Of the many facilities offered by the Library utility (which is option L from the login menu), perhaps the most interesting is the bulletin-board. The main bulletin-board is called BB, and is entry .5 in the library. However, there are others to be found elsewhere in the Library hierarchy.

This is not the place to go into full detail on how bulletin-boards function, since most of the things you can do in them are of no concern to newcomers. If you want to get extensive information about bulletin-board facilities, select any bulletin-board and type H. When that text has finished, type OH for some more!

Bulletin-boards (henceforth just 'boards') are a means by which users can leave (usually) public messages on a given topic. Boards are of a fixed size, and wrap around when full. All messages are numbered (uniquely within each board), and are usually word-wrapped automatically.

The commands which new users are most likely to need are as follows:

A - read the last message again

C - list all available commands

E & Q - exit back to Library

L - leave a new message

N - read next message

P - print messages without stopping in between

R - reply to the last message read

S - give a shortened directory of messages in the board

The main activity in a board is reading messages. This is achieved by the N command, although an end-of-line has the same effect. Which message exactly IS the "next" one to read depends on which of the six ordering strategies (forward, individual, reverse, search, threads, unread) is being used. It is beyond the scope of this guide to describe the differences between these - the OH command will explain. The default strategy is to read by threads, which means that all replies to a message are read first before going on to other messages.

To leave a message, there are three commands: L, R and K. The R command replies to a message which you have just read, which means it is part of the same thread. The K command is like R, but allows a subject change. The L command starts off a new thread. Messages can be up to 2000 characters long, but if you keep entering text then "continuation" messages will be used. Including such continuation messages, you can use up to 8000 characters in a single chunk of text before BOARD will give up on you.

When you use a board, normally messages will have been left since you last used it. No record is normally kept by BOARD of the last message you read, so you should keep a note of this yourself. To help in browsing through messages, there are two directory commands. Both take a message number as a lower bound, and list the subjects of messages from there onwards. D will give all messages, S will only give messages left by the L or K commands.

Boards have four attributes, set at creation time. These are presented when boards are accessed. Some of the combinations can be pretty esoteric, but some common ones are:

Formatted, Directed, Public, Signed.
A normal bulletin-board, eg. BB. Messages are word-wrapped, sent to a named individual, can be read by anyone, and the sender is named.
Formatted, Undirected, Public, Signed.
A loose discussion board. Like a normal board, except messages aren't sent to anyone in particular.
Formatted, Directed, Private, Signed.
A persona-to-persona message board, eg. MAIL. Messages are word-wrapped, sent to a named individual by a named sender, but only those two can read them.
Formatted, Undirected, Public, Anonymous.
A gossip board. Messages are formatted and can be read by anyone, but they're not sent to anybody in particular and you can't tell who sent them.
Unformatted, Undirected, Public, Signed.
An upload board. Messages are not formatted, so they can be eg. program fragments, pictures, game logs. Anyone can read them, they're not sent to a named individual, but you can tell who they're from.

Note ALL messages on a board can be read by its owner, no matter what the setting of the "private" attribute.

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Option L on the login menu is a program called 'Library'. This service is MUD's data bank, a mass of information about the game written mainly by the players.

Library consists of a number of files, organised into units themselves called 'libraries'. On your screen, the contents of a library will be listed in menu form, and you simply type in the number of the entry you wish to take. There are several different sorts of entry, but the main three are libraries, data files and boards.

Since a library can have other libraries as entries within it, this gives an hierarchical, tree-like structure overall. All files have an address which gives the route to that file from the uppermost library, separated by dots. For example, entry 4 in the library which is entry 1 from the uppermost library would have the address .1.4 . The library at .3 contains a whole host of other libraries managed by some of the wizards and witches of MUD - the librarians - and each has its own individual flavour.

Those entries which are not themselves libraries are, in the main, data files. The library contains many, many of these covering virtually every aspect of MUD, and newcomers are strongly recommended to browse through them. Although not all will be immediately relevant, you'll soon get a good impression of where it's best to look. As there are lots of librarians, you should be able to get a feel for which library has the style you prefer, and contains the sort of information you find most useful. The library at .4 contains MUD's (usually monthly) on-line magazines, which are always well worth reading.

There are other types of entries, 'boards' being the most prominent. These are proper bulletin-boards, where messages can be posted for public consumption. The main board is at address .5 (ie. select 5 when you first get into Library), but there are other boards scattered around in the libraries lower down in the tree, each with their own subject matter and each managed by a librarian. The board at address .2 is the MAIL board, which is set up to be used for persona-to-persona messages; it can also be accessed by taking option M from the login menu. Although most players read boards, not so many seem to contribute; please don't be shy, if you want to comment on something you've read on a board, do so!

As with all MUD's facilities, Library has comprehensive on-line help available - just type H and sit back!

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All the utility programs described in this section of the Library are accessible from the Login Menu. However, the term "Login Menu" isn't really appropriate, since you don't get a menu presented after having logged in. You USED to get one, but not any more! The phrase is only used because some old-timers are too addled to learn a new one...

When you've linked through to the MUD system, there's a message saying "MUD login menu", and then there's a prompt:

Option (H for help):

When you get that prompt, that's when you're at the login menu!

Most of the utility programs associated with MUD will offer you detailed information if you type H at them. They will list all the commands available to you if you type C. That also applies to the Login Menu, since really it's just another utility program. Thus, if you really want something that looks like a menu, type a C.

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Finally, while we have your attention, we'd like to make this de-mystifier as useful as possible for newcomers. Once you've played for a while, even if you decide to play no further, please give us your opinions on what we can do to smooth the way for new players. Do it by selecting option M from the login menu, and using an L command to leave a message for RICHARD. We do listen, and we usually even manage a reply!

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