Do I have to become a member in order to use Grex?

No. Anyone is welcome to join the Grex community, free of charge. But about 75% of Grex's operating expenses are paid with membership dues, so if you find Grex to be valuable, we hope you will consider becoming a member.

What benefits do I get for becoming a member of Grex?

First of all, Grex is not an ISP, and so does not sell Internet access. Membership dues are donations to help support Grex, not payments for services rendered. Part of Grex's charitable mission is to provide limited connectivity for people who otherwise couldn't afford it, so we have tried to keep the gap between what members can do and what everyone else can do small.

So the real answer is, the main thing you get is the satisfaction of supporting a great community, and a great community resource. You also get the ability to vote in Grex elections, so you can help decide Grex's future. (You have to pay for three months or more before you can vote.)

There are also a few technical advantages to being a member. Certain of our Internet resources are too limited to grant to everyone who has an account on Grex, so they are reserved for members only. Specifically, non-members are forbidden internet access except via these protocols: finger, gopher, talk, and http. All other internet protocols (such as SSH, FTP, IRC, and many more) are reserved for members only.

These restrictions are implemented with kernel blocks, so even if a non-member builds a personal copy of, say, an IRC client, it won't run on Grex.

Can I pay my dues with my credit card?

Yes! Memberships can be purchased through Paypal. Of course, you can still just mail in a check if you prefer.

Does it cost Grex money if I pay by credit card?

Yes, a bit. Paypal charges us a fee to receive money you send us - go to and click on "fees" at the bottom of the page to see how much. At the time of this writing, it's $.30 plus 2.2% for most payments.

We're willing to pay that fee, but if it bothers you that Grex gets less money this way than we would if you sent a check, you are of course welcome to increase your payment slightly to cover the fee. We would be most grateful.

Our bank doesn't charge us any fee to deposit checks, money orders, or cash.

Is there a form I need to fill out to become a member?

No. To become a member, just send in your payment, along with your login name and ID (if necessary), and that's all there is to it. We try to keep things as form-free as possible, though you may need to give us a bit more information if you are paying by credit card.

Are my membership dues tax-deductible?

Yes. Cyberspace Communications is a 501(c)3 corporation, so donations to it are tax-deductible. Since the only benefits received in return for membership dues are frequently-exercisable rights, membership dues are donations and therefore deductible in full.

If I become a member, can I run an IRC bot such as Eggdrop on Grex?

Yes, if you so choose, but please do not overwhelm our system!

If I become a member, can I put pictures on my web site?

Users are not allowed to store images on Grex, whether they are members or not. (This is because Grex's bandwidth is so limited.) However you can store an image somewhere else and have it display on your Grex web page. For instance, your page could include a line like this:

<img src=>

As long as the images are stored off of Grex, they don't go through our link when a user goes to your page. So a reference like the one above is just fine.

Do I have to identify myself in order to become a member of Grex?

Yes. Although you are welcome to use Grex anonymously, or donate money anonymously, you must send some ID to the treasurer in order to become a member.


There are two reasons Grex requires ID from its members:

  1. While we are very comfortable allowing anonymous users access to Grex, we are not comfortable unleashing them on the rest of the Internet. It would be irresponsible of the Grex administration to allow people we can't identify to SSH through Grex to other systems, so we require ID from everyone we allow to do that.
  2. Cyberspace Communications is required by the State of Michigan to maintain an up-to-date list of members. Implied in this requirement is that we make sure no two memberships are held by the same person. So we require ID to connect accounts with real people and make sure no one has the ability to vote twice in Grex elections.

What forms of ID are acceptable?

First of all, if you pay with a personal check that has your name pre-printed on it, that's good enough right there. You don't need to include any extra ID. If you're a minor and your parent or guardian writes the check, we'll accept that as ID.

If you pay with cash or a money order, include a photocopy of a driver's license, passport, or other official ID. If you don't have a driver's license or passport, but do have something, send mail to the treasurer and ask if your ID is OK.

I'm paying for my membership with Paypal. Do I still need to send ID?

It depends. If you are a verified member of Paypal, then you don't need to send Grex ID. Otherwise, you do. Paypal verification is different depending on what country you're in; verified members in the US have confirmed their ownership of a bank account. For more information on Paypal verification Click here.

But the whole point of using Paypal was I didn't want to send mail! Is there any other way I can send the treasurer my ID?

Yes. There are three ways to submit ID:

  1. Scan your ID and email the scan to
  2. Show your ID to the treasurer in person. (This is probably not practical unless you live in Ann Arbor.)
  3. Photocopy the ID and send the copy to:
    Cyberspace Communications, Inc.
    P.O. Box 4432
    Ann Arbor, MI 48106-4432

Who will get to see my ID?

All the information about members' names, addresses, and other ID data is available only to the treasurer and is not stored on the net. The list of the usernames of people who are members is in a publicly readable file, however. (So for instance, suppose someone named Dave White, whose Grex username is "waffles", becomes a member. Anyone at all can read the membership list and find that "waffles" is a member. However, if Mr. White so chooses, he needn't let anyone but the treasurer know the real name of the owner of account "waffles".)

Needless to say, we never sell mailing lists or anything like that.

Note: Most people who become members aren't at all worried about concealing their identity. So by default, the treasurer publicly thanks new members using both their real names and their usernames. If you're concerned about anonymity and don't want your real name used, be sure to tell the treasurer that when you first send in dues money.

I live outside the U.S. and don't have access to a U.S. dollar checking account. Can I become a member?

If you have a MasterCard or Visa, you may be able to pay for your membership using Paypal. Otherwise this can be a real problem. We're sorry we can't accept payment in any currency other than U.S. dollars.

Here are a few things which have worked for people in the past. Note all of these methods require that you submit ID.

If you have any other ideas we can add to this list, send mail to the treasurer.

Can my organization become a member of Grex?

Yes. Institutions may become members of Grex. They have the same privileges as individual members, with the exception that they may not vote in Grex elections or serve on the Grex Board of Directors. This is to keep any one person from obtaining more than one vote in any election.

It should be noted that while incidental use of Grex for commercial purposes is OK, Grex is not an appropriate platform for serious business ventures. A few of the reasons why are:

That said, if you just want to use Grex occasionally to sell a few things, it's OK. And we would, of course, appreciate your support.

What kind of ID is needed for an institutional membership?

Institutions that become members need to designate a contact person who is responsible for use of the account. The contact person needs to submit his or her ID, which must meet the same criteria as the ID of individual members. (See What forms of ID are acceptable. Personal checks count as ID, but corporate checks do not.) The institution is responsible for making sure the contact person and his or her ID stay up to date. In other words, let us know if the contact person changes.

How soon after I send in my payment will I be made a member?

Grex's mail goes to a P.O. box, and then the treasurer picks it up. So add a few days to the time it takes for a letter to get from where you are to Ann Arbor in order to estimate the delay.

Once the treasurer receives your mail, you should be added to the membership rolls as soon as possible.

If you pay using Paypal, you'll be added as soon as you send in ID. Note: a VERIFIED PayPal account (the definition of which varies by country) can constitute valid ID. See the Member page for why you either need to verify your PayPal account or send valid ID.

Is there anything that might prevent me from being added right away?

Your membership might be delayed if:

How will I know when my membership is activated?

You should get email from the treasurer when you are added to the membership rolls.

Can I donate old computer equipment in lieu of paying dues?

No thank you. We are no longer looking for old computer equipment. As hardware has decreased in cost and increased in power, and open source software has matured, we find that we no longer have to be bottom feeders in the way we once were.

Further, it is longstanding Grex policy that you can't pay for a membership with equipment, only money. Sorry! We have made only one or two exceptions to this over the history of Grex. The main purpose of membership dues is to provide cash to pay the regular expenses (such as phone bills and co-location costs) that operating Grex incurs. We've decided, therefore, to stay away from accepting alternative payments for memberships.

I am an experienced UNIX user. Can I do system administration work in lieu of paying dues?

We are always delighted to have new volunteers. One of the things that Grex needs most urgently is more people to answer "help" requests. We recommend you check out the helpers conference. Also you should read the Grex Staff Notes.

However, as with donations of hardware, volunteering for the staff cannot be used to pay for membership. (Even longtime staff people have to pay dues to be members.) Again, membership dues generate the money we need to pay the bills to keep Grex running, so we stay away from giving out memberships to anyone who doesn't pay.

What can I do if I don't like these policies?

Grex is a democratic institution, and all its policies are ultimately decided by the membership. If you think a policy should be changed, enter an item in the coop conference suggesting the change. If enough people agree with you, you'll get what you want. (And if they don't, you'll find out why.)