3.1 Looking Around

Some hosts come to conferencing by taking over an existing conference hostship, or joining an old time host as a cohost. A few special problems of getting a handle on an old conference will be covered later. To start, let's assume your conference is brand new.

Once The WELL conferencing team has created your new conference for you, they'll send you email to let you know. They'll also tell you how to get to your new conference. For instance, if you were starting a new conference on dinosaurs and the fossil record of Mesozoic times, they might tell you to "g meso". (In the following sections, we'll use this imaginary brand new "mesozoic" conference in most of our examples.)

This is where things get exciting! The first thing you'll probably want to do is to log in to the Picospan text interface to The WELL, go to your new conference and take a look around. Go ahead and do that now. When you get there, check to make sure you've arrived in the right conference. At the OK prompt,

You'll see something like this:

That's a lot of answer for a little question. What does it mean? Well, it says "mesozoic," so you must be in the right place! But what about the rest of it?

3.2 The "Real" Name of Your Conference

Before we explain it, let's pause, for a moment, and consider what that message implies:

It would seem that our new conference has two different names! We went to the conference by typing g meso, but this message shows a strange sequence of slashes. And, as if that's not confusing enough, it's followed by the name of our conference, as we usually think of it -- in parentheses.

What's going on here? And what's the real name of our new Mesozoic Life conference? Very Important Questions, these. Many of the tools you'll be using as a host will require that you provide the "real" name of the conference, and they just won't settle for any cheap imitations. So let's clear up any confusion you might have about your conference's name right now.

Your conference is referred to in different ways in order to make things easy for conference visitors -- not, alas, for you, the host. But fear not! There are a mere four ways your conference can be referred to, depending on what you need to do:

This is an abbreviation which can be used to "go" to the conference. It's defined for our system by the staff to save users the trouble of having to type out a long string like "g mesozoic" whenever they want to go to your conference, and is sometimes called the conference's alias.

The "full pathname": /well/confs/mesozoic This is the name our operating system (UNIX) uses to access your conference. All conference "full pathnames" begin with "/well/confs/". We'll take a closer look at the full pathname later in this manual.

The "real" name: mesozoic

At last! The REAL NAME of your conference! This is the name which appears at the end of the full pathname (after /well/confs/) when you type: g at the conference's OK prompt. Whenever we remind you to substitute the "real" name of your conference for "mesozoic" in our examples, this is the name we'll be talking about. Some host utility programs will not work with anything but this "real" name. So it's important that you know what it is.

Let's move on now and check out the rest of our sparkling new Mesozoic Life conference.

3.3 Displaying the Hosts

You'll want to check the host(s) of the conference to make sure they are listed correctly.

(short for "display hosts"). The conference's hosts will be displayed for you. If either the conference name or the list of hosts is incorrect, send email to confteam to have them corrected.

There won't be much else to see, of course. No topics, no welcoming message, just a blank slate. Not terribly exciting. But it's a bit like walking into a new house. The sheer emptiness is suggestive of its untold potential. Once you've gotten a feel for the empty space, there are a few things you should do to get the place in readiness before you enter the conference's first topics or invite anyone in. Let's look at them one by one.

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