SCN FAQ: Personal Web Sites


Learning HTML:

System questions:

Editing and uploading files:

Serving files:



Publishing information:


Learning HTML:

Will the Help Desk help me with my personal page?

No. The Help Desk and Voice Mail volunteers are overworked and can't answer questions about personal Web pages. But help is often available from other SCN users, and from classes held at local libraries, senior centers, Parks Department computer labs and other places. See the City of Seattle's Technology Database and its Guide to Computer Centers for Seniors for the most current information.

How can I learn HTML?

The Help menu includes links to HTML references and tutorials.

What tools can I use to make this easier?

The Help menu lists some freeware and shareware HTML editors and tools. SCN also makes some of these available for local downloading. Login and pick "Work with Your Files" from the main menu screen, then pick "Download Communications and Utility Programs" or from the Freeport prompt type "go softutil" (without the quotes).

You can also use various Web-based tools to validate HTML tags, check links, test for browser compatibility and so on.

System questions:

Does the 1 megabyte limit apply to all my files, or only my inbox?

If your account is active and current (you've logged in to the SCN menus during the past 3 months), you have 2 megabyte of inbox mail space. If your account is active but not current (you've logged in during the past 9 months but not the past 3 months), you have 1 megabyte of inbox space. If you haven't logged in for more than 9 months, you have no inbox space and all your mail bounces back to the sender.

Your saved file folders (anything that isn't in your inbox) doesn't count toward the 1 megabyte (or 2 megabyte) inbox limit. Neither does your Web site. So even though the system reminds you when you log in that you are using more than 1 megabyte of total file space, it's actually lumping all your files together when it reports that. Also, the file space utility that's on the Work with Your Files menus calculates the space used in yet another way from that used by the login file usage report. Yes, we know this is confusing. No, please don't worry about it.

If your total file space usage is over 5 megabytes, please consider reducing your file space to under 5 megabytes.

Can I have more than 5 megabytes if I need it?

If you really need it, you can use somewhat more space than this for a time, as long as it doesn't come too close to filling up the disk partition where your files reside. Some older partitions are close to being full, so please keep your file space cleaned up as much as possible. The sysadmins may contact you if your file space is too large.

I deleted my page. Can I get it back?

No. Once you delete a file, it's gone. Please make a backup copy of anything important, and keep it on your home computer, or on a floppy disk if you're using a Library or other computer. If you don't have a home computer or a floppy disk, keep a backup copy in your SCN directory. To be extra safe you may want to have more than one backup copy (a backup of your backup) and keep one of backups at separate secure site.

Can I make subdirectories in my Web directory?

No, because of limitations in the FreePort software you can't create subdirectories in your public_html subdirectory. So all your Web files will have to go in that one directory.

Can I password protect pages on my site?

Probably not effectively, doing that in a secure manner without access to restricted server tools could leave open security holes enabling non-approved access.

Can I use the UNIX shell?

No, generally speaking. But if you can contribute something useful as a volunteer that requires shell access to do it, please ask.

How can I find out how many people read my pages?

You can look at your page's most recent stats with SCN's web hit log utility. Type in the username part of your Web address, for example ~bz999. You can also set up a link to a hit-counter service.

Can I have my own domain name, like

Yes, in a roundabout way. If you've registered a domain name with a domain registrar, then you can equate your domain name with your SCN squiggle (tilde) site ( by using a domain forwarding service like the ones available from,,, and others. If you need conventional domain hosting, many local companies can host a domain for you. Please see our list of Western Washington Internet Service Providers.

Also see Domain Names and Selecting a Web Host.

Editing and uploading files:

How do I edit my files on SCN?

You can edit your files on a PC or Macintosh with your favorite page creation tools, and then upload the resulting files to SCN. Or you can log on to SCN and use the Pico text editor to edit your files. Pico is a simple ASCII text editor that includes built-in help. If you're using a graphical system, you can cut and paste text into your Pico editing window on SCN.

Does Pico automatically make backups of my files?

No. Please keep backup copies of your files on your home PC or on a floppy disk, as well as in your SCN directory.

How do I upload files?

You can upload files over a direct modem dialup connection using a terminal-emulation program, from the Freeport command prompt type "go files" and/or "go upload" (without the quotes), or by telnet or SSH, using the Xmodem, Ymodem, Zmodem or Kermit file transfer protocols. For more information, see the SCN Web site's Help menu. Once you've uploaded your files, you'll have to copy or move them from your work directory to your public_html directory so that they'll be visible on the Web.

Can I upload files with FTP?

No, general users are not given this privilege at present.

Can I upload files with Microsoft FrontPage?

No, not at present.

Serving Files:

Can I use FrontPage's proprietary features?

No. But you can create your pages with FrontPage, if you avoid bots and other features that require Microsoft server extensions. Some commercial Internet providers offer FrontPage extensions. See SCN's list of Western Washington Internet Service Providers.

Can I serve Java (browser) applets?

Yes. You can serve applets that are transferred to and run on the user's browser. You'll have to compile them on another system, but you can serve the resulting applet files from your SCN Web site.

Can I run Java applications on the server?

No. You can't execute Java application programs that must run on the server.

Can I serve streaming audio and video?

With some formats like RealAudio and RealVideo, you can try what's called http-streaming, even though SCN doesn't have streaming servers. For some other formats, users will have to wait for the files to download before playing them.

Can I serve other multimedia files?

Yes. You can serve any graphics, sound, video, browser plug-in or other files that don't require a special server to send them. If you need more interactive goodies than SCN can offer, we encourage you to sign up for an account at a local Internet provider. There are plenty of good ISPs in the Seattle area. Please see SCN's list of Western Washington Internet Service Providers.


Can I use imagemaps?

Yes. If you do, please use client-side imagemaps, or use them in addition to server-side imagemaps. With SCN's server, you must use the CERN imagemap format for server-side imagemaps.

Can I run a guestbook on SCN?

Not at present, but you can set up a link to a system that provides public guestbooks.

Can I run my own CGI programs?

No. But you can use SCN's CGI form mailer and any other CGI programs that SCN makes available for general use. See How to Use the Form Mailer.

Will you install a CGI program if I suggest one?

Maybe, if it's of general interest to users, not too inefficient and doesn't have security holes.

Are executable server-side includes available?



Do you automatically list my SCN home page on a menu?

No. If you request it, we'll add your SCN home page to the list of Members's Pages on SCN.

Will search engines automatically index my page?

No. Unless your page appears as a link on a page that a search engine already knows about, the engine won't index your page.

Do I have to include a link to SCN?

No. There's no requirement to put anything in particular on your pages. The automatically generated page template includes a link to SCN, but you can remove it if you like, and redesign your pages any way you prefer.

What if my page becomes wildly popular?

If continued high traffic to your page adversely affects the usability of the system, we may have to ask you to reduce the file size or possibly even find another home for it.

Publishing information:

Can I use my page for commercial purposes?

SCN doesn't monitor the content of its users' personal pages. You can mention your hobbies, your business or whatever you like. You might want to try out a Web page for your small business or home business on SCN, but SCN's system isn't particularly suitable for business use. Please see our list of Western Washington Internet Service Providers.

Can I spread lies and libel? For example, can I libel the mayor, lie about my ex-lover, or have a sig line that says my opinions are the same as my employer's?

Some of these things could get you into civil disputes with people. SCN doesn't attempt to determine whether people could bring civil actions against you because of the content of your publications. If a court orders you to remove certain material from your page, you may have to comply.

Can I use indecent language or offend civilized society?

For example, can I show repulsive violence and gore, put pornographic pictures on my page, offend Christians or Muslims or Jews, try to get people to worship Satan, declare that the Holocaust never happened, distribute neo-Nazi propaganda, make ugly racial slurs, advocate overthrowing the government, include links to pipe bomb manuals, show people how to pick locks, insult my parents, shock the PTA, enrage my juvenile probation officer and disgust my state legislator?

If you're over 18, you are legally responsible for what you say on your page. If you're under 18, your parent or guardian signed a document taking responsibility for what you do on SCN. These are all questions about society and freedom of expression. Legal decisions about these matters are controversial and always changing. If in doubt about what you can say on your page, please read the Supreme Court's decision in Reno v. ACLU, and check your local laws. SCN doesn't intend to remove anyone's page because of complaints about its information content, except in cases of clearly illegal activity or activity that adversely affects the system technically in some serious way. In case of any dispute, the SCN Association may take actions consistent with its policies and by-laws.

Can I offer chain letters, pyramid schemes or "warez?"

No. These are clearly illegal. SCN attempts to curb these actions when it becomes aware of them. Some of these activities may also lead to criminal prosecution.

Can I "spam" people?

No. This is out of bounds, and you can lose your SCN account for it, depending on just what you've done. If people complain unfairly that you've "spammed" them, please contact .

Updated January 5th, 2004 -