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Digital Copyright Canada

Frequently asked questions (and answers) about FLORA.org Community WEB

What is FLORA.org Community WEB?

FLORA.org is an independently owned and operated volunteer service that acts as part of the Community Networking movement. It acts as a sort of commons or free-space where organizations can set up lines of communication and provide information to members of the community. It is an electronic path-way through a gathering of places where community groups reside in order to organize projects and invite other individuals with common interests to get involved.

Please read the Organizational Summary.

FLORA.org is also a demonstration project for Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) technologies to be used by other community networks.

What is the focus of FLORA.org?

FLORA.org is primarily concerned with protecting online rights and freedoms such as the Free Speech and Free Software. Activities involve the hosting of alternative viewpoints such as alternative (to the private automobile) transportation, alternative education (homeschooling, etc), alternative politics, and alternative Economics (Free Software's philosophical alternative to "ideas as industrial-era property")

What is FLORA.ca and FLORA Community Consulting?

FLORA Community Consulting is the sole-proprietorship of Russell McOrmond who is the sponsor of FLORA.org.

FLORA Community Web was started in December 1994 (See Ottawa alternative community minded networking) and the first domain name it used was flora.ocunix.on.ca. Later the name flora.ottawa.on.ca (date unknown) was adopted, and then FLORA.org (13-Oct-1996).

The sponsor previously used "Russell McOrmond" as his business name, but the marketing around FLORA community Web was so good that people thought that this was also his company name. Rather than continue to correct this it was decided to adopt FLORA Community Consulting as a business name in January 2000.

What is the phone number for FLORA.org?

FLORA.org does not have a modem phone number because it is not an access service. The community members residing on FLORA.org must already be on the Internet.

Community Internet services can be broken down into two broad categories:

  1. access to the network (Often known as an IAP, Internet Access Provider)

  2. provision of content and communication between individuals and groups on the net. (Often known as ISP, Internet Service Provider)

FLORA.org concentrates its services on the second category. We believed in the early 1990's that we were heading toward a time when access services will be provided at an extremely low cost as part of a regular communications package offered by either the telephone, cable, or electricity companies, or various wireless providers. With various access services dropping in price it will be the case that anyone who can afford to own their own computer will also easily be able to have that computer connected to the Internet.

There will always be a need for public access terminals such as those found in cyber-cafe's, Libraries, and educational institutions. In this case the user still has some method of accessing the Internet and is able to in the services hosted at FLORA.org.

Is FLORA.org an ISP?

While one of the things that FLORA.org can do for you is give you the same services offered by an ISP, FLORA.org is not a company and does not charge for what it does. FLORA.org is a labor of love of a few individuals who through their volunteer efforts are able to make these services possible.

If you are a progressive organization wishing to hire a progressive ISP or IAP, please check who the sponsors are for FLORA.org. I would also recommend looking at the list of FLORA.org volunteers and associates.

Is FLORA.org associated with any other organizations?

FLORA.org is associated with OX. The group identifies itself with the ox, for an ox is like a bull, but without an ego. The OX group is not chartered to do anything; however, OX does facilitate coordination between different groups with similar goals.

FLORA.org doesn't have an association with, but is philosophically connected with the Free Software Foundation, Open Source Initiative , Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Creative Commons.

FLORA.org also has informal associations with the National Capital Freenet in that FLORA.org was originally created to offer services to the community that the NCF was not yet able to offer. Most of the volunteers with FLORA.org were also volunteers for the NCF at one time. We hope that the association between FLORA.org and the NCF will grow stronger as the NCF moves into more modern technologies for the services it provides, and as it moves from it's currently more centralized model into a more distributed community/commons model.

What is FLORA.org 2.0?

The Internet has changed quite a bit in the decade since FLORA.org started. The FreeNet movement has grown into the community networking movement. The Free Software movement has grown into the Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) movement, and helped encourage related movements outside of software such as the Creative Commons and Open Access movements.

Not all the changes sparked by the growth of the Internet and electronic communications tools have been positive. There has also been attempts by policy makers, listening only to legacy industry lobbyists, to reform Patent, Copyright and Trademark laws to protect these legacy industries from disruption. This includes protecting them from competition from the new open and collaborative methods of creativity and knowledge distribution that FLORA.org was founded to help promote.

In order to allow FLORA.org to continue to promote the values it was founded on we must become more active educators and promoters of the FLOSS, Creative Commons, Open Access and related movements. This required some policy changes, which are discussed in this FAQ under copyright as well as in the new Terms and Conditions.

How do I mark my documents with a Creative Commons License?

The Creative Commons site has a Choose License interface. You make two simple choices (allow commercial usage, and whether and how you want to allow derivatives), choose "Canada" for Jurisdiction, and then click "Select License". If you want to just use the default license, it is Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License Canada.

The page you are brought to has a box with some HTML code to cut-and-past into the source for your web page. It is important to copy this code including the comments, and not just use a simple link. The reason is that this allows search engines, such as the Creative Commons Search to allow people to find your pages faster, and to show what you have authorized directly within searches.

To check that a page has the correct code in it, use the Creative Commons validator.

Who may put information up on FLORA.org, or make use of the communications tools made available by FLORA.org?

Members of the community, be they individuals or groups, whose philosophies and aims are consistent with FLORA.org's members may put information up at FLORA.org. Take the time to look carefully at what is available on FLORA.org now. If you feel comfortable coexisting with the present inhabitants, then you probably have a place on FLORA.org.

FLORA.org does not have a board of directors, nor does it have a specific policy. It is a volunteer labour of love of a few specific individuals, and those individuals are the ones who look at organizations to see if they fit in the FLORA.org environment.

Our general criteria is:

  1. The concerns that your group promotes should be community-based and oriented. You should provide a service to either the Ottawa community, to citizens worldwide, or to the health and sustainability of the planet.

  2. The information you place or refer to on FLORA.org must be provided to the community at no cost just as the services we provide are at no cost. The purpose of FLORA.org is to develop community involvement, and it is not intended to be a place for advertisements or other services. Please read the question below on copyright for more details.

  3. To allow your information to be viewed by the largest audience we request that you follow the Anybrowser Campaign's Accessible Site Design Guide .

    Sites which use brand-specific or trademarked code would be considered commercial sites as they would be promoting/advertising commercial brands. These sites are not eligible for free hosting on FLORA.org.

    Examples would be browser tags specific to a brand of browser, scripting such as Sun's Java, Microsoft's ActiveX or Macromedia's FLASH, or file formats such as Corel WordPerfect or Microsoft Word documents, and Microsoft Media or RealAudio/RealVideo.

    Before sending these files to the FLORA.org server you should convert them to open standards such as validated HTML/XHTML, use server-side scripting over client-side, and use PDF, RTF, mp3/ogg, and MPEG. One may use ECMAScript/JavaScript as long as it is being used for things such as roll-overs and not required for navigation.

  4. A link back to the http://www.flora.org/ URL should exist somewhere on your site, preferably on your main homepage.

  5. The FLORA.org name should appear in the URL when the site is advertised, and be what people see in the "Location" field of their browser. You should not use sites like NameZero which allows you to use a regular domain name and then have your real website inside of a "Frame", services that redirect your domain name to your FLORA.org site, or other such system.

    FLORA.org is paid for by sponsors who offer web-hosting services, often with the only difference between the FLORA.org service and the commercial service being the use of a domain name. It would be inappropriate to be trying to use the services of FLORA.org for free and yet not be advertising the FLORA.org name.

    There is an exception to this rule. If you register your domain name and hire DNS hosting from OpenConcept.ca, then a redirect can be set up to point from your domain name to your FLORA.org site. This would allow you to advertise your website and email addresses using a personal domain name and still make use of the free services of FLORA.org.

  6. Groups that endorse violence and/or vandalism as a tactic in politics will not be eligible for sponsored services. If you are not certain what this means, please ask as there has been considerable confusion around this issue.

FLORA.org is set up to be one of many different organizations within the region making use of electronic communications to serve the people of the region. We are not set up to be all things for all people, but we will try to provide the best service possible for compatible organizations.

What copyright restrictions exist on the pages on FLORA.org?

In the past people assumed that if a page was posted on a public website that you were free to access, cache and mirror that page without additional authorization or payment. While this is a valid assumption that is required to make the public "no membership required" part of the Internet function, there are very harsh government policy debates underway where the legacy non-Internet publishing industries are trying to force the Internet genie back into the bottle by changing the law to change these assumptions.

To help clarify this question and educate the public, FLORA.org is adopting Creative Commons licenses for all pages we host. As of January 2005 we have the agreement of all content providers that content published on FLORA.org will be in a creative commons license, with this requirement and the default license documented in the FLORA.org Terms and Conditions.

FLORA.org has always been about "Free/Libre Networking", not about "Free/Gratis Networking", meaning it was about freedom not price. We supported Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) since before the term Open Source was coined in 1998. It is a logical extension to promote the use of Creative Commons licenses for non-software works published on FLORA.org given that Creative Commons protects similar community/commons values for non-software for what FLOSS licenses do for software.

Those wanting to get involved in the Creative Commons in Canada may wish to collaborate with iCommons Canada.

Who does the work to publish my information or maintain the communications service?

You do!

FLORA.org offers hosting space and other related technologies. It is up to you to set up and maintain your own website.

That being said, we are trying to attract individuals who have experience with setting up web pages to FLORA.org. These people might be able to help maintain your information for you.

If you are looking for someone to help you with your website, are someone who can offer help, or is someone who has other questions, please join the FLORA.org helpdesk mailing list.

How do I post to newsgroups via news.flora.org?

This question is answered with other information on newsgroups, specifically the page on how to post to newsgroups.

The short answer is that news.flora.org is a read only news server offered to the community. There is no way to post directly to newsgroups using the news.flora.org server.

Last Modified: December 2004 by Russell McOrmond
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FLORA Community Web (FLORA.ORG) is sponsored by FLORA Community Consulting (FLORA.CA).