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Computer Etiquette, By Mel North

The following are a few points of general BBS etiquette.  If you wish to

maintain your welcome on whatever system you happen to call, it would be to your advantage to observe these few rules.

1.  Don't habitually hang up on a system.  Every Sysop is aware that

accidental disconnections happen once in a while but we do tend to get annoyed with people who hang up every single time they call because they are either too lazy to terminate properly or they labor under the mistaken assumption that the 10 seconds they save online is going to significantly alter their phone bill. "Call Waiting" is not an acceptable excuse for long. If you have it and intend to use the line to call BBS systems, you should either have it disconnected or find some other way to circumvent it.

2.  Don't do dumb things like leave yourself a message that says "Just testing

to see if this thing works". Where do you think all those other messages came from if it didn't work? Also, don't leave whiney messages that say "Please leave me a message". If ever there was a person to ignore, it's the one who begs someone to leave him a message. If you want to get messages, start by reading the ones that are already online and getting involved in the conversations that exist.

3.  Don't use the local equivalent of a chat command unless you really have

some clear cut notion of what you want to say and why. Almost any Sysop is more than happy to answer questions or offer help concerning his system. Unfortunately, because about 85% of the people who call want to chat and about 99% of those people have absolutely nothing to say besides "How old are you?" or something equally irrelevent, fewer Sysops even bother answering their pagers every day.

4.  When you are offered a place to leave comments when exiting a system,

don't try to use this area to ask the Sysop questions. It is very rude to the other callers to expect the Sysop to carry on a half visible conversation with someone. If you have a question or statement to make and expect the Sysop to respond to it, it should always be made in the section where all the other messages are kept. This allows the Sysop to help many people with the same problem with the least amount of effort on his part.

5.  Before you log on with your favorite psuedonym, make sure that handles are

allowed. Most Sysops don't want people using handles on the system. There is not enough room for them, they get silly games of one-upmanship started, it is much nicer to deal with a person on a personal basis, and last but not least, everyone should be willing to take full responsibility for his actions or comments instead of slinging mud from behind a phoney name.

Also when signing on, why not sign on just like you would introduce yourself

in your own society? How many of you usually introduce yourselves as Joe W Smutz the 3rd or 4th?

6.  Take the time to log on properly.  There is no such place as RIV, HB, ANA

or any of a thousand other abbreviations people use instead of their proper city. You may think that everyone knows what RIV is supposed to mean, but every BBS has people calling from all around the country and I assure you that someone from Podunk, Iowa has no idea what you're talking about.

7.  Don't go out of your way to make rude observations like "Gee, this system

is slow". Every BBS is a tradeoff of features. You can generally assume that if someone is running a particular brand of software, that he is either happy with it or he'll decide to find another system he likes better. It does nobody any good when you make comments about something that you perceive to be a flaw when it is running the way the Sysop wants it to. Constructive criticism is somewhat more welcome. If you have an alternative method that seems to make good sense then run it up the flagpole.

8.  When leaving messages, stop and ask yourself whether it is necessary to

make it private. Unless there is some particular reason that everyone shouldn't know what you're saying, don't make it private. We don't call them PUBLIC bulletin boards for nothing, folks. It's very irritating to other callers when there are huge blank spots in the messages that they can't read and it stifles interaction between callers.

9.  If your favorite BBS has a time limit, observe it.  If it doesn't, set a

limit for yourself and abide by it instead. Don't tie up a system unnecessarily.

10.  Have the common courtesy to pay attention to what passes in front of your

face. When a BBS displays your name and asks "Is this you?", don't say yes when you can see perfectly well that it is mispelled. Also, don't start asking questions about simple operation of a system until you have thouroghly read all of the instructions that are available to you. I assure you that it isn't any fun to answer a question for the thousandth time when the answer is prominently displayed in the system bulletins or instructions. Use some common sense when you ask your questions. The person who said "There's no such thing as a stupid question" obviously never operated a BBS.

11.  Don't be personally abusive.  It doesn't matter whether you like a Sysop

or think he's a jerk. The fact remains that he has a large investment in making his computer available, usually out of the goodness of his heart. If you don't like a Sysop or his system, just remember that you can change the channel any time you want. Besides, whether you are aware of it or not, if you make yourself enough of an annoyance to any Sysop, he can take the time to trace you down and make your life, or that of your parents, miserable.

12.  Keep firmly in mind that you are a guest on any BBS you happen to call.

Don't think of logging on as one of your basic human rights. Every person that has ever put a computer system online for the use of other people has spent a lot of time and money to do so. While he doesn't expect nonstop pats on the back, it seems reasonable that he should at least be able to expect fair treatment from his callers. This includes following any of the rules for system use he has laid out without grumping about it. Every Sysop has his own idea of how he wants his system to be run. It is really none of your business why he wants to run it the way he does. Your business is to either abide by what he says, or call some other BBS where you feel that you can obey the rules.

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