NOTE: This originally appeared in the WWIV 4.30 Documentation and it is still a great ready today. We don't have support boards and software distribution subs any longer, but the concepts are useful examples.
Operating a BBS can be a very satisfying (and addictive) experience, particularly if you have given some thought to your setup and the needs and desires of your target audience. A BBS with an attentive and participating sysop offers a personal, "homey" atmosphere that the Internet cannot provide. With the "Internet Explosion" still in full swing, you must target a specific group of users and advertise to capture a sizable user base.
Because a BBS can be used for such a wide variety of things, this chapter assumes that you know virtually nothing about a BBS and that you are a first-time WWIV operator. The information that follows is meant to help guide your thoughts and creative processes so that you will obtain the most enjoyment from the experience.
You can determine whether your BBS is to be a general purpose BBS or whether it will cater to some particular interest. A general purpose BBS normally will not focus on any particular topic in its message bases or file sections; instead, it will have something for everyone and will probably not try to have everything available on any topic or subject area. A general purpose BBS is often the best approach for a beginner to take unless you have some clearly defined area(s) of interest that you want to pursue. If you are not participating on a network, then you may wish to have message bases that reflect a broad spectrum of interests. If you are on a network, you may wish to subscribe to subs that reflect such broad areas. Your download sections may also reflect a broad area of interest. It is recommended, at a minimum, that you provide file areas that support the needs of a general user. That is, you may want to make the common archive programs, protocols, and terminal programs readily available to your users to make it easier on them to call the BBS. You may wish to provide the User Documentation for download so that your users can learn how to use a WWIV BBS system. Beyond those minimums, you are left to your own imagination and perhaps the suggestions of your users to create the topical download areas that will appeal to those who call your board.
A special purpose BBS is generally best when it reflects your own interests. If it reflects your interests, you are more likely to take an active interest in your BBS, to post things, and to keep fresh material in your download areas. Generally, a BBS that reflects that the operator takes an active interest in the BBS is more successful than one where the operator's presence is invisible or totally lacking.
Once you have determined the type of BBS that you are going to run, you should give some thought to the types of security levels that you will have on your board and the amounts of time that you will allow each user and/or security level. By looking in wwivconfig, you can determine the predefined or default levels for certain security levels. My advice would be to (a) use no more security levels than you absolutely need and (b) to try to keep things as simple as possible. To give you some idea of this, here is a basic overview of the setup at The Mountain Empire which is primarily a support BBS for WWIV operators.
There are seven security levels and three access levels in use:
Type User SL DSL AR's DAR's
ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ
Unvalidated 10 0
Normal 20 20
Other Sysop 30 30
Registered Sysop 40 40 A A
w/ Mods Access 60 60 A M A M
w/ SDS Access 80 80 AKM AKM
Sysop 255 255 All All
There are two SL255 Sysops and no Co-Sysops, local or remote. The Advanced ASV and Guest Account features are activated so that users and visiting sysops who call for support will have immediate access to the support areas of the BBS. (sans Mods and SDS)
The AR and DAR of A indicate that the user has access to the WWIV support message bases and file sections but does not have access to the modifications and/or the WWIV source code. A registered visiting sysop (i.e. one that is a bonafide registered WWIV sysop) has access to the message bases dealing with modifications of the source code (indicated by AR and DAR of M) and the transfer areas that contain such modifications. This status must be requested. Finally, I have the sysops who are registered and have requested to use my board as their SDS site (source distribution site). Those people must send email to WSS and provide the information necessary to be approved for source access.
As you can see, the number of SLS, DSLS, ARS, and DARS used here is very limited, yet it suits the security purposes of my BBS. After you have examined your needs and thought out your own security arrangements, then you should use the BOARDEDIT and DIREDIT features to set up your board to reflect the security levels and access restrictions that you will need. You may wish to also have other indicators (i.e. age or sex) for certain areas. The BBS software supports your using all of these factors to allow or deny support from various sections of your board. You should be aware that any user who does not have the appropriate SL and accompanying access restrictions will not be aware of the other parts of your BBS. For example, lets say that you have a total of 10 message bases. The first three have SL of 30 and no ARS; the next three have SL of 40 and AR of A. The last four have SL of 50 and AR of B. A user with SL of 30 would see only the first 3. A user with SL of 40 and AR of A would see the first 6 message bases. In other words, if you have the appropriate access restrictions (ARS), you can see those message bases that have lower SLs than your own. A user with SL of 50 are AR of B would see the first 3 message bases and the last 4. If that user had ARs of both A and B, then he could see all of your message bases.
After you have developed your security levels and access restrictions, you should probably make yourself some form letters to send to people explaining any particular rules of your BBS and/or any rules associated with their particular access level. These form letters are explained in Appendix ??? of the documentation.
You may then wish to have a few friends call so that you can learn the process of validating them while they are on line using the F1 Key. Encourage them to try out various parts of the BBS and to post some messages.