Minutes from decision maker:

October 3rd, 2001 polarhome.com came to a dead-end of free shell providing activity. The whole system was a disaster, even with raising popularity. Therefore, system administrator gave a proposal to close polarhome.com in his declaration.

During next few days administrator's mailbox was full of unsatisfied users opinion, but among these letters were about 200 creative supporters that thought that there is a possibility to continue with closer and more trustful community, that can really focus on main goals of existence of this kind of system.

It was easy to see that polarhome.com has to continue, but there were some unanswered questions:

Below you can find answers to some of these questions, and it can explain why polarhome bacame as it is now.

Dividing ftp from shell?
We made this decision because ftp is fare more harmless then shell and requires much more knowledge and experience to turn it into attack. From other side with open ftp, mail, POP3, IMAP access most of the users could continue to use polarhome.com . They indeed, have been forced to change their mail reading or file editing habits, but they still could continue to use earlier services without interruption, including database administration etc.

Account creation should be slowed down.
In "free shell" period everybody could make a shell account in about 3 minutes. Request from the web, wait 3 minutes, log in into your new shell account. It was very popular method, that users liked very much. BUT as a non commercial service provider, all system administrators (in that time just amec and taken ) worked as a kind volunteers... and sometimes it took few days to cover up some malicious activity against remote hosts. So, 3 minutes to create an account and few days to delete it... resulted that users do not have any respect to their accounts. If I lose one... no problem, I can create 10 another.
Therefore we voted for hardcopy registration that takes at least 2-3 days... Now, we have 2-3 days for account and 2-3 days to delete if it is necessary (much better relation)... and as a side effect: user who waits few days for something has more respect for it.

Banned hosts and networks

Earlier, the only way how could we ban some hacker was by deleting it's account and ban his hosts and eventually whole network. Deleted account was not enough, because few minutes later he could create a new account and use the system with same rights and same purpose.
This method results with lot of innocent users that have been banned just because they come from same domain or network as some single hacker. It was not acceptable.
Therefore, we do not ban any domain or host any more. It is not necessary because of slow shell registration process it is very uncommon to abuse the shell.

Free or pay?
Also as earlier have been mentioned: to achieve better respect to own shell, we decided to ask some symbolic admission or AKA step up fee. It is a normal human (or should we call it homo sapience) behavior: if it  is free than who cares, but if I paid for it is mine.
Therefore, we decided to ask some kind of admission fee or step-up fee.

How high will be this fee?
Good question. If we ask $2 per month, it will be a very attractive fee and we will be soon or later very rich... but is our goal to be rich or to give a chance to the Internet generation to learn and be more experienced in networking, communication and security area instead... give them a possibility to be a member of amorph, multilingual and multinational community and to have a respect to all other members. polarhome.com is used by users all around the World and fixed price in one currency could put quite lot of users in negative position, because for money does not have same value for US citizens as for Brazilians or Romanians. In some countries people work whole month or even more for $10.
Therefore, we decided to have some price that it should not be fixed and should not be high, whatever part of the World user comes from. For this pricing (10 currency units) nobody can say that it is expensive. Value is about 2 beers or even less in almost every country. It is another question that somebody does not want to pay for this kind of service at all.

What user gets for it?

If user pays for something, he wants to get something... also human behavior. :-)
Therefore, shell have been improved. Space raised to 20M + 5M for mail and databases, crontab has been allowed, Java installed, PostgreSQL installed, hardware have been upgraded and made system more stable and secure. Hacking possibilities against localhost have been forbidden to ensure users security.

... and here we are with the new system. Not everybody satisfied, but we filtered out all these users that do not really belong to this community. We, together build our system, vote for new shell, buy new hardware... gather new knowledge.

polarhome.com is an independent, self managed, free community. Not big, but brave.

You can send your opinion to opinion@polarhome.com

Zoltan Arpadffy
owner, system manager

Follow up:
Three years later there was needed to apply some chages to this policy:

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Polarhome, production since 1999.
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