Frequently Asked Questions about totse.com
Last Updated: 18-APR-07
Here at totse.com HQ the staff receives and (sometimes) responds to several hundred e-mailed questions per day. To lighten the load somewhat, we've put the answers to the most common questions onto a single page for your enlightenment.
Q: What is TOTSE all about, anyway?
A: A lot of people have some weird idea that this web site is a Bad Place, a place for hackers, software pirates, and anarchists. The reason that they think this is that there are informational text files on here about hacking, piracy, and anarchy.
However, there are also text files on here that discuss politics; democratic, right wing, left wing, libertarian, communist, and everything in between, but this is not a political web site.
There are files on here that discuss Jesus Christ, Muhammed, Buddha, Crowley, John Smith, and "Bob", but this is not a religious web site.
There are files full of short stories, science fiction, humorous articles, and great works of literature, but this is not a literary web site.
There are files with information on rocketry, radio broadcasting, chemistry, electronics, genetics, and computers, but this is not a technical web site.
This web site is about INFORMATION. All sorts and all viewpoints. Some of the information you will agree with, some you will find shocking, and some you will probably disagree with violently. That is the whole point. In this society we go to schools where there is one right answer: The Teacher's. There is one acceptable version of events: The Television's. There is only one acceptable occupation: The pursuit of money. There is only one political choice to make: The Status Quo.
On this web site you are expected to make decisions all by yourself. You get to decide who and what to agree with, and why. You get to hear new viewpoints that you may have never heard before. On this web site people exist without age, without skin color, without gender, without clothes, without nationality, without any of the visual cues we usually use to discredit or ignore people who are unlike ourselves. All of these things are stripped away and the ideas themselves are laid bare.
You will change. You will transform. You will learn. You will disagree.
You will enjoy it.
Q: How do you pronounce "totse"?
A: It's pronounced "tot-see". That's "tot" as in "tater tot" or "That's a wee tot you have in your kettle there," and "see" as in "I can see you through the gap in your venetian blinds."
Q: What does "totse" stand for anyhow?
A: Temple Of The Screaming Electron. When it was first created in 1989 it was called "& the Temple of the Screaming Electron," but the "& the" part was dropped in 1997 because it kept making the Internet crash.
Q: Who are you? Who runs this place?
A: Jeff Hunter. Over the years I've been known by many names: "Sysop", "Taipan Enigma" aka "enigma" aka "root" aka "The guy who runs this place". TOTSE is run as a absentee dictatorship. Mostly I ignore what's going on and let things run themselves, and I automate as many things as I can. I have a co-administrator named J.C. Stanton who helps resolve problems when I'm not around or not paying attention. There are also moderators who run the various forums on the Community pages.
Q: How long has TOTSE been around?
A: In 1989 I started a dial-up BBS system called & the Temple of the Screaming Electron with an old 8088 PC XT clone with a 20MB hard drive and a 2400 baud modem running DOS and DMG BBS software.
Because of the limited hard drive space, I started collecting and distributing small text files on every subject imaginable. Text files do not take up much room -- you can fit thousands of them on a 20MB drive. In pre-web days, one of the few ways to find unique and interesting information on controversial subjects was to call a dial-up BBS and either read their text files on-line (at 2400 baud) or download their text files to read at your leisure. Because time and bandwidth was limited, most BBS operators restricted who could access their systems and limited how long a user could remain connected to their system.
Within two years &TOTSE BBS was using Remote Access (RA) BBS software running on 4 servers with 4 phone lines and 14400bps "high speed" modems. It was also the center (and founding member) of a growing international network of Open Access BBS systems known as NIRVANAnet(tm). NIRVANAnet(tm) was unique among BBS networks because member BBS systems agreed to allow anyone to connect and access everything on the systems instantly and anonymously. We also traded thousands of text files between the systems covering every subject imaginable.
By 1997 &TOTSE had grown into a system with thousands of users, running on 10 servers, with multiple phone lines and high-speed modems. It was widely believed to have the largest text file repository in the world. (As reported in in the books Mondo 2000: A User's Guide to the New Edge and The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier by Bruce Sterling.)
In the Fall of 1997 I started migrating the content of the dial-up site to the web. In the Spring of 1998 I pulled the plug on the dial-up system and concentrated just on the web-based system. TOTSE has been on the web ever since.
Q: What sort of equipment and software do you use to run this system?
A: We use open source software and Intel-based hardware. Currently we use:
- Primary web server with dual Xeon CPUs, multiple 120GB SATA drives, 3ware RAID controller, 4GB RAM
- Database server with single Xeon CPU, multiple 120GB SATA drives, 3ware RAID controller, 1GB RAM
- Multiple support and development servers of various shapes and sizes.
- Primary server is co-located on OC-3 connection with multiple Tier 1 peers
- SuSE Linux
- Apache2 Web Server
- Perl. Lots and lots of Perl
- vBulletin Bulletin Board Message System (vB)
- Webgasm(tm) custom Web-page Generation Software
- MySQL and PostgreSQL database systems
- Chat system that uses standard IRC servers
- ht://Dig search engine
- The GIMP for graphics
- Incredible tangled mess of phone lines, ethernet cables, power cables, serial cables, and other wires. Looks very impressive, except to the fire inspectors.
- Extra cooling fans to dissipate heat and prevent meltdowns.
- Refrigerator full of beer.
- Various chemical substances to give the sysadmin super-coder abilities beyond the reach of sub-normals, pinks, and glorps.
- High-powered stereo to keep the sysadmin awake during those late-night programming sessions. (With eclectic music collection suitable for killing rats.)
- Entropy-reversal field generator.
- ... all held together with state-of-the-art scotch tape and bubble gum. (Gum was chewed while watching a CRAY supercomputer determine optimal missle flight paths.)
Q: How many hits does totse.com get?
A: In January 2007 we averaged 3.6 million hits per day. Each month the daily average goes up by a few hundred thousand hits.
Q: How do you pay for all this?
A1: It's called having a J-O-B. We suggest you get one.
A2: We run everything as cheaply as possible. All staffers are unpaid volunteers. The bandwidth and server hardware costs are (mostly) covered by the banner ads you see on each page. We'll probably be adding (voluntary) premium paid subscriptions that give users premium services sometime in the near future so we can buy some new servers.
Q: What is a BBS?
A: A BBS is a Bulletin Board System, a place where people can exchange messages and have typed conversations on-line. TOTSE currently uses the vBulletin (vB) software to run its BBS, known here as "The Community".
Q: How do I get an account here?
A: At the top of every screen in the green band is a link labeled register. Click it and follow the instructions.
Q: Do I really need an account here?
A: Only if you want to post messages in the Community. Otherwise, no.
Q: What information do I have to give you in order to get an account?
A: Just an e-mail address. We don't want or need any personal info from you.
Q: Are there any rules about what I can and can't post on the BBS?
A: The rules of the Temple are few and easy to follow. Entities which break these rules are subject to a severe scolding, or restrictions on access, or beheading, depending on the whim of the Administrators.
- Thou shalt not cause grief to thy Administrator.
- One Account Per Person. (If you want to create a new identity, create a new account and stop using your old account.)
- Do not post messages with credit card numbers, calling card numbers, passwords to private computer systems, other user's real names and personal info (including pictures), or unsolicited phone numbers.
- Posting the same rant, advertisement, or announcement in multiple forums is moral equivalent of sending SPAM e-mail to people. We hate SPAM.
- If you post a link to a harmful script (password stealer, system crasher, other assorted nasties) you must identify it as a link that can cause harm. Trying to trick people into clicking on a harmful link can get you booted.
- Do not threaten other users with physical harm or engage in other felonious behavior. Try to be NICE to each other, if possible.
- Before bugging the sysadmin with questions, look around and see if you can find your own answers. Seek the Truth!
- If you find a bug, send me some Feedback so that I can fix it.
- Messages you post may be moved to a more appropriate forum without warning.
- Users will not be deleted because of content. About the only thing that could get you banned from the system is if you break any of the above rules or if you try to destroy totse.com. All attempts at destruction so far have been feeble-minded.
Q: Isn't the reputation system open to abuse?
A2: A word of advice: Adding to someone's reputation for no reason other than:
- They asked you to
- You're rep-boosting each other
... can have a negative impact on your reputation. If you asked me, I'd say that it's probably not worth it.
If you like what someone posted, feel free to add to their reputation. If you think what they're posting is a bunch of stupid crap, feel free to subtract from their reputation. Try to abuse or "game" the reputation system... <insert evil laugh here> ... let's just say that your efforts will not have a lasting impact on anyone's reputation, and they'll have a negative impact on your own reputation.
Q: Are there any rules about using image tags [img] on the BBS?
A: I recently enabled the [img] tags in vB in all forums mostly just to see what people would do with them. (Since vB strips out HTML in messages, an [img] tag is a special puesdo-HTML UBB tag that lets you embed a link to an image inside a message.)
When using [img] tags keep in mind:
- Since posting pictures wider than about 400 pixels really messes up the screens for folks and makes the site look like crap, images are automatically shrunk to 90x90 pixel images.
- Posting images that are large (byte-wise) slows page load times down to a crawl for people with dial-up connections.
- Posting pictures of disgusting things that have nothing to do with the topic at hand is annoying. We've all seen extruded anuses, wounds full of maggots, and German porn with people eating each other's excrement. Big whoop. Isn't that exciting. <YAWN> You can just as easily put in a link to the image and a description of what the link points to, so if someone really wants to see a woman licking a dog's ass they can click the link and see it, or skip the link if they don't care to see what you're pointing to.
If people ignore these guidelines I'll just turn the image tags off again. I don't think they add a whole lot to the message area, but sometimes they're excellent at getting a point across. So if you've got a picture that you want to share, exercise some common sense before sticking it in an image tag.
Q: How do I get access to the warez section?
A: There are no warez or pirated files on this web site. There are a THOUSANDS of weird text files.
Q: How do I get access to the Erotica section?
A: Erotic Fiction files are ONLY available to people who are of legal age to view such material.
Q: How do I get to be a moderator?
A: Pick a favorite subject-forum and start posting lots of good messages in it. Help people out. Point them towards the answers that they seek. Eventually someone will notice your good works and make you a moderator. Or you can just ask, but the answer may be "no."
Q: I can login, but I can't post. When will I be able to post?
A: If you were temporarily banned for breaking one or more of the rules, you'll be unbanned after 10 days.
Q: I forgot my password.
A: If you forget your password, you can click on the "Forgotten Your Password" link on any page that requires you to fill in your password.
This will bring up a page where you should enter your registered email address, and an email will be sent to that address instantly, with instructions for resetting your password.
Q: My password doesn't work.
A: Passwords are case-sensitive. Try entering it exactly as it appears in the e-mail you received, using UPPER and lower case LetTeRs.
Q: I signed up and I entered the correct e-mail address, really and truly I did, but I never got an e-mail confirmation from your site. What gives?
A: First off, try to get a new copy of the e-mail confirmation. Click the "Forgotten Your Password" link on any page that requires you to fill in your password, enter your e-mail address on the form that pops up, and if your e-mail address appears in a user record, a new copy of your password will be mailed to you.
If you fill the form in and you see an error message that says "You have not entered an email address that we recognize.", then you must have mis-typed your e-mail address when you registered or you used a different e-mail address when you registered. Re-register with a different user name and your correct e-mail address.
A Note For AOL Users
99% of the email I get from people who say "No one sent me a password" are emailing from AOL accounts. I suspect that AOL is either Spam-canning the email or it's just being denied for some reason.
Here is a simple solution: Use a non-AOL account to get your password.
Oh, and AOL sucks, too.
Update as of 2007-04-05: AOL still sucks.
Q: I signed up and I entered the correct e-mail address, but I never got an e-mail confirmation from your site. I followed the instructions for the "Forgotten Your Password" link and your system responded with "Your user name and password for this bulletin board have just been emailed to you", BUT I NEVER GOT THE PASSWORD! WHAT IS WITH YOU BOZOS? I WANT MY PASSWORD!!!
A: One of two things happened. Either our e-mail server screwed up (possible, but not likely) or the mail server where you get your mail is blocking mail connections from the totse.com mail server because it thinks they may be SPAM. (Which is more likely the problem, keep reading to hear why and find out what you can do about it.)
The totse.com web site runs on a co-hosted server in a building full of servers. Apparently some of the servers (NOT totse.com) were operated by an adult web site that was sending lots of SPAM. Most SPAM-blocking services quickly blocked the offending web site, as they should. As far as I can tell, this happened several years ago and the offending site has long since been shut down.
However, the there were a few spam-blocking services that blocked every IP address of every server that was hosted in the building, which amounts to blocking several thousand servers because of the actions of one service that used this location for hosting. After a lot of work, we managed to get the operators of these spam-blocking services to admit they messed up and remove totse.com from their list of spammers. That is, all but one. The one service that has not yet removed totse.com from their list of spammers is:
If the mail server you use implements SPAM-blocking software that uses this service, you will not be able to get mail from totse.com.
Let me make one thing very clear: TOTSE.COM DOES NOT SEND SPAM. I HATE SPAM. HATE IT. HATE IT. HATE IT.
I also hate idiots who write spam-blocking software that block entire class-B address ranges (thousands of servers) because one or two servers in that address range were sending SPAM. This is ABUSIVE OVERKILL and demonstrates an INABILITY TO EFFECTIVELY OPERATE A SPAM-BLOCKING SERVICE.
At least ztl.dorkslayers.com is honest about their inability to effectively operate a spam-blocking service. They state quite clearly that they block every single IP address owned by my ISP because my ISP has hosted spammers in the past. HEY GUYS! WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE! My ISP's Terms of Service ban anyone from using their network to send SPAM. Some folks do this anyhow and as soon as my ISP hears about it, they SHUT THE SPAMMERS DOWN. You're blocking IP address ranges in a SLOPPY and ABUSIVE fashion, and you're keeping people from receiving mail they want to receive because YOU'RE TOO LAZY TO DO A GOOD JOB OF BLOCKING SPAM.
So if the mail you get from totse.com is being blocked by your ISP's spam-blocking service, what can you do about it?
Contact your ISP and tell them that the following SPAM-blocker blocks many thousands of mail servers that do not send SPAM and never have sent SPAM:
Tell them to configure their SPAM-blocking software to NOT use this service. Tell all of your friends that run mail servers to NOT use this particular service. There are plenty of good SPAM blocking services available for people who run mail servers, but the particular service provider listed above is CRAPPY, POORLY-RUN, and BADLY CONFIGURED. DON'T USE THEM.
Instead, try any of the following:
If you want to read an excellent article on the problems with real-time blackhole lists (RBLs), read The Spam Problem: Moving Beyond RBLs by Philip Jacob. He's also had problems with http://ztl.dorkslayers.com, and goes into detail on why RBLs are a Bad Thing.
In the meantime, we're going to continue to try and get totse.com removed from their list. Until totse.com is removed from their list, we're going to tell every postmaster of every mail server that blocks totse.com's mail about the sloppy administration done by http://ztl.dorkslayers.com, and try to convince them to switch to an alternate provider of SPAM-blocking services.
Q: Do you have any news syndication feeds that I can add to my site?
A: Yes, we provide news feeds in three different formats:
RDF format: http://www.totse.com/totse.rdf (Works great with KNewsTicker)
RSS format: http://www.totse.com/totse.rss (Includes short descriptions. Works with Syndirella and other news aggregators.)
Internet Explorer "Active Channels" format: http://www.totse.com/totse.cdf (M$ keeps changing the Active Channel spec. I know it works with Win95/98/NT/Win2k Pro and most versions of IE 5.x/6.x, your mileage may vary.)
Let me know what headline reading tools you successfully use to grab and read these and I'll keep updating the FAQ.
Q: I submitted an article ages ago. When is it going to appear on your site?
A1: We prefer, but do not insist upon, articles that are written in readable, correctly-spelled English, using actual punctuation marks and honest-to-god paragraphs. If that doesn't describe what you submitted, that's probably why your article was rejected. Try using your word processor's spell-checking feature for starters and resubmit what you wrote. We may like it better the second time we read it.
A2: Since everyone here is a volunteer, and since we get 10-20 new submissions every day (many of which are written in readable, correctly-spelled English, using actual punctuation marks and honest-to-god paragraphs), sometimes we fall behind in getting new material edited and on-line. We add new material in the order in which it is received, and sometimes we've fallen four to five months behind. Currently (November 11, 2005) we've gotten through most of the material submitted up to mid-March 2005. Yes, we suck. We know if we just worked a lot harder your material would be on-line much, much faster. Actually, we're not lazy, we just have jobs and lives and things to do. We'll get to your submission as soon as we can. Honest.
Q: Can I help you edit and publish submissions? I can read, write and spell in English, I know what a paragraph is and I know basic HTML.
A: Send us some Feedback and select "I want to help edit your web pages" from the pulldown. Right now the editing system has some bugs and isn't ready for a wider audience, but it will be soon. When it's ready, we'll contact you.
Q: I want to advertise on your site.
A: We want to take your money. Click here for more info on how to advertise on totse.com.
Q: How do I contact the author of the page located at [url]?
A: If we have the author's current e-mail address, and the author wants to hear from people, the author's name on the article itself will be linked to a page that will allow you to send the author e-mail. If there is no link from the author's name, then there is no way for you to contact the author.
Q: How do I contact the people who run this web site?
A: Use the Feedback button that appears on every page.
Q: Do you actually read the messages that people send using the Feedback option?
A: Well... eventually, sometimes, yes. We do. However, since 99% of the questions we get could be answered if the sender had bothered to read this FAQ, we generally don't send replies to anyone. If people aren't going to bother to read this FAQ before bugging us with inane questions, we're not going to spend time answering each and every message we get. That would cut too deeply into cocktail time.
Q: I have money and I want to give it to you. How can I do this?
A: Since totse.com does not have a bank account, there's no way we can cash your check, but if you want to send cash you can mail it to totse.com, P.O. Box 5378, Walnut Creek, CA, 94596, USA.
Q: How do I blow up my neighbor's car/house/boat/RV/dog?
A: We are not in the business of trying to help people commit felonies. In legal terms, any responses that we give could fall afoul of this nation's "aiding and abetting" or "conspiracy" laws. If you want to do something illegal, you're on your own. If you want to learn how bad people do illegal things, we have thousands of files on-line that you can read through. Some of them may even be accurate.
Q: How do I make crank/LSD/methamphetamine/ecstacy?
A: See previous answer.
Q: How do I...
A: Enough already! We're not your free research service! That's what search engines are for! We have one word for you: GOOGLE!
If you really want to talk with someone about your questions, log on to the Community pages and post your question in the appropriate forum. There are thousands of people who log in, read, and answer questions there.
Q: Isn't the information you provide ILLEGAL? WHY AREN'T YOU IN JAIL?
A: The topics on this system cover a wide range of activities that if you actually DID them, you'd probably be breaking a law in some part of the world. In some places, just TALKING or WRITING about these activities is a crime, in other places, THINKING about these activities is a crime.
Luckily, the creators of this site live in the United States of America, and in the United States of America we have this document called the Constitution which contains a totally radical section called The Bill of Rights. The very first thing you find in The Bill of Rights is this way cool item called The First Amendment. It reads like this:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Now the Congress of the United States keeps trying to find ways to put limits on the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech. There are laws against "inciting violence", laws against sedition, sinister "conspiracy" laws (which infringe on your right to assemble and speak freely), and then there's Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act, and soon we'll have Patriot Act II, all nibbling away at the basic freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. (Did you know that John Ashcroft once ran for the U.S. Senate representing the State of Missouri, his opponent DIED before the election, and the voters ELECTED THE DEAD GUY rather than have John Ashcroft as their Senator? G.W. Bush felt so sorry for the guy that he appointed him Attorney General. True story. But I digress...)
The point is that this web site DOES NOT ENCOURAGE ANYONE to break the law. We DO encourage people to READ, TALK, and above all to THINK. In order to be able to THINK FREELY and CLEARLY, you need to be able to read material from a WIDE RANGE of sources, not just from sources that John Ashcroft would approve of. You need to be able to read ideas that any right-thinking person would vehemently oppose, and YOU need to figure out if YOU should oppose these ideas, embrace them, or ignore them. It should be up to YOU to decide what you believe in, not someone warming a chair in Washington, D.C.
That's why we're here and that's why we do what we do.
Q: There is an inaccuracy on one of your web pages. Please correct it at once.
A: First off, which one? We have over 40,000 web pages on this site. The reason that we ask for a URL when you send us feedback is so that we know what page you're referring to. What is the URL of the page you are referring to?
Q: There is an inaccuracy on the web page with the URL: [url shown here]. Please correct it at once.
A: Wow! Someone actually included a URL! Thanks! We'll get right on it.
Actually, we probably won't fix it. Part of the standard disclaimer for the pages on this site is "We do not guarantee that any of the information contained on this system is correct, workable, or factual."
You see, if you'd actually read the this entire FAQ, you'd know that the vast majority of the articles that appear on this site were contributed by the readers of the site. Most of the people who contribute articles are highly intelligent, certifiable genuises who know exactly what they're talking about and can explain their vast knowledge in an easy-to-understand way.
Then again, some of the readers of this site are certifiable lunatics who couldn't use a screwdriver without injuring themselves. Although the information they provide may be wildly inaccurate, we're not going to try to censor their insane ramblings. Instead, we provide the data they provide "as is", and leave it for the reader to sort out truth from fiction. After all, the only way you're ever going to learn to use that brain of yours is if you give it some exercise.
Lastly, if you disagree with the facts or the viewpoint of one of the articles written here, submit an article of your own! The great thing about free speech is that it cuts both ways -- you're free to speak as well.
Q: Your site is awful! I'm going to have you arrested!
A: See the previous answer and go get some exercise.
Q: Your site is wonderful! I love it.
A: We couldn't agree more.
Q: You people are a bunch of hypocrites because you're doing [thing X] when you should be doing [thing Y].
A: We couldn't agree more. Please continue to psychoanalyze our motives and actions and send us your valuable insights.
Q: You have an article on your site that I hold the copyright on and I want you to take it down.
A: Mistakes happen. We'll be happy to take your article down. Please see our Copyright Policy for more information.
Q: I want to buy [item X] as described on the page [url].
A: We're not selling anything. We do have banner ads that various advertisers use to sell their stuff, and we get a few pennies whenever someone buys something. If what you want to buy is shown in a banner ad, click the ad and you'll be connected to the advertiser's site.
If you're talking about something for sale that's described within an article that's posted on one of our pages... chances are someone snuck an article in with an advertisement embedded in the article. It is highly likely that the author no longer sells whatever is being advertised. We'll remove old, outdated advertisments from an article's text as soon as someone points one out to us. If you really want to buy [item X], contact the author of the article first and see if they're still selling it.
Q: I am a transgender mutant from Planet X and my people are taking over this planet. I need to gather clam shells and pea pods for my intergalactic transmorgrifier. You will pay for your insolence!
A: You're a loon. Seek medical help.
Q: I have PROOF that YOU are SECRETLY ALIGNED with the [FBI / CIA / LDS / Freemasons / NWO / WWF / insert name of favorite bogeyman here]. I am going to EXPOSE your DEVIOUS PLAN for WORLD DOMINATION!
A1: You're a loon. Seek medical help.
A2: Write it up as an article and submit it for publication. We could use a good laugh.