ECHOLIST The EchoMail Conference List USERS GUIDE 01 Sep 95 ELMOD509.TXT This Users' Guide

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ECHOLIST The EchoMail Conference List USERS GUIDE 01 Sep 95 ELMOD509.TXT This Users' Guide is intended as a brief description of the EchoList, and a summary of how to submit updates to the database. FILE CONTENTS ============= A new ELMODnnn.LZH (User's Guide) is distributed monthly, and each issue replaces all previous versions of ELMOD. The 'nnn' is replaced by 3 numbers representing the last digit of the year followed by two digits of the month number - eg July 1995 is 507. In addition, the file is constantly updated to reflect changes in the Echolist software, or to improve the explanations, and the current draft version of the file may be obtained at any time from 1:1/201 using the magic name ELMOD. CURRENT ELIST STATUS ==================== With the appointment of a new Echolist Coordinator on 02 June 1995, the Echolist, or Elist, changed slightly. The software was completely rewritten to permit its use on a different platform and to allow fully automated operation. While most former features and formats were retained to the degree possible, the rewriting of the software necessitated some changes, and these are documented in this file. PURPOSE OF THE ECHOLIST ======================= The EchoList is a monthly publication sponsored by the Zone 1 Echomail Coordinator, and produced by 1:1/201. It provides a place for Moderators to advertise their conferences regardless of distribution system or network, both to people who would like to participate, and to those who route echo traffic. It is also a reference for distribution systems wishing to contact the Moderator of an echo, or wishing information about an echo's topics. We reserve the right to decline to accept a requested entry if in our opinion the listing of an entry appears intended to cause harm to an individual, promotes illegal activities, or is likely to affect adversely those involved in distribution of the Echolist or the echo. Due to the large number of conferences listed (about 1400), such non-acceptance of an entry may take place even after publication. The listings in the EchoList are maintained by the Moderators, not by the Echolist Coordinator. Additions and updates to the database are done by submitting NetMail messages addressed to a special name and node address. The Subject of the message indicates what is to be done, and the body of the message has the data for the database entry. The format of the message body requires that each line have one keyword and its accompanying data. Since the process is automated, correct formatting of both the address and the message body is essential to having your data recognized by the program. EXPIRY OF ELIST ENTRIES ======================= To ensure that the Echolist contains only up-to-date information: *********************************************************************** ALL ENTRIES EXPIRE SIX MONTHS AFTER THE MODERATOR'S LAST UPDATE IS SENT *********************************************************************** This means that a Moderator must send an update netmail at least once every six months to maintain the EchoList entry. Moderators and Co-Moderators should work together to ensure that this is done. It is suggested that the process be automated, and many moderators send their updates monthly. 5 months after an entry was last updated, the Elist entry is flagged with the following warning immediately under the tag in the Elist: !!! DELETE WARNING !!! At the same time a netmail advisory is sent to the person who last updated the entry, at the node number on record. 1 month later, if the entry is still not updated, it is deleted from the Elist. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS OF UPDATES =========================== Acknowledgements of receipt of update messages are sent via Fidonet's echomail-routed netmail, unless the hold option is specified. Acknowledgements to non-Fidonet nodes are available only if the hold option is specified. Automated expiry warning netmail is all routed. The Elist software is run each time inbound mail is received. Netmail is processed immediately regardless of whether it arrives via a passworded or an insecure session. As a result, updates usually are processed within 5 minutes of their arrival. Some delay is inevitable if the system is in the middle of processing a major mail dump. If you have requested that an acknowledgment to be placed on hold, it is suggested that you wait for one hour after delivering an update before polling again. Successful updates are also posted daily in the ECHOLIST echo. SENDING AN ADDITION OR UPDATE ============================= To add or update an EchoList entry, submit a NetMail message addressed to "ECHOLIST" at 1:1/201. A separate message is required for each echo being updated. The message subject must be "MODerator UPDate" which may also be abbreviated to "MOD UPD". The message header thus looks like this: Correct: To: ECHOLIST At: 1:1/201 Subject: MOD UPD Wrong: To: Adrian Walker At: 1:1/201 Subject: MOD UPD MESSAGE BODY FORMAT ------------------- The body of the message text has the data for the database entry, formatted so that every line starts with a special keyword that identifies the field name as detailed below, followed by the data to be put in that field. The required fields for new entries are TAG, TITLE, DESCRIPTION, MODERATOR and PASSWORD. The other lines are optional, and if you do not wish to supply data for a given field, omit that line. If the echo is already in the current Elist, only the TAG and PASSword fields need to be included in an update message, since the software will supply the remaining information from the existing Elist entry. NOTE 1: Although an abbreviated update is accepted, the public posts of updates in the ECHOLIST echo contain only the data from the update message. Since these posts form a useful advertising medium for an echo, a moderator may wish to include all data in every update to assist users reading these public posts. NOTE 2: If the echo has already been deleted from the Elist, you can not submit an abbreviated update, since the missing data is no longer on file. Each line may appear only once, the two exceptions being DESC and MOD lines, of which there may be as many as necessary up to the limit shown below. If multiple copies of other lines are included, only the last one will be recognized by the software. The first data line MUST be TAG. After that, all other lines can come in any order. The keyword starts at the left margin of the line, and may be abbreviated, but the CAPITALIZED part of the keyword is the minimum abbreviation you can use. The To-name, subject, keywords and passwords are NOT case sensitive. The <> and [] in the following lines are used here only for clarity and should be omitted. In the body of the message: Mandatory: TAGname [max 19 characters] TITLe [max 58 characters] DESCription [max 25 lines] MODerator , [max 6 lines] PASSword , Optional: ORIGin DISTribution GATEway RESTrictions TOTalnodes VOLume / RULEfile OPTION [no abbreviations] Note: Passwords and descriptions are now mandatory. Fields such as SEEN-BY and PATH are no longer recognized or recorded. SAMPLE ENTRY ------------ TAG Z1_BACKBONE TITL Zone One Mail Backbone - Users DESC Discussion of matters relating specifically to the Zone 1 Mail DESC Backbone including distribution, routing, echoes carried, DESC contents of FIDONET.NA/NO and FIDOSTAT.NA, Backbone Operating DESC Procedures, connections to the Backbone Hubs, and requests for DESC addition of new echoes. Discussion of other mail distribution DESC systems is off topic. Available to all who have business with DESC the Z1 Backbone. MOD Adrian Walker, 1:153/752@fidonet.org PASS YOURGUESS ORIG 1:153/752 DIST Z1-BACKBONE TOT 500 VOL 60/week KEYWORD EXPLANATIONS -------------------- TAG is the one-word name used in distributing the echo, and is also called the area name or group name. Since the tag is often used by areas control programs to create subdirectories, and is formatted into the echo listings of distribution systems, tags should be no longer than 19 characters, and the first 8 characters should not duplicate those of other tags. The Echolist does not accept duplicate tag names. TITLE should be a one-line title for the conference, preferably 58 chars or less. Since the title is also imported from the Elist directly into the echolists of various distribution systems, titles longer than 58 characters are likely to be truncated. DESCRIPTION is now a mandatory field, and allows for a more detailed description of the conference, since you can supply multiple DESC lines. In the Elist all DESC lines are combined into a single paragraph. Make sure that you have the keyword DESC in front of *every* line of description text, or the Elist software will not recognize what type of line they each are. Correct: DESC Discussion of matters relating specifically to the Zone 1 DESC Mail Backbone including distribution, routing, echoes DESC carried, contents of FIDONET.NA/NO and FIDOSTAT.NA. Wrong: DESC Discussion of matters relating specifically to the Zone 1 Mail Backbone including distribution, routing, echoes carried, contents of FIDONET.NA/NO and FIDOSTAT.NA. MODERATOR, for the purpose of the Echolist, is normally defined as the person(s) with authority over the distribution and policies of a conference. For those echoes not requiring such a single authority, the listing refers instead to the person designated as contact person or liaison on behalf of the echo. There MUST be at least one Moderator listed in order to have a valid EchoList entry. Each Moderator line consists of a first and last name (no initials or middle names) followed by a comma, and then the Moderator's node address. Only one name and address is permitted per MOD line. Node addresses should provide the method of contact with the Moderator, and since the Echolist is produced within Fidonet, this should be an address, or a point off an address, which is listed in a commonly available nodelist and is thus accessible from Fidonet. There should be no spaces in the address field. Correct: MOD Adrian Walker, 1:153/752 MOD Adrian Walker, 1:153/752.0 MOD Adrian Walker, awalker@portal.ca Wrong: MOD Adrian Walker 1:153/752 [no comma] PASSWORD is now a mandatory field. It may protect your entry from modification by someone else. There are two password fields on the PASSWORD line. The first is for the current password. The second is optional and is for the new password to change it to, if you want to change it. Here are the formats: PASS SOMEWORD [existing password] PASS SOMEWORD, NEWWORD [change passwords] PASS NEWWORD [add password if none] or PASS , NEWWORD [add password if none] ORIGIN, DISTRIBUTION and GATEWAYS are just an organized set of text fields which you can use to describe sources and contacts that control links to the conference. Use any of them which you need. If you are on a formal distribution backbone of some kind, don't just say BACKBONE - there are lots of them. Specifically say "Zone 1 Backbone" or "Zone-3 Backbone" or "EchoNet Backbone"... RESTRICTIONS is a shorthand reference to rules applied by the Moderator concerning admission to the conference. /ACC - access is limited to Read-Only status. /MEM - you must be validated as a member of some organization. /MOD - you may not link in without specific approval of the Moderator. /REA - only real names are permitted - no aliases. /RUL - a rules file is included in ELRULnnn.LZH. /SYS - only Sysops are allowed to participate. The letters following the '/' must be in upper case. If more than one is needed these should be separated by a space. A free form Restrictions line is permitted, but ONLY if the line does not contain the preceding '/' character. Acceptable formats include: REST /SYS REST /MOD /SYS REST Startrek Fans only TOTALNODES is for providing an estimate of the number of systems participating in your conference. It must be a single integer number such as 6, 21, 190, etc.. VOLUME is for providing an estimate of the volume of messages to be expected by those who link-in. It must be a single integer number followed by a slash followed by either MONTH, WEEK or DAY to identify the time period in which that number of messages flow. RULEFILE allows you to specify the name of the rules file which you submitted for inclusion in the ELRUL archive. Please note, this keyword is only used to display the NAME of the rules file in the Elist entry - to submit the rules FILE itself, you must use a separate message following the format detailed in "SENDING A RULES FILE" below. All rules files have the extension of *.RUL. After the keyword "RULE" you should ONLY put the rulefile name on this line - no other text: Correct: RULE WHATEVER.RUL RULEfile WHATEVER.RUL Wrong: RULE WHATEVER.RUL is the file. [extra words] OPTION allows you to specify the way in which your update message should be handled by the Echolist software. At present the only option is HOLD which causes the acknowledgement message to be held for you to pickup, instead of being sent to you via routed netmail. Allow 12 hours before polling for pickup. SENDING A RULES FILE ==================== To submit an echo rules file to the Echolist for inclusion in ELRUL###.LZH, the monthly collection of current echo rules, submit a NetMail message to "ECHOLIST" at 1:1/201. In order to submit a Rules File the EchoList entry must already have been added to the Elist with a MOD UPD message. Rules File messages can not be used for adding or updating Elist entries. The rules may be submitted using either of the following methods. 1. As a file attach message: To: ECHOLIST At: 1:1/201 Subject: In the body of the message: TAGname PASSword --- 2. Included in the text of the message: To: ECHOLIST At: 1:1/201 Subject: MOD RUL In the body of the message: TAGname PASSword RULEtext [insert freeform rules file into message here] --- Note that in both cases the 3-character string "RUL" appears as part of the subject line, and this is the cue for the Elist software to process the message as a Rules submission. All rules messages must end with a 3-dash tear line. SENDING A QUERY REQUEST ======================= To query the EchoList database, submit a NetMail message to "ECHOLIST" at 1:1/201. The message subject must be "ECHO QUERY" (no abbreviation). The body of the message text has the arguments for the request. Only a single Query parameter is currently available with the new Elist software, and only a single echo may be queried in a given query message: /MODUPD This produces an updated copy of the echo's complete Elist entry formatted as it appears in the monthly ELIST###.TXT file. Thus the message will look like the following: To: ECHOLIST At: 1:1/201 Subject: ECHO QUERY /MODUPD SOMEECHO --- It should be noted that some options for message forwarding, and string searches other than a complete tag name are not implemented at present. OBTAINING INDIVIDUAL RULES ========================== To obtain a list of the most current rules files on record, file request the magic name RULES from 1:1/201. From that list you can then file request specific rules which may be more current than those in the last ELRULnnn.LZH distribution file. AUTOMATING THE UPDATES ====================== You can automate the process of sending update messages with a batch file like the following. The programs I use (and there are many others) are DOM100.ZIP (Day of the Month), and MESSGN19.ZIP (Message Generator). This extract is from my Mailer's batch file: :MIDNIGHT call c:\batch\midnight.bat dom {see it it is the first of the month} if errorlevel 2 goto M2 if errorlevel 1 goto M1 :M2 goto start :M1 c: cd\bink\mailchek {post policies into the echo} copy z1_back.hdr messgn.ctl messgn c:\max\policies\z1_back.pcy c:\msgs\z1back 153 752 All {post Elist entry into netmail} {this is all one line} makemsg -Cc:\elist\echo.upd -Dc:\msgs\netmail\ -S1:153/752 -F"Adrian Walker" -R1:1/201 -T"Echolist" -J"MOD UPD" -P -O"Your Origin Line, Vancouver BC " {post Elist rules into netmail} {again all one line} makemsg -Cc:\elist\echo.rul -Dc:\msgs\netmail\ -S1:153/752 -F"Adrian Walker" -R1:1/201 -T"Echolist" -J"MOD RUL" -P -O"Your Origin Line, Vancouver BC " goto start If you automate the process, please check how your message generation software handles the message date. Some software will make the message date the same as the import file text, which can result in a seemingly-old update message. Echolist uses the message date for the 'last-updated' date, so message date is rather critical to ensure that the listing is redated and therefore does not expire. HOW ECHOLIST PROCESSES MESSAGES =============================== Echolist is a group of programs each performing part of the function of processing update messages and updating the database. This group of programs runs after every inbound mail packet is processed. The editing of help files, preparation of the distribution archives, and hatching of these archives each month is performed manually. After mail tossing is complete, the following series of actions takes place: 1. ECHOLIST.EXE runs. This is the main Elist program, and does 3 things - it manages the password file, extracts data from messages to a temporary update file, and it prepares netmail responses based on the information received. It also processes ECHO QUERY messages based on information as it showed in the database immediately prior to the program running. 2. ESORT.EXE runs. It sorts the extracted data in the newly-created update file in preparation for merging into the main database. 2. EMERGE.EXE runs. It runs through the database looking in turn for each echo noted in the update file. When it finds the matching database entry, it merges the 2 files segments. This is done by replacing any field which has been updated and retaining any field which has not been updated. Thus a new one line description field will replace an entire previously multi-line description field, a new title line will replace a previous title line, and so on. CONCLUSION ========== Frequently-asked questions are discussed in ELFAQnnn.TXT contained in the distribution Elist archive. If you have a problem, you should consult the ELFAQ file, this ELMOD file, and finally your NEC and REC, prior to contacting the Echolist Coordinator for assistance. Questions which then require further assistance may be addressed to the Echolist Coordinator (Adrian Walker) at 1:1/201 by netmail. ---ooo000ooo---

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