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the results of my PDFforts

How much is too much?  Given the reaction that many of us have to
the distribution through mailing lists of requests for PDFs of papers,
it appears it doesn't take a lot of requests to seem like too many. 

A while back I was asked to consider a formal policy against allowing
requests for papers.  I decided to spend some time compiling numbers
to see how much of a problem it really is.  In trying to view things
as pessimistically as possible, I've compiled what I believe to be a
complete sampling of requests and responses.  Obviously some requests
have more merit than others since some people really do try to exhaust
other resources first while others seem to think mailing lists are a
good place to start.  So I've tallied all requests as if they were all
equal, even though that means going so far as to doubly (or more)
count some requests as some were sent extra times (e.g., requests were
sent in truncated messages, then resent as needed until plain text
worked, they got what they wanted, or they gave up).

So, from the beginning of March 1st through 5 PM PDT today, the DML
distributed 1151 messages.  Of those, 43 related to the distribution
of pdf files.  There were 29 requests for papers sent in by 17 people.
There were four messages (from four people) thanking the list or at
least informing us they got the papers they asked for.  There were
three responses from three people indicating the location where a
requested paper could be found.  There were seven responses from seven
people who had something to say about the requests without actually
providing the files or a means to obtain them (except in some cases
with generic instructions on things that should be done before asking
a list).  Were I to count the message you're reading now, I'd have
added it to this last category.

So all in all, we've gotten on average less than one request every
three days.  And overall, in terms of message numbers, the total
traffic related to pdf files represents less than 4% of our messages.

If you have an opinion as to whether this constitutes enough of a
bother that we should try harder to discourage pdf requests, please
write directly to me and/or Mary to let us know.  Please don't write
to the list about the subject!


Mickey P. Rowe     (mrowe@lifesci.ucsb.edu)