This is the acronym for Bulletin Board System, a system that lets people read each other’s messages and post new ones.
Typically, the term BBS is used to describe private systems run by individuals that often require membership. They are most commonly used for discussion groups or forums, in which members can post questions, which other members answer. Discussions are usually focused on a specific theme, interest, specialty area, or technology, and are generally grouped into categories, so they can easily be reviewed later, both by members and, in some cases, visitors.
BBS can also refer to more public and open-topic discussion forums, such as Usenet, which is, in effect, the world’s largest distributed BBS.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find a BBS to join?
Many BBS users find them through organizations they are already a part of, such as specialty group that contains a BBS as part of their website. If you are part of a local or national organization, check with your group’s coordinators to see if they have a discussion board. Another way to find discussion groups is to perform a web search for a topic that interests you and add the word “discussion” into the search. Many discussion boards can be viewed by the public, and only require membership to post questions or responses.
Can I include special fonts, pictures, or emoticons when using a BBS?
Most bulletin board systems are able to handle either HTML (the markup language used to create most webpages) or bulletin board code (BBCode), though BBCode is the more common language, because it limits many types of potentially dangerous code. In most case, you won’t have to know any code to apply special characters or fonts, because the BBS will include a formatting toolbar, similar to the one you would find in MS Word or Google Docs. Depending on the system configuration, you may also be able to add content such as pictures and emoticons using the toolbar.
Do groups still use BBS in the age of social media?
Yes. Social media allows users to connect to like-minded individuals across the world and, much like BBS, ask questions and receive insight from people with similar interests or expertise. However, most social media sites are designed for active, ongoing conversations. While you can review old posts, there is no easy way to search for a particular past discussion or topic. BBS is not only a discussion tool; it is also a repository of information. Because discussions can be grouped by topic, it is easy to scroll or search past discussions until you find an answer to your question. This system also prevents your discussion group from having to answer the same questions over and over again.