How did you prove your eliteness?
April 12, 2006 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Elite BBS access. What were some of the most common questions used to verify a new user's level of elite in the late 80s, early 90s?

There were a lot of acronym related questions, such as What does ACiD stand for?, What is the CDC? that were asked before a sysop would grant a new user access to a warez or phreak board. I can only remember those two and I'm hoping to compile a much larger list.
posted by monsta coty scott to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
Mainly I remember being asked what other boards I had "Full Access" on.
The only vocab quiz I remember was the ACid one.
You can find other examples here.
posted by madajb at 5:12 PM on April 12, 2006

I really mainly remember the more l33t ones just having a newuser password. Questions like those you've mentioned seem like l4m3r sites trying to look l33t.
posted by xmutex at 5:38 PM on April 12, 2006

*sigh* /me remembers many hours spent trying to figure out the Beyond Akira nup
posted by lemur at 5:50 PM on April 12, 2006

Yeah, real l33t sites were word-of-mouth and you had to "know" someone in order to get access, or be part of a warez/courier group.

Most commonly, though, I found you had to prove your worth by uploading something (z3r0-DaY!, of course) that the BBS didn't already have.

I don't really recall any "questions" being asked to gain access, cause it would be really easy to distribute the correct answers to the questions, and then any damn newbie could join.
posted by robbie01 at 6:13 PM on April 12, 2006

On the Virginia Tech / Blacksburg BBSs in the early 90s, you were often asked to upload the "piratedest" piece of software you had. A new commercial game with the copy protection hacked out got you high access. Crappy shareware games didn't. Benefit: the sysop gets the latest warez this way.
posted by Mapes at 6:14 PM on April 12, 2006

Oh, wow, I very much remember something like this AcID quiz. I do remember being asked what "31337" meant in about 1992.
posted by johngoren at 6:15 PM on April 12, 2006

I used to do ANSI and VGA art for "ELiTE" boards back in the day as a pre-teen/teen... say mid-80's to about 1990.

Phreaked a lot...we used to have crazy conference calls over random PBX's...folks from Australia and the UK on there. To dial in, we'd bounce through several... dial Kansas, then Alaska....

I went by a couple of handles back then... Case, Cockroach... the one I stuck with for the longest was MicroFarad.

Never joined ACiD, but I was in MiRAGE for a short while, and iCE (back when they were associated with the ELiTE thing, and not a DeviantART clone) for a little while longer.

The most common questionnaires I can remember from my BBS days had to do with baud rate and who you knew, well as how much of the Jolly Roger's Cookbook you had memorized.

For me it was a little different. I didn't hack much or crack games, I was an artist... so people wanted to see ANSI logins (an old one I did for Grey Havens is still on the iCE website) or VGA game-crack screens that I had done.

Still, you'd be expected to run at a decent baud rate, and know the basic lingo. Know how to use a PBX, know how to get free payphone calls, know how to log onto that BBS that you did the screen for in Canada without paying long distance...

Most of the real judging was done over conference call, though.

Really, those "elite" groups were just gangs of smart but insecure and socially awkward teens who wanted to sorta buck the system, but be basically harmless about it. At least back then, anyway. Oh, and play games for free.

It's sad what happened to some of the people I knew that were involved with all that. Several of them came from broken homes. One got arrested for a pretty severe hacking offense. Another ran away from home, contacted his mother five years later from the UK, and then was never heard from again.
posted by kaseijin at 7:16 PM on April 12, 2006

on preview: robbie01 pretty much has it dead on. It was all about networking more than it was about questionnaires.
posted by kaseijin at 7:18 PM on April 12, 2006

I wrote for 2600 at the time and, funny thing, among that group we had no such litmus tests. It was only the kiddies that did that. :)
posted by waldo at 7:21 PM on April 12, 2006

If you want a comprehensive answer, go ask Jason Scott at He's been tracking the history of BBSes for several years now. One scheme I remember involved having to play the first level of Advent the first time you logged in, but mostly it was about who you knew more than what you knew.
posted by scalefree at 7:59 PM on April 12, 2006

a lot of them hung up unless you were running at a particular speed, i recall, as I was running waaaay less than a leet baud back then (9600 was pretty much the minimum for most boards when I was around). the new user process that i recall (if you even got the number in the first place), was usually like "what members here will vouch for you" (again, number one), and then maybe "what are your top three appz", "what are your top three gamez" (top three being most recent). i think i saw a quiz mostly once. i never passed muster on any of the major boards in my area code -- mostly because i was younger than most of the ops, and more so because i was a big dork (see younger) and had a WAY PD BAUD (1200 for a long time).

i was mostly fascinated with the fact that most eleet boards ran totally diff. software than what you'd see run on the more public boards (which were largely telegard, renegade, or wwiv -- with the occasional StKeep and whatnot in the 916) -- and that the software they were running seemed reaaal cool. i can't remember any of the names anymore though.
posted by fishfucker at 9:42 PM on April 12, 2006

I love that the ACiD quiz has "Are you a leech" as one of the questions. "Yeah dude, totally!" :) Along with everyone else here, I agree the only sites that had those stupid quizzes were the ones that had basically ZERO good shit on them. They had those quizzes to make them *sound* impressive, and then you'd login and you'd see the shareware Jill of the Jungle and 2d Duke Nukem games. The only serious boards I ever got on, I got on through people I knew. Ahh, I miss those heady days of BBS goodness in the 416. Sigh. :)
posted by antifuse at 3:15 AM on April 13, 2006

fishfucker: A lot of them programmed their own BBS software and spread it to other elite sites. The only one I remember off the top of my head was called "panther"....but I recall that one being sorta scoffed at? God, that's been a long time ago.
posted by kaseijin at 5:27 AM on April 13, 2006

There was really no litmus test back in the day; as robbie01 says it was all about who you knew. In addition to networking, if you had been part of some influential textphile release (wardialing lists, phreak files, etc) you could usually use those as a reference if they were cited often. A lot of these folks knew each other outside of the computer when the community was first starting, though, so there was a good base of folks already "in-country".
posted by arimathea at 9:00 AM on April 13, 2006

« Older Mortgage TAX   |   broken bose triport headphones Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.