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About Aroid-L
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  *Long* administrivia (but please read it anyway!)
From: Steve Marak <samarak at arachne.uark.edu> on 1997.02.20 at 06:22:32(397)
This is regarding the Mallorn archive site, which was mentioned in a few
notes last week. This site is maintaining archives of a number of mailing
lists, mostly horticultural/botanical, including Aroid-L.

The topic died out (until tonight) on Aroid-L, but was very active
elsewhere on the net. I had hoped not to address the issue ex cathedra
(that's humor, folks) until those other discussions had gelled a bit, so
as to draw on their conclusions, but events are moving along and it seems
prudent to open the discussion.

Let me reassure everyone first that Chris Lindsey, who set up the
archives, is very much aware of the consternation they have inadvertantly
caused and is sensitive to the issues. At my request earlier today, he has
removed the Aroid-L archive from public access (i.e., outside his
organization) until such time as we give him permission to reinstate it.
His original reason for creating the archives was strictly internal - a
number of people in his organization were each individually subscribing to
various botanical and horticultural mailing lists. By subscribing from a
single account and creating an interface to the accumulated posts, he
could greatly reduce the load on his computing resources. (I have worked
on the same issue for my employer; it's very real.) Since Chris never
publicized his archives, he did not expect use from the net as a whole and
consequently did nothing explicit to prevent it (until requested, of

There are several issues here, which is why this note will be so long -
please bear with me as I feel compelled to explain what some may already
know and others may consider irrelevant as I try to put it all in

First off is the issue of copyrighted material. Several of us who have
researched it, and more importantly some lawyers who have also, agree that
in general each of you who posts to Aroid-L holds the copyrights on your
postings. That is, you - rather than Don and I as listowners - control how
they may be republished and otherwise used. There are all manner of
details, but that's the gist, and what it means to me is that even if Don
and I sanctioned the idea, each of you would still control how your posts
were used and whether they could be included in the archive. One possible
solution would be to state in the Aroid-L welcome which each member gets
upon joining that all posts might be archived and might be available to
persons not currently a part of the list (see discussion later).

Another issue, as Nancy mentioned, is privacy - some people are very
sensitive about the idea of their words going to any audience they didn't
intend. The consequences of this on the Internet can be remarkable -
several years ago I saw the very most inflammatory comment from one list I
was on (not mine, fortunately!) show up, very much out of context, in an
essay in Scientific American about 6 months later. A number of people
include phone numbers or mailing addresses in their signature files, which
now might be made much more public than they realized.

On the other hand (some of the "perspective" mentioned earlier) ...

- Many lists are automatically archived by the sponsoring institution as
part of their list processor operation. These archives can be retrieved
far into the future by people who were not part of the list at the time a
particular message was posted. Often you do not even need to join the list
to access the archives. Sometimes this is mentioned in the welcome
message, sometimes not. I'll bet the majority of lists you are on are
archived in this way. (Aroid-L is not. We get regular requests that it

- Anyone on any list (and most lists, including Aroid-L, are open to
anyone who wants to join) can keep personal copies of any or all posts,
and send them back out years later. (Poor taste, yes, copyright
infringement, maybe, but they can do it and no one can stop them.)

- I did a quick check this afternoon of some "directory assistance" type
resources on the Internet, and you all might be surprised at how many of
you (among my test set) I was able to locate without using any detailed
address information you might have provided in your signature files.
Sometimes I got the whole works - phone number, mailing address, and
e-mail address. This is not meant to minimize the issue of such
information being made available to a wider-than-intended audience, but to
make sure everyone realizes that much of it may already be available to
anyone who knows how to look. (You will all note that *my* signature is
pretty minimal, and always has been, even though I know any of you could
find my phone number and street address in 3 minutes flat with or without
the Internet. Ok, maybe 5 minutes.)

- We don't really know who our audience is when we post anyway. Most of us
are pretty open about our identities, in that we (appear to) use our real
names and so forth. But none of us would know if someone chose to do
otherwise - there is no way any listowner can prevent someone from joining
anonymously (i.e., under a false identity) if they really wish. I'm not
advocating distrust of people on the net, despite how I make my living - I
consider that I have good friends on the net I've never met in person -
just an awareness of the situation and some caution, the same as in most
other aspects of life.

To get to the point, finally: Don and I want to do what's best for the
list, meaning we want as many people to join as possible, and having
joined we want them to feel comfortable participating. I asked Don, who is
doing active listowner duties currently, to hold any messages on this
topic after Nancy's to give me time to get this massive work of literature
out to you so everyone would be fairly current on the issue. I expect that
some will feel a public archive is a good idea, as it would probably gain
us a wider audience and potentially more aroiders, while others will see
it as a widespread distribution of their posts they never intended. At the
moment I feel that we must err conservatively, i.e. if any significant
percentage of the list membership is opposed to a public archive we should
request Chris to keep the Aroid-L portion of this site permanently
off-limits outside his organization.

Don will post anything pending on this topic after this note has been
delivered; please let us know privately("aroid-owner@mobot.org" will reach
us both) or publicly as you see fit how you feel about the issue. I do
hope we can deal with this digression from aroids quickly (and more
succinctly than I have) and get back to our botanical addiction.


From: "NAME \"Wilbert Hetterscheid\"" <W.HETTER at pbga.agro.nl> on 1997.02.20 at 13:56:21(398)
In reply to Steve's thoughts about archiving the contents of aroid-l I
like to say that I am in favor of archiving. I think nobody can expect
privacy while communicating via internet. There is so much publicity
telling us that it just isn't possible to protect privacy using this
medium. Even if aroid-l would decide not to archive, I agree with Steve
that ones messages and data could equally easily be distributed via
hardcopy from the list as it runs.

I vote for archiving because it preserves information for newcomers
and also may avoid duplication of items being discussed. Once an item
re-occurs, somebody may refer the intiator to an archive. I would
even recommend Aroid-l to start archiving itself.


From: Robert Stewart <stewart at livingonline.com> on 1997.02.20 at 14:02:20(399)
This seems like a fairly sane overview of the whole thing. As far as I
am concerned let them archive anything they want. The whole copywrite
issue is much more complex than you make it out to be. If it is posted
what are you going to do; sue them. I think not; and what if it is
posted on a web site in New Guinea. Are you going to sue them in an
international court over this. All this makes little sense in any event,
if you are interested in what is posted on any of the lists than all you
need do is subscribe and download all the archives as well as the names
of all other members. Besides whats the point of archiving all this data
if it's not available to those who wish to use it. If I down lod it to a
hard drive and I'm on a local network do i have to block others from
access, and how do you propose to enforce that kind of thing. From a
privacy standpoint all this hardly matters;as you say if you are on the
web at all most anyone who wants to find you can, and even failing that
there is always the phone company. Frankly the biggest advantage I see
is being able to read postings on a topic without having to put up with
some of the list owners who are on private power trips.(this is not
directed at the Aroid list owners but some of the other listowners leave
a lot to be desired) I would waive any copyright to what I write but I
sincerely doubt that I have any right to waive. Tell them to go ahead
and mirror your archives I can't see that it makes much difference.
Bob Stewart Arrowhead Alpines

ps you can post this or keep it private it matter not to me

From: Rand Nicholson <writserv at nbnet.nb.ca> on 1997.02.20 at 14:06:32(400)
if any significant
>percentage of the list membership is opposed to a public archive we should
>request Chris to keep the Aroid-L portion of this site permanently
>off-limits outside his organization.
>Don will post anything pending on this topic after this note has been
>delivered; please let us know privately("aroid-owner@mobot.org" will reach
>us both) or publicly as you see fit how you feel about the issue. I do
>hope we can deal with this digression from aroids quickly (and more
>succinctly than I have) and get back to our botanical addiction.

From: Al Wootten <awootten at NRAO.EDU> on 1997.02.20 at 16:50:03(402)
I would certainly compose snail mail letters differently than I do
now if I expected every postman from here to the ends of the earth to
read it. I regard email, especially to lists such as this, as something
which I expect to be read and, hopefully, useful to someone. Once I
sent a letter from my gggrandmother describing her wagon trip west to
a USENET group. I was astonished to find later that it had been published
without my knowledge by someone else. Although somewhat miffed at first,
the incident eventually led to recovery of a fair amount of new genealogical
information. In another incident, I sent, by private email, to a
fellow family history researcher a completely speculative genealogy,
as we tried to work toward the truth. I was apalled to later find out
that this had been published as gospel truth on a CD-ROM by a genealogy
firm, including details on my own family. Neither I nor my correspondent
know how this came into the hands of the firm. I think that whatever we
do, we should treat email as public information and rely on old fashioned
mail to exchange sensitive information.

I would like to see aroid-l archived. This would make access to useful
information easier and relieve some diskspace on my computer. Orchid
and bromeliad lists I have read are archived and they are made
enormously more useful because of it.

Clear skies,

From: "Scott Vergara" <svergara at pacific.telebyte.com> on 1997.02.21 at 16:35:04(407)
Greetings Aroiders,

I would support archiving for all the reasons Wilbert, Robert and Rand have
mentioned plus an additional one. Aroiders & horticulturists in future
years (20-50+) will have a good historical snapshot of what was going on
back in the late 20th century. I have always found reading the
correspondence between horticulturists fascinating and informative. There
have been several books put together that are essentially just the letters
between two fanatic gardeners. Don't even want to touch the legal stuff
there ;-)

I vote for Aroid-l to establish an internal archive.

I too have copyright concerns, but unless a publication is at stake or huge
amounts of money, legal recourse is unlikely. I do not think that point or
the concern that someone bad will get your name and address should outweigh
the usefulness of an archive. Besides, your name and address and more is
already out there. I use a POBox in a neighboring town partly so the seeds
and plants don't sit out in the cold & rain and partly so I don't get
uninvited guests visiting my garden.

My 2 cents worth.

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