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1. Introduction 1.1) What this document is 1.2) Prerequisites 1.3) Internet Resources 2. Basic Definitions 2.1) What is a 'Freedom Knight'? 2.1.1) How does one become a Freedom Knight? 2.2) What is a USENET 'site of virtue'? 2.3) What is a USENET 'newsreader of virtue'? 2.4) What does "content-based" mean? 3. The Freedom Knight Code of Honor 4. Technical Issues for a Site Of Virtue 5. Policy Issues for a Site Of Virtue 6. Technical Issues for a Newsreader Of Virtue 7. Other Frequently Asked Questions ----------------------------- Subject: 1. Introduction 1.1) What this document is This is the USENET Site of Virtue FAQ. It represents an ongoing attempt to implement true freedom of speech among the emerging cyber-communities, including standards of conduct and technical implementation issues relavent to operating a site which supports true freedom of speech. A companion document is "A Primer on Net Abuse, Free Speech, and Usenet". It is suggested that you read that first, as it describes the philosophies behind a Site of Virtue. 1.2) Prerequisites If you don't know what Usenet is, you're reading the wrong document! Go look in the newsgroup news.answers for the documents "What is Usenet" and "How to become a USENET site". In order to understand the discussions here you should be familiar with USENET in general, and have a reasonable amount of experience posting and/or reading news. If these documents are not in news.answers or news.announce.newusers on your site, they can be had by anonymous ftp from rtfm.mit.edu in the directory /pub/usenet-by-hierarchy/news/announce/newusers. You should be familiar with news administration, how news works in general, and have kept up in some discussions on news.admin.*. Finally, you should believe that no expression, however annoying or counterproductive, should be prevented from being distributed. If you do not believe in this way, this document will only make you angry. (If that's what you want, then read it.) 1.3) Internet Resources There is a mailing list which most of the freedom knights subscribe to. The list address is "firstname.lastname@example.org", and subscriptions should go to "email@example.com". For those who do not know majordomo, put the word "help" in the BODY (not the HEADER) of a mail message and fire it off to "firstname.lastname@example.org". If that didn't clarify what you are supposed to do, and you want to subscribe, put the words "subscribe freedom-knights" in the body of a mail message to "email@example.com". There is also a WWW site, this is http://www.jetcafe.org/~dave/usenet and this is the Freedom Knights site on the net. ----------------------------- Subject: 2. Basic Definitions 2.1) What is a 'Freedom Knight'? A Freedom Knight is a person who: -Conducts themselves in a manner consistent with the Freedom Knight Code of Honor -Works in an honorable fashion to ensure the persistance, defense, and existance of Sites of Virtue These standards are completely voluntary standards, in other words there will be people who claim to but do not adhere to all of these standards. Such non-adherence is not a bad or good thing, nor is there any punishment or reward associated with adherence or non-adherence. Rather, these standards are put here merely to point the way to how a Freedom Knight "should" act, to be worthy of the name. It is said that you will know a person by their actions. More directly, if someone finds someone who claims to be a Freedom Knight, and they do not observe these standards, chances are that they aren't *really* a Freedom Knight. Keep in mind, this is no reason to judge a Freedom Knight's actions. A Freedom Knight is responsible to no one other than themselves. Russ Allbery <firstname.lastname@example.org> sums up the credo of the Freedom Knight with regards to this issue. He was asked "Why won't you be decent?". Here is his response: >Because I have no desire to become so, for becoming "decent" requires >that I accept a standard of society, that I order my beliefs and >reactions in order to fit someone's standard of acceptable and >unacceptable. That I cannot do, for my individuality is the gift of >my Creator and is not something that I will give up lightly, easily, >or for the sake of social acceptance. *I* *am* *myself*, and I will >not change for you, ... or for the people who claim they are >disappointed in me because I do not meet their internal models of what >I should be like. 2.1.1) How does one become a Freedom Knight? Contrary to what many would like to hear, there is no established body of judges who proclaim a USENET citizen a Freedom Knight. This is a completely voluntary and self-policing position, requiring no one but oneself to proclaim knighthood. Becoming a Freedom Knight is as simple as adopting the Freedom Knight Code of Honor, then sending a simple message to the Freedom Knights mailing list (see section 1.3) proclaiming yourself as a Freedom Knight. Subscribing to the list is recommended, but not required. Remember, it is your actions which show you to be a Freedom Knight, not your proclamations. 2.2) What is a USENET 'Site of Virtue'? This is a site run by a Freedom Knight which meets specific technical requirements, as specified below. 2.3) What is a USENET 'Newsreader of Virtue'? This is newsreader (usually found on sites run by a Freedom Knight) which meets specific technical requirements, as specified below. 2.4) What does "content-based" mean? "Content" is defined to be the Body of an electronic message, and/or the Subject: line of an electronic message. You are considered to be making content-based decisions if you have to read and parse Content to make your determination. Examples of content-based: -Inappropriate posting (you have to read the message) -Identical messages over several newsgroups (only if you read the messages) Examples of NOT content-based: -Running the Body through a program to determine size -Making a cryptographic checksum from the Body ----------------------------- Subject: 3. The Freedom Knight Code of Honor (1) A Freedom Knight will never enforce the application of -any- content-based standards on any other net.citizen, unless that conduct directly and immediately renders their server's transport software incapable of performing its normal store and forward operation. In particular, with regard to USENET this means: a) A Freedom Knight -never- issues cancel messages, except for his or her own postings. b) A Freedom Knight never removes a newsgroup from their news server unless that newsgroup directly results in breaking one or more software systems used to distribute or read news. An example of this is long newsgroup names that break newsreaders. c) A Freedom Knight will refrain from feeding another site newsgroups that it does not want. d) A Freedom Knight will never disable any user they have authorized to read or post news from their site for content-based reasons. e) The only time a Freedom Knight may punish or suspend a user's access is if that user directly attempted to shut down the news server's normal "store and forward" operation. Mailbombs from the net as a result of postings do not count as direct attempts. f) A Freedom Knight will never take action against a user due to complaints regarding the content of the body of any of their user's posts. (2) A Freedom Knight will always operate in such a way as to provide maximal unmoderated content on their news server. Any news site that a Freedom Knight operates is run as a Site Of Virtue, if the ownership of the site is willing. In particular, with regard to USENET this means: a) A Freedom Knight carries all unmoderated groups that they can get a feed for, regardless of content or origin, unless those groups serve no other purpose than to directly limit freedom of expression (e.g. alt.cancel, control, alt.nocem.*). b) A Freedom Knight actively solicites multiple feeds, technical considerations permitting. c) A Freedom Knight will feed any other site, technical considerations permitting. d) A Freedom Knight honors all newgroups and ignores all rmgroups, regardless of origin. The exception to this is if a newgroup message contains special characters that will damage the active file or most newsreader's .newsrcs. e) A Freedom Knight does not honor ANY cancel messages in any way shape or form. This includes Supersedes: or any other attempt to delete postings from the news server. The only way a Freedom Knight may honor cancel postings is if they are strongly authenticated to be from the originator of the postings. 3) A Freedom Knight, realizing the need for personal responsibility, will: a) take each and every step necessary to ensure the security and reliability of their own site, b) read news with a newsreader of virtue, c) have "mail shields", d) control their own posting habits by their own internal code of conduct, without calling undue attention to such control. ----------------------------- Subject: 4. Technical Issues for a Site Of Virtue In order to be a Site of Virtue, you need to be able to handle large amounts of traffic, and be relatively immune to minor abuses of net posters. The technical criteria for a Site of Virtue are: 1) Maintain free newsspool space that is no less than 3 times the nominal 24 hour news traffic. 2) Internet connection must be of T1 speed (1.5 MB/sec) or greater. 3) The operating system must be a virtual-memory, multitasking system capable of handling large (>100) amounts of network connections at the same time. 4) The server must have a resident copy of the source code to the news server software you are using, and be able to build and modify the software. Other notes: If you are looking to set up a reasonably fast server, emphasis on a wide I/O channel is a must. On the newsserver side, I recommend INN, modified with Dave's Cancel Patches so that cancels can be safely ignored. NNTPLINK feeds are preferred as they are faster. In order to be accessible to the rest of the Usenet community, you should make sure that as news administrator you are accessible to e-mail, as email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. For that reason, Your "mail shields" should be installed on both these addresses. As site administrator you should probably read news.admin.*. Reading these groups will keep you informed about the myriad of standards people categorize as "net-abuses", and help you understand what is wrong with the several emerging consensus opinions about net-abuse for yourself. ----------------------------- Subject: Policy Issues for a Site Of Virtue The policy issues for a Site Of Virtue are: 1) Honor all newgroups that do not break newsreading software, regardless of origin. 2) No unauthenticated cancel messages are honored, and optionally not propagated. Only cancel messages authenticated to be from the author of a message are honored. 3) All newsgroups, save those which would be inappropriate due to regional or national boundaries, are carried. Sites Of Virtue should feed each other, as appropriate. ----------------------------- Subject: 6. Technical Issues for a Newsreader Of Virtue In order to be a Newsreader of Virtue, a newsreader needs to be able to find interesting threads in a large amount of traffic/noise. The technical criteria for a newsreader of virtue are: 1) The newsreader must allow the user to specify patterns matching subjects or authors which the reader will then refrain from displaying to the user. 2) The newsreader must present articles by subject/author on a menu to be selected by the user's for reading. 3) Articles presented on a menu must either be consolodated by Subject line, or threaded by References line. On the reader side, we currently recommend NN or (S)TRN. Gnus 5 has also been recommended by some, this author hasn't looked at it yet. ----------------------------- Subject: 7. Other Frequently Asked Questions - I need a written policy for a site of virtue. What policy should I use? For external browsers of your policy, add this: "If you find a posting from this site offensive, inappropriate, or disruptive please ignore it. If you don't know how to ignore a posting, complain to us and we will demonstrate." For internal users of your site, add this: "USENET is interacted with at the reader's own risk. The postings found here are usually locatable at sites all over the world. We take no responsibility for the validity or appropriateness of articles posted or read on this newsserver. Postings are the sole responsibility of the poster." - How long should the articles' expiration times be? On most sites, disk space will limit the expiration times, and you will have to spend some time fine-tuning them on a per hierarchy or group basis. It's often best if the "large file" groups -- those carrying binaries for example -- expire more quickly than others. Lastly, its best if a low-volume group has its expiration time set long enough that the Frequently Asked Questions list (FAQ) and any other periodic postings in the group are always there. Well-managed FAQs are supposed to come with their own expiration times, and you should configure your site to honor these. - What are "mail shields"? There are two types of mail shields: 1) Absorptive - These take bogus mail and delete it. 2) Reflective - These take bogus mail and send it back somewhere along with an optional message. There are also two types of triggers on mail shields: 1) Threshold - These keep track of author and subject and when more than N messages are recieved with the same author or subject, the shields go up. Usually N is up at 1000 or so. 2) Disk Space - These keep track of available disk space, and when that gets too low it triggers the shield. These triggers are most used with "reflective" shields, as there are other reasons than flamage to lose one's mail capability. In general, Reflective Disk Space shields are the best choice as they are the most multi-purpose. It is often good to have something similar to "procmail", by which you can filter out annoyances from your mailbox. Also. the MH mail system coupled with SED, AWK, or PERL provides excellent filtering capabilities. Again, Gnus 5 has been recommended. ----------------------------- Subject: Revision History $Log: virtue-faq.1,v $ Revision 1.6 1996/04/16 08:11:57 dave Minor spelling problems Revision 1.5 1996/03/10 09:26:24 dave Changed Russ Allbery's email address by request. Revision 1.4 1996/03/04 00:04:25 dave Added 2.1.1 about how to become a Knight Revision 1.3 1996/02/28 20:52:33 dave Added Russ Allbery's very nice expression of self responsibility. Revision 1.2 1996/02/19 08:05:52 dave Tightened up some of the definitions and codes, added Gnus 5 as a possible newsreader, and clarified a paragraph pertaining to moral superiority. <grin> Revision 22.214.171.124 1996/02/19 07:52:13 dave Initial Import -- Dave Hayes - Altadena CA, USA - email@example.com Freedom Knight of Usenet - http://www.jetcafe.org/~dave/usenet A man was drowning amidst a crowd of people. "Give me your hand!", they shouted but the man ignored them. A wise man asked what the man's profession was. "A tax collector." came the response. The wise man ran up to the drowning man and said "Take my hand!", which the man did and he was saved. The people turned to the wise man in disbelief, who said "Never ask a tax collector to GIVE you anything."