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Keeping a newsgroup on its intended track often requires an active, volunteer process. This process is sometimes guided by one moderator or by a group of moderators who screen all messages prior to posting for appropriateness, rejecting messages that do not conform to the intent of the group or referring them elsewhere. However, such work can be onerous, and posting delays can rob the newsgroup of spontaneity. More commonly, self-organization and recruited interest are relied on to provide momentum and direction. However, generally behind this lack of formality are many dedicated individuals who take informal charge of the agenda and catalyze the activities. One requirement is that there be quality postings of interesting topics in informatics that provoke dialogues and lead by example. Another is that the group charter or policy be repeated from time to time to "reset" the agenda. A third is a measured intervention to maintain "netiquette"" so that arguments do not grow beyond all proportion and exasperate the broader audience.
It is important to recognize that we all navigate within a small bubble of information on an ever-expanding sea of technical ignorance. Newsgroups can be a major means of alleviating this problem, particularly when finding an answer is not merely a matter of lookup, either on a World-Wide-Web "homepage" or in a more classic source. It is hoped that the readership of this journal will contribute to this new form of outreach by participating in this newsgroup and will find it rewarding.
[ Source : Journal of the American Medical lnformatics Association ]