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. :( doesn’t really tell us much – have you got comments? Tell us! :) E-mail canvas@, or if you don’t feel up to it at the very least drop us a line some other way, in a comment or on IRC.

    What don’t you like? What do you see being the purpose of #defocus and #freenode? What problems do you see? How would you fix them?

    This is your community – help us improve it! :)

  2. Well, as someone who has been on Freenode for a number of years, I have been witness to this back and forth game with the social/official help channel that seems to have been going on since the network started.

    I`ve seen the name of the channel change several times to try and represent whatever the latest interpretation of network philosophy was.. and what “message” we wanted to portray to new users. I’ve seen it bounce between moderated and unmoderated.. split apart into official and unofficial, joined back together.. split apart again…

    Kinda reminds me of your average medium to large company. New staff come on board… and bring with them a “new approach” .. names of projects and committees are changed.. you start hearing different slogans and company platitudes.. it’s gonna revolutionize the whole company!.. then three months later it’s changing again.

    I have no specific gripe about this new plan to revolutionize the “official” channels.. it sounds like a good idea.. just like the last 12. And I`m sure the one that follows this one will be good too.

    This is not to say I don`t think this kind of thing is important. I think one of the cool things about Freenode has always been how much care is put into the philosophy and decisions about how things are run.. just seems like we go back and forth on this topic way too often.

    Good luck and hope it all works for the best!

    Also I`m not sure if this is the appropriate forum for this.. but I hear JonathanD eats kittens :( .. very worrying :(

  3. I think Toes did a good job summerizing it up pretty well (although the comment was more the length of a novel), so i don’t have much to add on this. That also goes hand in hand with me not visiting those ‘channels’. Not that i don’t see the purpose of them, i just think they are to big to function in a decent manner. Or at least thats always been why i never visited them. I like the warmth of a small channel. #freenode, #defocus always felt to me like a sitting around in a metro train.

    But before i derail completely from the actual message, i do feel like there is one channel that has been left, out there in the cold, alone :(… and thats #politics … i know its hard to stear that channel into something where you can sustain a decent conversation…. but a man has the right to wish.

    On the matter about JonathanD eating kittens, I am clueless. But i did see him kick a puppy once :

  4. I was on chat a few seconds ago and I saw how voice can be used for good.. And no, there are no cheap whores on #defocus. Geez, people! Have a bit of decency!

  5. Is this kind of change really necessary? We get trolls all the time in ##windows, but we get by without having this voice scheme. This voice scheme is the kind of thing I use on other networks as a joke.

  6. What the fail?

    You guys can’t keep a channel in line without moderating it? A channel, no less, that has been known to welcome everyone in it (so long as they weren’t dicks about it)? Great. Hopefully someone else will make another, non-moderated #defocus so we don’t have to put up with this moderated shit.

  7. Not really a bad idea but might be a bit unnecessary seeing that staff are present in both channel 24/7..voicing staff in #freenode was the best idea yet and regarding aggressive bans, yeah..thats a good idea..I remember a person who was spamming links privately was K-Lined 5 times in 28 hours which i found unnecessary..that should be changed..1 K-line for maybe a week would have worked and regarding voicing people in #defocus, it might be a really bad idea..its a social channel and a moderated social channel is not that welcoming and since its freenodes’ official social channel, it doesn’t really look good for freenode..good idea to remove it..i believe

  8. ‘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.’

    yeah… certainly +m and assuming that everyone are evil and should be prevented from speaking in public social channel unless some staff is around to quiet them in case they’re breaking the rules, is what freenode stands for… c’mon, it’s like quiet on *!*@* with exceptions dependant on staff presense… i’m outta here.

  9. This is complete crap. Pretty much what unic0rn said, I remember back in the day on #freenode-social when it would sometimes be hours before you got voiced. Because even though staff are in the channel, it doesn’t mean they constantly stalk one window waiting for someone to join to voice them. And they shouldn’t. They have more important things to do than sit around voicing people. How about… we have a policy where we place mutes on people, you know, innocent until proven guilty instead of the other way around?

    Oh wait, we already had that policy for a year and we got rid of it.

  10. Totally agree with Toes, it was in fact precisely what I wanted to say; this is purely history repeating itself – welcome back to #freenode-social folks.

    I’m not saying it’s necessarily a *bad* thing, what I’m saying is that some sort of consistency would be good… set a policy in stone, these shifts are becoming whimsical.

  11. Guys, I don’t know what the solution to your problems is, but inconveniencing the decent users to combat the bad is not a solution. You’re punishing us more than anyone else.

    Do something different. Anything. But not this.

  12. Like Toes, I’ve seen this change back and forth too many times. OTOH, I couldn’t care either way. #defocus is the ass-end of freenode, with or without moderation. Just about every time I join, there’s some heated argument or other going on. I’m not sure what the solution is, but you guys already tried moderation, remember? It’s a silly idea. Either you’re committing to keeping staff around to voice people (in which case those staffers could just ban offenders, no need for moderation), or you’re admitting that you don’t really have the resources to watch the channel (in which case moderation doesn’t help, 90% of the idiocy that breaks out in that channel is going to happen between users that are already voiced, anyway, and staff still won’t be around to break it up).

    As for trolls, well. Every channel gets their share of those. Most of them seem to be able to deal with it.

    Also, I’ve never seen JonathanD eat a kitten, but I hear he lieks mudkips (he told me so!)

  13. Ok so, I hopped back into #defocus, three minutes to get voiced. Not a bad response time for waiting on staff to “come check and voice people,” but as the official social channel of the network, don’t you think people are going to get bored when they can’t talk right away? Maybe if you had an option to auto-voice as people joined, then you could devoice as necessary. Just like a quiet would have been done.
    Another stray thought, troublemakers, people who have been devoiced for reason, will staff know who they are when they “peek in” and voice everyone waiting down there at the bottom of the lists? You’ll have repeat offenders and need to use “longer or more aggressive bans” to shut them up and keep the peace.
    Good network, like being here, like most policies but this one feels stifling.

  14. Not good. I regularly visit #defocus, and this policy is bad. No one can talk if no moderator is on duty. :( Please, please change this back.

  15. Moderating the channel and having staff manually voice new users isn’t all that great of an idea for an offtopic social channel. If it was a structured help channel I could see a real need for it, otherwise.. not so much. There are much better approaches to hushing trouble makers, like using the active staff that are in there voicing users to simply ban the bad ones (like it was presumably done before +m). It’s already very clear from discussion in #defocus, and comments on this blog post that this idea was a bad mistake. I just wonder how long it will take for you to realize this and reverse it.

  16. Pretty much a was to facilitate passive-aggressive abuse. Now instead of actually muting someone (which requires a legitimate reason), they can just “forget” to voice them. Typical staff behavior.

  17. I really don’t think its a good idea. So you voice someone randomly, and if they start to abuse it you devoice them? What’s the difference between that and a silence? Nothing as far as I can see. I think it’s farther from network philosophy to punish everyone for the occasional troll, than to ban said trolls more harshly.


  18. I’m a frequent editor on Wikipedia, where one of the major underlying policies is ‘Assume Good Faith’ (type WP:AGF into the search bar to read it). Generally, the ethos on Wikipedia is that you assume that all people are trying to do something good to the Wikipedia, unless it is obvious that it is not. Another policy states that you shouldn’t combat a problem that doesn’t exist. Now, I’m not a regular on #defocus, but I’m sure that many bad-faith users can generally be solved with a kick or a ban. Penalising people for being interested in Freenode won’t work; there’s been a few times when people are waiting to be voiced, when they decide it is taking too long and move to a seemingly more active channel. A proposal: Prehaps an “if on blacklist then wait for staffer to voice else give voice automatically”. This assists most ‘good-faith’ users, and anyone contravening the rules can easily be added to the blacklist. You could make it so that the automatic voice is a courtesy to the user, and can be revoked at any time (and so there’s a one strike and you’re out rule). Yours, Microchip08.

  19. I think this is quite a reasonable idea, however, I wouldn’t have expected it on the network in general. I remember the days when the old Freenode channel had this concept, I think it worked quite well for numerous years until they split into -social, and then to where we are today.

    I think a good idea would be to auto-voice users who are already known in Freenode or/ Defocus like the old Freenode channel was like. Or auto-voice different large projects, or a concept of that sort.

    In general, a good step forward :)

  20. Why don’t you give automatically voice and remove it when there are issues? As a preliminary step before kicking…

  21. First of all, I object to the steering committee on the grounds that committees are inherently evil. Secondly, rearchitect is not even a word (and architect isn’t a verb). Most importantly, you’re taking the free out of freenode. Quit it. I donated to PDPC because I liked it, three years ago, but I’m seriously considering hanging up my student supporter cloak. 😛

  22. They say that a few usually do end up ruining it for all, but this seems a bit much, imo. The idea of moderating a “social” channel just seems off putting and not conducive to encouraging conversation in the channel in the first place.

    As for “harsher” punishments, this might be the better way to go after all. Those who continually break the rules probably deserve some sort of progressive disciplinary action — perhaps then they’ll learn. IMO, I find that to be a better solution than placing unneccessary burdens on users who are abiding by the rules.

  23. I’ve been around #defocus for awhile and have made some friends and at least one enemy. The voicing isn’t a problem until you wind up having to wait an interminable amount of time for it to be enabled for you. This was driven home to me the other day when a very interesting topic started and I couldn’t participate because I was still waiting to be voiced. By the time someone was able to voice me, the topic had vanished and I was a sad pixel.

    I think a better way to do this would be to auto-voice everyone and then remove voice when/if someone acts out. Or perhaps auto-voice only registered nicks while making unregistered nicks wait.

    By the way, Christel rocks. :)

  24. Utterly rediculous… it turns a social channel into a senate debate, with subjects needing to be “recognised” before speaking.

  25. I arrived on freenode in August 2007, and immensely enjoyed #freenode-social. After the #defocus switch, I left because I thought the channel would go downhill. Lo and behold, it did. I hope maybe now with at least a part of the old #freenode-social back (the moderation) it can be a decent medium again…

    My 2c.

  26. I actually think this is a good idea. I have been on the #freenode for quite sometime now and have seen some really bad stuff. While the staffers try and do their best there is no way that they will ever get everybody. And even if they ban one person that same can come back under another IP and still annoy/disrupt users.
    I really like that we are trying something new and I really hope this works

  27. I am in favor of this method by implemented differently. There should be a bot that autovoices everyone who hasn’t been devoiced. The bot should also start autovoicing the person again once they have been voiced by a moderator.

  28. I still don’t understand why you don’t use +q on users that ‘troll’ instead of voicing all other users. It would really have the same effect, except that you *do* lose your +v when losing connection, and if one is in the middle of a conversation and there’s no staff around, you know what happens. +q, however, is a channel mode, and *does* stay over a reconnect (as you should know ;-)).

    To anyone else who is reading this and agrees with me, I recommend ##defocus (though I’m not operator there).

  29. I’m in favor of this, partially. If it was an auto-voice channel for everyone I’d use it, but keep it on +m… because troublemaking users can be devoiced and if their privaledges are abused they can simply be kickbanned.

    Simple enough.

    But when #defocus was ##freenode-social, I had trouble because I remember once I waited 8 hours for voice. Went to school for a day, came back 8 hours later… no voice. About 45 minutes later I finally received voice.

    There needs to be a bot that automatically does this at certain time intervals, actually.

    A bot would be nice.

  30. What Toes says sums it ups quite well, it won’t help, it will just make people angry!

  31. When I joined, 43 of 313 are unvoiced, waiting half an hour for a voice without success. Nobody is talking.

    Now, tell me what the point is of a channel designed to facilitate communication but prevents those very users from communicating effectively and quickly. Some of us do not have all day to wait around hoping that the powers that be wake up and notice people are waiting to talk.

    I know I am a cynic, and public outspeaker, but I really don’t see how this is better.

  32. The Chanops are getting lazier and lazier. If it goes on like this, at times a half of the channel or more won’t be voiced.

  33. I dont get how this solves anything. Its no different than a banning/kicking …

  34. You say you want us to comment so we can help you make our community better. Well please listen to me and everyone else who has commented.

    This policy is pure lazyness. DO NOT punish first and pardon later. This takes more man power and more time than banning.

    Also I see no difference between * xOP has removed voice from xUSER and *xOP has placed a ban on xUSER. Either way everyone is publically notified that xUSER is a troll and is now not allowed to speak.

    Please change it back!!! If you need more ops to place some bans I’m sure the frequent chatters of #defocus would be more than happy to help.

    I seriously miss the open friendly chat. I had a lot of fun and made some good friends. Now that is gone.

  35. Pfft you know they won’t. Hell, a shitton of us are waiting on a voice right now (including me).

  36. Ok… moderation is for when you want to allow a lot of people in a channel and allow a relative few number of them to speak. Like when its an event with a major speaker and you don’t want them to get flooded by minor people that should just be listening. Like an auditorium event.

    If more than half of the people in the channel are voiced, you’re using +m for the wrong reason. This is why we have ban and mute… to take care of the actual troublemakers as they cause it. This is not what +m is for.

    To restate what somebody else said above, we should be innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until “somebody gets around to noticing that you joined the channel and aren’t voiced.” Which may be never.

    If the goal of this policy is to simply make more people join #defocus and then part seconds later when they realize they have to wait some arbitrary amount of time to be voiced, then it will succeed admirably. People will join, but they won’t stay when they realize they can’t chat.

    This isn’t internet relay silence, its internet relay chat. So the policy should be maintained accordingly.

  37. Because they A) have no incentive and B) have never done it before?

  38. why do you filter this site? only add what you like.. you should take the blog topic down since you are abusing the meaning of blogging and community.. maybe you +m the blog too?

  39. I’m tired of waiting sometimes an hour or more to get voiced. It is not uncommon to see 15 people at one time with no voice; people who could be contributing to the discussion. I beg you, #defocus staff, I beg you to remove the +m.

  40. I like the intention of the new policy. The non-stop troll action of the previous channel was far worse.

    Yet this arrangement encourages me to lurk. Waiting for a voice cancels out most of the original impulse to join.

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