4.0249 Userid Directories (1/75)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Thu, 5 Jul 90 16:09:19 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0249. Thursday, 5 Jul 1990.

Date: Thu, 05 Jul 90 13:07:28 EDT
From: Jan Eveleth <EVELETH@YALEVM>
Subject: Userid Directories

David Reimer recently asked about finding userids. Since I've done some
digging in this area myself, let me see if I can share something useful.
[Most of this information comes from the _Internet Resource Guide_ put
out by NSF Network Service Center (nnsc@nnsc.nsf.net).]

Electronic databases of user information are frequently referred to as
White Pages. Several organizations, including DDN, NYSERNet, and
CREN/CSNET, maintain white pages. Of most interest to BITNET users
would be the CREN/CSNET service. (CREN = Corporation for Research and
Educational Networking, formerly BITNET, Inc.) All users of the
Internet are eligible to register and use the service. To get
information about the service send mail to INFOSERVER@SH.CS.NET with the
following lines in the body of the message:

Request: info
Topic: ns

You will receive 2-3 files with instructions on how to use the service.
If you are interested in registering yourself on the service, duplicate
the following form with your information and send it in a mail message to
cic@sh.cs.net. (It will take a few working days for your entry to be
processed.) Example mail message form from CSNET:

Mock Turtle
mt,wonderland.oxbridge.edu, oxbridge
(617) 999-8765
Oxbridge University
Eastboro, MA 02199
soup Griffon

The "misc" category above should include one-word indications of the
topics you're interested in.

How to find someone that's registered in a white pages database? You can
query the database directly. The CREN/CSNET white pages can be reached
by telnetting to sh.cs.net, login as "ns". Once logged on you may use
the "whois" command (help is available) to locate a user/userid.
Similarly for using the NYSERNet White Pages Pilot Project (about 50
institutions currently participating) accessible at wp.psi.com, login as
fred. But an easier (though not always faster) method is to make your
query on the Knowbot Information Service.

Knowbot systematically poses the query to many white pages located around
the country--including CREN/CSNET. To access Knowbot, telnet to
nri.reston.va.us 185. (The 185 is a port number and is essential.) Once
connected, you are provided a rather stark screen with a prompt waiting
for your input. Simply type the name you're searching for, e.g. Mock
Turtle. The system searches for exact matches so if Mock Turtle
registered as M. Turtle, Knowbot won't find it. Usually best to use
just last names, but beware those that are common; you could easily end
up with over 100 Smiths. The disadvantage of Knowbot is that it will
systematically search through all of it's accessible white pages, even
if you found the user you were looking for at the beginning of the
search. The advantage of using Knowbot, is the simplicity of use and
"one-stop shopping".

As with any information service, it will only be useful if there's a
critical mass of users. I encourage you to register with CREN/CSNET and
try Knowbot. And, as with any publicly-accessible information, there
will be some people who don't want their phone numbers--or
userids--listed; so don't expect to find the email address of your
university president.

Jan Eveleth
Yale University