Twin Cities Free-Net Help Center
By Stuart Karabenick, Ph.D.
Center for Instructional Computing
Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197
Chapter 13 was written for the Center for the Instructional Computing and University Computing at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan. It has been revised and reprinted with Dr. Karabenick's permission.
This guide is intended for new organizers of Caucus conferences. Prospective organizers may be familiar with conferencing in general, and Caucus in particular; however, there are certain commands and issues with which organizers need to be familiar and which deserve special emphasis. These are examined in the following sections. It should be noted that the original guide was written for a large time-sharing system in a university setting, and Course Conferencing is devoted to that context. Most of the topics, however, are generic, and they apply to a wide variety of settings.
Furthermore, the Organizer's Guide was prepared as a stand-alone document, and it has its own set of organizer-relevant commands. This section, or a version specifically tailored to your hardware, system, and support environment, can be an effective supplement to your conferencing environment.
Each conferencing application will have a variety of conferences suited to that environment. In general there are two types.
In an open conference, membership is available to anybody with access to the Caucus conferencing system. Open conferences cover general topics open to all. These can include anything from restaurant reviews and company picnics to office policies, vacation schedules, music, politics, and literature.
Restricted conferences impose some limitation on membership. The organizer can specifically designate persons who may become full or read-only members and/or exclude others (see CUSTOMIZE USERS command, CUSTOMIZE and Customizing Conference Membership). Examples of restricted conferences are:
In an academic setting one of the major uses is in connection with classes. In the typical course conference, membership is restricted to students and their instructor. Additional non-course participants, such as other faculty members or experts, are sometimes included (see Course Conferencing).
There are many types of special conferences whose membership may be partially or fully restricted. Examples in an academic setting are: thesis committees, faculty committees, student and faculty organizations and research groups. Business examples are: Boards of Directors, research and development groups, holiday party committees, and sales support groups.
Using Caucus requires a computer accounts. On time-sharing systems two types of computer access are typical.
General accounts give full access to your computer system.
Captive Caucus Accounts
Captive Caucus accounts provide access only to the conferencing system. Captive accounts are very important. They make it possible to give conferencing access to users whom you would not wish to use other system resources.
[Note: See your system's specific Caucus Installation and System Manager's Guide for details on creating captive accounts.]
In some applications, users are free to start their own conferences. In other settings, a conferencing system coordinator may restrict the number and type of conferences. Restrictions prevent duplication of discussions and conserve system resources. (For information on how to start new conferences, see Starting a Conference and the Caucus Installation and System Manager's Guide.)
It is very important that participants know how to use the system before engaging in any "serious" conferencing. Introductory training sessions led by experienced users, practice (fun!) conferences, and provision of quick reference guides to users are suggested.
An organizer's first task is to provide a conference structure, or framework. Considerable time and care at this phase is suggested. The information participants first encounter begins to establish this structure.
Computer conferencing is often preceded by interaction using non-electronic means. Quite frequently, participants communicate with each other by phone and/or discuss the conference in person prior to any computer communication. These interactions may be augmented by printed material that announces the conference, its goals, topics to be covered, and information about the participants. Such interactions and information are especially important for first-time conference users. The more they know prior to going on-line, the more they can concentrate on mastering the conferencing system and substantive content. Consider the nature and extent of such preliminary communication and how it can help to achieve your conference's objectives.
Conferencing users are required to register the first time they use the system. That registration carries over to all conferences of which they become members. Their first interaction with a specific conference consists of an introduction, followed by a greeting. The organizer customizes them by editing a text file.
The purpose of the introduction is to describe the conference to prospective participants. It is displayed the first time a participant joins a conference. Its major utility is giving prospective members of open conferences enough information to decide whether they wish to join. For closed conferences the introduction is typically less important since it is presumed that members of a restricted group would already know why they are joining (see CUSTOMIZE INTRO and CUSTOMIZE).
The greeting is text that is displayed every time participants join a conference. The greeting can serve several functions. For example, at the outset, it can serve to orient members by elaborating the conference's goals, purposes and etiquette and rules. Later it can be used as a bulletin board for announcements or to direct participants to important new information, items, or responses. Some organizers prefer to keep greetings brief and use a separate item as a bulletin board (see CUSTOMIZE GREETING (CUSTOMIZE and Customizing Conference).
The first conference items (discussion topics) have an important bearing on a conference's success. This is especially true when participants are new to conferencing. The following are recommended:
The first item gives participants the opportunity to expand upon the information they provided when they first registered in the conferencing system. Consider asking them to describe their background and/or provide other relevant information. This is especially important in larger and open conferences and even in small conferences in instances where participants are relatively unfamiliar with each other.
Even if discussed in other forms (e.g., in pre-conference interactions or hard-copy) an item devoted to the conference's purposes is worth including. This is your opportunity to restate the conference's goals and, importantly, to receive feedback from participants. It provides an opportunity for participants to ask questions and to suggest alternatives after having encountered the original introduction and greeting. The item may also be useful in keeping track of changes in objectives as the conference progresses.
Help With the Conferencing System
This item provides a central place to ask questions and serves to reduce the stigma that participants often attach to seeking help. It is especially important for novice conferencers.
Even if the greeting is reserved for fast-breaking news, an item devoted to a bulletin board is quite useful. Unlike the conference greeting, past information remains, and there is a record of prior bulletins.
Conference Rules and Norms
Another useful item is one reserved for the discussion of special conference rules or norms. For example, there may be issues of confidentiality, anonymity, adding items or altering previous responses, and rules of conduct that need to be stated and about which participants may have opinions.
Participants, especially novice conferencers, are understandably reluctant to respond to "blank" items. Thus, a useful technique is for organizers to respond to their own items just to get the ball rolling. For example, an organizer might be the first respondent to the item used for extended introductions or the one used to discuss a conference's purposes.
Respond to Initial Responses
Keep in mind that while you may enjoy discussions and conferencing, some people do not. They may be cautious and embarrassed about stating their own opinions in public, and, quite possibly, intimidated by computers. It helps if organizers respond to participants' contributions either in the conference itself or by sending a private message acknowledging their input.
Developing a Sense of Cohesion
Although physically and temporally separated, regular conference participants can develop a feeling of cohesiveness. This dynamic varies according to the nature of the conference. It is more evident in longer-lasting working groups than in large open conferences, but it is usually present in all conferences to some degree.
Organizers can play an important function in nurturing cohesion. It helps to greet people when they join. Ask them questions. Encourage people who have not contributed to do so rather than just to read. Give participants feedback! Remember, as in face-to-face discussions, participants who are consistently ignored, who feel they are talking to themselves, will cease to contribute.
Humor can be an important element of discussions. If not spontaneously generated by participants themselves, consider injecting some in otherwise "serious" conferences. It helps relax people if you break the ice first.
Degree of Organizer Participation
Too many public responses by an organizer can make a conference seem moderator-dominated. Thus, organizers should consider using private messages to make constructive comments, to ask a participant why they haven't contributed, or to defuse an argument. Private messages do not interfere with conference activity.
Providing summaries is another important organizer function. This helps current participants to quickly understand what has transpired while helping new participants catch up on discussions.
Keeping Things Going
Because computer conferences can extend over long time periods, there are two important maintenance operations. One is to bring in new material to help freshen up conferences. Consider bringing in material from other sources (including from other conferences). The second is to houseclean occasionally by deleting dormant items and keeping subject categories up to date (see Chapter 6 on Editing and Changing Text and Chapter 7 discussion of OSUBJECTS).
How Many Items, How Structured the Conference?
Some conferences have a very well-defined and detailed agenda which should be set by the organizer in advance. For example, a group working on a task (e.g., a new marketing strategy), a course conference, or a committee established to discuss a new program might have specific topics they need to discuss. In these instances the items may be known in advance and the conference structure may be rigid. However, in conferences with more general topics (e.g., office morale, micros or music), it may not be possible, or even desirable, to do this. For open conferences, it is suggested that the initial topic structure consist of a few general items. More specific items typically emerge from those general discussions, and there may be hundreds of items in conferences of a long duration.
An important moderator function deals with what is called "item drift." This occurs when people stray from the topic of an item. You might want to gently (sometimes not so gently) remind "drifters" to return to the topic. Conferences with significant item drift turn out to be "muddy" since the same topic may be discussed in many different items. Some drift is inevitable (do not be too heavy-handed), it is a matter of degree. In fact, participants sometimes signal they are drifting to make a digression (by saying "set drift on" and "set drift off"), indicating that others should not follow their lead. If the drift is significant and raises issues or covers topics not addressed in other items, a new item may be warranted.
Grouping Items Into Subject Categories
Caucus provides the capacity for organizers to group items under subjects. This is an extremely important organizer function, especially in large, open conferences and those of long duration. Like items, these might be thought out in advance and grouped under these headings as they are added. In some conferences with no set agenda, they are likely to develop as the conference progresses. It would also be helpful for you to notify participants of the subjects' existence and explain how to access items by subject categories (see SUBJECT and Creating and Altering Subject Categories).
Private Messages vs. Public Responses to Items
A conferencing system is designed to facilitate group discussions. Private messages would, therefore, seem antithetical to this purpose. Nevertheless, messages can serve many useful functions. As in face-to-face discussions, there are some things better said in private. Some communications are simply more appropriate for another individual or subset of the entire group. It is suggested that as much of the communication as possible be conducted in the conference itself (it would not be much of a conference otherwise), while recognizing the need for private communications. The presence of extensive private communication between some people could suggest the need for another conference for those members. For more information on messages, see chapter 5.
Typically, conference participants are permitted to add their own items. There are, however, circumstances in which this may be undesirable. This is especially true in newly organized conferences, when it may be beneficial for the organizer to maintain control of the topics and/or the order in which they are discussed. There may even be conferences where the organizer wants to completely control the conference items, such as in computer-mediated business meetings and, in educational settings, course conferences. Once conferences have matured, an organizer may wish to relax this restriction. Note that open conferences would probably not survive this restriction for very long. (see CUSTOMIZE ADD and Customizing Conference).
Unless you decide otherwise, participants are permitted to change (i.e., edit, replace, or delete) material they have previously entered (items or responses). This is useful when, in retrospect, they are not content with something they have said. However, there may be circumstances when allowing such changes would be inappropriate. For example, in a group working on a sensitive topic, retrospective changes could significantly alter the context in which subsequent remarks are embedded, changing their meaning entirely. It is suggested that restricting the right to make such changes should be used with caution and only with the consent of the participants. Of course, you can always reverse the restriction. Restricting changes is ordinarily not appropriate for public conferences. (see CUSTOMIZE CHANGE command, CUSTOMIZE and Customizing Conference).
Except for duplications of names already registered, participants can select any name they desire. Thus, pseudonyms are possible and can be used creatively. For example, names can be used for role-playing, or groups of individuals can select similar names for simulations. However, under some circumstances they may be inappropriate, as in business settings or in course conferences where it is necessary to track participation. Furthermore, pseudonyms should be used responsibly and not to harm or impersonate other conference members. Remember, the identity of the author of any item, message, or response can be discovered despite the use of pseudonyms.
Organizers of open conferences need to be especially sensitive to objectionable content. After all, participants' comments are available to anyone with access to your Caucus system. The same basic guidelines that apply to free speech using any other medium apply here as well. There are two minimal rules that should be adhered to in all public conferences: no vulgar language and no personal attacks.
There are several ways to handle problems:
Delete any offensive material (items or responses).
Ask the person to apologize for offensive remarks.
Send a private message or speak directly to the participant involved.
Publicly chastise the participants in the conference.
Exclude members from the conference and/or system if necessary.
Confidentiality is frequently an issue any time people communicate. However, since computer conferencing creates an instant transcript, breaches of confidentiality become markedly simplified: it is relatively simple to print material, copy it to another conference, or publish it in some other fashion. Thus, computer conferencing provides a greater potential for abuse.
It is typically assumed that conference material is intended only for other participants. Reproducing that material for wider distribution would violate that assumption. However, if material in a conference is of a particularly sensitive nature, you might wish to:
Discuss the issue of confidentially with participants
Place a notice in the introduction and/or greeting about the confidentiality policy
Suggest that persons who specifically wish should emphasize confidentiality in their communications
Keeping a permanent record of a conference is highly recommended. This is especially true for course and special purpose conferences that you may wish to review after they have ceased to exist. One option is to print a hard copy. Another is to write the conference to a file (see print and file transfer commands, Command Modifiers and Printing and Computer Storage Archiving Commands).
Open conferences run continuously but are typically restarted periodically (with much advance notification to participants) to conserve computer resources. Conferences established for specific purposes (e.g., task groups) have a definite life. In educational settings, course conferences normally terminate when the term closes. Other special conferences may be indeterminate. In each case, the organizer should notify the conferencing system coordinator when to terminate the conference.
In course conferencing, a class is provided with one or more of its own closed conferences. When used with on-campus classes, add communication possibilities beyond those which normally exists. Course conferencing also can be used to teach complete courses by computer-mediated communications (known as virtual classrooms).
By opening up additional communication channels, conferencing can increase access between instructors and students, and among students. Conferencing also has the potential to significantly increase the amount of writing by students, even in courses where writing is neither an essential nor even a minor component. Parenthetically, using conferencing helps satisfy two goals which colleges and universities typically attempt to foster among their students: familiarity with computers and increased written communication.
Students can become more familiar with their classmates and instructors.
Instructors can post assignments in the conference - using it as a bulletin board.
Unresolved class discussions can be continued in the course conference.
Students can communicate with each other and their instructor outside of class without having to coordinate their schedules. Electronic "office hours" are very efficient.
Unlike class discussions, a written record is maintained and available for later review by both students and instructors.
Students have time to think before they respond to what others have said.
Students can enter and edit their remarks without taking up each other's time.
Instructors and students can engage in many simultaneous discussions and private conversations without interference with each other.
Students can get rapid response to their ideas.
Students who might rarely or never speak in class are more likely to contribute in a conference.
Aggressive students are less likely to dominate discussions as they might during class.
It is important to recognize that communicating via computer and conferencing are probably new experiences to many, if not most, students. Therefore, an introduction in class to the general principles of both is important prior to any workshops or other hands on experience. Equally important is that students understand why conferencing is being included in the course. Indicate how much you expect them to participate. Also, clarify for students the use of private messages.
While this information also may be presented and discussed in the conference itself, creating a context for conferencing can go a long way toward allaying anxieties that accompany this experience. As conferencing becomes more common, such introductions will probably cease to be as necessary.
Here are some specific ways of using a course conference:
Follow up unfinished or unresolved class discussions by continuing them in the conference.
Enter items to discuss major issues and concepts in the course. These need not be in place when the course begins but may be added as the course progresses. The more provocative and challenging the better.
Use the conference to receive feedback on lectures and assignments.
Make specific assignments in the conference during the course. Post assignments you are contemplating and ask students for input before assignments are finalized.
Use the conference to post exam keys and answers and to discuss exams. Considerable time and energy is saved when everyone in the course can partake in these discussions -especially students who may be absent when the exam is discussed.
Consider inviting "outside experts" to your conference to enrich the course. They could be other faculty and staff or off - campus experts. Note that special arrangements would have to be made for the latter - they can be given special Caucus accounts (i.e captive accounts).
Consider a simulation. Set up a situation in which class members take certain roles. This can be a major use of conferencing. For example, business courses might simulate communications between managers and employees. A course could have an additional conference established for the students for this purpose.
Written work could be entered in a conference and "critiqued" by other class members. Text can be entered and revised by others, and the class would have a record of successive revisions.
Divide the class and have an extended "debate" on an issue. The conferencing medium gives the debaters more time to consider their responses and perhaps consult resources.
Conduct polls on specific issues.
Here are some further issues to consider when using course conferences:
As noted earlier, conferences may be set up so that only the organizer can enter items. It is strongly suggested that this be done at the beginning of the term. This restriction can be relaxed once students have more experience with the course and with conferencing.
Consider whether conferencing should be a required or voluntary activity. Especially if required, consider further the degree of access that students will have to the timesharing system (i.e. computer terminals or microcomputers with communications capability). For example, commuting students, especially those on campus only in the evening, would have less time to conference than on-campus residents.
Use the conference for small group projects. It is possible to establish additional closed conferences for this purpose. The instructors can be a consultant to several group projects efficiently if s/he is a member of each project's conference.
Consider storing text material you plan to use frequently in computer files. This material can then be imported into the conference as needed. For example, a newspaper article which might be the stimulus for a discussion could be typed into a file in your area. The article is then available for the class whenever you desire, e.g., by making it an item. Having several files available gives you an on-line course-pack. Computer files could even be shared among colleagues.
Students should have introductory hardcopy material about conferencing.
Workshops can be set up and made available at the beginning of each term to teach new students and faculty how to use Caucus computer conferencing - an instructor who plans on using conferencing extensively may want to arrange to have a workshop for the first scheduled class meeting.
Ask students who are familiar with conferencing to act as tutors to others.
Perhaps the most general statement about moderating a course conference is: treat it as you would the class itself. That is, guide but do not dominate. Do not think that you have to answer every question that arises. Give students a chance to "talk", or they will just read. Enter items gradually so as not to overwhelm students.
Finally, students will only use conferencing if there is a reason for doing so. While you can make conferencing mandatory, that could engender some resistance. Instead, suggest guidelines, such as checking in on the conference at least three or four times per week. Voluntary conferencing can be successful if:
- important information exists on the conference
- conference discussions are truly interesting
- there are some purely entertaining or social items as well as "serious" topics
- conferencing is undertaken in a relaxed atmosphere
- students feel free to ask for help with the system
An important advantage of course conferencing is the capacity to effectively evaluate students' contributions to discussions. This can be done either by scrolling through the items on your terminal or computer screen, or by printing the conference (see print commands).
The way to evaluate contributions depends on your course objectives and expectations for conference participation. Here are some typical conferencing standards:
Have Students Accessed the Conference and Its Items?
At the very least, students might be expected to read the material in the conference. Caucus permits checking on the items and responses that students have displayed (see SHOW PERSON and SHOW LIST commands, Special Instances and What has a Participant Seen?). If this is done once per week, a record could be kept and referred to at the end of the term.
A second level requires that students join the conference and contribute to some or all of the items. This could be checked by examining the conference transcript. By using the information tagged to each response one could determine whether these contributions occurred during a specific time interval, say once per week.
Beyond the Minimum
Levels of contribution beyond these minima can be gauged only by closer examination of the conference transcript. One criterion is response length. Although as with any other contribution this may not be the best measure, it can be used as a rough index of student participation. One suggestion is to use three levels, something like terse, average, and extensive. A one-line response may indicate the student's participation but not much else. Two or three sentences is usually enough to justify more extensive interaction, while a ten-line response may signify extensive participation.
How incisive and meaningful students' contributions to discussions are can be only determined by carefully examining an entire course transcript. How one does this depends, again, on one's course objectives. As with any grading scheme the metric can range from global to fine-grain, from acceptable vs. unacceptable to a specific letter grade (complete with + and -). The advantage of having the complete conference transcript over attempting to do this with in-class participation should be obvious. Instructors who repeat courses have the additional advantage of making between-term comparisons.
Here are some additional suggestions that others have found useful:
The default setting to signify the end of text input is typing a dot (period) at the start a a new line. Each user, however, can set their own end-of-text indicator (see SET EOT command).
The Caucus line editor is automatically invoked when new users edit their responses or messages. While this editor is simple to use, find out what editors are available to you (see SET EDITOR).
Foreign Language Conferencing
It is possible to conduct conferences in languages other than English by adopting text conventions. The creative use of punctuation marks and symbols can substitute for many accents. The greeting or first conference item should be used to establish the conventions.
New Caucus Dictionaries
Caucus is a developing and very flexible conferencing system. One feature is the capacity to modify the way certain prompts are shown (e.g., the AND NOW? prompt could be changed to WHAT NEXT?). Another is to write completely new commands (e.g., a command to exit Caucus, run another program and return certain information to the conference). For further information, see the separate manual Customizing the Caucus User Interface.
Indexing With Creative Item Titles
Items can be selected in database fashion with the judicious use of item titles. Suppose there are several working groups producing several versions of documents in one conference. If each group's document was entered as a separate item that carried the group (e.g.,G1) and version number (e.g.,V1) the command SHOW ITEMS TITLE G1 could be used to show all documents for group 1. Similarly, the command SHOW ITEMS TITLE V1 would display all version 1 documents for all groups. Other standard information contained in item titles would be similarly searchable (see SHOW ITEM TITLE command, (Other Ways to SHOW ITEMS )).
Each conference maintains a userlist which controls who has membership privileges. This list resides in a file that can be edited. The command CUSTOMIZE accesses that file and the text editor.
Completely Open Conferences
A completely open conference should have a colon (:) followed by the word "include" as the first line in the file and no other text. The second line should contain an asterisk (*). Therefore, the file would look like this:
To specify a list of permitted participants, the asterisk should be replaced by their captive login IDs. The following userlist specifies three faculty members and a student (fox) with a captive Caucus account. Be sure to notice that captive accounts always end with an underscore (i.e., a_)
Use of "Wild Cards"
To specify a group of participants with a common account name, such as a set of course accounts, enter the common element, then an asterisk which is called a "wild card". The following userlist would permit a faculty member and all students in his chemistry class. Student accounts would all begin with the course prefix, then their student number (e.g., chm610566475). The common element is chm610.
Excluding or Limiting Participants
Participants are excluded by listing their account names following a line which reads ":exclude." In addition, participants can be limited to only being able to read (not contribute to) material by listing their account names following a line which reads ":readonly". The following userlist would permit all faculty members in a department to participate, give an invited guest (gendin) permission to read the discussions, and exclude one department member (orloff) from accessing the conference at all.
The conference introduction resides in a text file which you can edit. The command CUSTOMIZE INTRO entered at the AND NOW? prompt automatically opens that file and the text editor. Text already exists in the file when a conference is created. Show or view this text, then modify it to suit your needs using the text editor (see also CUSTOMIZE). An example:
Welcome to the Music conference. Its purpose is to discuss all facets of the musical scene, both classical and contemporary. We welcome membership and participants.
Customize Greeting Command
The greeting is also in a file. The command CUSTOMIZE GREETING at the AND NOW? prompt automatically opens the file and the text editor. As with the introduction, text already exists upon the conference's creation. Modify it as you see fit (see also CUSTOMIZE). An example:
Note that the items in Music are in subject categories. To see these categories and the items under each, give the command show categories. See item 26 for a discussion of the next assignment.
Customize Add Command
The CUSTOMIZE ADD command instructs Caucus to permit or deny conference participants the right to add their own items. After giving the command, a prompt will inquire whether you wish to change the current setting. The default is to permit adding items (see also CUSTOMIZE).
Customize Change Command
Caucus gives the organizer the option of not permitting participants to alter, replace, or delete the text of items and responses they have entered. The default setting permits such changes. To restrict this utility, give the CUSTOMIZE CHANGE command and follow the prompts (see also CUSTOMIZE).
Customize Organizer Command
Caucus permits only one organizer at a time. To change organizers, give the command CUSTOMIZE ORGANIZER at the AND NOW? prompt. Please make certain that subsequent organizers are familiar with these organizing guidelines and responsibilities. It is also important that organizers of open conferences notify the Conferencing System Coordinator of any changes in that status (see also CUSTOMIZE).
Add Subject Command
The command ADD (or just ADD SUBJECT) at the AND NOW? prompt will prompt you to create a new subject category. A one-line command to accomplish the same end (e.g., to add a new subject about microcomputers) would be ADD SUBJECT "MICROS". Note, this command creates the category but does not specify the items it will contain (see SUBJECT command, chapter 7).
Change Subject Command
The command CHANGE OSUBJECT (or CHANGE SUBJECT) at the AND NOW? prompt is used to add or delete items from subjects. Just follow the prompts. A quicker way is to give a one-line command that indicates the subject and items to add or delete. An example of a one-line command that would place items 1 to 4 and 6 to 10 under the subject "micros" is CHANGE SUBJECT 'MICROS" + ITEMS 1-10 - ITEM 5.
Discovering the Items Under a Subject
The command SHOW SUBJECTS will list the subject categories and the numbers of the items in each category. The command LIST ITEMS SUBJECT MICROS would display a list of the items contained under that subject category.
Deleting a Subject
The command DELETE SUBJECT will result in the elimination of that subject category (e.g., DELETE SUBJECT MICROS).
Personal Subject Categories
Note that participants can establish their own subject categories by using the commands above, replacing the word "subject" with "psubject" (for personal subject).
The command SHOW ALL PRINT at the AND NOW? prompt will cause the entire conference to be printed. Appropriate commands print selected parts of the conferences. E.g., SHOW 1 PRINT would print only item 1 while SHOW NEW PRINT would print out all new conference activity (see PRINT command, Command Modifiers ).
Saving the Conference in a Computer File
The entire conference or selected parts can be stored in a computer file. Use the file transfer commands for this purpose (see also section . For example, to save the entire conference to a file called "course.txt", give the command SHOW ALL>COURSE.TXT at the AND NOW prompt. Once again, modification of this command would save selected parts of the conference. E.g., SHOW NEW>NEW.TXT would save all new conferencing activity in a file called "new.txt." It also is possible to add new material to a file that already exists. New conference material to a file called "oldfile" that already exists would be given with the command SHOW NEW>OLDFILE.TXT (see file transfer commands, Command Modifiers).
Show Person Command
While it is impossible to know if somebody has actually read conference material, the SHOW PERSON command can be used to reveal information about what that individual has displayed. For example, the command SHOW PERSON SMITH ITEMS ALL will list all conference items, the total number of responses to each item, and the number of responses that person "smith" has shown. Suitable modifications of this command can restrict the list to specific items (see SHOW PERSONS and Special Instances).
Show Items Persons Command
The SHOW ITEMS PERSONS command complements the above SHOW PERSON command. It can be used to find out which people have displayed specific items. For example, the command SHOW ITEMS 1,2 PERSONS ALL will list everyone who has displayed items 1 and 2, the total number of responses to each item, and the number of responses that each person who has shown the item has seen. Again, modifications to this command can restrict the items and/or persons reviewed (see SHOW PERSONS).
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