This doesn't set out to be a comprehensive introduction to MOOing, rather to highlight a few places where you can discover more about what a MOO is and what can be done there. For a few musings about how and why a MOO might be of interest to a writer see MOO writing, itself an object in a MOO — the Lingua MOO object #20852 — which was created by MazThing my alter-ego there.
Alfred Spork's Moo Guide is pretty comprehensive; it starts with a clear explanation of the basics for beginners and goes on to offer a wide range of useful advice for more advanced MOOers.
MOO to you by Jane Tandy is a useful, clear and relatively short introduction to the basics of MOOing, concentrating on the enCore Xpress environment used at Lingua MOO and other MOOs which you can access through your web browser rather than using telnet or a MUD client.
Yib's Guide to MOOing by Elizabeth Hess is available online or in print. It is a large document with a number of sections that are particularly relevant to LambdaMOO and covers everything from getting started and creating your environment to the arcane history of player classes at Lambda. If you want a reference work to dip into, or a slower-paced, thoughtful explanation of what MOOing entails and what lies behind it then this promises to be one to read if you have the time.
A beginners' quick reference list of help topics and commands at LambdaMOO may also be of use in other MOOs as well.
The best way to find out about MOOing is to try it. Many MOOs let you log on as a guest to have a look around. MOOing can sometimes be a frustrating or dispiriting experience, so if you don't like visiting new places alone it may be more fun to arrange to meet a friend there to explore together - particularly if you can enlist the help of someone who's MOOed before.
http://lingua.utdallas.edu:7000 (web browser interface)
Or consult Rachael Rein's accurately described Super MOO list for
details of more MOOs than you could practically visit in a lifetime of wet weekends. It has a fair smattering of broken links now but is still a really good starting place for tracking down a wide range of different MOOs.
Yib's Guide contains some good suggestions of interesting places at LambdaMOO and here's a map of parts of LambdaMOO for those with time to kill while it loads.
The Boulevard des Desseins at LinguaMOO is connected to various other collaborative spaces and currently active writers' haunts including The House of Words project, organised by cahoots and Everdeen, and to the Lost Property Office.
The moolipo at project achieve is a curious place to explore, embodying Oulipo style wordplay as players speak.
A few more ideas and recommendations will feature here in due course and once you've requested and received your character in a MOO you can start to build your own places and objects.
MOO Programming Guides
To begin programming in a MOO you need your own character and to have obtained something called a 'programmer bit'. You also need a fair amount of time as the interfaces for developing are generally very basic. There are a number of step-by-step tutorials around and you don't have to be an experienced object-oriented programmer to create interesting additions to your MOOing environment. You mainly need patience, persistence and time.
The programming chapter in Yib's Guide provides a lot of background and a tutorial with a worked example of creating in this way. Further tutorials and programming reference material can be found among:
The University of Bergen's link collection
The Farrer Centre's resource list
The LambdaMOO Programmers Manual
Here's the obligatory mention of the refound
Lost Library of MOO, just so you know that you're really looking at a page of moo links.
You won't find a link here to Julian Dibbell's My Tiny Life. Not because it's uninteresting but simply because it's been referenced so many times, thus providing a global over-supply of attention to something which was, after all, only a single event. Instead, why not try out The Incredible Tale of LambdaMOO by Pavel Curtis for an account of that MOO's history.
There are many MOOmail lists for picking up and sharing information about MOOing, but active MOOers may sometimes find things of interest on the Yahoo! Groups Moolist which you can either sign up to as an email list or read and post to at the archive online.
If you want an accessible but serious and wide-ranging consideration of life online generally then try John Suler's Psychology of Cyberspace. And remember, unlike life offline, if you don't like MOOing you can always @quit.