The Beauty of #freenode

#freenode channel, as it currently exists, is a veritable work of art – people who come to the channel are nearly always provided help or referred somewhere for the answer. The really beautiful thing about #freenode, though, is that at least 50% of the help provided comes from network users (rather than freenode staff).

Almost two years ago, the channel #freenode was recreated with new guidelines and philosophy consistent with freenode’s. The ideas weren’t that new – they had already been (somewhat) in use in the old #tapthru channel. The activity in #freenode is generally within the channel guidelines, which may be found at http://freenode.net/poundfreenode.shtml and is highly recommended for anyone planning to participate in the channel.

Whilst many help channels utilize specialized staff to answer questions, one of the most refreshing things about #freenode is that anyone who knows the answer to a question can, and often does, provide the answer or help to the user in need – regardless of status or staff-ness. Numerous users lurk in the channel, either to learn from others’ questions, help other users through their queries or generally just to take up space :)

Some of the more common questions can be, and are, answered by a multitude of people. Keep in mind that being on staff is not a prerequisite to having the correct answer to your question! Here are some common questions:

  • How do I register a nick? A: http://freenode.net/faq.shtml#nicksetup
  • How do I register a channel? A: http://freenode.net/policy.shtml#channelnaming /msg ChanServ help register http://freenode.net/group_registration.shtml
  • How do I set auto-ops on a channel? A: http://freenode.net/channel_guidelines.shtml
  • What is a cloak and how do I get one? A: First set your nick up this way (http://freenode.net/channel_guidelines.shtml), and then message a staff member. Some users whose accounts have been registered recently may be asked to wait a short time before being eligible for a cloak. Cloaks are privileges, not rights – they may be removed in the event of misconduct on the network.
  • There is someone trolling my channel! What should I do? A: freenode strongly encourages the idea of catalysing and has gone so far as to make it part of its policy for staff and official network channels, as well as encouraging others to use the same principles. For two helpful guides on freenode’s catalyst policy, please see http://freenode.net/catalysts.shtml and http://blog.freenode.net/2007/02/the-heart-and-mind-of-a-catalyst/. Part of dealing with trolling is understanding the motivations of the troll. Feel free to read this blog post on the subject or catch a staffer for more ideas: http://blog.freenode.net/2007/05/silence-is-golden-handling-trolls-and-spammers/
  • I’ve lost my password! Can someone help me regain access to my nick? A: If you set your nick up properly when you registered, staff is able to send you a password reset key. Ask in #freenode and when a staffer is available, he/she will be happy to do so.
  • I would like to use a nick that is already registered, will you drop it for me? A: again, staff can assist you. However, try running /msg NickServ info $nick – be sure it’s at least 60 days unused. Then /nick to the nick. Staff will not drop the nick unless you are using it when you ask for the drop. There are situations where, even if a nick is unused for at least 60 days, staff cannot or will not drop it. Be prepared to find another nick if that is the case.
  • I’ve been banned from a channel! Let me back in! A: #freenode is not the place to ask. If you have been banned from a channel, you need to contact the operators of the channel and request to be unbanned. May I suggest doing so politely? No matter how indignant you are, demanding to be unbanned is likely to not serve your goal. To find channel operators, try /msg ChanServ access #channame list
  • How do I find a specific channel if I don’t know the name? A: You can try using ALIS. /msg ALIS help

These are just a few of the many and varied requests in #freenode. Please feel free to feel free to hang out, learn, help and listen!

Happy 15th!

15 years ago, on January 29th 1994 Rob (lilo) Levin first joined the channel #linuxneo on the EFNet IRC network. This date has since been referred to as the conceptual moment, the foundation, the cornerstone which later led to the network you now know as freenode.

Since that January evening in 1994 — the original channel made some network moves before it became it’s own network; irc.linpeople.org in 1995 — a few name-changes later and we’re freenode. Peaking at just over 52,000 daily users, spread across FOSS and other peer-directed communities.

We (freenode staff volunteers) have the pleasure of working with exciting projects ranging from the Wikimedia Foundation to various Linux distributions (Fedora, Gentoo, Redhat, Suse to name but a few) to the Free Software Foundation to .. the list goes on and on and on.. It’s fantastic to see so many people sharing our passion, all in one place — yet scattered across the globe.

So, to each and every one of you, to each and every project on the network, to Free and Open Source Software, to the exchange of ideas and information, to the memory of lilo — A very happy 15th birthday to freenode!

And to each and every user and to all the volunteers, past and present — thank you for making this possible!

Canonical Pledges Matching Funds

Thanks to all of you for the donations you have contributed so far towards our fundraising drive. freenode has a few interesting fundraising events and ideas up its sleeves, so hopefully there will be a few more updates to the blog with more details in weeks to come! Today, freenode and the PDPC announces one of a number of exciting updates to the fundraising process:

Mark Shuttleworth and the Canonical team have kindly agreed to provide matching funding for up to £1700, which is enough to meet our £5000 goal). Effective immediately, every donation you make will have a matching contribution, thereby doubling in value! This is an extraordinarily kind gesture and we at freenode would like to thank Mark and Canonical, and the Ubuntu community, for directly and indirectly making it happen!

2008/2009 Fundraiser.

We’re slowly climbing towards our target of £5,000.00 in donations by March 2009. However, as the pie-chart shows we’re still quite a way off. If you appreciate what we do and want to see the PDPC provide further services to the communities, why not head over to http://freenode.net/pdpc_donations.shtml and see if you are able to help us reach the target! Any donation, small or large is gratefully received and a massive thanks goes to those who have already dug deep and helped us climb up the ladder in this instance!

Nickserv Access Module Loaded.

We recently added support for NickServ’s ACCESS command to freenode’s services. This allows you to define a list of hostmasks from which nickserv will recognise you before you have identified. Logging in as normal is still required, but matching an entry on this list will prevent NickServ from changing your nick if ENFORCE is enabled.

For more detailed information, see NickServ’s help topic:

/msg NickServ HELP ACCESS

There is one caveat to this feature: if you match an entry on your nickname’s access list, you will not receive notices from NickServ asking you to identify. This, combined with nickname access lists that were migrated from our old theia database and have lain dormant since, may cause some auto-identify scripts to stop functioning.

If you find that this is the case, the simplest workaround is just to remove all entries from your nickname’s access list. Use

/msg NickServ ACCESS LIST

to see all entries, and

/msg NickServ ACCESS DEL <hostmask>

to remove them.