Bulletin Boards, Fading To Black
by Darkus

The scene today, is what I would call endangered. The entire swapping species is in a slide to being extinct, or more appropriately exiled. The modem, in mail traders eyes, is the equivalent of a Lion eating all the weaker animals. The mail traders are being eaten up at an alarming rate, by their modem preditors. Yet the irony of the modem is that its killing its own cubs too, the bulletin boards. It seems with the use of the Internet as part of everyday scene life, bulletin boards are becoming unused and moreover unwanted. Since the topic of mail traders being a dying breed is a little exhausted I find it appropriate that one must cover the issue of our next species, which again, sadly is looking to only remain in our scene as a cherished memory.

The Drying Up Begins I understand people will disagree with my claim, yet overviewing the current state of the situation I would have to say those people would be blind. Similar to the problem with mail traders, many were blind to the fact they were becoming extinct, of course until it was too late. These same signs are becoming aparent with the bulletin boards. The first fact one must address, is the insufficiency of the callers. "About 3 years ago you could get 35 callers a night, now if you crack 10 callers you have done well". States Data Stream, the sysop of Cryogenics. Today, the callers are drying up at a frightening rate. The major sign of the decline, must come from the "Top 10 Uploaders Bulletin" Over the recent months I have noticed they very rarely even contain 5 uploaders. The calling has dried up and the uploading is almost non existent. BBS`s are what I would call the electronic interpretation of a "ghost town" Empty nodes, no-one around and not much sign of any kind of movement.

Where Are Those Callers? The main percentage of the callers have of course turned to the Internet. Instead of calling bulletin boards at the cost of a national call, it is now possible to get the desired file from an IRC channel, FTP server or a webpage at the cost of only a local call. The Internet has more than just the cost advantage, you can get the desired file straight from the group it was produced by, thus allowing you get that file the day it is released. If you have the internet installed, there is not one reason to call a bulletin board unless one is stuck in time. "I`m not leaving my BBS as long as I have money to pay my rent!" States Axl/Hellfire, sysop of Doss House. It is understandable some people do not want to see bulletin boards go, and some people will think like Axl and will stick with it, until the end. It seems only the hardcore users will remain.

Where Is The Solution? Thinking hard on this matter, I personally can not think of one thing which could save extinction of our BBS`s. What can be done when they just are not needed? "BBS`s are heading towards having to have a telnet node or two to survive" explains Axl. However ever since BBS`s have been making use of Telnet they have managed to prolong their weakening life. For those of you still without a modem(?) Telnet allows you to call any BBS in the world via your internet server. Thus allowing local call rates. But again, there is no reason for this when you can get what you desire else where without having to bother going through this slow procedure. I asked Zoltrix the sysop of Fine Line whether he thought BBS`s were becoming un-noticed. His simple and firm reply "Un-noticed? nope! Not needed, yes." It would see he agrees with my claims. It is popular belief that Telnet is the only chance the BBS`s have left of surviving.

The Final Days When an animal becomes extinct, it has a serious effect on the food chain. Making it harder for the other animals to survive. The scene has the same problem. A new preditor came, the Internet. It wiped out mail traders and is about to do the same to the BBS`s. Which will of course will cause some effects to other areas of the scene. The poor Ascii scene has been caught up in the middle of this, everytime a BBS passes away the ascii artist has one less job to do. And with the low numbers of BBS`s these days, the ascii artist has been made redundant. They no longer have anything to draw for. It makes me wonder, what effect will the Internet have next? Only time will tell. I will leave you with some strong words by Data Stream, scener since 1986 "The BBS scene has a year if that left in it. I said I`d be here till the end, and it`s comming mightly damn close."