welcome to my ~~~~~~~~ Fidonet page

I am "on" Fidonet, both in the sense that I post there occasionally, and have an address there at which one can send me netmail (email).

If you want a potted history of Fidonet, the Wikipedia page is long, and probably slightly incomprehensible, if you're not already familiar with the thing. The really short version is, it's an ancient messaging system from the early days of the BBS era, which offers public newsgroups ("echomail") and private email ("netmail") for communication.

It's still very much alive, though there isn't as much activity as there used to be. Probably 99% of the users are retro-computing enthusiasts accessing it via BBSes, and this is, in many ways, the best way to access it. It's certainly the most traditional.

Now, the question perhaps needs to be asked, why would you even want to access Fidonet in the first place? And it's a good question.

First off, Fidonet isn't a very "safe" space. To participate, you need to use your "real" name. What this really means is, "something that looks like a real name"; nobody's going to ask for ID. But you cannot post to Fidonet as "Asmodeus", for instance, or "Swaggertail". So there's that. And you shouldn't expect anyone to give two shits about inclusivity, quite honestly. The most visible users are old, very white, very cis, and very conservative. There used to be a single LGBT echomail newsgroup, but it was apparently dropped years ago. Make of that what you will.

But if you can look beyond that, Fidonet is a great collection of retrocomputing enthusiasts from all over the world, and unlike Usenet, Fido is spam-free. And there are a lot of users who are perfectly unobjectionable people; they just, like myself, tend to mostly lurk. So even if you feel like you don't fit in, come visit. Be the change you want to see in the world, etc. Fidonet could use fresh blood, provided you abide by the rules.

Which brings up the question of how the heck you access Fidonet, anyway.

BBSes are traditional, but they're kind of a pain in the ass, because of encoding headaches. ANSI still rules the day, in BBS land, and while it's neat and retro, it can be a real pain to get working with modern computers, especially *nix.

Enter "JamNNTPd".

This is a server software that makes Fidonet (or a similar service, at least in theory - but I don't know of any other nets, like FSXNet, with JamNNTPd support) available via the widely-supported NNTP protocol, which is what Usenet uses. This means you can access Fidonet from various email clients, including even on smartphones.

(In theory there's BBS software which can make any echonet based on the Fidonet protocols available over NNTP, thus allowing usenet-like access to "othernets" like FSX, but I don't know of anyone who's running such a service, alas.)

The following servers offer public read-access, so you can sample Fidonet without registering. To post, you'll need to register, which usually entails either a web signup form, or sending an email to the sysop.

news.bytemuseum.org - website with info is here

(you can also view the group +ACCESS&SUPPORT+ for instructions)

eljaco.se - website with info and registration is here

There are others, but those should get you started. If you're able to view Fidonet, a current list of JamNNTPd Fidonet servers is published weekly, as part of the Fidonews newsletter, found in its own "fidonews" group.

And if you do get on Fidonet, feel free to say "hi" - I can be reached, at least in theory, at 1:317/2, probably as "Leo Kosov". (I've yet to actually get any netmail via Fidonet, so I'm not 100% sure either of the addressing format, or that it's actually working, as I don't have anyone else to chat with, lol.)

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