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Re: Mirror sites for IUCr W3

To:       IUCr Executive Secretary (for transmission to IUCr executive)
From:     IUCr Committee on Electronic Publishing, Dissemination and
            Storage of Information (EPC).
Date:     10th December 1997
Subject:  2nd IUCr-accredited W3 mirror site in the USA.

  The EPC has examined the request of the USNCCr to open up a second
IUCr-accredited W3 mirror site at NIST in Washington DC, USA and
unanimously recommends the IUCr executive to wholeheartedly and
energetically approve this request.

  The EPC wishes to take this opportunity to express its own view
concerning the IUCr executive's concern that the number of mirror sites
would get out of hand. We consider this concern to be very largely
unjustified and a possible source of misunderstanding and conflict
between the executive and its member national committees.

  The mirror mechanism now being deployed is a development of accredited
sites for mirroring WDC and a rudimentary system making the W3 pages of
CWW (Crystallography World Wide) more widely available. These systems
were put in place after insistent complaints from many parts of the
world that the delivery rates of the information were too slow for
viable use. In the case of CWW, where the master site is in Geneva,
Switzerland, the first mirror site was not far away (Paris, France) to
ease the problems of testing. Subsequently, instructions on the way to
set up a mirror site were displayed openly and publicly, and eventually
a set of about one dozen mirror sites was operational, these being
distributed at places all around the world. The system was
self-regulating, there being no incentive for people to spend time
setting up additional mirror sites if they were adequately served by the
existing ones. (In one case only are the distant CWW mirror sites close
together. This is in Australia and the situation arose because the first
site to offer its services ran into almost insurmontable bureaucratic
problems. By the time these were crushed, another site was already in

  As a result of the experience with CWW, it seemed to the EPC that by
far and away the most suitable procedure for the establishment of mirror
sites for the IUCr services was to deal through the IUCr member national
committees and to some extent with the regional associates. By this
means the system would be auto-regulating, it being most unlikely, given
the investment in time and money necessary to set up a mirror, that
national committees would exagerate the number of their installations.

  The overriding problem today is not in the multiplicity of
IUCr-accredited mirror sites but in their paucity. We praise the
initiative of the USNCCr in the service of crystallographers along the
East Coast of the American continent and the consequent reduction in the
load on the Chester server that will ensue.

  For the EPC;                               H.D. Flack (Chairman)

Howard Flack        http://www.unige.ch/crystal/ahdf/Howard.Flack.html
Laboratoire de Cristallographie               Phone:(+41 22) 702 62 49
24 quai Ernest-Ansermet             mailto:Howard.Flack@cryst.unige.ch
CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland                   Fax:(+41 22) 781 21 92

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