A Sysop's Peeves ----------------
It takes a special kind of crazy to make an otherwise
normal-looking human being choose to operate a bulletin board system… very often (s)he's placing valuable equipment at the mercy of others, and spending valuable time, and not really minding a bit. A little acknowledgement, the occasional "thank you", and periodic uploads of fresh public domain software seem to keep these types happy. However (you knew there had to be a however to this, after reading the title, didn't you?), there are a few things that can… shall we say… b o t h e r a system operator.
The bothersome users of a bulletin board fall into some
broad classes, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive nor all that well-defined. Some are truly obnoxious, while others can get the Sysop upset with a third party, the world in general, or with… ummm… the Sysop.
Let us introduce the first, and most obnoxious, of those
users capable of having an effect on an operator's blood pressure. We'll call him the "Owner", because that's how the creature behaves… like he owns the BBS (not likely to endear himself to the sap who pays the bills, no?). There are a broad range of symptoms displayed by an Owner. First of all, there is generally no respect given to all the other users of the system: he'll log on at 7 P.M. and stay there downloading files until the system (or operator) hangs up on him. At other times he'll call for a chat with the Sysop: if the Sysop's not there, he'll leave a nasty message complaining about the Sysop's inattentiveness. If the Sysop is there, he'll go on at lengths (typing slowly) asking why the files HE wants aren't always there, and why the BBS isn't tailored to HIS interests and needs. The only thing good about this creature is that he will either (1) get bored and suck some other Sysop's BBS dry, or (2) get the message that he's being a pig.
Next in our BBS zoo we have the Bull. Owners tend to be
Bulls, too. A Bull behaves like he's in a china shop, crashing about, spending tremendous amounts of time discovering the variety of error messages the BBS keeps on file. Now, this sort of behaviour is not really frustrating to a Sysop… unless he's waiting to use the BBS himself. What REALLY gets the Sysop is that a full-scale Bull will refuse to admit that it might be faster to read the Help files, and if he does have a question, he'll pose it to the Sysop himself. This Sysop has a standard response: silence. Any question adequately answered in the Help files does not need further attention. Fortunately for Sysops, most Bulls are self-curing. They will either discover the Help files or puzzle out the BBS structure by trial and error… and error… and error…
Then there's the Apologist, who gets the Sysop mad at
himself. What happens is the Sysop will complain publicly about some Owner or Bull on the system, and the Apologist will then leave a message saying he's sorry for spending so much time downloading a file, or that he tried various commands before going for Help. Why is the Sysop mad? Because a valued user has felt badly about the Sysop's complaints, while the REAL object of the whole mess never read the rotten complaint anyway!
Last, and probably Least, is the classic Twit. Twits are
usually lacking in most of the social graces. A Twit usually is unable to spell nor comprehend "courtesy". He'll go right past the Sysop's request not to post messages offering to pirate software, and then post a message offering to pirate software. Requests for clean language are met with profanity, and when the offending messages are wiped from the BBS, the Twit will be absolutely outraged. Twits tend to run in groups, and will descend on a BBS like a horde of locusts. Twits either grow up (mentally: a low physical age is not a prerequisite for one to be a Twit) or discover a BBS operated by a fellow Twit who tolerates them. The "cracker" (what the press erroneously terms a "hacker"), who delights in trying to crash remote systems to cause maximum discomfort and damage, is a true Twit.
Thank goodness there is the Decent User. This is the person
who will upload files someone's looking for, read the messages and pipe up if he's got something to say, and will feel a twinge of guilt (needlessly) when he downloads that neat-looking big file or can't find anything half-decent to contribute. They may not be thanked, but they're the ones responsible for the continued operation of a BBS.
- Bob Maxwell,
Sysop (no foolin', huh?), Turbo BBS,
Vancouver, B.C. (604) 738-7811 July 21, 1986
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