ifMUD

Frequently Asked Questions (2.1.1)

or
A Beginner's Guide to the ifMUD

Written by Mark J. Musante

Most recent update by Adam Cadre

Last update: 10 March 2000


Special thanks to: Liza "liza" Daly for the original inspiration; Dan "inky" Shiovitz for helpful suggestions; Rob "Spatch" Noyes and Matthew "mamster" Amster-Burton for just being themselves.


  1. What is ifMUD?

    It's a Gathering of Interactive Fiction writers and players. It's a very friendly place for chatting about almost anything, although the topic of interactive fiction writing and playing does come up occasionally.

  2. How do I connect?

    First, you'll need a MUD Client. This can be as simple as a telnet application, up to something specifically designed for logging into MUDs. The ifMUD's web site has a good list of what's available, under the Platforms heading.

    Instruct your MUD client to connect to ifmud.port4000.com, port 4000.

    If that isn't up, many ifMUDders use daveMUD as a backup: zork.plover.net, port 4096.

    Next, you can log in as the guest character. Simply type "connect guest guest" (yes, type "guest" twice), and you're in! Feel free to explore.

    If you decide that you would like your own character on the MUD, point your web browser at http://ifmud.port4000.com:4001 and follow the directions. In almost no time at all, you'll be online and ready to go.

    Finally, once your character has been created, log off as "guest" (by typing quit) and log back in again as your new character.

  3. Yay! I've connected. What do I do now?

    There are several steps you should take in order to set up a nice, comfortable MUD experience:

  4. Okay, I'm ready to explore. How do I do that?

    When you enter a room (or log on), you will see the room's description, followed by a list of objects in the room, which is followed by "Visible Exits". Exits from rooms typically take the form of "east, north, west", and so on. You can just type the direction's name ("east", for example) to go in that direction. Most of the time, the creator of that exit has also made an abbreviation possible ("e" for "east", for example).

    I've created a crudely-drawn map which shows the basic layout of one section of the ifMUD. There are many exits that aren't shown on this map but at least you can get a good feel for how it's laid out.

    Here's a brief rundown of the rooms on the map:

  5. Help! I'm Lost!

    There's a special command:
          xyzzy
    which will teleport you to the Long Hall no matter where you are on the ifMUD. This will help you get your bearings.

    Another command:
          lounge
    will take you directly to the Adventurer's Lounge.

    In addition, once you've created a home for yourself (see "Create a home for your MUD character" above), you can use the
          home
    command to zip right back to your home. Until you've created your home, this will send you to Dorm A.

  6. How do I talk to people?

    There are a few methods that the MUD has for communicating with others.

  7. Is there any way for me to 'pose' or indicate my actions?

    This is done using the emote command. For example:
          emote hits himself on the head.
    will display, for everyone in the room:
          foobar hits himself on the head.

    Since this is a very common thing to do, there is also an abbreviation for it, using the colon (":") character. E.g.:
          :looks around the room in shock.
    will display:
          foobar looks around the room in shock.

  8. What if I just want to talk to a few people instead of everyone in the room?

    Then you want to use the "channels." If you type the command @listchannels, you will see a list of all the channels that are currently available. To join a channel, type @joinchannel followed by the the channel's name. For example, @joinchannel cool_folk will allow you to join the channel named "cool_folk". You (and everyone on the channel) will see a message indicating that you've joined.

    To talk on a channel, use the hash mark (pound mark, number sign) # followed by the channel name, followed by the text you want to say. For example:
          #cool_folk Hi everyone!
    will display:
          [cool_folk] foobar says, "Hi everyone!"
    to everyone on the channel. Channel names can be abbreviated as far as you like, so long as it's clear which you mean. #co would send your comment to #cool_folk, for example, if it's the only channel you're on that begins with "co"; if you're also on #cookies, however, you will receive an error message saying your choice of channel is ambiguous.

    You can pose on a channel just like you can pose regularly:
          #cool_folk :sighs.
    will display:
          [cool_folk] foobar sighs.

    And you can talk to people on a channel too:
          #cool_folk ..baz Hey.
    will display:
          [cool_folk] foobar says (to baz), "Hey."

    There also is the concept of a "default" channel. This is the last channel you @joinchanneled or talked on. Once you've joined or talked on a specific channel, you can use the semicolon ; to refer to that channel. Let's say you just entered @joinchannel inform to join the inform channel. Now you can use:
          ;Hi everyone!
    which will display:
          [inform] foobar says, "Hi everyone!"

    Posing and "talking to" someone also work. E.g.:
          ;:laughs.
    will display:
          [inform] foobar laughs.
    and
          ;..lpsmith I didn't know that.
    will display:
          [inform] foobar says (to lpsmith), "I didn't know that."

    Type help channels for even more information.

  9. Are there any other methods of communication?

    Why yes, there is one other way you can send text to your fellow ifMUDers. Using the @emit command (for which there is no help text, by the way), you can display text to all people in the room without having it prefixed with your name (see the : command in the question about communcation above). An example:
          @emit A giant meat hook swings down from the ceiling
    will print out:
          A giant meat hook swings down from the ceiling

    This technique also works on channels. Using the # notation, you'd enter:
          #cool_folk @emit baz says, "Argh."
    which would result in:
          [cool_folk] baz says, "Argh."

    And using the semicolon shortcut:
          ;@emit baz says, "Argh."
    which displays the same thing.

  10. Cool! So I can say things without anyone knowing, right?

    Not quite. There is a 'spy' flag, similar to the male and female flags above. You can set it by using the command
          @set me = spy
    If someone has the spy flag set, and you enter:
          @emit Grendel chuckles as he swipes off your head.
    then it will show up on the screens of those people as:
          (From foobar) Grendel chuckles as he swipes off your head.
    So it's not completely anonymous, unless the other person doesn't know about the spy flag (or have it set).

    Similarly on channels, those people who have the spy flag set when you enter:
          ;@emit Armageddon cries!
    will see:
          [inform] (from foobar) Armageddon cries!
    (assuming that the "inform" channel is your default).

  11. So is there any way of displaying something completely anonymously?

    Sort of. Almost. But it's beyond the scope of this FAQ.

  12. How do I find out who else is on the ifMUD?

    Type in 'who'. Here's a sample of the output:

     User        On     Idle   I'll_*_you_that_MUD
     Adam        17m30  00m00  I'm a parrot girl! I'm a pear. I'm a mango!
     Alex        02d06  00m09  Waaah! There are no corknuts in 1900!
     Ratchet     50m20  01m25
     Jearl       01h57  01m55  Huzzah!
     inky        07h20  02m17  Potato vampires are different
     Psmith      03h24  05m25  What's a nice @doing like you in a poll like this?
     Rob         01h27  05m57  Fish, trout, animal
     Marvin      32m42  06m25  Nothing worthwhile.
     Dilbon      02h28  07m48  Morning mood
     boucher     49m45  08m55  [brain terminated]
     katre       01h02  09m08  Save the whales.  Club a seal instead.
     Ivan        01d23  01h01  Banzai, I'll see you in COURT! I mean, HELL!
    *Ryan        02d00  01h52  Arr!
    *Floyd       01d19  02h51  Playing underoos
    Uptime: 02d07; pollster: Gunther; Users online: 14
    End of List.
    

    The first column, User, lists the character names who are currently logged on. Those with asterisks by their names are currently "zoned" -- type help zoned for more information on this.

    The second column, On, shows how long each character has been logged on. For example, Adam has been on for 17 minutes and 30 seconds, whereas Jearl has been on for 1 hour and 57 minutes and Alex has been on for 2 days and 6 hours.

    The third column, Idle, shows how long it has been since the player last entered a command. For example, inky last did something 2 minutes and 17 seconds ago.

    The final column varies and, as you can see, is usually something quite bizarre. See the question about PollBoy below in this FAQ for more details.

    On the next-to-last line, you see the text 'Uptime'. This indicates how long it has been since the ifMUD was last restarted. In this case, it's been up for 2 days and 7 hours. Also listed is the person who wrote the current poll, and the number of users currently online.

    To find out what the poll is without receiving an entire who list, just type show poll.

  13. How do I find out who these people are?

    The finger command will give you a bit of information about an individual. For example, type in:
          finger Jota
    and you'll see something like this as a result:

    Login name: Jota                          In real life: Admiral Jota
    Location: Jota's Metaphysical Palace      Gender: Male
    Email address: jota@retina.net
    Last login: 08/25/97 17:46:19
    Plan: To care for and tend to my creeping features.
    

    Use the command help finger to find out how to set your own information.

  14. Why does someone called PollBoy holler things every so often?

    PollBoy isn't a real character on the mud, but a service that's provided so you can tell that someone has started a new poll. To see what the new poll is, type in show poll to see the poll by itself or who to see both the poll and the current responses. People's responses are usually unrelated to what the poll is. Some people set a response that never changes. Others change their response as the mood strikes them.

  15. Okay, so how do I change my response?

    The @doing command will change your response. For example:
          @doing Nothing right now.
    will generate a response indicating that your @doing message has been changed. The response is random, and generally silly. To see that your @doing entry has taken effect, type in 'who' and look for your username.

    Your @doing message must be less than 53 characters, otherwise it gets truncated.

  16. Well, that's great, but can I change the poll, then?

    Absolutely. The @poll command was created so that anyone can start a poll. For example:
          @poll What is the coolest MUD around?
    The result will be that PollBoy will holler, "foobar has changed the poll!", and everyone will type in 'who' to see what you wrote. Some people will change their @doing messages to suit.

    Like @doing, @polls must be less than 53 characters or get truncated.

  17. What's this "Bar" that people used to complain about?

    One of the MUD clients, Pueblo, will display horizontal scroll bar if it gets a string of characters that (a) has no whitespace in it AND (b) is longer than the width of its window.

    This tends to be annoying. Luckily, it is no longer as problematic as it once was, thanks to a field called debar. If you'd like a line break to be inserted into any string more than 75 characters long, for example, you would type:
          @field me = debar : 75
    and, provided your screen is more than 75 characters wide, you should have no need to cry "Eeeagh! Bar!" and log off, as people once did fairly regularly.

  18. Well, I had a great time, but I have to leave now. How to I log off the ifMUD?

    Although we'd really rather you stayed, type in:
          quit
    And you're gone. See you next time!

  19. Wait! On second thought, I do have a few more questions.

    Fire away.

  20. What does @from do?

    It displays the hosts people are using to connect to the MUD. If you connect as Jekyll one day and Hyde the next, and @from reveals that both connections came from flanz3.loomi.com, we'll have a pretty good idea that the same person is using both accounts.

    For more information, consult help @from.

  21. What does it mean to @gag someone?

    @Gagging someone prevents that person's statements and actions from appearing on your screen. The name of the command may be a bit misleading, since @gagging someone has no effect on that person's ability to speak or act; think of a @gag as more like wearing a pair of selective earplugs.

    @Gagging someone is accomplished thusly:
          @gag LoudBoy
    You can remove someone from your gag list just as easily:
          @ungag LoudBoy
    And typing @gag by itself will display your gag list so you can see who's on it.

    There are a couple of disadvantages to using @gag. One is that it can make conversations less intelligible, since you're not hearing the whole story:
          foo says, "I really enjoyed A Mind Forever Voyaging."
          LoudBoy exclaims, "SHUT UP!!1! YOU SUK!!"
          bar says, "Oh, THAT was enlightening."
    would, to someone who has @gagged LoudBoy, appear as:
          foo says, "I really enjoyed A Mind Forever Voyaging."
          bar says, "Oh, THAT was enlightening."

    The other drawback to using @gag is that it can lead to hurt feelings on the part of the people you've @gagged. If you're having trouble with someone, perhaps the two of you could talk it over first? That said, it is, in the end, your choice: they have the right to speak, and you have the right not to listen.

  22. What are private channels?

    First, remember what you learned about channels (question 8). The twist here is that channels can be flagged as private:
          @flagchannel foo = private

    Private channels cannot be joined; people can only be added to them by the channel pope. (They can leave of their own free will, of course.)

    There are any number of reasons why you might want to create a private channel. Perhaps you're working on a game, and want to talk about it with your beta-testers on the MUD without other people knowing about it. Maybe you want to talk about your love life with five good friends of yours without strangers eavesdropping. A much longer list of examples wouldn't be hard to generate.

    Some people find the existence of private channels to be a rather dubious notion, but really, it's no different from paging several people in rapid succession. Private channels have been around for ages; the benefits have been tremendous, and the harms difficult to find.

  23. What are locked rooms?

    Just as there are objects that only certain people are allowed to pick up, there are rooms (a very few rooms) which only certain people are permitted to enter. These are almost always homes. The door to your home in real life has a lock on it, no?

    It's not the rooms themselves that are locked, of course, but the exits that lead to the rooms. For more information, type help @lock.

  24. Well, okay, but what if there's an unlocked room with just two people talking? Am I interrupting if I walk in?

    Possibly, but that's their problem, not yours. Some rooms (the lounge, for instance) are considered truly public space; others more clearly belong to one or more particular users, but nevertheless, truly private areas should be locked. You have the right to go anywhere the MUD will permit you to go, and if people are talking in an unlocked room, you have the right to listen in and participate.

    Moving other people's objects around is generally frowned upon, however. Even if they're not locked down, try to leave them where you found them.

  25. Do people ever talk in rooms other than the lounge? Sometimes it sure doesn't seem like it.

    This issue has caused no small amount of friction among the ifMUD community. As of this writing, the lounge is certainly still the main MUD hangout, but when things get too noisy or the topic of conversation is just not to certain users' liking, people will occasionally migrate out to other areas and from time to time a second "gravity well" of conversation will develop. A number of MUDders like this phenomenon, finding that better conversations develop in smaller groups; others prefer that everyone congregate in the lounge, so as not to miss out on any of the action. The MUD is evolving all the time, and there's no telling what shape it might take in the future. Why, some of us even remember back when the Round Room was the chief hangout, and the lounge covered in cobwebs. It was back in aught-six, an' I was wearing an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time...

  26. For that matter, does anyone do anything other than talk here? Why bother having a MUD? Why not just a chat room?

    Well, it's fun to have props: furniture, toys, that sort of thing. The importance of the illusion of being in an actual traversable space is also not to be dismissed. And, as it happens, there are a few things to do other than talk: a couple of people have mini-adventures you can wander through, and the friendly bot Floyd allows people to play both regular IF games and specially designed multiplayer games right on the MUD.

  27. Can I roleplay a character while I'm on the MUD?

    Well, there's nothing stopping you, but it's not really part of ifMUD culture. A lot of us go by our real names; others of us use handles, but even then, they're just handles, not characters. Playing a character on ifMUD is a bit like showing up at a low-key potluck dinner wearing a Halloween mask. Sure, many MUDs encourage or even demand roleplaying, just as many parties encourage or even demand that you wear a costume. On ifMUD, however, we tend to just be ourselves. The space around us may be downright surreal at times, but the conceit is that it's just regular ol' us wandering around in it.

    Now, one could make the argument that one's online persona is always different from one's real-life personality -- you might be chatty on the MUD but painfully shy in real life, for instance -- and that there's no clear line of demarcation between that phenomenon and playing a character. And sure, maybe there isn't. But despite what the deconstructionists would have you believe, that does not mean that there's no difference between the two. It's pretty obvious when someone in the room is putting on a performance.

  28. Is there anything else I should know about ifMUD culture?

    Well, there is a charter (type charter to have a looksee) that is meant at least in part to answer this question. But a lot of the charter boils down to this: ifMUD is an established online community. We're evolving, sure, but we're not trying to find our identity -- we've pretty much found it. Most newcomers can sense this, and some even ask about the "rules" of conduct... but there aren't really any rules as such, no code of law. Rather, we have unspoken customs, customs that we really can't articulate at the drop of a hat. And we're quite happy with them.

    It's been debated whether ifMUD is "newbie-friendly" or not. We don't chop up newcomers with our +8 Swords of Dood, so to that extent we're ahead of the game. We're generally pretty darn polite as these sorts of places go. But here's the "but": we are, as noted, an established community, and not looking to change. If you keep a low profile at first, get a sense of who we are, and decide you'll fit in well, terrific! If you keep a low profile at first, get a sense of who we are, and decide this isn't the place for you, well, thanks for stopping by, and good luck! But if you come in looking to shake us up with your exciting new ways, chances are things may not work out.

    Reading the FAQ is certainly a step in the right direction, though! Thanks for putting in the time.


Are there any other questions that you think belong here? If so, send them to me, olorin@ministryofpeace.com, and I'll do my best.