WHY I DO IT
P. L. Olympia
Sysop, SUGI SIG/M RBBS, 301-963-5249
The purpose of this little piece is to explain to you who are
users of my RBBS why I operate the board and why the BBS has the
"pecularities" that it has. I also want to let you know what it is
like being on this end of the modem line in the hope that once you
understand what it is like to be a Sysop, you will be more sensitive
to the code of behavior expected of you as an RBBS user.
There is one other reason for this piece: I am increasingly
forced to adopt certain restrictions that are diametrically opposed to
my "religion" of keeping an open RBBS. I have always said, when I
first started this, that I would rather shut down the BBS than adopt
certain policies that I find distasteful. So, if one day you call, and
find the phone just ringing, you will know why.
Let me say at the outset that in my experience, many RBBS callers
observe the ground rules and truly deserve the service. If you belong
to that group please do not be offended with what I have to say here
as any offensive remark you find in this piece clearly is not meant
WHY I DO IT
I operate the SUGI SIG/M RBBS as a free public service for
o Computing, particularly DBMS and telecommunications, is my hobby.
I run a lot of experiments with the BBS for my own intellectual
o As a forum of information exchange among SUGI SIG/M members in
particular, and the public in general;
o To repay those Sysops and users who have shared with me (from the
early years when I operated a private CP/M BBS) some of the best
public domain programs in the world;
o To help responsible novices get started (I was a novice too at
one time) so that they may later share their knowledge with
o I have watched RBBS-PC grow over the years, and I lamented the
fact that unlike RCP/M, no one bothered to organize and maintain
a comprehensive and up-to-date list of RBBS's in the country. I
knew that doing that is a lot of work, but someone had to do it.
I "volunteered" to be that one. Thus, one of the important
functions of the SUGI SIG/M RBBS is as a repository of the most
complete and up-to-date RBBS list as a service to the entire RBBS
The SUGI SIG/M RBBS, like most boards in the country, is a
professional BBS intended solely for serious business users. It has
an educational games section only because most serious professionals
have children who might use those games to get started. Mine did at
the age of four and is now doing very well, thank you.
I like to think that my RBBS is one of the best in the country.
If it is not, it is NOT because I did not try. I am still trying.
WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING?
I am a firm believer of an open RBBS, that "registration" is
totally unnecesary. I was convinced that users who have been provided
a useful and free tool will, at the very least, observe certain ground
rules laid out by the Sysop. For more than six months, mine was
probably the only RBBS-PC in the country where no daily time limit was
imposed - a user can log on any number of times on a given day so long
as she waits at least 20 minutes between calls to give others a
chance. While 95% of the callers did just that, the rotten 5%
spoiled things for everyone and I was forced to impose the daily time
limit you now labor under. As if that were not enough some callers
persisted in logging on under fictitious names despite my plea right
there on the Welcome screen that aliases are not tolerated on the
board. Some did it because they never matured; others did it as a way
to get around the daily time limit so that, to paraphrase Jim Anderson
in his REQUIEM.TXT (which is required reading for you), the "pigs can
feed some more at the trough".
Against my will, I was then forced to institute a policy that new
users cannot download files or perform most normal RBBS functions
until they leave their name, address and phone. The policy was meant
to be temporary; I have removed the restriction twice in two months
only to institute it again, because a very small minority of callers
made life difficult for me and everybody else. The day I adopt this
policy on a permanent basis is the day I shut down this BBS. I think
that new callers owe it to the Sysop to leave the information as a
gesture of COURTESY even if the BBS does not have a registration
policy. I encourage my callers to tell me where they work only because
I deal with a lot of companies and just in case my business folds, I
would like to have a place to recommend to my staff. I look at that
as a service to the companies because my staff is very good.
Most BBS in the country now has a "registration" policy. And who
can blame Sysops for adopting that? I know for a fact that a Sysop
would prefer not to have that policy were it not for a very small
minority of immature, delinquent and inconsiderate callers. Just so
you understand some of the reasons for that policy, take heed of a
Sysop's pet peeves below. I do not speak for anyone but myself but I
am willing to bet that my own pet peeves are also other Sysops'.
MY PET PEEVES
1. THE SYSTEM CRACKERS
Crackers (not "Hackers", the press has caused much confusion in
terminology) are the lowest form of life. They are a bunch of
delinquent nincompoops who find special delight in trying to
break into BBS's to cause irreversible damage in the hope of
depriving people a free and useful service. I am fortunate in
that out of about 6000 calls thus far, I have been visited by
these slimes only 15 times and all attempts to break into the
system have been fruitless. These jokers have tried many times
to download the RBBS secure files including user passwords,
commercial programs (a definite no-no) used to operate the RBBS,
and even my AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files which contain
nothing that will help them. Ninety percent of these delinquents
call at 300 bps, one reason I will no longer support 300 bps in
the very near future.
These frustrated crackers vent their frustration by leaving nasty
messages. And I thought I already have a wide vocabulary!
I am getting tired of these delinquents and hereby issuing fair
warning. If you are a twit, start growing up. The next time you
try to download a forbidden file from me, the system will give it
to you, but if you try to use it ... bingo!
2. THE GIMMES
Jim was right on target in his condemnation of callers who labor
under the illusion that an RBBS is a one-way street that exists
only for the enrichment of their software collection. It is sad
but true - the majority of callers fall under this category. I
have entertained the idea of modifying PC-TALK so that it only
has a DOWNLOAD function. Might as well. The upload function has
never been used by these callers. I was going to re-issue the
program under the name ... you guessed it ... PC-GIMME.EXE.
If you are a novice, no one is blaming you if all you do is
download. One of the reasons for an RBBS is to help novices get
started. It seems to me, though, that once you have downloaded
40 or so files, you should have benefited from those files and
stopped being a novice. It is time to repay some of those folks
who helped you. I have two callers on my system who have
downloaded 230+ files and uploaded NONE. I hope those fellows
download this file - their last.
Not everyone is born to be a programmer. Even if you do not have
an original program to contribute to the public domain, there are
many things you can do to help your Sysop.
I am still naive and believe that most people would like to
contribute and may not know how. Well, here's how for a start.
One, if you see a message on the board (you do know that there is
a message section on the BBS, right?) from someone asking a
question or asking for help, and you think you have the answer,
by all means respond to the message. Don't just depend on the
Sysop to provide a free consulting service to everybody.
Two, if you discover something useful either in the course of
your work or as a result of reading an article or whatever, don't
keep it to yourself. Either post a message on the BBS or write a
little text file and upload it.
Three, a Sysop should not have to call all over the country so
that you may have files to download. If you run across a new and
useful file on another BBS (particularly if it is long-distance
from your favorite Sysop's BBS), upload the file. Some callers
think that Sysops do not want their files sent to other boards.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. All public domain programs
are meant to be shared and all boards exist for that purpose if
nothing else. Just the other day I sent one of my original
programs to my favorite board in the South, and later that
afternoon a Sysop from NJ sent me the same file that I had just
released a few hours earlier!
There are two severe forms of "gimmes". One is called
"vulturitis" and afflicts a very few (thankfully) who logs on
every single night - at prime time at that - and picks off the
files as soon as the Sysop puts them up. Another form is called
"author-gimmes" and afflicts two users on my BBS who have
authored one or two useful programs that somehow found themselves
on other local boards but mine. These fellows are regular
"gimmes" on my board. I don't get it.
3. THE INCONSIDERATES
The inconsiderates (1) download a file then go to Peoria while
the file transfer is in progress and let the system time out and
log them off, (2) just drop carrier when they're done without the
decency of issuing G(oodbye), (3) calls to see the color screen
and hear the Welcome music, drops carrier then calls again for
another round of color and music, (4) sign on with multiple
aliases for more time at the "pig trough".
4. THE CONTROL-S'ERS
These callers like to do a CTRL-S to prevent the screen from
scrolling without realizing that unless they caused the system to
do otherwise, the system will pause per screenful of lines. If
you belong to this group you should know that (at least on my
system) whenever you do a CTRL-S, both partitions of Multilink
freeze and I am not able to continue whatever I am doing in the
foreground. I promise you that I will only tolerate so many
CTRL-S in one session particularly during daytime when I am at
the office using the machine in the foreground. I will always
drop carrier on CTRL-S users who call in at 300 bps during the
day as that compounds the problem. You should know that extensive
screen listing at 300 bps slows me down in the foreground. Thus,
if you have a choice of ASCII or XMODEM download, pick XMODEM.
If you are an incurable CTRL-S'er, call at night - very late at
5. THE INGRATES
These hopeless creatures do not bother to read the bulletins and
become very upset because their access level is low. One even
left a message saying "I demand a high access level". Demand?
Have I got news for you buddy! You use this BBS because I say
so. You don't use it for the same reason. This is not your
birthright. I think Jim said much the same thing.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO RUN AN RBBS?
By now, you should have an idea of what a Sysop's life is like.
If you are thinking of starting a first-class RBBS, you should know
that it takes infinite patience and a lot of time. I spend an average
of two and a half hours a day on the RBBS doing such things as
responding to comments and messages, uploading files from home,
changing new users access level, organizing file directories, deleting
useless files, looking new files over and updating bulletins
particularly the RBBS list.
You must love computing to be a Sysop. You also have to be crazy.
I would like to end this piece with a note of thanks to those
callers who have made running the RBBS worth all the heartburn. I am
priveleged to have a community of 25-30 callers (out of almost a
thousand) who know what RBBSing is all about. What makes the SUGI
SIG/M RBBS unique is not that it has far more out-of-town callers than
local callers, but that it has this small community of users who have
gone out of their way to help the system grow and who think of the
RBBS as their own.
Which, of course, it is.