Admin: Clarification of Topicality Guidelines

From: Ted Molczan (
Date: Sun Aug 08 2004 - 15:54:47 EDT

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    The recent spate of posts on matters of government policy and politics may raise
    questions as to their topicality.
    The long-standing rule on SeeSat-L is that posts should relate closely to visual
    observing. At first thought, that might appear to exclude such matters, but I
    think otherwise. I find at least the following clearly on-topic:
    1. The legality and ethics of hobbyists making public our independently derived
    elements of other nation's reconnaissance satellites. 
    2. The future public availability and share-ability of the U.S. Government's
    2-line orbital elements.
    This is not new policy; both topics have arisen in the past, and almost always
    were allowed by myself and my predecessor.
    Some may find the prospect of such discussions boring, even uncomfortable, but I
    believe that we must be open to them. The best professional scientists and
    engineers accept that they have responsibilities as citizens, beyond the
    technical minutiae of their expertise. We hobbyists do not have the nearly the
    same potential impact on the world, but it is not always zero.
    That said, let us not stray too far afield. Discussions about missile defence
    and space weapons, whether technical or political, are off-topic here because
    they have nothing to do with the visual observation of satellites.
    Finally, regardless of the topic, everyone should make an effort to write in a
    clear and coherent manner. Brilliant prose is not required, but before pressing
    send, we should ask ourselves whether or not everyone who receives our post is
    likely to understand at least the point of it, in consideration of our many
    hundreds of readers.
    Other rules and guidelines are available here:
    Ted Molczan
    Admin, SeeSat-L
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