Archive-Name: aids-faq1
Last-Modified: 10 Nov 1993

Section 1.  Introduction and General Information

 Q1.1        What is
 Q1.2        Discussion topics.
 Q1.3 distribution.
 Q1.4        Subscribing and unsubscribe to
 Q1.5        What is a moderated newsgroup?
 Q1.6        Editorial guidelines.
 Q1.7        How do I submit a posting?
 Q1.8        The moderators.
 Q1.9        Cooperative moderation.
 Q1.10       Discussing moderation policies.


Question 1.1.  What is

"" is a USENET newsgroup which discusses AIDS and HIV.  A
gateway forwards articles posted to to a BITNET listserv
mailing list called AIDS.

Thousands read, including people with HIV infections,
published authors, researchers, public health officials, and interested
individuals.  It is carried in several countries, particularly in the
Americas and Europe. is moderated by a team.  When you submit an article to, it must be approved by a member of the moderation team.


Question 1.2.  Discussion topics. covers topics of interest to people with AIDS (Acquired
Immune Deficiency Syndrome), their friends, relatives, and loved ones,
AIDS service providers, educators and researchers, and the general public.

Some common topics are
  Causes of AIDS and opportunistic infections.
  Vaccines for AIDS.
  Treatments or cures for AIDS and opportunistic infections.
  AIDS prevention and education. carries some regular magazines.  Here's a current list:
  CDC AIDS Daily Summary
  AIDS Treatment News
  The Veterans Administration AIDS Info Newsletter

If you have the time to add to this list, we invite you to contribute (if
you obtain copyright permission, of course).


Question 1.3. distribution. is distributed as a USENET newsgroup, where it has
approximately 40,000 readers.  At one time USENET was carried primarily at
research and educational institutions, but that is changing; a number of
commercial services now carry USENET.

Here is a breakdown of comparable newsgroups, for the month of September
1993.  You can obtain a full list of network traffic by anonymous ftp from

        +-- Estimated total number of people who read the group, worldwide.
        |     +-- Actual number of readers in sampled population
        |     |     +-- Propagation: how many sites receive this group at all
        |     |     |      +-- Recent traffic (messages per month)
        |     |     |      |      +-- Recent traffic (kilobytes per month)
        |     |     |      |      |      +-- Crossposting percentage
        |     |     |      |      |      |    +-- Cost ratio: $US/month/rdr
        |     |     |      |      |      |    |      +-- Share: % of newsrders
        |     |     |      |      |      |    |      |   who read this group.
        V     V     V      V      V      V    V      V

  39 110000  1700   76%  3845  6418.0     6%  0.07   3.6%  soc.motss
  77  96000  1420   67%  1885  3541.1    11%  0.04   3.0%  alt.drugs
 131  81000  1203   80%  1571  4064.6    13%  0.06   2.6%
 231  65000   961   61%  1269  2863.5     6%  0.04   2.0%
 558  44000   647   66%   282   760.5    38%  0.02   1.4%  talk.politics.drugs
 605  41000   615   78%   383  1556.0     2%  0.05   1.3%
 724  37000   545   68%   512  1053.6    12%  0.03   1.2%
 729  37000   542   77%    53    96.0    12%  0.00   1.2%
 880  32000   481   43%   436  1033.5     8%  0.02   1.0%  alt.homosexual
1202  25000   370   41%   326   529.6     9%  0.01   0.8%  alt.drugs.caffeine
1320  22000   332   21%    27    62.4     4%  0.00   0.7%
1343  22000   326   66%    48    89.1     7%  0.00   0.7%
1398  21000   314   35%   182  2557.2     0%  0.07   0.7%  bit.listserv.gaynet
1412  21000   310   56%   145   510.1     0%  0.02   0.7%
1425  21000   307   59%    97   353.2     0%  0.02   0.7%
1559  19000   276   48%    99   138.4     8%  0.01   0.6%
1685  17000   254   42%   235   378.1     0%  0.02   0.5%
1888  14000   213   13%    12    29.3   100%  0.00   0.5%
1916  14000   207   38%     5    19.7    20%  0.00   0.4%
2449   3500    52   11%    55    97.5     6%  0.01   0.1%  de.sci.medizin is also distributed as electronic mail by the AIDS listserv.
Mail is not as convenient a way to read as is a newgroup, but
mail is available at more sites (including Compuserve, America Online,
MCImail, ATTmail and many institutions which have Internet gateways).

In additional to these primary distributions, is
redistributed by various bulletin boards and mail gateways.


Question 1.4.  Subscribing and unsubscribe to

The answer to this question depends on your system.  You may have to ask
your local system administrator.  Here are some guidelines valid on many

* You may have USENET on your system, especially if you run UNIX or VMS.
  Here are some commands to try:  "rn", "trn", "xrn", "nn", "tin".  If
  they work, try joining the newsgroup "".

  That might not work, since some sites limit the newsgroups they receive.
  All is not lost: you can get by e-mail.

* If USENET is not available you can get by e-mail.  Send a
  mail message to  The message body should
  contain just the following command:
    subscribe aids <yourname>

  Type in your real name (not your e-mail address) instead of <yourname>.
  A complete message might look like this:

    subscribe aids Joe Smith

  To unsubscribe, send a message to containing
  the text
    unsubscribe aids

  Please unsubscribe before your account expires.  The moderators get all
  sorts of junk mail if you don't.


Question 1.5.  What is a moderated newsgroup?

A moderated newsgroup is one in which all postings must be approved by a
moderator before being distributed.  The purpose of moderation is to
restrict what can appear.  Postings which do not adhere to the guidelines
for the group will be rejected.


Question 1.6.  Editorial guidelines.

As with any newsgroup, read for a few days before posting, to
see if your question has been answered already, and to get a feel for the
tone of the group.

Postings to should:

* Write on topics directly relevant to AIDS, HIV, or related topics.

* Unconventional medical/research claims must be accompanied by references
  to the popular press (i.e., major newspaper, magazine, etc.) or
  scientific press (i.e., Science, Nature, Lancet, Scientific American,
  Cell, Brain Research, etc.).

  We require references for unconventional medical/research claims,
  because some therapies carry with them potential danger.  Some
  unconventional medical/research claims are fallacious.  Without this
  policy, would have printed several dangerous and
  undocumented therapies by now.

* Political, sociological opinion/analysis articles are acceptable.  The
  interpretation, and even the existence, of this particular policy
  continues to be the subject of internal debate among the moderators.

  However, in the past we have printed articles holding both popular and
  unpopular opinions on topics like "Quarantining HIV Positives" or "who
  did Clinton appoint to the AIDS Task Force."

* Refrain from personally attacking other participants.  For example, do
  not call someone an 'idiot' or say they are 'biased'.  Instead, point
  out the flaws in their argument.  If you find yourself getting angry at
  a poster, and construct a reply, please try to remember this rule.

  It is often useful to wait a day to see what other reactions have been
  posted before sending something off in anger.

* Send one line "quips" as personal mail to the original submitter, rather
  than posting.

* When posing a question to a previous poster, reconsider whether the
  question needs to be posted.  Perhaps you could ask the question by
  e-mail and request a posted response.

* Do not invoke religion.

* Do not break copyright laws.  Reprints of articles from other sources
  must include a statement of permission to reprint.  An exception is made
  for abstracts of articles from scientific journals, which are not
  usually restricted.  If you can't get reprint permission, excerpt or
  summarize the article.

* Do not construct an article with more than 20% text from a previous
  article, unless it is very old (i.e., months old).  The best approach
  when constructing a response is to tersely summarize the article to
  which you respond, in square brackets.  For example,

    In article &lt;>;, Dan Greening wrote:
    > [reasons to not include too much of a prior article]

    Also, don't forget that many people get this stuff by mail, so
    huge inclusions clog hundreds of mailboxes, including mine.  Thanks.

* Do not duplicate something which has recently appeared.

The moderators don't always agree on what's acceptable and what's not.

If an article is rejected, you should receive a note from the moderator
saying why.  These notes, and other discussions about the running of will be distributed on the aids-d mailing list (see Q1.10
`Discussing moderation policies.').


Question 1.7.  How do I submit a posting?

This depends on the software you are using.  On many USENET systems, you
can use the command

You can also post by sending your article as e-mail to

Because is moderated, your submission will not appear
immediately.  Sometimes the delay is very short; often it may be 24 hours.
It depends on network delays and how busy the moderators are.  A tickler
program reminds us of postings older than 48 hours.

IMPORTANT:  Whether you use postnews or e-mail, please format your article
exactly the way you want it to appear in the newsgroup.  Because our
moderation software is somewhat unpolished, editing out notes to the
moderators in a posting is quite tedious.  If you must communicate
directly with the moderators, send a note to


Question 1.8.  The moderators.

Three people currently moderate  They are
  Phil Miller       Professor, Biostatistics, Washington University
  Jack Hamilton     Interested layperson
  Dan Greening      Founder, Director AppWare C++, Novell
  Michelle Murrain  Health issues researcher, Professor, Hampshire College

Phil and Jack do most of the moderation.  Dan repairs the moderation
software.  Phil is probably the most liberal moderator, Dan the most
restrictive, Jack in-between.  Michelle is new, so it's too early to tell.

Various individuals have been moderators in the past, including
  David Dodell       Founder, Grand Rounds fidonet echo, Dentist
  Steve Dyer         Writer, Gay Community News, Software Consultant
  Alan Wexelblat     Freelance writer, ethicist
  Tom Lincoln        Informatics Director, USC Medical Center
  Craig Werner       MD/PhD Student, Albert Einstein School of Medicine
  Will Doherty       Gay Activist, technical writer Sun Microsystems


Question 1.9.  Cooperative moderation.

Cooperative moderation seeks to limit the burn-out associated with
newsgroup moderation, by sharing the workload among several moderators.
In addition, it provides a more balanced treatment of contentious issues.

An early paper on the cooperative moderation scheme is

D.R. Greening and A.D. Wexelblat, Experiences with Cooperative Moderation
of a USENET Newsgroup, Proceedings of the 1989 ACM/IEEE Workshop on
Applied Computing.

available by FTP from

This paper is also available from the UCLA Computer Science Department as
a technical report.


Question 1.10.  Discussing moderation policies.

A separate mailing list, aids-d, has been set up for the moderators and
for people who interested in how is run.  Most readers will
not be interested in aids-d; its purpose is internal discussion rather
than information dissemination, and most articles on aids-d are examples
of what moderation has filtered out.  If you want to subscribe, send email