The following text has been seen on several BBS's around the
area. I have included it here so that you may see the particular views expressed by other users that you may agree, or disagree with. I have also included some responses to the following. I promise it is interesting reading. Let us here at ModemNews know how you feel! Jeff Green, editor
Subj: YOUR OPINION Status: PUBLIC MESSAGE
I am leaving this open message in the hope that it will elicit a response from those interested in the continuance and proliferation of the bulletin board network on Long Island. Certain boards on Long Island have decided to change format and go Subscription only. To be perfectly candid, they have every right to do that as I have the latitude of choice in deleting that board from my call directory. This has just occurred with a local BBs called Metrocomm. As I was about to delete Metrocomm I started to think that this was, at best, a "me too" local BBs and therefor no great loss. After thinking about it for a while I realized it was a very great loss. If every BBs bastardized the precept and overriding principle under which most reputable boards run then we all of us would no longer have the great choice of boards that we enjoy nor would most of the youngsters be able to savor this great activity which is infanently more desirable than their "Hanging Out". There are boards on Long Island such as Sound of Music that are large and offer subscriber only phone lines. There are boards such as P.D.S.L.O. that offer tremendous file bases and there are boards that offer most of everything and are totally user friendly such as Infosys, Sunshine II, Mutiny and many others. I point out these three because I have volunteered to make a contribution to their boards because of the unselfish help that they have provided over a period of time. The funny thing is that each has declined my offer and as much as said "That is what they feel their function should be". Now I look at Metrocomm, which offers considerably less than any of the above, and ask: To what purpose does my contribution serve - Do they offer a multi line system - No, do they offer an even larger than average file base - NO, do they provide a large user and message base - No. Therefor I conclude and submit that I am not here to subsidize the acquisition of new systems (like in 386) nor to grow a board in anyway that does not enhance the service provided to the user group in general. Mr. Ellis, I took the time and asked you these questions on YOUR OWN BOARD and you deleted the message. I took the time and re-entered these questions and to date, you have chosen to ignore them. Therefor I ask here, in an open forum, to please explain just what additional services you are offering in return for your $25 -$35 - & $50 dollar "CONTRIBUTION" and to what use are you going employ the proceeds of your solicitation. Additionally, to whom will you be offering verification and substantiation. I, as I'm sure many users would be interested in your response and to those who took the time to read this, I would enjoy hearing your opinion in this matter.
The following are responses to the above letter. Let us know how you feel. All responses will be published in ModemNews.
From the Ancient Pond BBS Subject: (R) Subscription only boards Folder : A, "General Mail"
I think Alan is trashing Metrocom because he left a public message reagarding how Tony was running his board and instead of Tony answering it he just deleted it and that pissed off Alan. Also, Alan wasnt knocking my bbs or SOM, rather he was justifying our requests for subscription fees. I think Alan just feels Metrocom is pretty much run of the mill and just doesn't think its worth any money. You are right however, it does cost ALOT to run a big system. I don't know how big Metrocom is so I cannot give you my opinion, but I can say this. If ya don't like the bbs JUST DONT CALL IT !. Nobody should really go through the trouble of bad mouthing a sysop just because he or she does not like the system. None of us are blind or stupid, we join bbs's that we think are worth it. Alan may have stepped a bit too far, but thats his opinion of things.
Subject: (R) Comment Folder : A, "General Mail"
I hope Leo does not lock you out so you may read this message.
Let me tell you about the local BBS's.
These BBS's have been setup at great expense to the Sysop and in most cases he doesn't get enough back out of it to even begin to cover his expenses. This BBS is his home and he's inviting you into his home and all he asks is for you to fill out a questionnaire to gain access. This Questionnaire is for his own use and for no other reason but for him to know who you are. I don't blame any sysop for wanting to know more about you before you gain access to his home. If you don't wish to be know by a Real name and have the sysop know a few things about you then don't fill out the Questionnaire and don't expect any time to be alloted to you for access. If you don't like the software or setup then call somebody else. I hate to clue you in But Leo uses Wildcat! software which is one of the best around, easy to setup and run, many great features, a good interface for users, and easy to use. It's not a cheap software and still does take a lot of work to keep up. I'm glad I don't have users on my board as you, because I'd give up the BBS before
Questionnaire is for his own use and for no other reason but for him to know who you are. I don't blame any sysop for wanting to know more about you before you gain access to his home. If you don't wish to be know by a Real name and have the sysop know a few things about you then don't fill out the Questionnaire and don't expect any time to be alloted to you for access. If you don't like the software or setup then call somebody else. I hate to clue you in But Leo uses Wildcat! software which is one of the best around, easy to setup and run, many great features, a good interface for users, and easy to use. It's not a cheap software and still does take a lot of work to keep up. I'm glad I don't have users on my board as you, because I'd give up the BBS before I put up with stupid Assholes. My advice to you is; Sell that modem and forget about BBSing before someone looks you up and burns your computer.
A FEW NOTES ABOUT BBS USER FEES. ---- COPYRIGHT 1989, MICHAEL D. HOFER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ---- A Note From The Pond the ancient pond bbs 516-935-2027 300-9600 baud on a USRobotics HST 25 hours a day/8 days a week
A number of you may have received a letter from a bulletin board system operator recently. Basically, they announced a new subscription policy, one costing $75/year. While my own personal philosophy includes the opinion that most BBSs should be cost free, I'd like to know what everyone else thinks about it.
Lets get some terms together: a Bulletin Board System (BBS) is run from a PC-sized machine (or machines in a number of possible configurations), as opposed to a Remote Computing Service(RCS), usually on a Large Mini or Mainframe. Bulletin Boards serve a local community, sometimes providing wide area access through a store-and-forward network, such as fidonet, pronet, usenet, etc. RCS serve a wide area for dialup use, usually through one of the packet-switching common carriers such as tymnet or telenet.
The distinction IS blurring. Services such as Telenet's PC Pursuit allows a wide area dial service to be offered to users, but to only a few areas now, and the costs are rising.
So if it is in the right area, and if there is enough investment capital (I'd guess around $20K for absolutely everything) a BBS can offer as many (or more) of the services offered by CIS or The Source.
Why? Bulletin Boards started off as a free service for the communication of ideas and self-generated programs. Just as our local group, the Long Island Computer Association (LICA), has seen a population change from hobbiests (hackers, when the term hacking was used to refer to people who knew their computers inside out, not to refer to semi-literate 14 year old vandals) to include many more non-technical users of computers, who seem to have displaced most of the original members.
Now, when dialing even a mediocre bulletin board, you are immediately asked for $25 or more for longer access or download/upload privilege. The more enlightened boards allow this access to active non-contributing members who upload much software or are otherwise assets to the board community.
But this constant demand for money is, to me, questionable. First, let us consider the costs of running a minimal board. The Ancient Pond (a completely FREE bbs) can be considered minimal - one line, about 40Meg of disk, and some very good bbs software.
Investment (estimates of market value - I already had most of this
equipment, so it did not represent an additional cost)
PC XT "Klone" enhanced to 8MHz $350 Two 20Mb used disk drives 300 40 Mb Tape Backup Unit 300 - purchased
Initial Software Purchase 125 - purchased Update, Support fees so far 25 - purchased Telephone line charges/year 150 High Speed Modem 600 --- total $1850 450
Cost/Month for the last two years: 78 19
How about my time? I spend at LEAST five hours/week at maintenance, if I were to be billing that at my usual rate…
It looks like a considerable expense, but the big word here is that it is a hobby - I'd be knobbling on a keyboard anyway.
If this looks like I'm trying to justify a subscription fee for the pond, please discard that idea immediately. While it would be really gratifying to receive money for something that I enjoy doing so much, I think that the pond represents what is STILL necessary in the greater computing community, a no-extra-charge forum for the exchange of ideas and help.
On the other hand, I am really interested in the phenomenon of these Subscription Boards, and I'd like to know more.
What services (in addition to the kind available here on the pond) make these boards worth $2-$6 a month? Basically, it seems that these boards are offering only four additional services:
- Longer Access time (you get that on the pond simply by being active)
- More files (some have CD ROMs attached)
- Network/Store & Forward Message Access
- Multiple Nodes (less waiting for a connection) and other features
of multiuser systems (chat, forums, etc)
Other "advanced" services can include "fronting" for Software Companies, either for marketing or for support services, features such as buy/sell when the BBS is associated with a retail commercial operation, "adult" message and dating services, technical consulting and job hunting services, specialized, proprietary data services.
But what about you? DO you pay BBS Access Fees (No matter what they're called) If so what do you get from it, besides better access.
It will never cost a fee to take a dip in the ancient pond – I am philosophically opposed to that. But it would be nice to get hold of more disk space, etc…
IS it appropriate to raise money to support the board? How about an Authorized, Official Ancient Pond Froggy coffee mug or Tee shirt? A Beanie? Would you pay for these?