WELL Hosts Manual PART VIII: HANDLING TOPICS & RESPONSES
As a topic starter, any member of The WELL may freeze a topic he or she has started and make it a read-only announcement. You may experiment with the following commands as a topic starter in the Test conference.
The host of a conference may freeze and/or thaw any non-linked topic in that conference, no matter who started it. Freezing a topic simply replaces the Respond prompt at the end of the topic with another prompt which says “Response not possible. Pass?”, thereby making it impossible for anyone, including the host, to add a new response to that topic. The converse of the freeze command is thaw, which returns the topic to its original state and allows anyone to add a new response.
Let’s say that the discussion in topic number 5 in your conference has pretty much run its full course for the time being, and you’d like to give it a rest, perhaps until new developments arise which are relevant to the topic. There are two ways to freeze the topic. At the OK prompt,
- type: freeze 5
or, at the Respond prompt of topic 5,
- type: freeze
Thawing a topic is the same, except you replace the word “freeze” with “thaw”. For example:
- type: thaw 5
8.2 Retire and Unretire
Retiring a topic is a way of taking it out of general circulation while leaving it in existence. Retired topics will not show up in ordinary b or s new commands at the OK prompt. However, they can still be browsed by adding the suffix nof (short for “no forget”) onto the command. NOTE: Linked topics shouldn’t be retired without consulting with the hosts of the linked conferences. If you kill a linked topic rather than retiring it, the topic lives on in all the other linked conferences. This will be discussed further in Chapter 9.
Like the freeze and thaw commands, retire commands can also be given at the Respond prompt of a topic:
- type: retire
If you now type: b …at an OK prompt, topic 5 will not show up in the list of topics. Nor will it show up when people are looking, in the usual manner, for topics which have new responses.
To see a list of the conference’s topics, including all retired (and forgotten) topics,
- type: b nof
It is also possible to get a list of ONLY those topics which have been retired. To do this, add the suffix “ret” to the browse command:
- type: b ret
Any retired topic can still be read and responded to, provided one knows its topic number and it hasn’t been frozen. Thus, even though topic 5 is retired, if you
- type: s 5
you can read and respond to it in the usual way. For this reason, you will usually first want to first freeze and then retire a topic.
Why would you want to respond to a topic which has been retired but not frozen? There could be any number of reasons. For one example, suppose you want to create a topic whose introduction you’d like to break up into several parts, putting each part in one of the topic’s first responses. If you have a busy conference, it’s possible that as soon as you create the topic, someone may come along and respond to it before you have finished entering the responses you intend to be part of the topic’s introduction. To avoid this possibility, you could retire the topic immediately after you create it, then add the responses you want while the topic is hidden from general view. When the topic is ready to present to everyone for reading and responding, unretire it.
To unretire topic 5,
- type: unretire 5
Or, if you are at the Respond prompt of that topic, just
- type: unretire
Any topic can be retired or unretired by its creator, whether he or she is a host of the conference or not.
If you’d just like a quick way to check and see how many, if any, topics have been retired in your conference without seeing an actual browse list of those topics with their titles, at an OK prompt,
- type: d retired (short for “display retired”)
You’ll be told how many topics are retired and shown a several column list of their numbers.
Ranges can be used (at the OK prompt) with both the retire and unretire commands, as well as the * wildcard character designating all topics in the conference. For example,
- retire 5-10
will retire topics 5 through 10, and
- unretire *
8.3 Censoring with Hide and Scribble
Hosts can either hide or scribble any response made by anyone in any non-linked topic in their conference. Generally, these commands are considered a last resort by hosts as a way to control what appears in their conference. (See “The WELL Etiquette” section of this manual and The WELL Host Agreement printed in section 1.3 for further details about The WELL policy regarding Featured conference hosts’ censoring powers.)
The hide command applies only to individual topic responses and can only be given at the Respond prompt of the topic containing the response to be hidden. Hiding a response does not erase it, but merely conceals it under a message which says: .
To hide a response, go to the Respond prompt of the topic in which it appears and type the word “hide” followed by the number of the response. For example, if you wanted to hide response 53 in topic 7, at an OK prompt you would:
which would take you directly to the Respond prompt of topic 7 (“nor” is short for “no read”). You would then:
- Type: hide 53
Users who wish to read that response can still do so. Depending on where they are on The WELL, they have several options.
- Type: extract meso 7 53
will show them response 53 only of topic 7 in the mesozoic conference from any place on The WELL. The conference go name must be specified. The other way to see this is with no-forget or only commands:
- From an OK prompt in your conference, type: s 7 noforget
This shows you all of topic 7, including hidden posts. Or, from the respond prompt of the topic, you can see hidden posts if you look at them explicitly. Go to the respond prompt of the topic.
- Then type: only 53
NOTE: In the Engaged interface, click on the message to see a hidden response.
Now and then a host will hide a message due to its length. In such cases it’s courteous to post a one line explanation of the reason for hiding the post, then continue the conversation:
- The previous post is an essay on mesozoic plant life; it has been hidden due to its length.
Scribbling, in contrast to hiding, completely obliterates the contents of a response from a topic, and instead of the message , the message will be displayed in place of the text of the topic response. Once a response is scribbled, it can’t be restored.
The scribble command works in exactly the same way as the hide command. Thus, to scribble response 53 in a topic, go to that topic’s Respond prompt ( s 7 nor will do that for you) and:
- Type: scribble 53
Scribbling another member’s post is something that should only be done with a lot of forethought and only in extreme cases. Please see the censorship section of the Host’s Agreement for more discussion about scribbling posts in your conference. You can, of course, scribble any of your own posts any time you wish.
8.4 Killing Topics
Killing a topic gets rid of it forever. Once a topic is killed, unless it is linked elsewhere it ceases to exist. It’s erased from The WELL and it goes immediately to Topic Heaven (or Hell, as the case may be). Two people in a conference can kill a topic:
The most general use of the kill command is to prune old, inactive, or unsuccessful topics from the conference, both to keep your conference navigable and to save disc space on The WELL — which has occasionally approached maximum capacity. Another use is to get rid of a newly created topic which you realize, as soon as you’ve entered it, has some horrific error in its title or introduction.
You’ll then be asked:
- Ok to kill 54?
Typing: y will do the awful deed; typing n will rescue the topic from destruction.
You can also kill ranges of topics. For instance, you could
- type: kill 54-57
You’d then be asked, just as before, to verify your intention to kill each of the topics in the range 54 through 57. You will not be shown the topic titles as you do this, so it is wise to have a print-out of the topics you are about to kill at your side, so you can verify.
If you find it useful, you can also combine ranges with individual topics to be killed. For instance, you could:
- Type: kill 54 56 59-63 99 101
Finally, you can kill a topic from its Respond prompt, with the simple command: kill. Again you will be asked to verify it before it is actually killed.
NOTE: If you should ever need to kill a large number of inactive topics in your conference, you may want to use the utility program, !hitlist, covered later in this manual. Before killing topics, consider freezing and retiring them, announcing they are going to go away, and perhaps sending email to the host of The WELL Attic conference, who will link them there and keep them for a few months after you kill them, so that when someone comes back to look for specific old material, it will be stored in the Attic conference.
- Type: cfinfo attic
to see the host(s) of the Attic conference and a description of its function.