Suggestion for handling "off-topic"/vendor/recruitment material

From:Todd Sherman <>

Hello 'netters,

It would appear that the forum is getting "contaminated" again with material that some would define as undesirable whether they 
post a comment to the forum or not.  To appease the masses I would like to suggest a possible solution.

As far as I know, all email software includes a filtering mechanism to handle email communications.  Usually, they are seemingly 
infinitely adjustable to handle the process if the end user establishes the filter.  As an example, one could set up the email 
software to send mail with the words "off-topic" or "OT" in the header to the email trash folder; likewise, one could send mail with 
the word "vendor" or "sales" to some other folder on the local system that was created for future perusal.  The point is today's 
sophisticated software can handle routing of email automatically so that one never sees the undesirable communications.  It 
takes a little work to set it up but it is not difficult.

To avoid censorship of a public forum, this would require a set of standards in posting to the histonet.  Members that have been 
around awhile could easily remember to add "OT" or "recruitment" or "vendor" as a preface to the email header to indicate 
message contents.  This, however, would not address new subscribers who are not familiar with the forum; subsequently, part 
two of this solution would require a little more work from the histonet administrators.  (Sorry Linda, Herb, and Marvin.)  A set of 
uniform header formatting standards could be included in the response message that is sent out to new subscribers when they 
initially subscribe.  Candidate terms suggested and open for criticism:

OT - off topic
SALES - vendor-specific recommendations
RECRUIT - employment opportunities, employment seekers
PERCOM - request for personal communication from a specific histonet subscriber
COMP - computer related histology solutions, virus announcements, virus hoaxes
IMAGE - image acquisition, photography
Normal postings need no preface.  The list of preface terms could be as long, short, or specific as necessary to appeal to the 

The implementation could be self-policing if everyone volunteers to follow some sort of guide or could be implicitly policed by the 
histonet administators.  Granted, the use of filters does not stop one's email account from receiving the mail, but one does have 
the option of dumping it if one's interest in a particular arena is lacking.

Personally, I prefer to have open postings with the delete key as a local censor but I understand and can appreciate everyone's 
viewpoint.  The question in my mind that still remains is the definition of relevance. (This email message would not fall under the 
scope of relevant histonet messages if histology topics were strictly enforced.  Some might even consider this a good thing.)  With 
a posting guide and user implemented filters, one need not worry as much about relevance since offending material would be 
subscriber-controlled.  Further, it might enhance audience participation if members are unsure that their ideas are strictly relevant.  
A simple preface would warn all viewers of the general content and those not interested in the general content topic could have 
a very simple filter in place to exclude those topics.

I hope this suggestion helps without stirring up a hornets nest of activity.  Feel free to support/criticize this at will.


Todd Sherman
ex-Researcher/6 yr. histonetter/IT student

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