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SETTING UP A BBS FOR YOURSELF
If it came down to it, each sysop would have their own reason for
wanting to be a sysop. But, the most common reasons would probably be:
it's fun, it's a challenge, and it's educational. Before you go out
and spend a month's wages to purchase a computer and a modem, you will need
to know about being a BBS, and you will need to decide what your BBS will
be like. In this chapter, I will show you just what it is like to BE A
PLANNING FOR YOUR BBS
While some people get right into it, and have no problems getting
started, most people will tell you that it takes a little hard work if you
want to have a successful BBS. Even though several of the sysops have
problems with getting started, and having everything work in "synch," the
thing that most people face is their own pride.
If you forget everthing else I say here, remember this: Nearly 95% of
the BBSes that fail within the first year do so because the sysop can't deal
with negative remarks. One thing you should know is that if your BBS doesn't
offend SOMEBODY, then you probably wont find ANYBODY who likes it either.
This is true with any business; if you have people for it, someone WILL be
You will need to decide what you want your BBS to be. Will it be
a Games BBS, or will it be a Business BBS? Will everybody (public) have
access to this BBS, or just a select few who know about it? Will you allow
uploading and downloading? What about payments? Will you allow messages?
How about Chatting conferences? Will you access a network?
You will need to know such things as - What software you will use?
What will your on-line policy be? What time limits will you set? Will you
give people bonuses for on-line time? While all of these things are usually
taken for granted when calling a BBS, they are things that you will have to
know when operating your OWN BBS.
There are a few guidelines that you should follow when you are
deciding how you will set up your BBS.
1. Keep your files in order. If you have 5 files on IBM PCs, then
put them one right after the other; don't spread them out around the BBS. If
you devote 5 files to IBM PCs, then you should also devote 5 files to
2. Write your BBS policy before you set up the BBS. Users should
know what the rules are when they log on. You should have a file online for
them to download and read.
3. You should keep your commands simple and easy to understand. You
will want to have "H" be help, and "G" be goodbye. If "H" is for "Hang up,"
then most people will be confused and will not call back.
You should use one simple rule when choosing software: Look at the
software as a user, not as a sysop. Make sure YOU understand it. If you
can't, how do you expect anybody else to?
When choosing software, you should make sure that the software you
choose is a kind that the users will want. If you are providing a BBS that
is for chatting a lot, then you should find out what kind of software those
people like to use.
The following features are ones that you should consider before and
while you are choosing software;
Good password protection Good security features
Public & private messages Online help
Easy-to-use menus Good file & message system
Advanced user-access levels Doors (Games, Mail, etc.)
Multiple protocols Online Questionnaires
Networking ability Downloading ability
Usage log Multi-line ability
Upload/Download stats Online time counter(s)
Remote sysop capability Chatting
Good User/Sysop Relations
You will want to get copies of shareware BBS programs, or you can
write to BBS companies and ask them for information about their products.
Ask the sysops on the BBSes that you use, what kind they would recommend for
the type of BBS you are planning on having. You will no doubt find that a
BBS that is fun to log onto but may be a real pain to operate. At least in
A real must: Choose the BBS software BEFORE you choose a computer and
modem. Choosing the software first will allow you to make a better selection
CHOOSING YOU COMPUTER
Most IBMs and their clones are acceptable for BBSes. These are good
because they are pretty cheap and the parts and accessories aren't expensive,
either. There are good computers for other types of BBSes, too.
If you are planning to offer a BBS for a certain type of non-IBM
compatible computer (i.e. Amiga), then you probably should have that type
of computer. If you have an Amiga computer for an Amiga BBS, then you can
offer Amiga programs for the users to download. If you ran a BBS that was
for Amiga users and your computer was an IBM, then you wouldn't be able to
have programs that they could run from the BBS.
Whatever you choose, you need to make sure that you have enough
hard-disk space for the program and files. If you were planning to run a
"one-line-message-only" BBS with no files, etc., you would only need about
15 megabytes of hard-disk space. But, if you are planning on having a BBS
with "the works" (doors, bulletins, multiple lines, exchanging files, etc.),
then you can't stop short of 125-175 megabytes of available hard-disk space.
Many of the file BBSes use CD-ROM drives to allow for more disk space.
Combined network conference and file BBSes generally have a "gigabyte"
(1,000 megabytes) of files and messages online at any given time.
You will need to devote this computer ONLY to the BBS. You can't use
it for anything else. If you use the computer, it will disconnect the line
you have connected for incoming calls.
CHOOSING A MODEM
Ask the BBS sysops in your area what modems they prefer. Also ask
them why they like those particular modems. This will give you an idea of
what kind you might like to get. You should find out how dependable the
modem is. It should be able to withstand several months of non-stop use.
You should buy the best and fastest modem that you can afford. Many
of the modem companies will give a discount to sysops, so you will not have
to pay a whole lot for the modem.
You can have more than one phone line for your BBS without having to
pay for a business line as long as the line is non-commercial; that is, the
line is not used for business. You shouldn't put your voice phone number on
the BBS anywhere. People will call you at all times of the night wanting to
ask you questions, etc.
If you want to allow people to send contributions, (YOU WILL) and
send comments and questions, then you should set up a Post Office Box. NEVER
give out your home address. That would allow a thief to find out where they
could pick up several thousand dollars worth of software and hardware.