- Log into the administration account
See the logging in instructions.
- create the conference.
There is a link labelled "Make a New Conference" on the administration page.
Click on this.
You will be shown a form with two boxes. The first box asks for the name
of the conference. This should be one word, all lower case letters and
digits. We recommend using a name followed by a version number,
like ``martian1'' for the first version of the Martian Conference,
but this isn't necessary.
The second box asks for the full path of the Unix directory where the
conference is to be stored. It should default to a sensible value, and in
most cases you should just leave that unchanged.
Only if you are trying to balance space between different disk partitions,
or something like that, should you use a different path here.
After you click on "Create It", the conference will be created.
Initially it is set up as an open conference
with the conference adminstrators as the only fairwitnesses.
- edit the conference configuration
After creating the conference, you will automatically be set to the
conference editing page.
This allows you to change the fairwitnesses, the conference access mode,
and the conference title.
Conferences are created with the conference administration account listed
as a fairwitness. Since conference adminstrators are fairwitnesses of all
conference whether they are actually listed or not, this is morally equivalent
to having no fairwitness.
If you want to assign some user the job of administering that particular
conference, put that user's login name in the fairwitness list box.
If you would like to grant fairwitness powers to more than one user, list
all their login names, separated by commas (but not spaces).
The conference mode determines which people can join the conference.
Open conferences can be read and posted to by any users.
Only selected users can post to a fishbowl conference, but all users can
still read it.
In closed conferences, both the ability to post and to read are restricted.
For closed conferences and fishbowl conferences, access can be restricted
either by requiring people to be on a list maintained by the fairwitness,
or by requiring them to give a conference password set by the fairwitness,
Note that the fairwitnesses don't have to be on the user list, and never
have to give the password to join.
The conference title is the name of the conference as it should be displayed
once people have joined the conference. It should normally be capitalized,
and should be quite short - usually one word, sometimes two or three.
If no conference title is defined, then whatever name the user used to join
the conference will be displayed.
When you are done, click the "Return to adminstration page" link to return
to the main administrative menu.
- edit the conference aliases
Pick "Edit the Conference Aliases" from the menu on the admin page.
This lets you edit the table containing all the conference aliases,
that is all the names by which conference can be accessed.
For example, if the user types a conference name into "Goto" text box in the
Pistachio interface, the name typed will be matched against aliases in this
file to find which conference to go to.
Each line of the table includes two pieces of information, and alias and
a directory name. The directory name is just the place where the conference
is be stored. The alias is a possible name by which the conference can be
The conference you created will already have one alias created for it, so
if you just created version one of the martian conference, there
should be a line in the table that looks something like this
(the directory name, of course, will differ):
This says if the user types "martian1", he will get into the conference.
(It will also work if he types "Martian1" or "MARTIAN1" since Backtalk
ignores the case of conference names users enter.)
Probably you want to let the user type more things than that.
If you insert an underscore into the alias, like "mar_tian1" then abbreviations
will be allowed, so long as at least all the characters before the underscore
are entered. Thus, a user could type "mar", "mart", "marti",
"martia", "martian" or "martian1" to join the conference.
To make this kind of change, click the green Edit button next to the table
entry you want to change. You will be asked for new values for the alias
and directory. Insert the underscore into the alias, and click "Change Alias".
You may also want to add some additional aliases.
For example, you might also want to allow people to type "mars" to join the
You can do this with the "Add an Alias" form at the bottom of the screen.
Just type in the new alias and cut-paste down the directory name.
After you submit this, you will be asked were to insert the new entry into
After doing this, you table might include the lines:
The order of entries in this table only matters if you have two entries
matching the same input. For example, if we also had an alias "mar_supials"
for a different conference, and the user typed "mar" then the first
conference listed in the alias file would be the one he goes to.
Thus the "Move" buttons probably won't be used much, though it is helpful
to keep the file in some logical format, like in alphabetical order.
(If your conference list is extremely long, putting the most commonly used
conferences near the front of the list may improve preformance.)
Note that the "Delete" buttons on this page delete only the aliases, not
the conferences themselves.
When you are done adding aliases,
the "Return to adminstration page" link at the bottom of the page will return
to the main administrative menu.
- edit the conference menu
When a user asks for a list of conferences, a menu of conferences is
Normally you'll also want to add your new conference to this
(though you don't have to - if you want to hide a conference a bit, you
can leave it unlisted so people have to join it by typing the name or putting
it in their hotlists.)
To edit the conference menu, click "Edit the conference menu" on the front
It will display the conference list, with whatever subheadings might be
in it, in a table, with forms to add conferences and subheading below.
Use the "Add a Conference" form to add an entry for your new conference.
The "conference name" should be some valid alias for the conference.
If you want to display a different name to the users, set that as the
Then supply a short description of the conference.
After you submit it, you will be asked where to insert it into the existing
The other functions on this page, to move, edit and delete lines from the
menu, and to add subheading to the table work in fairly obvious ways.
- Inform the fairwitnesses.
The conference is mostly ready to go.
However, only one of the fairwitnesses can enter the first item, so they
will need to get things started.
They should also do the rest of the configuration of the conference.
They can set up login screens and edit other settings through Backtalk.
If it is a closed conference, the fairwitnesses can maintain the user list
via Backtalk too.
If you want to do these things as conference administrator,
you can of course do so, since the conference administrator is a fairwitness
in every conference.
To create a new Backtalk conference, follow the following steps.
(The checkboxes below perform no function -
they are just for your convenience.)