Q0: How about an introduction to comp.ai.genetic?

Certainly. See below.

What is comp.ai.genetic all about?

The newsgroup comp.ai.genetic is intended as a forum for people who want to use or explore the capabilities of Genetic Algorithms (GA), Evolutionary Programming (EP), Evolution Strategies (ES), Classifier Systems (CFS), Genetic Programming (GP), and some other, less well-known problem solving algorithms that are more or less loosely coupled to the field of Evolutionary Computation (EC).

How do I get started? What about USENET documentation?

The following guidelines present the essentials of the USENET online documentation, that is posted each month to news.announce.newusers

If you are already familiar with "netiquette" you can skip to the end of this answer; if you don't know what the hell this is all about, proceed as follows: (1) carefully read the following paragraphs, (2) read all the documents in news.announce.newusers before posting any article to USENET. At least you should give the introductory stuff a try, i.e. files "news-answers/introduction" and "news-answers/news-newusers- intro". Both are survey articles, that provide a short and easy way to get an overview of the interesting parts of the online docs, and thus can help to prevent you from drowning in the megabytes to read. Both can be received either by subscribing to news.answers , or sending the following message to <mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu>:

     send usenet/news.answers/introduction
     send usenet/news.answers/news-newusers-intro


"Usenet is a convention, in every sense of the word."

Although USENET is usually characterized as "an anarchy, with no laws and no one in charge" there have "emerged" several rules over the past years that shall facilitate life within newsgroups. Thus, you will probably find the following types of articles:

1. Requests

Requests are articles of the form "I am looking for X" where X is something public like a book, an article, a piece of software.

If multiple different answers can be expected, the person making the request should prepare to make a summary of the answers he/she got and announce to do so with a phrase like "Please e-mail, I'll summarize" at the end of the posting.

The Subject line of the posting should then be something like "Request: X"

2. Questions

As opposed to requests, questions are concerned with something so specific that general interest cannot readily be assumed. If the poster thinks that the topic is of some general interest, he/she should announce a summary (see above).

The Subject line of the posting should be something like "Question: this-and-that" (Q: this-and- that) or have the form of a question (i.e., end with a question mark)

3. Answers

These are reactions to questions or requests. As a rule of thumb articles of type "answer" should be rare. Ideally, in most cases either the answer is too specific to be of general interest (and should thus be e-mailed to the poster) or a summary was announced with the question or request (and answers should thus be e-mailed to the poster).

The subject lines of answers are automatically adjusted by the news software.

4. Summaries

In all cases of requests or questions the answers for which can be assumed to be of some general interest, the poster of the request or question shall summarize the answers he/she received. Such a summary should be announced in the original posting of the question or request with a phrase like "Please answer by e-mail, I'll summarize"

In such a case answers should NOT be posted to the newsgroup but instead be mailed to the poster who collects and reviews them. After about 10 to 20 days from the original posting, its poster should make the summary of answers and post it to the net.

Some care should be invested into a summary:

Note that a good summary is pure gold for the rest of the newsgroup community, so summary work will be most appreciated by all of us. (Good summaries are more valuable than any moderator!)

5. Announcements

Some articles never need any public reaction. These are called announcements (for instance for a workshop, conference or the availability of some technical report or software system).

Announcements should be clearly indicated to be such by giving them a subject line of the form "Announcement: this-and-that", or "ust "A: this-and-that".

Due to common practice, conference announcements usually carry a "CFP:" in their subject line, i.e. "call for papers" (or: "call for participation").

6. Reports

Sometimes people spontaneously want to report something to the newsgroup. This might be special experiences with some software, results of own experiments or conceptual work, or especially interesting information from somewhere else.

Reports should be clearly indicated to be such by giving them a subject line of the form "Report: this-and-that"

7. Discussions

An especially valuable possibility of USENET is of course that of discussing a certain topic with hundreds of potential participants. All traffic in the newsgroup that can not be subsumed under one of the above categories should belong to a discussion.

If somebody explicitly wants to start a discussion, he/she can do so by giving the posting a subject line of the form "Start discussion: this-and-that" (People who react on this, please remove the "Start discussion: " label from the subject line of your replies)

It is quite difficult to keep a discussion from drifting into chaos, but, unfortunately, as many other newsgroups show there seems to be no secure way to avoid this. On the other hand, comp.ai.genetic has not had many problems with this effect, yet, so let's just go and hope...

Thanks in advance for your patience!

The Internet

For information on internet services, see Q15.5.

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Hitch Hiker's Guide to Evolutionary Computation, Issue 9.1, released 12 April 2001
Copyright © 1993-2001 by J. Heitkötter and D. Beasley, all rights reserved.