BBSes - the "web" before the web!

So, currently I am doing write-ups on every BBS I can telnet/ssh into, mostly those that I’ve found at the Telnet BBS Guide website. I plan to publish my findings on several sites, including onto this board! It will be published in 28 parts, an intro, letters A-Z and finally a summation of the current scene. I’m trying to include interviews with the BBS Sysops if possible, and see what their thoughts and feelings are concerning the modern web and the future of the net itself.

If you would like to help, contribute or know something I don’t about BBSes, or just want to share your experiences with them, I’d really love to hear it!

I love BBSes!

You should check out this link I shared a while back!

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Thanks tim! I’ve already started to view some of the documentary a while back, but I’ll be sure not to miss any of these other interviews either!

MAN I am super nostalgic for BBSes. I use to dial into some local ones as a kid. I always kinda wanted to run one. I am curious to see your findings.

I played around with Legend of the Red Dragon on a telnet board earlier this year. Though I ended up with some very mixed feelings about the gender and heteronormative dynamics at play in the game; I hadn’t recalled some of those from my youth entirely. I also dropped the telnet board in question mainly because of the sysop.

What kinds of help are you looking for?

I don’t know how much time I have to give; between other slices of other goals. But I had enough love of the medium id like to find a way to help.

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Im curious to know too what metrics your recoding about the active telnet BBSes your finding.

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As to the help I am looking for, just if you know of any BBSes that are kind and welcoming. Regarding metrics however, I’m not rating them, just stating my personal opinions of them and what they offer or don’t, what the art is like, what games they have and that sort of thing. I also want to meet the Sysops, if possible, and interview them. So yeah, that’s pretty much it!

Bryan Lunduke of the Lunduke Show / podcast / youtube channel fame runs one, though its mostly a gateways for a few BBS door games. I used it briefly; but got kind of disenchanted with it because of his real world politics; though that doesn’t directly intersect with the BBS itself. Connection details are on lunduke dot com.

Im curious to know of other BBSes you find though. Thats the only telnet one ive used in modernity.

Citadel has come up in a few discussions of BBSes here on Talkgroup and in the Fediverse lately. It’s a BBS system that has evolved to have both a telnet and web interface. Ive not got a lot of experience with it at all, but id be curious to know of any such sites you find running it. (If you decide to cover Citadel, categorizing it as a BBS or not-a-BBS is admittedly difficult.)

I’d be curious to know some additional things about them if your open to suggestions:

Do they host files?
Do they host message boards?
Do they use a time bank?
What BBS software do they appear to use?

And if the Sysops you interview are forth coming id be curious to know the rough number of active users.

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I have questions similar to those lined up, but I’d never heard of a time bank. I believe on one or two BBSes I’m on, they have a counter, but I don’t understand what it’s used for. When I was very young, I only saw BBSes once or twice, and it was over at my cousin’s, where we downloaded the shareware version of Rise of the Triad. I don’t remember any minute counters there.

Since they used an entire phone line to connect, each account had an allotment of minutes they were allowed to be connected. Occasionally carnivorous thunder lizards attacked, but we hid in caves at night!


Maiki hit the nail on the head! As original BBSes consumed phone lines, they limited how long you could be connected; but some had time banks to allow you to bank your unused time for a later date. Example: You might get 30 minutes a day, but you might bank 15 minutes one day to stay connected 45 minutes the next.

Most modern BBS software would have no need. It would mostly be an exercise of nostalgia; or one’s philosophy of how long one should stay “plugged into” such systems these days. Though some BBS folks are obviously running old school software too.


Thanks trashHeap and maiki! I think I’m getting close to the end of the write-up of the BBSes which start with ‘A’, which I will soon post here!

@fuuko, I use this site to keep notes in a variety of ways, and encourage you to do the same. Here are a couple ways I’d track your project:

  1. A long notes thread, where I just post notes or edit them as needed.
  2. Use a tag or category, topic per BBS

I would like to build a database of BBS info, so I want to support your efforts however I can. If we want to start a BBS category (or maybe something more for “text”-based tech, to include MUDs and tilde stuff), we could. Let me know!

I imagine creating a new thread for each BBS would be neat. Users/sysops could even be invited to come over and discuss. :slight_smile:

I think a BBS category would work, and a database for it too! Also include stuff for M* stuff(MUDS and stuff), tildes and shell hosts like SDF. Also a subcategory for BBS art maybe? Also, regarding my BBS document, I’ve done about 1/2 of the write-ups for the ones that start with the letter ‘A’. I just need to write down more questions that I want answered for every BBS - such as the general mood of the place, what kind of files they host and so on and so forth…

@fuuko are you tracking any other BBS databases? I like one can download that one from the TelnetBBSGuide in text format. I noticed something in the latest dump, it has WordPress captions in the entry, so I got curious. I found the follow classes on one of the listings:

<article id="post-10137" class="post-10137 bbs type-bbs status-publish has-post-thumbnail hentry alpha-l software-synchronet connection-telnet list-brief list-detail">

WordPress reveals all! Anyhow, they are kept as a custom post type, and I think the metadata included is added to the site via hierarchical taxonomy (hence their inclusion as classes).

I checked if they registered their BBS post-type as an endpoint, but it is not:

Okay, that means we just have the text to work back from, so we can see what they collect there, and add it to What is a BBS page?. :slight_smile:

I’m getting my info from the TelnetBBSGuide, at least as far as connection stuff goes.

Okay, that means we just have the text to work back from, so we can see what they collect there, and add it to What is a BBS page?. :slight_smile:

Sounds good!

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