NCF Newsgroup Participation

July 2, 1996


My direct participation in the NCF community has now come to a close. It has been an interesting time and I have met many interesting people. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, my participation has become neither practical nor possible.

Two issues are coming to a head that will be forcing me to remove what participation I have had left. Either one would have forced me to stop participation within the NCF, but I wanted to mention both.

  1. The method that I am using to participate in NCF's newsgroups via FreePlan is being questioned, and there is a movement within the NCF to try to disable these methods. Phrases like 'stealing' are starting to get out of hand.

  2. I previously launched a protest of the renewal process to try to draw attention to the fact that only revenues and not expenses are being visited by the board. As I believe that the expenses that the NCF needs to pay are higher than they need to be, I have refused to be part of the problem by being part of the expense for a service I clearly do not need. I run my own ISP and thus the only services that I need of the NCF are content services that the NCF has needlessly restricted.

As of some time last week my account will been archived (And a patch made to disallow achived accounts from posting). This essentially makes it impossible for me to participate in any of the NCF newsgroups (Those starting with 'ncf.' as the first part of the group name). I will still obviously remain an active part of the Ottawa Online community, and those who are interested in being involved with this larger community are invited to participate in the less restricted regional and provider hierarchies such as ott.*,flora.*,ont.*,qc.*,can.* and so on. I can always be found in the Ottawa Online group ('go online' on the NCF, or in the ott.online newsgroup)


Details

The following is a more detailed explanation of what has been happening for those that are interested.

In order to participate in NCF newsgroups I have been making use of FreePlan in what seems to be considered an unusual way. FreePlan is set up to allow people with a number of different PC's to be able to download news articles to their local hard disk (For off-line reading), or to read the groups live on the NCF (Which costs the NCF more processing and disk space resources). In order to save the NCF some resources, as well as to enable me to to use tools such as TRN which are not set up to access multiple news servers, I set up my own NEWS server to be able to act as an offline news reader. This would allow me to read NCF newsgroups interchangeably with non-NCF newsgroups.

Rather than using my own account to do this download, I made use of the GUEST account. Since I was not posting messages using GUEST, only downloading messages to read off-line from the NCF, an account ID was not required. This essentially allowed me to not only be reading news off-line, but to be reading news as a GUEST user. In a further attempt to help the NCF save on system resources I offered this GUEST access to other people through the FLORA News gateway.

In order to post messages I run a program which looks on the FLORA news spool for messages from myself that are in an ncf.* group and posts them using my aa302@freenet.carleton.ca account. This would be a message that the NCF would otherwise not have received as ncf.* newsgroup messages can not be posted from any source other than the NCF host computers. (Aside: Due to the protest of the Renewal process and the archiving of my account, this procedure is now disabled)

All in all this seemed like a solution that not only allowed me to participate as easily in NCF newsgroups as with other newsgroups, it saved computing resources for the NCF, and it helped promote the use of NCF by advertising the existence and interesting content of the NCF newsgroups via an easy WEB based guest access.

In what might seem to many to be extremely confusing, many Board members and active NCF volunteers have not only not been appreciative of this work, but have made some pretty harsh evaluations. Accusations have been made of myself and other people using similar methods to participate in the NCF that we are 'stealing' copy-written content owned by the NCF, that we are trying to destroy the NCF and other such things. Not only have I never seen a document that validates NCF's claim to ownership of it's users public postings, I suspect that any lawyer would advise the NCF against such a dangerous move that would greatly increase it's liability.

I have also been accused of making use of my 'unequal' knowledge of technology to grant myself special privileges that others would not have. It has been sad to see how drastic of a misinterpretation can be made in relation to these questions. As one of the founding volunteers of the NCF I very much believe in equal access to all citizens to information technology, regardless of their financial situation or knowledge of technology. Not only am I not granting myself special privileges, I have consistently been making use of my knowledge of technology to make access to information easier for more people. The very use of technology that I am being accused of using to give *ME* easier access is actually being used by many other people to gain easier access. The primary example is the WEB based news tool which gives NCF GUEST access to newsgroups for the wide variety of people who do not have news readers that are able to make use of FreePlan directly.

A roomer is floating around that at the June board meeting a motion was discussed that would have the effect of disabling GUEST access to NCF newsgroups in order to stop us volunteers that are seen as subverting the policies of the NCF board. I will modify this notice once the minutes of that meeting are available to the public.


  • Personal NCF information page
  • Position papers and other documents
    Last Modified: July 2, 1997 by Russell