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5.1 What topics does sci.chem cover?. Sci.chem is an unmoderated discussion group, and it covers the discussion of all scientific aspects of chemistry. It is not intended to be an educational resource that replaces your local library - which should still be your first port of call when seeking information. Because sci.chem was created in the 1980s, there is no Charter that would define topics for discussion in the group, however common sense suggests that posts should be focused on aspects of chemistry not discussed elsewhere on Usenet. Newer groups in the hierarchy do have Charters. There are no eligibility requirements, anybody can post to sci.chem, but remember that far more people read the groups than actually post. There are very many knowledgeable lurkers who prefer to email their assistance, rather than publicly post to the group. When posting, it is a good idea to always assume that there will be readers who know more about the topic than you, but that should not inhibit you from presenting your perception. There is no talk.chemistry group, consequently discussion often drifts away from the narrow focus of the science of chemistry. There are several groups that also cover specialist areas ( refer Section 5.12 ), and prospective sci.chem posters should check to ensure their post would not be more appropriate in one of those groups. Please do not crosspost to all chemistry groups, and please do not post to groups that you are not currently reading, asking for email replies. When responding to posts in widely-crossposted threads, examine the "Newsgroups" line, delete irrelevant groups, and set the "Followup-To" header. Posts to cross-posted threads that have no ongoing " chemistry " requirement should have the "Followup-To" header diverted back to the original group. Because sci.chem is an unmoderated discussion group inhabited by a diverse range of humanity, posted "facts" are not always correct, and may not always be corrected, so don't blame us if your teacher marks your answer wrong :-). 5.2 What guidelines are available about posting to sci.chem?. Sci.chem is a discussion group, not an alternative to your nearest library. We expect posters to have explored some of the chemical resources usually available in libraries ( refer Section 9.5 ) and on the Internet ( refer Sections 7.2 and 7.4 ) prior to posting questions to the group. Posting basic questions, without performing any preliminary work, is likely to invoke posts suggesting ( with varying degrees of politeness ) that you visit a library or perform a WWW search. Sci.chem is also not part of a global facility for teachers to point their students towards as an alternative to a library. Teachers should not ask students to post unsupervised questions to the group as part of assignments. Teachers should recognise the positioning of the group as a resource to be utilised only if more appropriate resources, such as libraries and Internet WWW searches, have failed to identify suitable sources of information. The teacher should also use DejaNews to ensure questions have not been answered previously on Usenet. Teachers should ensure that students asking a question in sci.chem also post, along with the question, a summary of what they have discovered so far, and where they have already searched. Teachers should also realise that sci.chem also reflects the diverse range of humanity that can post to it, consequently some posts may not match the image of chemistry that they wish to present to their students. Most of the general guidelines about posting to Usenet that appear in news.announce.newusers are also appropriate for sci.chem. It is important that the grammar and spelling of posts to sci.chem are of sufficient quality to ensure that readers can easily, and unambiguously, understand your request or contribution. If a poorly-written post appears, some readers are more likely to flame, ridicule, or ignore you, rather than carefully consider your request or contribution. Minor typos and spelling errors only require cancelling, or a follow-up post correcting the error, if the error is likely to create confusion. If you are posting, or viewing, drawings of chemical structures in ascii, please use a fixed-pitch font, otherwise the structure will appear different than intended, resulting in confusion. If you are posting via WWW access, or posting WWW information, please ensure all HTML markers are removed from your posts to the group. Do not post binaries to the group, even if they are relevant to a thread. Post them to a binaries group, or make them available on the WWW, and post a message to the group pointing to the location. Please do not use sci.chem for test posts, or to discuss problems with your Internet Services Provider, or any other totally irrelevant topics, as there are bound to be more appropriate Usenet groups. There are plenty of *.test groups which are monitored by programmes providing automated responses to confirm that your test post has successfully propagated throughout the Internet. If you believe the "noise" content of sci.chem is too high, learn to use the filtering features of your newsreading software. Most software has the ability to create killfiles or only display posts that match certain criteria - such as the number of groups in the Newsgroups line. Such features can make posts from individuals, and much of the widely cross-posted junk, disappear. If your software does not support those features, there may be alternative software available from your provider. Please do not post messages complaining about what you perceive as noise in the group, as such posts usually just generate additional noise. If you wish, you can email posters asking them to desist from posting the material that offends you, but don't be surprised if you are also offended by their responses. Some news-reading software can not display, or post, long articles ( like this FAQ ), and you may have to ask your system administrator or ISP for alternative software. A consistent inability to display large posts is usually a problem with your reading software, not a mistake by the posters. 5.3 Should I post my homework question?. In general, definitely not. Your homework question is designed to challenge you to understand an aspect of chemistry, and your teacher will have ensured that there are appropriate resources available to you at your institution. The library is always an excellent place to start, and the librarians are skilled at finding information - if you ask for assistance. Before posting to the group, consider if a similar question could have arisen in the past, and check DejaNews using relevant keywords. However, if you find that the library and other available resources can not fully satisfy your curiosity, then carefully outline your problem, list the information resources you have investigated, and post only to the most appropriate group. If it is the wrong group, somebody will point you to the correct one. Do not expect to receive the actual answer, most readers will carefully consider your request, and usually frame a response to ensure that you need to perform some work before you can answer your own question. The most obvious technique is to respond with a similar worked example which is sufficiently different to ensure that you can not simply plug in numbers and arrive at your correct answer. Often posters will point to specific library resources for you to locate and read. Also, remember that posters are not obliged to provide only correct answers, they can deliberately introduce errors to ensure direct copying without comprehension results in the wrong answer - it is not their homework :-). Teachers can identify dramatic changes in students' writing styles, and a quick search using Alta Vista or DejaNews can readily confirm their suspicions. Do not expect sensible or accurate responses if you post from anonymous servers. 5.4 Should I answer an obvious homework question?. In general, definitely not. Teachers will set homework assignments that do not require sci.chem responses. The poster was too lazy to consult the resources that their teacher would have ensured were available locally, and also too lazy to disguise their homework question. Continual answering of obvious homework problems will merely attract more homework questions to the group from other lazy students. If the question does have some interesting aspects that you wish to comment on, then the best course of action is to respond by answering a similar question. If you change the question sufficiently, the poster will have to understand the concepts you are offering, and then apply them to the original question. This approach does require a little more effort and imagination on your part, but it also encourages any interested students, whilst also discouraging any lazy students. In some homework questions, a small hint may be useful to point the student towards a reference, or the correct answer, especially if their post indicates that they are completely off-course. Hints are also a very useful technique when you can not decide if posts are slightly modified homework questions. Some questions about chemicals in the home and workplace may arise from curious adults who don't have a formal chemical education, and such questions are certainly appropriate for sci.chem - so please ensure that the question is actually a homework question before igniting your flamethrower. 5.5 I'm offering or seeking employment. Can I post here?. Sci.chem is the most popular chemistry-related group, and thus would provide the largest target audience. However, the appropriate group for advertising vacancies and seeking employment is misc.jobs.fields.chemistry. Please post CVs, Resumes, and Job Descriptions there, and frequently review the group. Misc.jobs.fields.chemistry will have a very small readership, so it may be worthwhile for those offering employment to also select a few relevant groups and post a brief pointer to the post listing essential information. If you have posted your resume or CV to m.j.f.c, then you just have to wait and hope those with vacancies are reviewing the group. Do not post pointers to your CV or Resume to other groups. Posting your CV/Resume to sci.chem may annoy some readers who could be prospective employers in the future, so you have to assume that those currently offering employment will review m.j.f.c. Also, remember that all posts ( including CVs and Resumes posted to m.j.f.c ) may be archived at sites such as DejaNews, and thus available for scrutiny by future employers, unless you use the X-No-Archive header. 5.6 Can I post here if my newsfeed doesn't include the correct group?. No. The onus is on you to obtain access to the correct group. As hard disk storage prices are plummeting, you should be able to encourage your access provider to carry more groups :-). If your employer restricts you to sci.* comp.* and other boring groups, you may have to seek out a commercial access provider. Be assured that you are not the first to encounter this problem, and there are various ways you can access newsgroups using other Internet facilities besides direct Usenet access. Check out the news.* groups for information on alternative methods of Usenet access. 5.7 Can I post here if my library doesn't have the specified reference?. No. Once again the onus is on you to obtain the texts. We have tried to ensure that there are several choices to help minimise the problem. The advantage of expending effort to obtain the reference is that it is likely to provide a more comprehensive answer, and will enhance your understanding of the subject. If the reference is obscure, then a carefully-constructed post requesting the specific information you require is acceptable, but you should also state that you have tried to obtain the information, and perhaps suggest email replies if you believe other readers will not be interested. Chemistry teachers and other chemistry professionals may also have their personal copies of some of the reference texts, and may permit you to use their copy, if asked politely. 5.8 Can I post articles I found in Usenet or on the Internet?. No. Most countries have signed the Berne Convention, and adjusted their national laws to reflect the concept that copyright ownership is the property of the author of any piece of work. Thus any redistribution or reproduction of that work has to have the author's express permission. The act of posting to Usenet does carry an implicit acknowledgment that followup articles will requote parts of the original for clarity, and perhaps will be subsequently crossposted to additional groups and archived at DejaNews or other archive sites. If an author of a post or article does not want their post archived, your software may permit you to select the "X-No-Archive" header and, if the software does not support that header, you can also add it manually as the first line of a post, but some archive sites may still ignore that header and archive the post. The copyright of the article is still owned by the original author, and consent is required before distribution extends outside of Usenet - including placing it on the WWW. Most posters will readily give permission if asked. Commercial WWW sites also have specific copyright notices just to remind readers that the material can not be redistributed. "Fair Use" is a very specific and limited concept, and does not permit significant copying of copyrighted material - it expects the user to selectively edit and repost only the minimum necessary material. Two FAQs ("Copyright Myths" and the more detailed "Copyright" ) are posted to news.newusers.questions, news.admin.misc, and some other groups that discuss intellectual property. 5.9 Should I post the email address of an expert I found?. Not without their consent. Email the expert and ask if you can identify them in sci.chem. In general, people who email information to you will want complete control over their exposure on Usenet. Often they do not want a lot of email requesting assistance, and in some countries ( such as New Zealand ) people have to pay for both incoming and outgoing email. If the email address is posted publicly - as in this FAQ, email the person and ask if you can repost their address in a different forum. When sending unsolicited email, remember that you are accosting a stranger, and he/she is not required to respond, although most will respond to polite requests. 5.10 Should I post corporate advertising material?. No. Sci.chem is a discussion group. However, if your corporate material will help resolve an issue being discussed, post a brief note pointing to where the information can be obtained. If you believe that knowledge of your corporation would help Internet users, you should arrange a World Wide Web home page or email address, and then ensure the address is included in compilations of chemistry-related material available on the Internet. Continual repeat posting of inappropriate commercial material is likely to annoy sci.chem readers. One method of raising the profile of your site is to add a pointer to your signature file, and make useful contributions to relevant discussions. Some readers may then visit the site out of curiosity. 5.11 Should I state why I require the requested information?. Generally, yes. Knowing why somebody is requesting information often helps those considering responding to the request. It also helps to ensure that responses will help solve the problem, rather than lead off on a tangent, interesting though it may become. You should also indicate your level of expertise, and where you have looked, as that prevents well-intentioned people wasting time suggesting sources you have already tried. If you require the information for a commercial or historical enterprise, you should alway state that. The ability to download and edit information is even more convenient than photocopying, and original copyright can easily be inadvertently omitted. If you note that there may be a possible commercial outcome, responders will try to ensure that the original source is fully credited. A polite request to the copyright owner will usually result in approval for your enterprise. 5.12 What other chemistry-focused newsgroups exist?. Sci.chem is the most popular group covering diverse chemistry topics. Other chemistry-focused groups include;- alt.drugs.chemistry - discusses the chemistry of all drugs. misc.jobs.fields.chemistry - chemistry employment opportunities. rec.drugs.chemistry - discusses the chemistry of recreational drugs. sci.chem.analytical - discusses analytical chemistry. sci.chem.coatings - discusses all aspects of surface coatings. sci.chem.electrochem - discusses electrochemistry topics sci.chem.electrochem.battery - discusses electrochemical cells. sci.chem.labware - discusses laboratory equipment. sci.chem.organomet - discusses organometallic chemistry. sci.chem.organic.synthesis - discusses organic synthesis - moderated. sci.engr.chem - discusses chemical engineering and industrial chemistry. sci.techniques.mag-resonance - discusses magnetic resonance. sci.techniques.mass-spec - discusses mass spectrometry. sci.techniques.xtallography - discusses crystallography Other groups cover specific topics that also have significant chemistry components, including:- alt.drugs.* - discusses all drugs. rec.drugs.* - discusses recreational drugs. rec.pyrotechnics - discusses pyrotechnics. alt.cesium - cesium is discussed, along with much else. soc.history.science - the history of science, including chemistry. There are also chemistry groups in many national hierarchies. Some of these groups are distributed fairly widely, and may be available from your ISP, even though they may be in a language other than English. There are also several other chemistry-related FAQs available, including the sci.chem.electrochem FAQ maintained by Zoltan Nagy, and the Mass Spectrometry Internet Resources FAQ maintained by Kermit Murray. 5.13 What questions are best answered elsewhere in Usenet?. a. Anything concerning Usenet and Internet abuse, guidelines or behaviour. - Start in the news.* hierarchy, such as news.admin.net-abuse.misc. b. Anything concerning the provision of Internet services by your provider. - Start in the specific, in-house, discussion groups - this includes any apparent, sudden lack of posts in sci.chem. c. Anything concerning illicit drugs. - Start in the alt.drugs.* hierarchy and the rec.drugs.chemistry group, as the various FAQs point to diverse chemical information sources. - Refer to sections 13.1 - 13.6 of this FAQ for some available choices. d. Anything concerning Ludwig/Archimedes Plutonium. - Start at sci.physics, as they directed him to sci.chem :-). If you don't like his posts, killfile him. Please don't start a campaign to remove him, as all that happens is the group usually get flooded with junk. For those interested in his theories, try the following WWW site. http://www.newphys.se/elektromagnum/physics/LudwigPlutonium/ e. Anything concerning bubbles in newly-opened drinks. - Start with sci.physics, the solubility behaviour of dissolved gases when the pressure is reduced is predominantly a physical effect, although section 19.4 briefly touches on the subject. f. Anything scientific concerning the Ozone Hole and Climate Change. - Start with sci.environment, in particular with Robert Parson's superb FAQ on ozone, and Jan Scloerer's Climate Change - The Basics, both available at the rtfm.mit.edu FTP site for Usenet FAQs. Non-scientific discussions should always be moved to talk.environment. g. Anything concerning explosives. - Refer to sections 13.7 - 13.10 of this FAQ for the available choices. 5.14 Why is the sci.chem.* hierarchy not rational?. As the sci.chem group has up to 80 posts/day, some specialists believe they would be better served having their own group. They draft a charter, submit it to the news.advice group, who ensure it is consistent with the overall structure of Usenet and, after discussion, the group is voted on. If the group passes it is created. Groups appear only if some motivated people arrange to form them. That is why the structure is not rational. There is currently no formal structural plan for the hierarchy and, given the diverse nature of current contributions, it is proving difficult to develop such a plan - as no one wishes to compromise the diversity of sci.chem. If you learn to use the features of your newsreader correctly, the current size of sci.chem is easily handled, and most threads of interest can be captured as they pass. 5.15 How do I create a sub-group for my pet topic?. First of all, discuss your idea extensively in sci.chem and other relevant groups and mailing lists, ensure you have sufficient support for your proposal, and take note of all comments, whether positive or negative. The next stages are well documented in a FAQ available in news.groups. Basically, you email email@example.com, who will help you prepare the charter and Request For Discussion, and may even provide a mentor to guide you through the process. If the proposal has an additional vote that could affect another group by renaming or changing the hierarchy, return to that group and consult the participants to ensure there is support for any proposed changes prior to issuing the RFD. Group advice is not mandatory, so if the added vote is contentious, drop it. Post the RFD twice, and remind people to ensure they cross post to news.groups, even if they do not read that group, as that is where all post-RFD discussion is supposed to occur. Take note of the discussion in news.groups and other groups where you posted the RFD, and modify the RFD, if appropriate, and post it again. Then follow the guidelines for the actual vote, others will administer the vote and create the groups, if they pass. 5.16 Where are the sci.chem archives?. Given the nature, number, and diversity of sci.chem posts, no formal archives exist, however the Usenet archives at DejaNews on the WWW will contain most of the articles for the last couple of years, http://www.dejanews.com/ There are also several other WWW sites that offer access to, and keyword searching of, recent Usenet posts. One site is Alta Vista. http://altavista.digital.com/ The total number of articles that you will see in sci.chem will depend on how your system administrators have set the News system. If they set a short Expire time, and set the software to ignore the Expiry date line, you may actually miss some articles that have long propagation times. The best solution is to politely ask the administrators to increase the Expire time - usually they are more sympathetic to requests to increase Sci.* expire times than they are to requests for longer Alt.* expire times. Sometimes they just can't oblige, so you may have to read the group more frequently, but please check DejaNews before posting requests for old articles. It should also be remembered that Usenet archive sites like DejaNews will retain all of your posts - unless you set the "X-No-Archive" header appropriately. Some posting software does not have the facility to set such headers, but it can be added manually to the first line of a post. It has been reported that some employers now review such archive sites for posts when evaluating job applications. Although DejaNews honours the "X-No-Archive" header, that does not mean that all archiving sites will, so your posts may still be hiding somewhere on the Internet. 5.17 Who was Larry Lippman?. When sci.chem was formed (1988?), there were only a few posts per week, and a considerable number were requests for information. Larry Lippman soon established his superb practical and theoretical chemical credentials, and set about responding to those plaintive pleas for information. His posts were excellent examples of informative, educational responses delivered in a friendly, helpful style. His posts demonstrated how knowledgeable sci.chem posters could respond to requests in such a way that all readers would understand, regardless of formal chemical training. He died in late 1991 in his early 40s. Unfortunately, only a few of his posts to sci.chem have survived. If you have any of his posts I would appreciate a copy, as I am collecting them to be made available as a single "Lippman posts" file.
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