Chebucto Community Net
1997-98 -- Annual Report

While going through my files of correspondence for the past year,I was amazed at the number of activities, issues, problems, and ideas that we dealt with over the past year. Although I sometime feel like we're treading water I realize that in fact we've been swimming strongly! We may not be as far ahead as one might hope, but if we hadn't undertaken all that we had, we would most assuredly be much further behind!

A potpourri of issues that the editors have been involved with over the past year:

1. Technical Evolution

The editors continue to play an active role in assisting and giving feedback to the Technical Committee vis-á-vis continuing technical changes on the CCN. While the migration of the CCN to Csuite 1.0 has been considerable slower than expected, it is proceeding in a stepwise fashion.

In particular we have worked extensively on a number of issues including:

  1. Reducing Exposure to Spam

    Through debugging and implementing the restricted_post option of majordomo we are now able to offer our list owners a method of cutting spam off at the source before it gets delivered to lists. With the phenomenal increase in spam over the past year, and the concerns of many people as to the problematic content of some of this material, having this facility is a major step forward.

    Prior to implementing this feature I spent some considerable time weeding out spam posts to the editors list archive, not only to save space used by this junk, but also keep it from clogging responses to searches in this area.

  2. Moving List archives to <>

    With the movement of our EMail and mailing List functionality to our new server, we are still facing some unresolved issues about how to access and administer list archives in this new location. We anticipate continuing to work on this issue.

  3. Debugging CGI 'recent' functionality

    We have worked with the Technical Committee on issues of debugging and making functional (again) the CGI recent script so that the [Recent] button on the CCN standard button bar would properly reflect changes to CCN documents.

  4. Virtual Domain Names

    We have been working with David Trueman and others on a procedure for requesting and implementing virtual domain names by interested IPs. This is now largely in place.

  5. Mailing List Administration

    We've also worked with Mailing-List Administration on an on-going basis and in relation to certain initiatives to eliminate mailing lists which are no longer required; establish ml-pub lists for those groups requiring them; update the membership of certain lists; change the list-ownership of certain lists; and create/amend/distribute administrative passwords for lists to those who require them. This is an on-going initiative.

2. Revising IP Application & Support Documents

I've done a certain amount of work to revise the IP on-line application documents to reflect recent procedures and structures as well as of the IP Support Site to make it more inclusive of germane materials and also to update the information there to reflect current procedures and structures.

3. Revising documents in the Chebucto directory

Partly in anticipation of the Telecommunities Canada '97 conference and the consequent exposure of CC pages to the critical eye of Canadian Community Networks, and also from a real need to deal with this neglected area, I embarked on a comprehensive editorial excursion through the entire /Chebucto directory. The documents in this area are all those that relate to CCN structure, programs, committee structure, etc. -- in a word the public face that we project to the world about the nature, structure and functioning of the Chebucto Community Net as an organization.

This area had become filled with 'deadwood' and was technically (in terms of HTML coding) and stylistically out of step with the balance of CCN public documents. I rewrote and restructured many documents in this area to give a clearer, more comprehensive and more coherent sense of the nature and structure of the organization. Much old material was mothballed and many pages were revised to put them into keeping with CCN stylistic criteria (headers, button-bar, background, etc.).

Moreover, in working with many of the Committees (Volunteers, Policy, Communications, Membership, SAT, etc.) we created administrative structures (majordomo lists, edit groups, etc.) to better enable these Committees to administer their respective areas themselves. Some of the Committees have followed through on these initiatives - others not. In general, despite extensive revision, this is an area which could, and should, be more actively curated by the respective committees and chairs if we are to have documents there which:

  1. reflect our responsibility and accountability to our membership; and

  2. project a clear sense of what the CCN is as an organization and consequently makes it an attractive place for both individual users and information providers.

We have not fully taken advantage of the opportunity that this area offers us.

Some key documents that were created and/or revised in this process were:

  1. CCN Key Players
  2. About the CCN
  3. Reasons for Becoming a CCN Information Provider
  4. The CCN Society

4. Editors' Website

I've made a number of changes to documents in the Editors Website such as:

  1. Revisions to IPDB and Group Editor documentation based on changing functionality (some more of this needs to be done);

  2. Changes in procedures, or additions to IP process based on areas that needed to be better elaborated or which dealt with new issues, problems, procedures, etc.;

  3. Creating an internal menuing system to allow for better ease of access to some of the information for editors.

5. IP FAQ Directory

We created an embryonic IP FAQ site which contains a number of files with background information of use to IP Editors. As yet, it contains primarily documentation of CCN CGI routines written by the Editor-in- Chief, however, I would like to encourage others to make contributions to this site!

6. New [Contacts] Page

We have developed a new [Contacts] page (that is connected to the CCN [Contacts] button) which is a radical revision of what was there previously. The new version offers a much enhanced set of information and links to whom to contact in the event of different sorts of queries. This is part of an initiative to make the CCN help structures more transparent and decrease the number of queries that are being directed to the wrong people/lists.

7. Changes in Editors Roster

This year we welcomed:

We also said farewell to Ben Armstrong, Peter Henry and Melody Lindblom who left to follow other ventures. Our thanks to them for all of their work!

Currently the Science Editors chair is vacant and I would like to find someone who would take over Professional Enterprise and Commerce from David Murdoch (who has his hands more than full!) and to assist Sandy Sutherland in the Education & Libraries portfolio. Seeking the right people for these positions is an on-going process.

8. Upgrading CCN Documents

We have been involved on an on-going basis in 'upgrading' certain CCN IP documents to include more listings or increase their internal functionality. Some example include:

9. Communications with IP Editors

During the course of a year we send out periodic letters to CCN IP Editors to remind them of certain topics, pass on news with respect to changing features at the CCN, etc. This year we sent out communiqués on:

  1. Including CCN acknowledgments and links back from their home pages;
  2. Employing the CCN standard Button Bar;
  3. Volunteering with the CCN;
  4. Having their IP organizations make donations to the CCN;
  5. Creating symbolic links and using index.html to shorten their URLs;
  6. IP FAQ's directory available to them and joining ccn-ipe.

10. Assisting Information Providers

This past year there have been some applications for new IP sites. The Editors have been busy with the variety of on-going tasks that are involved in getting these sites running and helping the IP Editors up to speed. There are current approximately 200 active Information Providers operating websites on the CCN.

11. Monitoring IP Applications

Over the past year or so we have closed down some 29 stale IP applications. There are also current some 30 IP applications that are active. On a biannual (or-so) basis I contact all the IP organizations that have active applications check their status (is the application still an on-going project or has it been mothballed) and see what if anything we do to help expedite the process.

In general, the rate of new IP applications has slowed considerably over the past year. We are not attracting the numbers of prospective IPs that we once did. We have also lost a number of site that have moved to other servers or have simply closed down. There are a number of factors that contribute to this, however, the all point to the fact that as an organization we need to redouble our efforts to make the CCN an attractive place to situate websites - and to publicize this fact accordingly!

12. Reseau communautaire Chebucto

We worked with Robert Cormier and the Technical Committee to help get the RCC documents up and running in parallel with their CCN counterparts and to fix sundry technical issues with respect to their functioning.

When I look ahead to the coming year a see a number of challenges that we face and items on our 'wish list'. I note that some of these have been on my list since 1996- 97:

  1. Reaching out more effectively to potential IP Organizations to encourage them to consider mounting their sites on our server;

  2. Expanding our editorial base to bring in new editors to neglected areas.

  3. Having a Volunteer Agreement (from the Policy Committee) which would define volunteer responsibilities and create a formal base for our volunteers;

  4. Technical improvements/changes in an number of areas such as;

    1. A front end to HTTP authorized access so the Editors and IP Committee can administer this area of functionality;

    2. Create a mechanism to synchronize IP Database and Majordomo ml-priv list memberships to keep these two important IP structures in synch;

    3. A reform of the structure of our edit groups (we have a hodgepodge of overlapping groups with inconsistent jurisdictions & nomenclature);

    4. Technical reforms to allow * files (RCC files) to work correctly with Weblint and with RCS (installing <link> elements and RCS comments files, etc.);

    5. Improving the technical infrastructure of the CCN, most particularly being able to FTP files to IP directories and supporting local PPP service. These are features that many CCN and prospective CCN IPs would be interested in seeing and would help us attract a wider spectrum of Ips to our site.;

  5. Revision to CCN pages (including the home page) to take into account;

    1. Increased RCC visibility/functionality;

    2. Increased Csuite visibility/functionality;

    3. More extensive employment of Javascript;

    4. Revisions to graphics on CCN pages;

    5. Relationship between CCN pages and the Custom User Login page, currently in beta-test on the CCN. It's widescale implementation would give us a whole spectrum of new possibilities in terms of what information we can provide (and target) to our users, but also has implications in terms of what information we supply on our IP pages.

My personal thanks go out again to all those people who have so generously helped me in my work, have patiently endured my questions, suggestions and badgering and have contributed to the effort of making our part of the CCN be the best it possibly can be. With sincere thanks:

Christopher Majka