Finding A Board

January 19, 2010

I have been looking for interesting bulletin boards. My experience has been a mixture of pleasant surprise and downright disappointment. The following text details my adventure. I have put the most successful experiences at the end.

As you can see from my first story on this subject, there are lists. It is a huge job to go through all the possibilities, so I tried to find ones that had some draw to me. I am not a gamer, so the ones that advertised that as top priority were not tried. There were a couple of exceptions to that because they looked particularly good for some other reason. My journey then, is partially random. It is interesting that eventually I did end up finding some of the most active and, in some way, important ones. Realize though, that there are very many more out there and I am sure there are some very good ones that I have missed.

One of the first that I looked at was called 1984 and I was drawn to it because it ran on BSD and had unique software. What I found was a welcoming sign up procedure and some innovative architecture. The bad part is that the messaging system was broken and I couldn’t even log off. I really hope that they get the energy to fix these things. It really looks hopeful.

Another common occurrence is that the sysop was simply unable to get enough interest in the board. Road Runner X was one such. The board was very well set up and looked great but, according to the sysop, was just a lot of work to keep up. The Valley BBS was another one which seems to have no visitors but actually is very functional.

Roughnecks looks active and good. They even have a guest login. Although they have a good interface and nothing seems broken, I was not able to sign up. The sign up routine promised a password but I have not received one. An e-mail to the system administrator got no response, so I assume that the board is dead. A funny thing is that I was listed as a member on their web interface. Thanks. :) (see update)

Entropy BBS looked interesting, if only because it was based in an exotic place – New Zealand. The sign up is really odd. They have a form which asks for things I had never heard of before like my “group” and my “111”. They ask that you check back again to see if you were accepted. I tried back every day, and after a week was finally able to log on. At this point I wanted to put in my location and clean up my personal information so that others would know who I was, but this did not seem possible – a problem with much BBS software. Anyway, I was able to look around and confirm that it is indeed a very nice looking board. Too bad they don’t have a realistic sign up procedure.

Sign up is indeed a problem. For one thing, it is often impossible to find out anything about a board without signing up. A few have a “Guest” sign in which lets you look around and evaluate whether you are interested or not. Many ask for your full name, street address, phone number, birth date, and sex. That to me is outrageous. A great deal ask you for your state. Presumable they mean “conscious”. If not, perhaps they are assuming that you live in the USA. Doesn’t everybody? (sigh)

Other boards which had the privacy, and presumably security, issues were, Hysteria BBS, and the Electronic Chicken. These are likely very good boards, but I didn’t sign up. Regarding privacy, The Quickfox was unusual in that it had a note beside “name” which suggested it was OK to use anything you wanted. The Pharcyde does it better. They ask for name, location, and an e-mail address. Now you’re talking. It looks like a pretty good board too.

The ones I ended up really liking ranged from brand new unused, to very busy, to old as the hills. The following boards are recommended by me.

The Bandmaster is an old BBS which still has two dialup lines – although they recently added telnet access. They are very message oriented and carry only local and Fidonet. The software is Maximus which has been around for a long time and, especially in this case, has a most convoluted interface. That however is part of the fun, and certainly retro.

Omicron Theta is brand new. I noticed that I was only the third name on the list. However, the software that this board runs on is superior. The interface is the simplest that I have seen. Unfortunately the board only gets messages from one network. Sill, I strongly recommend it and really hope it does well.

Somewhere in between, age wise is Vertrauen. This board was around in the old days and has come back. It is also the home of the Synchronet BBS software. It is a very busy board and carries several message networks, including the popular DoveNet which also has its origins there.

The board with the most message networks available was Diskshop, operating out of Toronto. This is fast, gives you lots of time, and also runs the Synchronet software that seems to be becoming the standard for telnet BBSing these days.

Many other boards were tried in this run and, no doubt, I will find some good ones in the future. One can only use a few with any practicality, especially if the interest is messaging. Gaming is perhaps a different matter. The Ville in Nova Scotia also has dialup access, and so deserves a special mention, but other than that I think I’ll leave it there for now. Hopefully, the reader will make their own evaluation and also be inspired to go on their own exploration and discover their own favourite bulletin boards.

Here are the telnet addresses for the ones I’ve talked about. If you are using the command line, type “telnet” and then the name after the “//”. You don’t need to type anything else.

Omicron Theta telnet://robertwolfe.org Port:23
Diskshop telnet://bbs.diskshop.ca Port:23
Vertrauen telnet://vert.synchro.net Port:23
Bandmaster telnet://bandmaster.dyndns.org Port:23 (604-266-1977, 604-266-5271)
The Ville telnet://theville.vintagecomputing.net Port:23 (902-442-2725)

Electronic Chicken telnet://bbs.electronicchicken.com Port:23
Hysteria BBS telnet://hysteriabbs.com Port:23
Pharcyde telnet://bbs.pharcyde.org Port:23
Quickfox telnet://bbs.quickfox.net Port:23
Entropy BBS telnet://entropybbs.co.nz Port:23
Roughneck BBS telnet://bbs.roughneckbbs.com Port:23

The Valley BBS telnet://valley.darktech.org Port:23
1984 telnet://1984.ws Port:23
Road Runner X telnet://rrx.ca Port:23

Give a couple of these a try and see what you like. The first five are definitely good and the last three are questionable. Bon voyage!

UPDATE: I got an e-mail from the sysop at Roughnecks BBS with a password. After spending a bit of time on the board, I have to say that this is one of the best. It is fast, and carries two of the most interesting message networks, DoveNet and ZeroNet. Like I said earlier, I’m not a gamer, but it looks like this could be a good board if you are.
UPDATE 2: Today (Jan-22) I got an e-mail from The Ville BBS welcoming me aboard. This just goes to show how slow things are in the BBS world these days, but also that there really is a welcoming community.

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5 Responses to “Finding A Board”

  1. Tandyman100 said

    Woah *blinks* that was an amazing writeup! Very informative, and enjoyable! What BBS do you frequent the most, and should I join if I wanted to communicate you the nostalgic way?

  2. voxigo said

    Well, I’m just getting back into it after 15 years. What I am doing here is documented my new adventure, so I haven’t racked up a lot of action yet. The top 4 on the list are my favourites for now, but there is not a lot of local talk on boards these days. So, to participate on an echo like “Dos Internet” on FIDO-NET can be done from almost any BBS. I haven’t explored the live chat, except with a couple of sysops, because there is rarely anyone else on at the same time. BBSs are not *that* popular – yet. :)

  3. jas said

    regarding entropy, i would have to disagree with your assessment. i signed up for it not so long ago and the signup was straight forward.

    also, it’s obviously a ‘scene’ bbs, and i cant believe you never heard of the various art,etc scene groups in bbsing. it makes me wonder how much you were into it 15 years ago.

    regarding negative comments about bbses not having guest accounts, i can totally understand why a bbs would not have a guest account. it’s only polite to sign up as a real person to use the system.

  4. I run a board, it is coming around to be pretty decent. I have put a lot of work into it, in very little time. telnet://solomonstemplebbs.com

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