Contents Basics Confusions Advanced Appendix A: Getting a ClientAppendix B: GlossaryAppendix C: Index

ifMUD For Beginners: Some Common Confusions

This page is intended to be a catch-all of miscellaneous queries, explanations of stuff that tends to confuse the newbies, and general points about handling yourself onMUD.

Who is this Alex person and why does he answer every question?

Alex is a 'bot', a program written (by inky) to talk in a MUD client. He's based on Alex Pepperberg, a parrot who was taught an unusually large vocabulary. Our Alex has an even more enormous vocabulary, and if he thinks you're asking what something is, he'll share his wisdom with you. Whether you like it or not. If you're confused about what something is, you might find it out by whispering a question to Alex:
.Alex what are the birds and the bees?
Alex whispers, "Awwwk! Word on the street is that the birds and the bees are where little cork nuts come from."
Otherwise you'd be best ignoring him. There are other bots on the MUD, like Markov, Floyd and Auda, but Alex is the only one who'll poke his nose in where he's not wanted.

For other things that Alex can do, type .alex help.


The bots can be fun to play with. However, they make a lot of noise if you talk to them in the lounge. If you're going to talk to a bot, and there's no reason for anyone but you to see, use whispers or the appropriate channel (such as #Alex or #markov). This particularly applies if you're going to talk for more than a line or two.

I'm in the Lounge. What are these sentences I keep seeing pop up for no apparent reason, like 'maga's s query: leave this place and shoot other hostile sentients (goal: adventure?)' or 'Storme is a bad cover version of love, and not the real thing.'?

What are these 'olounges' people keep talking about?

Generally, anything that looks like a pose but makes no sense in the current conversation is an olounge or an ohomemsg. These are special messages that appear when somebody leaves or arrives in a room - usually the lounge. People usually set them to silly quotes or jokes; you can change yours with

@field me = olounge : enters the lounge in a wacky way.
@field me = ohomemsg: goes home in a crazy fashion.
Note that your username will always appear in front of these messages, so there's no need to include it.

I've just seen something like this:

(from Storme) maga says, "I am such a girly-man!"
Who said that? How do I do things like that?

What is an @emit?

This is an @emit. What it means is that Storme wants the MUD to see this message:

maga says, "I am such a girly-man!"
Time was when you had to turn on a special option to see who @emits were from, enabling people to hilariously torment the newbies. Then somebody decided to spoil our fun by making the option default.

In practise @emits are almost only used for jokes - sometimes people will @emit themselves talking just to signal that it's not something they'd actually say.

Well, I'm in the lounge and a whole bunch of channels, but there's still not much conversation. This place is totally dead.

Like any online community, the MUD has patterns of activity over the day, week and year. In particular, because most MUDders live in North America, the times that the MUD is active are largely determined by when people are awake and at computers in that part of the world. Expect things to be subdued until 10-11 AM, EST. (There will still probably be a complement of Europeans, insomniacs and assorted Exotic Time Zone Dwellers until then, but things will be fairly low-key). Dropoff in activity at the weekend is less pronounced than elsewhere online, but it still happens. And if it's a national holiday in the USA you can expect things to be significantly quieter.

It's also possible that a bunch of people are off doing stuff elsewhere in the MUD - the most likely causes are a game in the Toyshop, or an RPG session in the 7th Sea. These can sometimes bleed off enough people from the Lounge to slow conversation down. In any case, if you have a burning topic of discussion that you think deserves attention, it's worth picking your time for it.

It's April 1 and nothing makes any sense at all.

Yeah, if you're joining the MUD for the first time you really, really shouldn't do it on April Fools Day. Come back tomorrow when the sanity has returned.


If people don't seem to be behaving very seriously, don't think they're singling you out for confusion or mockery. The MUD regulars are quite capable of switching seamlessly back and forth between serious discussion and monkey jokes. If you ask a question, expect three joke answers for every serious one.

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

In short, the Map is useless, but you are advised to keep consulting it, because it is the only one you will get.
— Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland
Short answer: no. The ifMUD is primarily for chatting, and 99% of the time everybody will be in the lounge. Exploring the MUD can be a surreal kind of fun, but it's absolutely not necessary.

However, a few rooms get used for other events. In particular, awards ceremonies such as the XYZZY Awards are held in the Massive Auditorium; various games are played in the Toyshop; IF spoilers can safely be discussed in the Spoiler Room; and some people have run role-playing games in the Seventh Sea and Miskatonic Reading Room. Unless something's been organised beforehand, however, expect them to be empty.

If a lounge conversation is really bothering people, they sometimes retreat to other rooms.

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. It's kind of nice, given that we're an IF community, to chat in an environment with an IF-like interface and structure. And it enables users to build on an ever-expanding list of features: personal rooms, quests, games, bots. You'll get the idea once you've been on the MUD a while.

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 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.

Is there anything else I should know about ifMUD culture?

Well, there is a charter 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. MUD regulars have built up friendships with, and respect for, each other over many years. 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.

It may also help to read Stephen Granade's IF and a MUD article, which covers a little community stuff and some history.

When am I no longer a newbie? How long is it likely to take?

DorianX says, "Don't mind us, we're just suspicious of newcomers and try to break their adventurous spirit to promote our pseudointelectual literary ideals and prop up our own ego. You may have heard of us; we're the Cabal."
Emily says (to DorianX), "misspelling pseudointellectual really sold that one"
Well, see the previous question; it's largely to do with how well you get on with people and how easily you adapt to the general tone of the MUD. ifMUD is made up of individuals; you don't get a seal of approval that requires everyone to recognise you as an Established Member. Being a newbie is as much about attitude as your Member Since timestamp.

I asked for help on the MUD, and now five people are all telling me things I need to do at once and my head is going to explode.

In my early days here, I felt sort of like an ape observing a small tribe of Jane Goodalls for the first time.
— vimes
They're just trying to help, bless 'em. This doesn't mean that you should try and do everything they're suggesting all at once. Some of us have been on the MUD so long that we have a hard time imagining how we could survive without [feature X], or how any of this could be difficult. Take it slow, and don't be afraid to tell people to ease up a little.

What should I do if I forget my password?

Okay, don't panic. Way back up at the beginning of this FAQ, there are instructions for how to log in as a guest character. Follow those to get onto the mud as a guest. Once there, you'll need to find a wizard - one of the MUD admins and moderators. To find out who the mud wizards are, type:

@users wizards
If any of those people are around and paying attention to the MUD, they can help you out. If none appear to be around right now, then one will probably be around later in the day - just come back and try again later.

Once you're comfortable with the commands covered in Basics, and you're not being freaked out by the stuff covered in Confusions, you can pick up some more useful MUD techniques from the advanced section of this FAQ.

Contents Basics Confusions Advanced Appendix A: Getting a ClientAppendix B: GlossaryAppendix C: Index

This FAQ was assembled by Storme Winfield (Storme) and Sam Kabo Ashwell (maga), with help from Jacqueline Lott (Jacqueline), with useful suggestions from various MUDders, notably Peter Berman (mcp). Based in part upon ifMUD Frequently Asked Questions 2.1.3, by Mark J. Musante (markm), with additions by Adam Cadre (Adam) and Admiral Jota (Jota).