Change in #defocus policy – and what do you think?

Since rearchitecting freenode’s network help and social channels, we’ve been considering various ways to improve them for our network users, and recently freenode’s steering committee has investigated and considered these issues.

Whilst many of you have indicated to us that you feel longer or more aggressive bans are required to prevent disruption, the steering committee feels that an alternative strategy is most appropriate for freenode, as harsher punishments go against what freenode stands for.

Therefore, as of September 15th #defocus will be a moderated channel. This means that in order to speak, users will need to be voiced in the channel. Most of the time staff will be around to voice users in the channel, and if they are not, then users will need to wait in order to be voiced.

Whilst we appreciate that this will inconvenience some of our users, we regret that the difficulty of managing the channel makes a change in policy of some sort a necessity. We request that users not ask for voice, either directly via staffers or in #freenode, as this will not result in being voiced sooner. Please wait patiently, and you will be voiced eventually.

As part of the change in policy, we’d like to solicit comments from you, the users. How do you feel about the way freenode uses its help and social channels? What improvements would you implement, and how would you plan and discuss them? We’d like to foster greater community feedback, and if you’ve got any general comments about any of these issues we’d love to hear them! Please let [email protected] know what you think!

89 thoughts on “Change in #defocus policy – and what do you think?

  1. This is ridiculus. There are 41 people who are unvoiced in #defocus right now! Get the point, #defocus stadff! Mods can NOT staff the channel 24/7, so #defocus, with the +m, is pretty much closed when no mods are available, like right now..

  2. voicing is the cancer that is killing #defocus.

    Seriously, I’ve given up going there – and I’m not the only one!

    I think ##socialites has now more movement than #defocus, and the gap can only increase.

    If you wanted to kill the channel, congratulations, that was a great move!

  3. the social room requires voice ops? this is horrible.. there are tons of users waiting now for voice

    dont you think this will cause spamming in other rooms that dont require voicing ..

    horrible move this new rule needs to be overturned

  4. I am sitting with a few other people waiting for my voice, watching as one of the ops chats away.

    Some people enter and they get instant voice. Others like myself have been waiting.. and waiting..

    I am pretty stinkin’ annoyed by the favoritism going on here, especially so that I see an oper chatting the night away.

    The above alone is enough for me to say the system fails.

  5. The #defocus voicing policy is a complete farce and is just another knee jerk reaction by Freenode’s more authoratarian staff members, the author of this post included. While some may argue that it stops trolls how was trolling an issue in #defocus to begin with? There were those such as myself who would come in, say something witty and then hang around for the conversation but seriously, how does that constitute trolling?

    Another issue is for those like myself who are stuck with unstable internet connections. My DSL is sometimes down a couple of times an hour for variable lengths of time (this house has dodgy wiring). So after having waited patiently for what can sometimes be hours (yes this has happened on various occasions) we are voiced and then the internet goes down. Comes back up again and I reconnect only have to wait a further hour to be voiced again. I’m sorry but this is bullshit and if you set out to destroy #defocus (and I’m looking in njan’s direction) then you most certainly have.

  6. it’s been 202 minutes since i joined and still no voice. i have recorded up to 6 hours before getting voiced… it sucks… i think it is a VERY VERY BAD policy

  7. There are currently 49 unvoiced people in #defocus. Some of them have been in there as long as three hours. Some of them were voiced before, and lost it due to a netsplit. There have been no staff around all evening, which isn’t really that big an issue normally.

    If you intend to keep the channel moderated, yet allow people to talk, you need to add more operators, otherwise people that want to socialize just move to #freenode (after all, if you’re not voicing, you’re not moderating the other channels).

  8. Topic for ##defocus is “A safe haven from the ever increasingly-ridiculous clutch of the rest of the network. This is the real defocus; this is the real freenode-social, whether official or not. This channel has heart, rather than mutes.”

    I encourage anyone to visit the unofficial ##defocus, since so many cannot even speak in the real one half the time. Maybe if it is unused the staff will realize their mistake.

  9. Presumably, the reason behind this is that trolls require instant gratification. Waiting some amount of time to get voiced cancels this out, and we only get people actually interested in talking.

    Perhaps this could be achieved with auto-voicing after a (random, of course) time limit.

  10. I suggest an everyone-has-ops-by-default policy, like what we have in #linguistics . No moderation, you come in, you can talk. And if you have +o, you can give +o to other people who don’t have it. Anyone who doesn’t behave gets kicked out or banned. Chanserv can be used by those who are on the access list to permanently de-op or ban trouble makers. #linguistics has 70+ users and it works like a charm.

  11. I don’t like the idea of the voice thing, but if you won’t listen to these hate comments, why don’t I give you an idea instead of bullcrap that nobody cares about

    Instead of having to re-voice people, why can’t we have ChanServ voice us on join once we get voiced once, so staff don’t really have to re-voice us? Cause having to wait for voice every….single….time…you…join can get annoying.

    It is a great way to stop trolling. but it’s horrible for the regulars, even though I’m new to #defocus.

  12. ##defocus is not going to be used as an overspill to that of the official channel, #defocus.

    if you want to join ##defocus – then please do – but *please* do not do that because somebody else has told you to do so.


  13. I am a little concerned with the moderation on #defocus – having not long gone back to using it, sometimes it is quick to get voice, other times it can take ages. The shortest I have had to wait was tonight (11 seconds from entry to voice), the longest was about a fortnight ago, when it took 23 minutes and prodding #freenode for someone to come in and voice 12 or so of us who were waiting.

    What would be good is to have users who are known to #freenode and #defocus who generally don’t behave like dicks, to be autovoiced on entry – a right which they can easily have removed if they behave stupidly or abuse the privilege.

    Thoughts from the staff?

  14. in a time when internet provides instant gratification to information and instant communication, intentionally introducing a lag is a good way of killing audience loyalty. same reason why websites are made to load as quickly as possible (unlike early adopters’ fascination with flash-heavy sites that takes awhile longer). studies have shown a reduction in overall site audienceship ie after viewing a loading-time-intensive frontpage, users tracked are shown not to traverse the other pages.

    on a side note (half related, and also relating to turnover of channel operators)…

    trolling has spilled over to other channels, so unintended consequence is channels whose access list have become defunct (due to those with access-modifying abilities going MIA) will face an unabated increase in trolls, thus discouraging potentially useful members from frequenting those channels, leading to overall decrease in freenode patronage. if left unchecked, would end up in endless regression leading to foreseeable die-out as have witnessed on other networks due to automated policies that has unintended spillover consequences affecting good people.

    a troll cachement area eg in defocus, would keep this activity in check. kind of a similar notion to how authorities intentionally allow bad neighbourhoods to thrive so it becomes easy to enforce the law (since one knows where all the baddies are)

  15. All of you have valid points, and many of you have very profound points.

    I feel the voicing system if not already implementing this should:

    1. have a method to rate via chanserv the quality of the channel’s conversation on 3 points:
    1-1. the level of own captivation of attention span within given channel
    1-2. the level of own general satisfaction within given channel
    1-3. the level of own sense of community spirit within given channel

    These 3 systems fed into a fuzzy weighting system could theoretically determine reliably an autonomous delay rate for granting voice, in addition to a penalty whether all or a good portion of voices to be removed temporarily from given channel in order for them to gradually be autonomously reapplied in the event there is mass dissatisfaction.

    The level of attention span could assumed to have negative quality for low levels during lulls in order to sooner grant voices, and have negative quality for low levels during high activity in order to delay further granting voices.

    The levels of community spirit could therefore be autonomously used for the purpose of requesting mediation and/or intervention from higher ranking users of the given channel.

    This is just an idea for some form of casual democratic system in place for the purpose of real-time scaling the handling of the channel to reflect the scenario at the time, rather than simply changing over the way the channel is handled in totality as how Toes, among others, pointed out. In this way the channel can somewhat adapt to changing scenarios autonomously in real time.

    Just my two cents regarding a somewhat realistic means of compromise.

  16. Moderation has turned this channel into even more of a cesspool for the cliquey dregs of freenode to aggregate.

    It can easily take 10+ minutes to get voiced, if not longer at times. One consequence is that if you want to talk in there at all you have an incentive to remain in the channel. So you may have 200 people in there – but pretty much everyone is idle.

    Rules are inconsistently enforced. Now I’ve been on IRC for nearly 15 years so I’ve seen pretty much everything can happen – and whenever you have a moderated channel with vague rules = instant clique. Which is exactly what has happened.

    Simple rules and non-emo ops are the only reasonable solution. Anyone who abuses their op powers should have them stripped. No questions asked. You won’t find this in #defocus or on freenet in general. Pity because it has a lot of great people but the mis-management is noticeably making it worse overall.

  17. As someone with a ten years* of IRC experience I cannot say this is anyway to run a channel.

    In an emergency it makes sense but perpetually is nuts.

    I have no idea what the real reason is however they way it is set up makes the people who moderate the channel come across as a bunch of control freaks that can barely tolerate channel activity while they’re not present.

    To reiterate, by all means it may not be like that at all but it is how I first preceive it. Somewhat ironic given the speech concerning what freenode is against because this is a harsh measure when no one is around in the channel for prolonged periods which appears to be the case right now. In a way by this measure you are punishing innocent people as well as the guilty.

    I do understand the need to have some order but this seems to go to far. It’s a very crude solution and I don’t understand how it can be all that effective because to the extent of my knowledge I can’t see how being unable to speak until someone voices you is going to do anything. Right now there are voiced users in the channel and there’s nothing stopping any of them from being abusive while moderators are absent.

    There is no magic bullet or panacea but that is no excuse to make no effort at all. I’ve never seen anything like this in any of the channels on freenode when discussing technology. General chat can be a little more explosive but not by much.

    Perhaps you should rename the channel from ‘#defocus’ to ‘#devoice’.

    * It’s not a competition and yes lots of people have used it for far longer who probably still disagree amongst themselves on matters pertaining to IRC activity. The point is ten years of anything and you’re going to at least have a clue.

  18. I really think a bot might help in this situation.. Seriously, if someone is identified and using a nick that has been registered for several years, and is not on a ban list, is there any conceivable reason not to voice them?

  19. The fact that this was posted in September and got a huge response but has no follow-up comments from staff is very sad. It’s like joining in a chatroom and being unable to participate — why let users post comments if you’re unwilling or unable to engage in a two-way conversation?


  20. I think this is a bad system. Typically, I have always been voiced quickly, but it is 11:40PM and I have been waiting for over an our.
    I see attempts at blocking spam as unwise unless they are all or none. Either let everything be free, or block everything. Since it is impossible to block everything, let it be a regular channel, and if somebody trolls or spams, ban them.
    In my opinion, you are hurting the users who want to ask quick questions more than you are preventing spam.

  21. It’s got worse than that now..

    I was a gold supporter for 2 years.. I also came to freenode to support a OSI approved project with which I am involved.

    #defocus was the channel where I was expecting to find like minded people. To wind down after a hard day’s work or after having spent hours on end the intricate workings of the project. And for a couple years, that’s what it was…

    But recently, I got what seems to be a permanent devoice because of a *single* statement I made – which to me appeared completely benign – but which appeared to be completely out of line for a staffer (yes.. not your overheated/overworked channel OP.. a *staffer*). No warning.. no consideration for the 10 commandments published at No ill intent on my part(#1), no looking for the best in people from the person in charge(#2), no setting of a good example (#3), etc, etc… (that is, if the staffer in question would have told me I was out of line, and asked me to discontinue, I would have obliged (cf #1) – even if I would disagree.. but .. *NO* auto devoice (#2?, #3?).. no warning,).

    As a consequence, I have stopped using freenode as a support channel (or rather, I have stopped providing support on it). In an environment where even *staff* cannot hold to the values brought forth by the charter, I totally lost confidence in freenode as a media to

    I only log in once in a while to ensure my nick doesn’t get pre-empted..

    Of couse, I am only 1 in 50K+ users.. but there may be others who are feeling the same.. And I am afraid this marks the beginning of the end of freenode as a medium to support Free/Open Source projects…

    Such a waste..


  22. .. as an addendum to my previous comment ..

    Apparently, the devoice wasn’t permanent (I just did get voiced).. So maybe I was a bit too pessimistic about freenode…

    We’ll see..


  23. What about people who use starbucks for their internet conn.? I only get 2 free hours of internet, and i’m not wasting them waiting to be voiced. A change is needed asap

  24. the voicing is coming faster and more consistent. I just think it had to come up to snuff. I think it is great

  25. This blog is probably long dead, but I anyway felt the need to say something, especially after reading all the comments and taking time to think about it. In theory, the idea of stopping trolls with such a policy is good, but practically, it still has its drawbacks. I know that the new bot “urd” appears to voice regulars as soon as they join, which is great. The problem is, there’s still those new users which we get many of everyday, as the network grows. That, and those who don’t frequently visit #defocus, still face a problem. In my honest opinion, the best way to deal with trolling is with standard mutes, as it has been with most channels for how long, as well as it is in #freenode today 9which appears to be doing fine). I understand that harsher punishments go against what freenode stands for, but lets face it, harsher punishments don’t cause inconvenience to everyone else like a whole chan mute does. Besides, if someone has a deliberate intention to troll, commit personal attacks or other offenses against a channel’s policy, is there a reason a harsher punishment should be avoided for that? We need to look at both sides of rule breaking: deliberate and ambiguous. There’s no reason the former can’t just earn a normal mute or ban. If a troll really wants to troll, they will usually just wait for voice, unless they have to wait for hours on end. In that case, the inconvenience for users with good faith still remains.

    To sum this up, Freenode is a large public network, you remove or add one factor, you’re still going to have problems. In #Defocus’s case, for anyone upon getting voice, #Defocus is a typical channel with a large number of users, with free access, no less. No matter what policy you have, you’re bound to get idiots regardless.

  26. Are you be serious guys?

    Its ok for a channel to be moderated, but to wait more than 20 f*king minutes to get a stupid voice?

    OMG thats such a bad move. a new user should not be moderated for more than 1 minute

  27. I really don’t like this new policy. I agree that there is definitely favoritism, and that moderators can’t be sitting there for an eternity, voicing people.

  28. i would say 3 letters – lol . been to various servers and staff never voices, the people who run the channel moderate the channel and voice witha +m command and then a +v

  29. If you can’t wait 20 minutes to say something, you don’t deserve vocal cords, or fingers in this case, imho…

  30. I have a suggestion, we can auto-voice people with cloaks. Having a cloak means you’re either part of a project, a donor, or have asked an op for a generic one.

  31. We have experimented with this in the past and, as of right now, people with pdpc or freenode cloaks will be auto-voiced. As the pdpc namespace is “ours”, we can more easily pull those cloaks in case of abuse and thus regulate people trying to go through that loophole.

    As an aside, we have significantly improved voice handling in case of reconnections etc, so things are a lot better, anyway.

  32. i find this moderation successfull.
    Its solving the floods and attacks.
    If someone can’t wait to talk 5mins/20mins then it was not important.
    /join #Defocus
    make coffee
    run coffee.exe
    /msg #defocus ohai! \o/

    that simple.

  33. had to wait 30 minutes to get voice!! worse, some people who joined after i did, got voice as soon as they joined!! ridiculious!

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