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Online San Diego

From the March 21, 1997 ComputorEdge (Issue 1512)

By Jim Trageser

A few weeks ago, I asked sysops of local BBSs to send in their thoughts on the future of the electronic bulletin board system in the era of the Web site. Quite a few responded, and while there was no consensus, the overall view seemed to be cautiously optimistic: that while the golden era of the BBS had passed, there was a place for the local BBS to fill, and that there would continue to be dial-up BBS systems for the forseeable future.

Bob Beller, sysop of the Politically Incorrect BBS (467-0279), which we reviewed recently, sent in a really thoughtful response I'd like to share:

"Is there room for BBSs? I think so. I'm still running a single-line system that has about 250 users, and gets between 50 and 60 calls per day. It's mostly a message board, with some door games just like it was three years ago when I started it. While a lot of people use the 'Net, many are finding (again) that BBSs can be a great way of getting questions answered, and can be a lot less hassle than the Internet.

"For message-based boards such as mine, I think the big advantage of a BBS over the Internet is ease of use, and finding answers to your questions. Put something up in a Fido echo or other BBS-based network and the message comes back to you. Even if 250 messages show up that day, yours still come to you. In the newsgroups, that isn't usually the case.

"One of the other questions is have software makers kept up. Wildcat! has kept up development of its DOS-based BBS program Wildcat! 4.x (now at 4.20), concurrent with the development of their Wildcat! NetServer (used to be 5.0).

"I think you'll see a move (small) back to BBSs over the next few years as the net gets more crowded and bandwidth shrinks more. Right now even using a provider with two T3 lines in it can be very slow getting around at many sites due to their lack of bandwidth. BBSs don't normally have that problem."

Rahjer Dean, sysop of The Dojo BBS (757-6817), wrote in saying that "In the past two years (since the explosion of the WWW), there has been a steady decline in the number of users that call my BBS. I was getting almost 60 calls a day at one point, but now I'm lucky if I get 30. And the types of users has narrowed, too: I used to get a really good mix of people online, but now it's mainly younger kids, some retired folks, and some holdouts not wanting to venture out on the Net. It seems that every other user who gets their own Internet account will stop calling after about a month. It's tough competing with the sort of glamor that's being drummed up about the Net."

And Jon Faaborg, sysop of Possibilities BBS (286-8981/telnet, wrote "Granted, the Internet has brought the traffic down a bit, but we have survived."

I think what might be interesting would be to hear from former sysops who have shut down their BBSs and shifted their energy to a Web site. What was your thinking – and what's been the response? E-mail responses or to Jim Trageser on the San Diego Computer Society BBS (571-0112).