deadlysins.txt

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304-768-3682 - Deadly Sins BBS - Edward Crouser SysOp

This is an "essay" I wrote about my BBS on www.deadlysinsbbs.com

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Many, many years ago.. Before the Internet was the place to be,
thousands of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) had popped up around the
country. On a local BBS, you could do many of the things that you see
today on the Internet including email, chat, play games, download porn
and various files. 

What was a BBS? Well, it was a piece of software that you basically ran
off your computer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It would allow people
to call up your computer, register as users, and use the services you
provided for them. A "SysOp" was short for, "System Operator" (or a
moron with lots of time on his hands, and a extra phone line and
computer). Basically, he was the poor fool who decided to dedicate a
portion of his life to keeping his system up and accessible to the
public at large. 

Anybody who called BBSes back in the 80s, knew that it was the
precursor to the Internet. It paved the path for the Internet to become
what it has, but in several respects, there are several things about
bulletin board systems that are missing from the Internet today. 

Don't get me wrong, only one person could be on a BBS at any given time
(unless they had more than one telephone line), so you were constantly
getting busy signals. You generally had limits on the number of files
you could download, and the amount of time you could spend online per
day. So I don't miss everything about BBS systems.. But, looking back
on it, I wouldn't trade it for the world. 

After exploring several of the local BBS systems at a blazing fast 300
bits per second modem (I later upgraded to 1200 bits per second modem
for my birthday), I decided I would eventually want to run one. If you
are on a dialup modem right accessing this website, imagine this. A
300bps modem would have taken about 1 hour to download this one page.
Your 56k modem (without caching the images) should have took around 19
seconds. A DSL line or cable modem should have taken mere seconds. 

So, as you can imagine, 300bps was pretty slow. A 1200bps modem would
take around 15 minutes (a HUGE difference), and 2400 would take about 8
minutes. 

That was just for one page from my website! 

As you can image, all you ever really saw on a BBS system was text.
Now, there was creative ANSI artists who could make pictures and
buttons using color to make a BBS look good, but you didn't see high
resolution graphics like you see on websites today. You could also
download GIF images (porn) but it was like you'd be half way through
jerking off before you made it to the tits in the picture. 

Before I could run my own, I would need to learn everything I could
about how they were run, before I jumped in with both feet and started
to sink. So, as I planned to upgrade my 1200bps modem to 2400bps (I
wouldn't be able to run a 1200bps board, because no one would call -
everyone was getting 2400bps modems), Greg Hively from "The Blue
Powder" BBS, offered to sale me a 2400 baud modem. 

In retrospect, the job of Co-SysOp was also up to "Jimmy Vaughan" (who
later went on to run "The House of Pain"), at the time I like to think
that it was my skillful co-sysop abilities that landed me the job, but
in reality I got it simply because I bought the modem off Greg. 

As I learned my trade from working on Greg's board I realized a few
things. Active message boards were important, but even on top of that -
most BBSes were way too restrictive! In fact, a band of BBSes, headed
my Jack and Wanda Wright formed a group of BBS called "S.A.G.E" (SysOps
As Good Examples), and adhered to a strict set of codes and morals for
everyone on their BBS to follow. 

For example, you couldn't cuss on their message boards, they had overly
religious tones, file download ratios, limited time and much more. I
could see a perfect opportunity forming in front of me. But, the timing
had to be just right. Then, it happened! I got kicked off of one SAGE
boards for posting a message that was deemed "too offensive". To tell
you the truth, I don't even begin to remember what exactly it was. I
probably did it on purpose, I really can't exactly remember. But I was
off the entire network. I didn't really have a choice but to start my
own board. 

I had been working on getting my BBS together for several months, and
this was the perfect time to strike. Up went, Deadly Sins BBS at
304-768-3682 (don't try to call it now, it's no longer up, you moron)
and the rest is history. 

I tried to capitalize on the problems that plagued other boards, such
as censored message boards. We advertised that we had no file upload
and download ratios, uncensored message boards, private email that was
actually private (SysOps had the ability and a tendancy to read through
all of the mail marked "private". Can you imagine someone snooping
through your email today?), no age limits, everything was free of
charge (some systems charged, but we stole stuff off of the charging
boards and made it free), and we advertised ourselves as members of
"SABE" (SyOps As Bad Examples). 

I went with the theme of "Deadly Sins" for several reasons. The first,
was that most of the systems were overly religious in nature. I wanted
to distance myself from them as much as possible. Not that we didn't
like religion, our most active message board was the "Religion Debate"
area, and to this day I don't ever remember seeing as much intelligent
conversation anywhere else (including the Internet). But besides all of
that, upside down burning crosses just seemed cool at the time. 

There were several other decisions that I made that benefited the board
quite a bit. I made a very talkative young girl named Jessica Dunn (or
"The Witch Goddess" as she was known to the world) my Co-SysOp, and she
headed up my message boards. Do you know what type of person called
BBSes at the time? Young, lonely, horney males without a date because..
well, they were nerds. So for one girl to head up the message boards,
that brought callers in by the dozen. 

Of course, within months of my board going up, several tried to
duplicate it. Now, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but
when Jeff Wise saw how much "traffic" I was taking from his BBS, he
converted his BBS "The House of Lords" (which I admired very much at
the time), to being exactly like mine, complete with upside down
burning crosses. His attempt at imitation didn't last long, but I knew
at that point - that since "The House of Lords" was my favorite BBS to
call and he had tried and failed to completely rip off the look and
feel that I was going for, that my BBS had "made it". 

Pretty soon my phone was ringing off the hook, a far cry from the day
that I first put it up, advertised on some other BBS that "it was up"
and sat there waiting for my first call. Eventually my board would find
it's way into a monthly ad in the back of Computer Shopper Magazine.
Then, later in several other publications, including a book that
detailed the BBS Systems around the country. Eventually, I would have
callers from all around the world on a regular basis. 

Now, you remember Jack and Wanda Wright that ran the religious "SAGE"
BBS? Well, they eventually called me up one day and said, "Ed, what's
your problem with us?" and I basically told them that I never had one.
I just needed to use their board as a springboard for my own, something
that I could use as an example of how my system differed from the rest
in the area. Theirs seemed to be the most restricive of the group. So,
we mended ways and within a few weeks they called me up again for
advice on converting their christian based BBS into a full fledge porn
board. 

That's no lie! 

I guess I just have that effect on people. 

Speaking of porn, free speech and thriving message boards would keep
people coming back, but I needed more. Eventually, I went the porn
route, it was completely uncensored, so why not? Besides, everyone else
made people pay to access their porn (and be of age). Sure, in today's
"save the children" environment, I'd get thrown in jail for saying that
I gave out porn to a 13 year old, but what the hell was I to do? I was
underage myself at the time! So I didn't care how old you were, if you
were smart enough to use a computer and a modem, I figured you were
mature enough to look at titties. 

Eventually a group of local boards would form and create "FROST" (or
FReedom Of Speech neTwork). There would also be wars against several
boards. My personal most famous, would probably be against Jack and
Wanda Wright. But there were others. Like a small war we had with
Robert Vaughan. Now, I really could care less about Robert, I never
held any personal grudge against him (like Jack and Wanda). But the
fact was that a BBS war was good for business, if you know what I mean.


I will have to be honest here and admit that his BBS did suck really
bad. But hell, I didn't know him. 

My BBS was alive and well, for what I'm guessing was around five or six
years. That's a long time, especially when you consider it was up from
when I was 14-15 until I was into my 20s. 

It was a member of FidoNet, which passed messages from BBS all around
the country, and made several message boards "national". I was a
founding member of the local FROST group, and we had boards that
constantly wanted to join. But, looking back on it, I never did get
that second phone line. I guess that a busy signal was a way of life
for my BBS. 

The board survived several moves, including my graduation from high
school and moving to Morgantown, WV to go to college. Of course, I came
back the next year to attend a local school but the local scene was
fading rapidly. From the days of the "BBS Nite Out" when we would all
head over to "Billy Bob Pizza Land" and greet our users, the scene had
fallen far from its glory days. 

Eventually, the Internet would kill Deadly Sins BBS and make calling
BBS systems in general obsolete (much like DVD has killed my cherished
Laserdisc format). But there is many memories in the days were you
could get away with just about anything online and you didn't have
everyone in the damn world surfing the net and sending "HI ARE YOU A
GIRL?" instant messages... Wait a second, maybe you did.. But without
the general population online, you had far less of those morons. 

Back in the day of BBS systems, you had a tighty knitted community of
people that were experiencing things that the general public wouldn't
experience for years to come. The online experience. 

It may have been rough and outdated by today's standards, but I
wouldn't have traded it for the world. 

Edward Crouser
SysOp of Deadly Sins BBS 

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