CHARTER: rec.gardens.ecosystems

Reasonable expectations in terms of scope and content:

Rec.gardens.ecosystems is intended as a newsgroup for the discussion of the ways nature works within the garden. Successful organic gardening is more demanding than non-organic gardening because it requires a working knowledge of the ways the total natural community interrelates with the physical and chemical environment of the home garden. This is the basic meaning of the term, ecosystems. The reason for selecting the name, "rec.gardens.ecosystems" was to emphasize that the focus of this newsgroup is on gardening in cooperation with nature. Michael Pollan said, "... the garden is a middle ground between nature and culture." That middle ground should be a place friendly to both sides.

Organic gardening can be defined as gardening with environmentally friendly materials and environmentally friendly cultural practices. Those materials considered as "environmentally friendly" are, for the most part, those materials approved for use and listed in the International Certification Standards of the Organic Crop Improvement Association. A copy of that Standard will be included as Appendix A in the group FAQ. Those practices that are considered as "environmentally friendly" are those practices traditionally associated with organic gardening and/or Integrated Pest Management.

Rec.gardens.ecosystems is also proposed as a newsgroup with a Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ component. The FAQ will attempt to answer the bulk of the questions asked by home gardeners employing organic gardening techniques. Because the ecosystem of one area is often so different from the ecosystem of another and because organic answers tend to be so regional, the content of the FAQ will be based on discussions in the group and on the existing knowledge and experience of volunteers who help maintain the FAQ.

The basic content will be as follows:


An updated copy of the FAQ will be posted in rec.gardens.ecosystems every two weeks. The FAQ Maintainers may decide to change the posting frequency if and when the FAQ becomes available by other means such as FTP, WWW or Automated E-mail.

Maintainer: Bill Robinson
Maintainer: Ronald Zwaagstra

Note:The FAQ maintainers will make a concerted effort to keep the content of the FAQ current, relevant, and accurate. The information in the FAQ can be used freely but at one's own risk. The FAQ maintainers can not be held responsible for any damage caused by the information in the FAQ.

Reasonable expectations of rec.gardens.ecosystems as a whole:

Gardening with just environmentally friendly materials coupled with just environmentally friendly cultural practices and getting good results requires a working knowledge of the ecosystems operating in that particular garden. For the most part, it is a more complicated way to garden. The reader should expect some of the discussions to be relatively technical.

Moderation Policy:

The moderation policies for rec.gardens.ecosystems have a number of goals. One goal is to eliminate or reduce cross postings. The only crossposted articles allowed are administrative postings like RFDs and CFVs. A second goal is to help the discussions stay focused on ecosystems and organic gardening. A third goal is to discourage inappropriate postings. The moderation system consists of a robo- moderator supported by human moderators. The planed moderation program is expected to meet these goals.

The robomoderator is intended as the primary "moderator at work". It has the ability and is given the authority to perform three functions during periods in which it is the primary moderator:

  1. To reject crossposted articles or articles containing binaries, (PGP signatures O.K).
  2. To check whether the poster has engaged in off-topic postings (such as, but not restricted to, ‘flames' or non-authorized commercial postings) and attempts to continue such postings even after an explicit request by the moderating team has been sent that such practice cease. In the event that both conditions are met, the article is referred to the human moderators for consideration.
  3. To approve and post all other articles independent of the human moderators.

Except for forged messages, the moderators will not cancel any messages. The human moderators may update the robomoderator so as to reduce the number of off-topic postings. It should be noted that as the robomoderator is usally the only moderator at work, some amount of off-topic (see below) posts should be expected.

The responsibilities of the human moderators are to maintain the robomoderator and to handle those situations that require individual attention. When the human moderators see a need to shift moderation to their control, they will first post an advanced notice on rec.gardens.ecosystems stating the intent to shift to human moderation (assisted by the robomoderator) and state the reasons for doing so. The human moderators take over for an unspecified length of time and will be assisted by the robomoderator checking for cross-posts, binaries, and approved posters. The human moderators may elect to give auto-approval status to any number of posters during those periods of human moderation. All human moderators have the right to accept or reject articles for rec.gardens.ecosystems.

The reasoning behind the temporary shifting to human moderation is to provide the human moderators with the means to deal with difficult situations, these include but are not restricted to flamewars and a high percentage of off-topic postings. Articles that are blatantly commercial and have nothing to do with home gardening or articles that contain foul or offensive language, e.g., flames, are considered inappropriate for rec.gardens.ecosystems. Articles that are aimed at demeaning individuals as a result of their age, nationality, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation are also considered inappropriate. In the event that such an article should appear, the human moderator would contact the author, attach a copy of the group charter as a reference, and request the author's cooperation. In the event that all efforts to gain cooperation fail, the human moderator may elect to have all future articles from that author auto-referred to human moderators for individual consideration. The author would be notified by the human moderator if the decision was to reject the article.

Articles advocating the routine application of materials prohibited by the International Certification Standards, as specified in Appendix A of the group FAQ, are considered inappropriate as well. The same general procedures as described above would be followed with the exception that if such a posting would actually appear in rec.gardens.ecosystems, the human moderator would also post an article stating that the application of that material in that paticular way violates the International Certification Standard.

As technology and circumstance change, it will undoubtedly be necessary to update the moderation policy from time to time. In which case, the changes would be posted to rec.gardens.ecosystems. The group FAQ will also contain the most recent version of the moderation policy in Appendix D.

Commercial Postings:

Articles announcing or promoting commercial products, services, or publications by commercial sources may be posted provided that they are appropriate in an organic gardening program. The articles must be approved by the moderator prior to posting. Commercial postings without pre-post approval will be considered as inappropriate and treated as above.

Replacement of moderators:

Moderators may be replaced in a vote organized by an independent vote-counter using the automated UseVote software. The voting period lasts for a period of 20 to 30 days, stated in advance in the Call For Votes. The Call For Votes must appear in rec.gardens.ecosystems. Moderators are replaced when the replacement candidate obtains a 2/3 majority with a minimal difference of 100 votes. The results of the vote are published in rec.gardens.ecosystems.

The original proponent for a moderator replacement is allowed one article in the group calling for support. The subjectline for that Call For Support should read:"Moderator replacement, Call For Support". The formal replacement process requires the support of at least ten past-posters with the number verified by the moderator group. A formal discussion on the replacement may then begin. The subjectline for the formal discussion should read:"Moderator replacement, Request For Discussion". Calls For Support and Requests For Discussion will only be accepted when at least six months have passed since the last request for discussion of moderator replacement.

Resignation of moderators, expansion of office:

Moderators in office may resign or choose to increase their number. In such case, they may appoint a new moderator without a formal group vote. Anyone who would like to volunteer to become a moderator should notify one of the moderators. The moderators may ask the group for their opinions regarding a candidate moderator. Those who would wish to reply should do so by sending their comments directly to the moderators by private e-mail rather than posting in the group. The acceptance of a new moderator is then posted in rec.gardens.ecosystems.

Conflicts between moderators:

The moderator team will be supervised by a Moderator Supervisor who is not engaged in actual moderation. If the moderators have a conflict that they can not resolve by themselves, the Moderator Supervisor decides the issue. The proposed moderators propose the first Moderator Supervisor. The Moderator Supervisor may propose their successors to the moderating team. The moderating team must agree on the selection of the follow-up supervisor.