, a vote can be carried out in accordance with the statements
below. In any of the following cases, a secret ballot may be requested --
and if a suitable (meaning: agreeably neutral) volunteer on the panel to
collect the ballots cannot be found, will be carried out via point #5 below
-- but voting will generally be public (within the confines of the
moderation panel itself).

1. If it comes to a vote, new moderators must be approved by a
supermajority (75% rounded downward, ie. two out of three moderators, eight
out of eleven moderators, nine out of twelve moderators, etc.) amongst the
moderation panel. Abstentions will not affect the outcome of this vote,
meaning that a supermajority among voting moderators must be obtained. In
the case of only two voting moderators who disagree, the prospective
moderator will not be added.

2. Moderators who will be unavailable for more than a week are expected to
have their names removed from the active file for that period. This implies
no permanent change in status, and they will be simply returned to active
duty afterward.

3. New moderators will be considered if the number of moderators falls
below four, or if several moderators have taken extended leaves of absence.
In the latter case, any new moderators will be "temporary" unless accepted
by the returning members of the moderation panel. Additional "temporary"
moderators will be added as required to handle various specialities, e.g.
ancient mathematics, ancient physics, archaeoastronomy, linguistics, etc.
If the volume of submissions warrants, such "temporary" moderators will be
made permanent. People named as successors by retiring moderators will
generally be given preference.

4. Moderators can be removed by a supermajority (as above) vote amongst the
moderation panel (including the moderator in question). Abstentions will
count as votes against removal.

5. If there is controversy amongst the moderators concerning the
application of these guidelines, the moderation panel agrees to submit to
binding arbitration by moderators-advice at UUNET. This situation covers
true interpretive controversy, as well as such technical scenarios as: only
two moderators, one wanting to remove the other; so many moderators on
extended leave or genuinely unresponsive that the active panel cannot
remove them to get on with business, etc.

6. Any votes or motions may be called into question by moderators returning
from leaves of absence, though these ballots may be counted as abstentions
in the interim.

7. All prospective moderators must agree to abide by these guidelines in
their entirety before consideration for moderator status. By acting as a
moderator, this point is implied, regardless of written confirmation.


It requires unanimous approval of the moderation panel to change these
guidelines; and, they must remain within the broad outlines given in the
original CFV charter.


MODERATOR INFO: sci.philosophy.natural

Moderator: wagers@computek.net (Will Wagers)



Posting of this RFD initiates a discussion period of at least 21 days.
Discussion about the proposed newsgroup will take place on news.groups,
which is a newsgroup dedicated to the discussion of new newsgroups, and all
interested people are encouraged to participate. If you post messages about
this RFD, please ensure that your article headers include:

Newsgroups: news.groups
Followup-To: news.groups

If you wish to post to news.groups, but don't have access, you may mail
your post to news-groups@cs.utexas.edu.

After the discussion period, a Call For Votes (CFV) will be posted to the
newsgroups and mailing lists this RFD was posted to, and to any other
appropriate newsgroups or lists suggested during the discussion.

The CFV will include directions for mailing votes to a neutral votetaker.
The voting period will be at least 21 days.

The group will pass the vote if it receives 100 more YES votes than NO
votes *and* twice as many YES votes as NO votes.


This RFD shall be crossposted to the following newsgroups:

news.announce.newgroups, news.groups, alt.archaeology, alt.mythology,
sci.anthropology, sci.archaeology, sci.astro, soc.history

and the following mailing lists:



Pointers will be posted to additional groups and mailing lists notifying
them where to find this RFD. Post discussion on this RFD *only* to
news.groups under the thread "RFD: sci.philosophy.natural moderated".
Please don't discuss it in other newsgroups. This is not a Call for Votes.
Do not try to vote now.

Proponent: Will Wagers <wagers@computek.net>
Mentor: Mark James <jamesm@dialogic.com>