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Retrieving Conference Information


Other Ways to SHOW ITEMS introduced the concept that a Caucus conference is like a library. In this analogy, the items are the books, the organizer is the librarian, and the AUTHOR, TITLE, and SUBJECT instances are the card catalog.

When a person adds an item to a conference, Caucus automatically updates the AUTHOR and TITLE lists. But it is up to the conference organizer and participants to file the item according to SUBJECT. This chapter explains that process.

When you need to retrieve information from a conference, the SUBJECT lists are the best place to start. Sometimes, however, they are not specific enough, and you need to search the conference to find one particular word or phrase. That is the purpose of the Caucus SEARCH command. The latter part of this Chapter explains how to use SEARCH.


Caucus tracks two kinds of subject categories: OSUBJECTS and PSUBJECTS. OSUBJECTS are created and maintained by the organizer of a conference. The initial O in OSUBJECTS stands for Organizer. OSUBJECTS are visible to and usable by everyone in the conference. (SUBJECTS, without an initial O or P, is a synonym for OSUBJECTS.)

PSUBJECTS are maintained by the individual participants of a conference. The initial P stands for PERSON or personal. Each person in a conference can create his or her own private set of PSUBJECTS which no one else can access. PSUBJECTS are identical in every other way to OSUBJECTS.

You can use PSUBJECTS to organize all or part of a conference according to your priorities. You might create PSUBJECTS called "To Do", "Interesting Items", or "Top Priority" to help track discussions particularly relevant to you.

Both OSUBJECTS and PSUBJECTS identify items in a specific conference. You can use them only within that conference. You can have two PSUBJECTS with the same name in different conferences, but they have nothing to do with each other.

The rest of this chapter describes how to manipulate your PSUBJECTS. Everything in it applies as well to organizers who wish to manipulate conference OSUBJECTS. Organizers should simply substitute OSUBJECT for PSUBJECT in the sections that follow.


Each PSUBJECT has a name. The name can contain many words, but the whole name must fit on one line. Some examples of PSUBJECT names are:

Microcomputers: IBM PC and Compatibles

Federal Tax Laws

Interesting Items

When you use a , you type the first few letters of one of the words of its name. For example, the command LIST ITEMS PSUBJECT "FED" would display the list of items filed under the PSUBJECT Federal Tax Laws.


You must set up a PSUBJECT before you can use it. At the "AND NOW?" prompt, type:


Caucus will prompt you to enter a one-line name for the new PSUBJECT. If you prefer, you may type the name of the new PSUBJECT on the command line by enclosing it in quotes, as follows:

ADD PSUBJECT "Micro's: Apple Macintosh"

In either case, Caucus creates a new PSUBJECT that contains no items.


Of course, an empty PSUBJECT is of very little use. That is why there is a CHANGE command: to change the list of items filed under a category. The general form of the command follows:

CHANGE PSUBJECT instance + instance


CHANGE PSUBJECT instance - instance

where the first instance identifies a particular PSUBJECT, and the second instance selects a set of items. The selected items are added to (+) or removed from (-) the named PSUBJECT.

If you just type CHANGE PSUBJECT, Caucus prompts you for the instances. Below are two examples of identical changes. In the first, Caucus prompts for each part. In the second, the complete command is typed.

AND NOW? change psubject

Change which subject? tax

Federal Tax Laws 1 3

Add which items? 5-6

Delete which items? <RETURN>

AND NOW? change psubject "tax" + items 5-6

The longer example shows that the "Federal Tax Laws" already contains items 1 and 3. The last two Caucus prompts let you add and remove items from the PSUBJECT.


PSUBJECTS are used primarily as a way of selecting a group of items by subject, as in the example LIST ITEMS PSUBJECT "FED". You may also want to see a list of the PSUBJECTS or the numbers of the items filed under a PSUBJECT. That is the purpose of LIST PSUBJECT and SHOW commands. More precisely,


displays the full names, one per line, of all of your PSUBJECTS that contain the word MICRO. Caucus ignores upper and lower case distinctions, so "MICRO" is the same as "Micro" or "micro". To get more information, type:


and Caucus displays the subject names and the list of item numbers filed under all the "MICRO" PSUBJECTS.

Note carefully the difference between:




The first example displays subject names and item numbers. The second example displays all of the items filed under your PSUBJECT "MICRO".

There is one special instance recognized by SHOW PSUBJECTS and LIST S. That is the word ALL. The command LIST PSUBJECTS ALL displays the names of all of your PSUBJECTS sorted alphabetically by the first word of each name.


Since PSUBJECTS can be added, they can also be deleted. You should DELETE a PSUBJECT when you no longer use or need it.

The DELETE command is most commonly used to rename a PSUBJECT, because you cannot directly rename a PSUBJECT. You can, however, make a copy of a PSUBJECT under a new name and then delete the old one. For example, the commands below rename PSUBJECT "Apple" to PSUBJECT "Orange":

ADD "Orange"


DELETE "Apple"


The analogy between a conference and a library strengthens as a conference grows. In a large conference, it is very important for the organizer to use OSUBJECTS to index items. This helps participants identify which specific discussions are relevant to their needs, so that they do not waste time reviewing irrelevant material.

For example, suppose a university has a large conference dedicated to discussing microcomputers. Within the conference you might see OSUBJECTS like:

Word Processors

Business Software

Compilers & Programming

IBM PC and Compatibles

Apple Macintosh

General Questions and Answers

Any one item can appear in several OSUBJECTS. An item discussing the ABC word processor for the IBM PC could appear under both the "Word Processors" and "IBM PC and Compatibles" headings.

PSUBJECTS, while identical in structure to OSUBJECTS, are often used by individuals as reminders. For example, you might create a PSUBJECT called "Interesting Items" to note particularly relevant discussions.


Occasionally you may need to search the entire text of a conference in order to find one particular word, or phrase, or response. That is the purpose of the Caucus SEARCH command. The general form of this command is:

SEARCH object range [FOR | ANYOF | EACHOF "text"] [SAIDBY "names"]

The object must be ITEMS, PERSONS, or RESPONSES. All terms in []'s are optional. If they are not supplied, Caucus will prompt for them (if appropriate). Words shown in quotes must be in quotes unless they are the last object on the command line. You may use the optional modifier "FULL", which causes SEARCH to display the full text of an item or response that matched the search criterion.

[FOR | ANYOF | EACHOF ] means choose one of FOR, ANYOF, or EACHOF.

FOR "text" means search for the words in "text". Caucus will prompt the user to see if they mean to search for all of the words, or any of them.

ANYOF "words" means search for any one of the words in text.

EACHOF "words" means search for all of the words in text. (An item, response, or person must contain all of the words in order to match.)

SAIDBY "names" selects who might have said the words the user is searching for. Caucus will search the text said by anyone whose name matches names. SAIDBY "*" means everyone. For example, the command:


searches the introductory text and all of the responses in Items 1 through 50 for the word "Elect" said by the person "Smith".

Each time Caucus finds the word, it displays the item and response number plus the three lines of text surrounding the word, unless you have used the modifier "FULL", in which case you will see the whole text. Caucus then prompts you with:

CONTINUE SEARCHING, or ? for options (yes)

Press <RETURN> or type YES to continue searching. Type NO to stop the search. Other options are NEXT SHOW or ALL. Type NEXT to skip to the next item. Type SHOW to display the entire response or text where the word was found. Type ALL to make Caucus continue searching without prompting after each match.

SEARCH PERSONS searches the introductory text that belongs to a person. Its general format is:


This command searches the introduction of all people whose name matches who. SEARCH PERSON "*" searches everyone who is a member of the current conference.

When SEARCH PERSON finds a match, it displays the name, phone number, and brief introduction of that person. If the BRIEF modifier was specified, only the name of the person is displayed.

What is a Match?

Caucus uses what's called an "initial substring match" to find words in items, responses, or introductions. This means that you type only the first few letters of the word that you are searching for. In the SEARCH FOR "ELECT" example above, Caucus might find the words "electronics", "election", and "elector" since all three words start with "Elect". It would not find "Select" or "President-Elect" as neither word begins with "ELECT". Caucus ignores upper and lower case distinctions, so it does not matter whether you type "Elect", "ELECT", or "elect".

Who Said It?

Searching for a word can be a tedious operation, especially if you are searching all of the items in a large conference. Caucus attempts to speed up this process by asking:

Who said the words you're looking for? (don't know)

If you know who entered the words you are searching for, type the person's name at this prompt. The first few letters of a name is usually enough for Caucus to figure out who you mean. Caucus then searches only the items and responses added by that person. If you do not know who entered the words, press <RETURN> and Caucus searches everyone's text.

If a search takes too long, you can interrupt it at any time by pressing the <CANCEL> key.


You can tell Caucus to search for more than one word at a time. For example, the command:

SEARCH RESPONSES NEW FOR Electronic Networking

searches the new responses for the word "Electronic" and the word "Networking". Whenever you ask Caucus to "SEARCH FOR" more than one word, you see the prompt:

Search for text with ALL of these words in it, or ANY of them? (all)

In this example, press <RETURN> or type ALL if you want Caucus to find only the responses that contain all (both) of these words. Type ANY if you want Caucus to find a match for any one of these words. In formal logic terms, ALL is an "and" search: find the response that contains "Electronic" and "Networking". ANY is an "or" search: find the response that contains either the word "Electronic" or the word "Networking".


Searching is made easier by the use of wildcards. The inclusion of a wildcard in text that you are searching for allows Caucus to find text with any other character or group of charcters in that position. For Caucus the wild card character is "*." For example:

SEARCH ITEMS ALL ANYOF "abc hi*lo *def"

searches all the items for any one of:

(a) the word "abc".

(b) the word "hi" followed anywhere on the same line by "lo".

(c) the string "def", anywhere in a line (does not need to start a word).

Only one "*" may be used per word, i.e. "abc*xyz*123" is not allowed.

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Last modified: March 1997