Category : BBS Programs+Doors
Archive   : BS-PR15.ZIP
Filename : PRODUCT2.TXT

 
Output of file : PRODUCT2.TXT contained in archive : BS-PR15.ZIP
ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿
³Your Product³
ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ

You have to think of your BBS as a product. Whether you
have a 32 line commercial BBS, a single line hobby board or
somewhere in between, you are selling a service. Just as
with any other product, you have to decide where and how your
public relations efforts should best be spent.

Now may be a good time to look at your BBS and take an
inventory. If you haven't already done so, print the file
PRODUCT1.TXT included with this package. It will help you
take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of your BBS. Some
of these things you may already have thought of. Others
possibly not. Whatever the case may be, this is a very
subjective matter and there are no right or wrong answers.

We'll take this step by step and briefly examine some of
the immediate public relations problems your BBS may present
and some ways to solve those problems.

I want you to bear in mind that it is NOT my intention
to tell you how to run your BBS. In addition, I don't think
there are any "bad" features for a BBS, except of course
those that are patently illegal. If anything like that is
implied, it wasn't intended.


BBS NAME:

The name of your BBS should be chosen very carefully and
it should be in keeping with the overall tone of the BBS.
Chances are you wouldn't want to call your BBS "Thunder of
Cloven Hooves" if the emphasis is on scholarly Biblical
discussions.


Sysop:

If you are known to users mainly as the Sysop, that
could be creating an aloof image. That could be the image
you want. On some larger boards with staffs that may be the
best way to handle administrative duties. But if you want to
have a more folksy and personable board you need to make
yourself known. Create an account with your name, if you
haven't already done so. Encourage users to refer to you
with your name, instead of The Sysop.


Graphics:

Several graphics types are fighting for dominance in the
BBS industry. For now, ANSI is a de facto standard since

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that is a baseline. Nearly every computer can handle ANSI
graphics. RIP, NAPLPS, and JPEG are making headway. This is
a matter of Sysop Choice. You might even want to have
several available. You may want to poll your users to see
what type they prefer.


General Interest/Special Focus

You may want to have a BBS with a little bit of
everything for everybody. Even with cable becoming more
prevalent, the three major broadcast networks still have the
largest viewership. A General Interest BBS with a very large
plate to offer will draw users but could overwhelm some
users, especially new users.

As can be expected, though, some users may visit to get
an overview, but prefer to go somewhere else for more depth
on a subject they are interested in. With that you also run
the risk of losing them permanently.

A BBS with a specific interest runs the risk of being
too narrowly defined. There is probably a market for a BBS
about horse racing jockeys six feet and taller with green
eyes, but it's also so specialized it would attract few
callers (if any).

A specialized BBS could encounter problems with subject
matter that may appear to be at odds with its theme. For
instance, a Board with an emphasis on adult discussions of
sexual matters might have missing child GIFS. While the
motives may be pure, that could be a major public relations
headache.


Users

Most BBS have very large user lists. Many of those
lists are bogus in that they reflect all the people that have
visited since the BBS was established. Some Sysops routinely
clean the chaff out of the user lists. This is a good idea
in that it makes it easier for Sysops to keep track of who is
active and who is not. In addition it helps users who log in
only occasionally. If a user hasn't logged on recently he
has usually lost track of what happened the last time he was
on. It reminds occasional users that it might be a good idea
to stop in more often.

The average age of your users may be able to help you
determine the image you present. At the same time, the

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average age of the user you want to attract will dictate the
image you create. As an example, you may have a large number
of teens who are interested in role playing games. But you
may want to discourage them from logging on by having
amortization tables available instead.

Do you have mostly male callers or mostly female
callers? BBSs are generally dominated by male callers.
Topics dealing with what are considered "women's issues,"
such as recipes, child care and others could bring in some
female callers.


Money:

As I'm sure you are aware, a Bulletin Board can cost a
lot to operate. The trend is to charge some kind of
subscription. There are a number of different ways in which
to do this. A very large portion of the BBS community
believes that charging for access violates the spirit of
freedom of information that has been intertwined with
personal computers since their introduction. You will face
that sort of resistance, especially if your BBS has had a
history of access at no charge.

A common promotion is to provide free, nearly unlimited
access for a limited time and then expect some sort of
payment for a subscription. The method of raising money I've
seen most often is to have different levels of access for
varied prices. Usually that involves additional time and
downloads for different price points. Some BBSs simply ask
for donations occasionally. And of course there are Sysops
that are vehement about free access


FILES:

File areas are arguably the heart of a BBS. And just as
with a human heart, they can create a huge amount of trouble
if not properly taken care of.

If you have adult areas you need to ensure that minors
do not get access to them (the same should go for adult
oriented message bases). Requiring photocopies of a valid
driver's license is the easiest way to make sure minors don't
get into the adult file areas (especially the GIFS). Despite
the huge popularity of adult areas on BBSs, you are more
likely to encounter resistance from the user base and the
general public with an adult file area than you would without
one. You also run a higher risk of being raided by law
enforcement authorities.
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File Requests can be a valuable promotional tool. Many
software companies allow potential buyers to request a demo
from thier support board to try the software before
purchasing it. Some BBSs allow file requests of certain
informational files without having the caller registered or
verified. This is potentially a very powerful feature and
probably should be implemented on your BBS if it isn't
already. A file explaining your policies, the message bases
available, some hints on how to use your BBS (especially if
it uses a less well known software package), and maybe even a
registration or subscription form. This gives the user an
idea of what your BBS is like and can leave him with a good
feeling in that he received something without having full
access.

BBSs are commonly cited as a major source of computer
viruses. If you take great pains to check all files for
viruses before making them publicly available then you can
put many users' minds at ease. Make sure you promote that
often on your BBS and in any advertising you do. Sometimes a
virus will sneak through even the best virus checkers. Track
down the offending file, delete it and apologize to those who
downloaded it. But gently remind users that you are not
responsible for damage caused by the virus. They downloaded
and used it at their own risk.

There are a number of File Distribution Networks you can
receive new files from. These operate much like the message
networks only they deal with files, mostly shareware. These
will give you continuous sources of fresh files on a regular
basis without much hassle. A good choice for BBSs that
emphasize files and is easily promotable.


Message Bases:

If File Areas are the heart of a BBS, then the Message
Bases are the soul of your BBS. That is where your users
have the biggest opportunity to contribute to the board.
This is also where you have the biggest opportunity to set
the image of the BBS. Your message bases can be wide and
varied or narrow and focused on just a few topics. Keep in
mind not everyone is going to be tactful and considerate.
Some are rude and downright mean.

Nationally echoed message bases can be a valuable asset
to your board. But there will be times when there are
matters of interest in Wenatchee, Texas that folks in Erie,
Pennsylvania won't be interested in. Chances are you have at
least one message base that is specific for local matters.

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You may want to consider opening up a few others depending on
the demand from your users.

You may want to police the message bases periodically.
There have been occasions when a parts of a mail packet
received from a hub had been tossed into the wrong area.
Frank sexual discussions have turned up in family oriented
echoes. There aren't too many other ways to alienate a loyal
user faster than to have something like that happen. If it
does, apologize quickly, delete or move the offending
messages and hope the user accepts your actions as
reasonable.


DOORS:

Your choice of Door programs create a twofold public
relations challenge right out of the box. First, there may
be times in which you add a door that doesn't quite fit the
image you are trying to create on your BBS. In that case
it's a fairly simple matter to remove the door program.
Second, a very popular door could tie up your BBS for hours a
day with just a few users, causing frustration to others.
This is particularly true of games. You may wish to limit
the time per day in a door. Some Sysops also require users
to contribute files or messages in order to gain more time in
doors. That may be the route you choose. You should
probably remind your callers from time to time about policies
regarding games.

Games that pit one user against another are preferred by
users. Multi-node systems that encourage game playing should
also encourage users to set aside times to play certain games
at specific times to take advantage of that capability. Not
every game can support multiple players at one time. But
many can. A Saturday Night Trade Wars Tournament would be
much like a Saturday Night Pool Tournament and is very
promotable.

Online Magazines and Newspapers for Bulletin Boards are
growing in number. Those are increasingly being produced as
doors. Just as with print magazines or newspapers they can
be expected to create controversy. Some users may take their
complaints out of the door and onto the BBS. You can either
encourage this since BBSs thrive on discussion of issues or
you could politely ask them to take the matter up with the
publisher/editor.




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MISC:

Most BBSs run a screen full of Bulletins when the user
logs on. These bulletins should be updated as often as
possible. Callers need to know what's going on with your
BBS, even if it's just the latest scores for "Red Dragon."
Most users don't read the bulletins on a regular basis. But,
they leave the impression that you have a "happening" BBS. A
business owner I once worked for said to me "The impression
that we have business generates business." He always made
sure there were cars in front of his business, even if they
belonged to employees. Your bulletins can be the cars in
front of your business.

Curiously, though, a lot of bulletins can also turn away
a user. If you have a potload of bulletins, you might want
to think about moving some to areas in which they are more
appropriate. Bulletins of game scores might be moved to a
gaming conference, as an example. Rules, policies and news
should be the primary considerations when developing log on
bulletins.

There are several BBS and Sysop groups and associations
that you can become a member of. There might even be one or
more in your area. They are sources of support, solutions,
and other information. If you are having trouble with
another sysop, the association can be a place to arbitrate
your difficulties. If worse comes to worse and you run afoul
of the law as a result of your BBS, the group may be able to
put you in touch with some legal help.

A meeting can also provide you with the opportunity to
unwind after a hard day of slaving over a hot keyboard. I
strongly recommend joining a group.



ÚÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ¿
³GOAL SETTING³
ÀÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÙ


Even if you don't run a commercial BBS, you should think
of it as a business. There is hardly any business that does
not take an inventory on a regular basis. Any business that
does not analyze itself occasionally is doomed to failure.

Every six months or so, sit back and look at where your
BBS has been, where it's at and where it's going. Do you

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have specific goals in mind? What are you doing to meet
those goals? How is your Public Relations campaign
reflecting the climb toward those goals?

Whatever you are up to, PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE. Tell
your users what's going on. Tell your co-workers. Tell the
dog. Get the word out on the street somehow.

This is only a cursory look at some the things you
should be aware of from a public relations standpoint as you
examine your BBS. You might want to do things differently.
Public relations is an art, and you may prefer to do yours in
oil while I prefer chalk.

I encourage you to write me and let me know what your
are doing in the area of Public Relations.


Robert Parson
2501 Phoenix
Fort Smith, AR 72901
501 646 9332 (voice)
501 484 0944 Paradox of Arkansas (Fred Ayers, Sysop)
501 484 1043 node 2



























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  3 Responses to “Category : BBS Programs+Doors
Archive   : BS-PR15.ZIP
Filename : PRODUCT2.TXT

  1. Very nice! Thank you for this wonderful archive. I wonder why I found it only now. Long live the BBS file archives!

  2. This is so awesome! 😀 I’d be cool if you could download an entire archive of this at once, though.

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