I thought you should all be aware of the following. I feel that
the mailbase service is absolutely essential and strategic for UK
academic and scientific development. You may be asked for views - I
hope they would be supportive.
---- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date sent: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 15:49:30 +0000 (GMT)
Send reply to: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Message from User Group about Mailbase future
From: Elaine Blair <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
I am writing as Chairman of the Mailbase User Group to bring you
up-to-date with developments in the funding of Mailbase and, consequently,
Part of the support organisation for Mailbase is a user group selected
from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds. We meet with Mailbase
staff from time to time and are consulted/give views about the operation
and development of the service. The User Group is very concerned about
some of the possibilities which the current review is considering and I
have been asked by the Group to write to you to bring these concerns to
your attention. (Information about the User Group is at:
Higher Education, through a body called the Joint Information Systems
Committee (JISC), itself funded by the four funding councils for HE in the
JISC is conducting a review of this funding (which in 1998/99 amounted to
approximately 250,000 pounds sterling). Funding at approximately this
level is currently only confirmed for the 1999/00 financial year.
JISC has asked that a report is provided for its consideration and this is
being carried out on its behalf by a consultant. As part of this he will
be undertaking a sample of 500 users and list owners.
It is important to distinguish between the basic mailing list service and
the many value-added services which Mailbase offers. We feel that
knowledge of the latter is not as widely understood as it ought to be and
it is consequently those services which are most at risk. The value-added
A. Support for owners, including documentation, web interface
development, training seminars and telephone/email helpdesk.
B. Discussion support to ensure that list owners can obtain advice
and assistance to try and raise the usefulness of lists and the quality
of the discussion. This includes a managed view of list coverage and
subject so that a coherent set of lists can be encouraged and also so
that appropriate techniques for stimulating and moderating discussion can
be offered to list owners.
C. Support for the concept of email as an interactive electronic
discussion medium. Advertisements, articles in appropriate journals
and other publications, speakers at conference sessions etc.
D. User support, including documentation, web access to searchable
archives. Private lists as well as public ones.
This is all in addition to a high quality list service dealing with a
large volume of mail to and between many users. While the funding source
of the service demands that the lists are for the benefit of the teaching,
research and management interests of the UK HE sector, list membership
includes all those from outside the sector whose participation is
essential to the success of many lists.
Could I ask you to consider whether you support the continued existence of
the value-added aspects of this service in something like their present
form and what you feel might be lost if those services were substantially
curtailed. You may wish to consult members of your lists. In any event,
we feel that it is important that those list members who are selected
(randomly) and invited to complete a survey realise the importance of the
process to which they are contributing. There will be a general note to
this effect sent to the mailbase-news list.
The review process will be informed also by the views of UCISA (The
Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association), of which the
Director of your Computing Service (or equivalent title) will be a member.
The JANET National User Group (JNUG) are also being consulted; that body
will probably have a member from within your Institution. You may wish to
discuss any views you have with them.
I shall be writing as chairman of the Mailbase User Group to the ACN (the
Advisory Committee on Networking) which is the JISC body which is
conducting the review and determining the future funding level of the
service; I should be happy to receive any information which you feel will
inform the User Group's rresponse. (This would need to be with me by 15th
March, any contribution should be sent to [log in to unmask]) If
you need further information about the work of Mailbase and the services
currently provided, please consult the paper at:
I am sorry that this message has been so long (and infested with the
acronyms with which this area of activity is so plentifully supplied) but
I hope that you will understand the reasons for our concern.
Mailbase User Group
* J.S.M. Whitaker [log in to unmask]
* IT Support Manager
* Academic Office Tel: 0121-414 3811
* (Secretary 0121-414 3812)
* The University of Birmingham Fax: 0121-414 6864
* Birmingham B15 2TT
Dr Rick Jones
Director of Chemical Pathology and Immunology
Institute of Pathology