IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a great tool. There are channels
dedicated to every topic you can think of. And many topics you would not want to
know about. IRC is also a popular place to obtain support and help with various
tools, including FreeBSD. There are many channels available on many different
This will sound facist to some. So be it. IRC channels are not
public property. They belong to those who live in the channel. It's a
community. Some people fit, some don't.
The main reason for writing this article is to make it easier for people who use IRC.
Actually, it's for myself, because I see people, who I assume are new to IRC,
making the same "mistakes" time and time again. Perhaps these tips will
- Don't assume the channel is a help channel. Join and watch. See if others
are asking for help. If so, you can be pretty sure you're in the right place.
- Don't ask if you can ask a question. Just ask the *real* question.
- Ask your question clearly and concisely. This is good: "When I login into my
FreeBSD box, I get this message: <insert message here>". This is bad:
"My box gives me an error when I log in".
- Ask a specific question. Don't ask "Does anyone here use qmail"?
- Don't ask for off-topic help. For example, asking for help with Linux in a FreeBSD
channel isn't a good idea. Similarly, asking for NetBSD help in an OpenBSD channel
doesn't make much sense either. If people are sitting in #WindowsNT, chances are
that they are there to help others with Windows NT, not with FreeBSD.
- Don't use colors, bold, etc.
- Don't use MS Chat in non-MS Chat channels. How can you tell? Well, turn off
MS Chat before you go in. Then you'll see.
- Use an easy-to-type nickname. Avoid [ and ] and other non-alpha characters.
Especially as the first character.
- Don't use auto-away messages. Nobody cares.
- Stick to the language of the channel. If everyone is speaking French, speak
- Avoid cute spellings such as "r u OK?" or "can n e help me?"
- Be patient. Ask your question and then wait. Not every person in the channel
is sitting there waiting for you to ask something. And of those that are watching,
perhaps none of them know the answer. So just wait. Quietly.
- Respect those in the channel. They are there voluntarily. They owe you
- Expect to be removed if you don't act in a manner acceptable to the channel.
- Don't complain if you are removed.
- There is no free speech on IRC. If that's what you want, create your own channel.
- Adhere to the channel customs. If you don't like the way the channel is run,
leave. Channel management is not your domain.
- IRC is not real life. Get over it.