CIA Bots – ‘The Instant Version Control Informants’ — an annoyance?

While most FOSS contributors will be familiar with CIA and likely to utilize it for tracking commits for their project(s) and contributors, we occasionally have concerns raised from projects who find that CIA-* joined their channel unexpectedly and not on their request, this may be because someone typoed a channel name when setting things up over at the CIA page, or because someone decided to be helpful and share the joys of CIA with a new project/channel but forgot to ask the project admins/channel owners whether this would be a-ok.. and occasionally we find ourselves getting a bunch of notices alerting us to a CIA-* bot as a potential spambot as it tries rejoin a channel from which it has been banned, or when its been misconfigured and cycle a channel which has a forward set (this tends to confuse most bots!).

 While freenode encourage and welcome the use of CIA-* bots on our servers, finding it to be a great tool for the wider FOSS communities, tracking thousands of concurrent projects and contributors at any given time we also acknowledge that it may be annoying to have a uninvited CIA-* bot join your channel.

 We would like to ask that those of you who find yourself having a surprise CIA-* bot visiting your channel alert a staffer to the annoyance rather than ban it from your channel as this causes the bot to repeatedly attempt to rejoin, not only causing spambot alerts for staff but also lag to the bot which again affects other projects who rely on that particular bot for alerts. If the CIA-* bot is being too loud for your liking, consider muting it (/mode #yourchan +q nick) and alerting a staffer who will ensure that the bot is parted from the channel without anymore disruption to either side.  

Thank you for your co-operation on this matter and thank you for using freenode!

We’re still here!

It’s been quiet on the blog front lately, we’re mid holiday season so find ourselves somewhat lacking in active staff and this has kept most of those who are around tremendously busy. Both on freenode and with working on new stuff!

RichiH and I just got  back from Houston, TX a couple of weeks back. We flew over to deal with some PDPC business, visited the grave of Rob (lilo) and had the pleasure of meeting his wife and son. Prior to that we attended GUADEC where we got to meet a fair few users who gave us some valuable input and ideas for the network and where to go next! Thanks guys.

I was doing my early morning coffee + newspapers followed by blogs session while trying to wake up this morning and came across a couple of blog entries written by a user, they amused me, while also being somewhat accurate.. so I figured I would share. A list of annoying IRC personalities and also part 2.

So much is happening…

Today has been an interesting day in ‘freenodia’, a day of reflection, and a day where both myself and my incredible staff got a feel of what it means to be surrounded and embraced by so many large and vibrant communities as those who choose to use the freenode network. We are proud and happy to host the projects we host, and we are tremendously grateful that by using freenode you allow us to get a peek behind the curtains on how your project operates, which is always refreshing.

We also appeared in the news today, when NewsForge and linux.com broke the news (though, old news to our blog readers!) of freenode and OFTC exploring further collaboration.

And we saw some changes to the structure of the PDPC board.

As of the board meeting on May 22nd 2007 a few changes have been made with immediate effect. David Levin has stepped down from his position as President. Christel Dahlskjaer (freenode Head of Staff) replaces him as President by unanimous vote, while David retains a position on the PDPC board.

Phil Stracchino follows in Christel’s footsteps, assuming her previous position as secretary pro tem.

Joining the board we have Richard (RichiH) Hartmann in the position as treasurer pro tem, representing freenode staff, and David (cdlu) Graham as a community board member.

All members of the board are excited to be working together to provide even better services to the communities we serve and look forward to a interesting future for PDPC and its sub projects.

We would like to thank all the freenode staff volunteers, server sponsors and users who have helped build up the organization and the projects as they are today. We could not have done it without you and appreciate your continued support and enthusiasm in helping us in our efforts to lay the structures for building vibrant peer directed communities.

Congratulations to the additional board members of the PDPC, both of whom were voted in unanimously.

The corporate officers of the PDPC are as follows:

* Christel Dahlskjaer – President
* Phil Stracchino – Secretary
* Richard Hartmann – Treasurer

The PDPC board of directors:

* Christel Dahlskjaer – Member (Head of Staff, freenode)
* Phil Stracchino – Member
* David Levin – Member
* Richard Hartmann – Member
* David Graham – Community Board Member

In unrelated news, it has come to the attention of freenode and the PDPC Board that certain users of the freenode network have been propagating unfounded rumors concerning the status of PDPC board members and freenode staff, claiming to represent or acting on behalf of the President of the PDPC Board. The Board wishes it to be clearly understood that these users do not speak for or represent either freenode or the Peer Directed projects Center in any capacity, official or otherwise. We politely request that you disregard any rumors about Freenode or PDPC obtained from sources other than official Freenode/PDPC communication channels.

We thank you for your attention, and assure you that PDPC will continue to operate freenode to the best of its ability in the best interests of the network and the F/OSS community.

On behalf of the PDPC board,

Christel Dahlskjaer – President, Head of Staff – freenode
Phil Stracchino – Secretary
David Graham – Community Board Member

The above is copied from the news announcement made here.

I hope you are all having a wonderful day.

Changes to the board structure of the PDPC

As of the board meeting on May 22nd 2007 a few changes have been made with immediate effect. David Levin has stepped down from his position as President. Christel Dahlskjaer (freenode Head of Staff) replaces him as President by unanimous vote, while David retains a position on the PDPC board.

Phil Stracchino follows in Christel’s footsteps, assuming her previous position as secretary pro tem.

Joining the board we have Richard (RichiH) Hartmann in the position as treasurer pro tem, representing freenode staff, and David (cdlu) Graham as a community board member.

All members of the board are excited to be working together to provide even better services to the communities we serve and look forward to a interesting future for PDPC and its sub projects.

We would like to thank all the freenode staff volunteers, server sponsors and users who have helped build up the organization and the projects as they are today. We could not have done it without you and appreciate your continued support and enthusiasm in helping us in our efforts to lay the structures for building vibrant peer directed communities.

Congratulations to the additional board members of the PDPC, both of whom were voted in unanimously.

The corporate officers of the PDPC are as follows:

  • Christel Dahlskjaer – President
  • Phil Stracchino – Secretary
  • Richard Hartmann – Treasurer

The PDPC board of directors:

  • Christel Dahlskjaer – Member (Head of Staff, freenode)
  • Phil Stracchino – Member
  • David Levin – Member
  • Richard Hartmann – Member
  • David Graham – Community Board Member

In unrelated news, it has come to the attention of freenode and the PDPC Board that certain users of the freenode network have been propagating unfounded rumors concerning the status of PDPC board members and freenode staff, claiming to represent or acting on behalf of the President of the PDPC Board. The Board wishes it to be clearly understood that these users do not speak for or represent either freenode or the Peer Directed projects Center in any capacity, official or otherwise. We politely request that you disregard any rumors about Freenode or PDPC obtained from sources other than official Freenode/PDPC communication channels.

We thank you for your attention, and assure you that PDPC will continue to operate freenode to the best of its ability in the best interests of the network and the F/OSS community.

On behalf of the PDPC board,

Christel Dahlskjaer – President, Head of Staff – freenode
Phil Stracchino – Secretary
David Graham – Community Board Member

All roads lead to #defocus

Some time ago I used to work as a special projects mentor for a large international company, one of the things I were to try purvey to the people I trained was ‘Change is good, change is great’. It took a long time for me to change my internal thought process and face my own fears of giving up security of what’s familiar, and as such it took a long time for me to be able to stand there in a room full of people and utter those words while actually believing in and meaning what I said.

This past week the phrase has played on my mind a lot, in regards to our changes to the official freenode help and social channels.

We are certainly hoping that this change will turn out to be good — and feedback so far has been primarily positive, though, that is not to say there hasn’t been those unhappy with the change.

I will try and speak of some of the reasoning behind closing down #freenode-social, and replacing it with respectively #freenode for help and #defocus for social chatter. The below quotations may help you understand some of the reasoning behind changing the way we operate our social channel, these are just some and not all of the observations made.

Over the last little while it has become apparent that running #freenode-social the way we currently do is not working for staff or users, and as such is not working for the network, the community or the visions and goals we possess.

We (freenode staff) propose to close down #freenode-social and replace it with #freenode (focused on user/network support ala #tapthru) and #freenode-offtopic (for general natter), in this regard we would like to extend an invitation to the tapthru staff to come on board and co-manage #freenode with us.

The list of items below should be considered a starting point for conversation rather than any definitive pronouncement of how the world should wag. It’s not complete (no such list can ever be) but tries to hit most of the major issues we’ll face as we embark on this project. Be blunt about your likes/dislikes of the various suggestions and about suggesting changes/additions/removals! Please note that there is no significance to the ordering of the items in the list below; that’s just how they came out. They have numbers only to speed the referencing of them during discussion.

1. What is wrong with #freenode-social? (This isn’t the finger of blame! Just a way to get a handle on what we are trying to fix.)
1. No defined topic (so no way to say: “that’s offtopic”)
2. No defined rules
3. Lack of regular chanops (we got scared and ran away)
4. Chanop behaviour is sporadic and hard to predict
5. Voicing/devoicing system has holes
1. Voicing is random. This can cause various behaviors:
1. People want to capture voice and hold it forever, against the time they might want to speak
2. When someone has waited hours to be voiced, (s)he may already be quite frustrated
3. By the time you’re voiced, you forgot why you came
2. We can’t remember why a person was devoiced
3. Access list too long to meaningfully evaluate
4. No system for ‘devoice for xx minutes’, so devoices either get forgotten and remain forever, or someone is re-voiced sooner than the devoicing staffer wanted them to be.
6. We used to say ‘be a catalyst in #freenode-social and maybe we’ll ask you to be staff someday’ … is that still true?
2. Some scenarios for the new #freenode channel (things people will come to say). ?? Categorize as (O)OK, (N)Not OK, (P)Private ??
1. Nick issues
1. Help me register my nick
2. Cloak me!
3. Someone took my nick
4. Lost my password
5. Help me admin my nick options
2. Client issues
1. Help me with my client
2. How does $somecommand work?
3. Cannot connect to freenode
3. Channel issues
1. I need help with my channel registration, modes, etc
2. They banned me in #foo!
3. #foo is offtopic/offensive/criminal/other, whatcha gonna do about it?
4. #foo has mean chanops
5. We are having a disagreement in #foo, please come and mediate
6. Explain primary/about channels for me again?
7. Does #foochannel exist?
8. Everybody come to #foo, it is the ubar-greatest!
4. About individuals
1. $somenick is PMing me and I don’t like it
2. $somenick is spamming/trolling/racist remarks/other on #foo
3. $somenick is spamming/trolling/racist remarks/other on several channels
4. $somenick is an asshole, kline him now
5. $somenick’s nick offends me
6. My friend $somenick was klined, remove it already!
5. Group issues
1. GCF approvals
2. Explain groups to me
3. I’m a GC and I need something done
4. Who is the GCF for $somegroup
5. $somegroup has no right to exist, we are the rightful owners of that group name
6. Freenode issues
1. $somestaffer treated me unfairly
2. I want to be a staffer
3. Teach me to be a catalyst
4. Announcements by staff
5. Donation issues
6. I want to host a freenode server
7. This wierd thing just happened, is it a network issue, help!
8. Help me understand the Freenode policy about $whatever.
9. I disagree with Freenode policy
10. Freenode should do this wonderful thing _______!
11. Freenode should endorse my campaign to save the world
12. I hate Freenode, rant-rant-rant.
13. I love Freenode, love-love-love.
7. Other
1. I need help with something not in 1-6 above
2. Let’s talk about my life issues/problems/whatever.
3. My political/religious/societal views
4. spam
5. random invective
6. http://somelink is funny/offensive/interesting/whatever, let’s all talk abut it
7. well, all sorts of stuff not found in 1-6 above
3. Escalating help. We all have different freenode-admin privs; some of us have none other than ‘helpful person’.
1. General SLA for the channel: “#Freenode tries but does not promise to solve your issue; if you are still unsolved here, talk to staffer via /stats p”
2. Try to identify things that should happen privately (in PM) and move there as soon as possible.
3. If you haven’t the privs to resolve an issue, send them to /stats p or /who *freenode/staff* asap
4. Suggestions?
4. #freenode discipline
1. What do we discipline for?
1. Offtopic
2. Tone/attitude
1. Ontopic but rude
2. Note- how to handle “I was not being rude, I was joking!”
3. Personal attacks/characterizations/judgements. (Suggest: we simply avoid all observations of a personal matter)
4. Giving out bad advice on the channel. Again, the issue of “I was joking” should be addressed.
2. Possible discipline escalations:
1. Catalyze in-channel, never ban or mute
2. Catalyze in-channel, ban or mute after x lines or minutes if it doesn’t work
3. Mute immediately and catalyze in PM; unmute when they understand
4. Ban/mute for x minutes on first offense, y minutes on second offense, z minutes on third offense
5. Replace ban/mute with redirec to #freenode-offtopic; perform all catalyzation in there
6. Some combination of the above
3. How to handle leftover bans/mutes?
1. leave forever since no one wants to override another chanop’s actions
2. periodically flush any ban/mute more than x days old
5. #freenode-offtopic discipline
1. none at all
2. same as main channel
3. relaxed rules
4. different rules entirely

Having spent some time discussing the situation and mulled over the above channel thoughts it was decided to move forward and start working out some clearer guidelines for the new channels. The name #freenode-offtopic was also replaced by #defocus, we considered keeping the #freenode-social name but decided that it was better to start afresh and sculpt something from the ground up and so we decided to re-name.

The guidelines for the two new channels are far from set in stone, and we will continuously evaluate them and we ask for your help in ensuring that we choose a set of rules which are of the most benefit to the community at large. In this regard I highly encourage you to e-mail staff at freenode dot net with any concerns, comments, questions or ideas you have. We love hearing from you and your feedback is crucial to making freenode what it is.

Like Rome, #defocus won’t be built in a day and we expect some fumbling while we try work out which way suits our community best. We’re trying something new and we are all learning on our feet.

I hope the above helped clarify some of the motivation behind #defocus and I hope that you will come join us in the channel.

PDPC Design Contest!

A while back we announced on the freenode news page that we are running a design competition for logo + website design for the PDPC (Peer-Directed Projects Center); the not-for-profit organization that owns and operates freenode.

This is a quick reminder about the contest still being on, and anyone interested are encouraged to get in touch with us by e-mailing [email protected]

As the PDPC grows and expands it has become clear that we would benefit greatly from a better web presence, and we would like to invite you to participate in our web design and logo contests.

We are announcing a public contest to design http://pdpc.us. The contest is open to all interested individuals, companies and organizations. To enter, please submit one or two PNG or SVG images that show the front page as well as a sub-page should the design differ on the two. At this stage we want only a design mockup; a fully-functional website is not required. Entries for the logo design should contain a PNG or SVG image of your design. The deadline for submissions for both contests is 20:00UTC on April 14th, 2007.

The PDPC board along with freenode staff will select the top 5 candidates for each contest, which will then be posted publically for everyone to review. We will then put the finalists through a community voting process.

Since the PDPC as an organisation believes strongly in open development and free information, we naturally have a strong preference for designs that rely only upon open standards; designs that rely upon flash animation or other proprietary formats are discouraged. The ideal design would be easily navigable and pleasant on the eye, and should be flexible enough that it can be used on other affiliated sites. The possibility for discreet advertising space is also desired. For practical and legal reasons, we will need to retain copyright on the winning design, so please do not submit entries for which this is problematic.

Psst. There is a prize!

Bringing people together?

When I first came on board as freenode staff I had no idea what a incredible experience I was in for.

Over the past few years I’ve gotten to know some amazing people, both online and in person, become involved with some exciting projects, learned a lot about cool new stuff.. and it’s all thanks to the community surrounding the network.

Here I am now, starting to find my confidence and getting comfortable in my role as Head of Staff for freenode, and as a director for the PDPC.

I am psyched about the fact that the network continues to grow, we’ve just hit 36,000 users a few weeks back. I’m excited and geared about new projects we’re taking on like FOSSCON, the Free and Open Source Software Conference we are arranging in San Diego later this year.

I am proud to be working with such an amazing team of volunteers, the entire freenode staff is made up from people who share a drive and passion.

“If freenode didn’t exist, someone would have to invent it. That’s how you know that it’s not only an essential idea, but something you can’t imagine not being there.” Those were the words used by a gentleman I met this weekend at Southern California Linux Expo, and it filled me with this feeling of warmth.

We matter, we matter to the projects that use us. Alex Ionescu of ReactOS went as far as to thank freenode for playing such a large part in the success of the ReactOS project, stating that without freenode the project wouldn’t exist now.

That feels nice, having people come up and say “We appreciate what you do,” people thanking us for the time we put down working on this. And more so, it encourages us to continue working on making improvements and offering a even better service.
freenode may not have the ambition to be “the best network IN the world”. But we do strive to become “the best network FOR the community.”

freenode is a value-based network, driven by a curiosity to find and develop new strategies for communicating, learning and collaborating.

We realize that the times we live in demand creative and innovative thinkers and actors with insight, courage and determination. And I believe that these are exactly the sort of people we have on freenode, both my staff and many of the people involved in the wider community.
We aim to provide other projects with a safe space for creative thinking and discussion, a communication platform where you can collaborate and turn small ideas into big explosions.

We are about bringing people together!

I am going to blog soon about some of the changes that are happening with the network and how we communicate with and look for feedback from our users. I am going to let myself bare a bit and tell you how the last few months, following Rob “lilo” Levin’s death has affected us, and how it has changed us.

But for now I am going to simply thank you for using freenode, for helping us make this into what it is, wish you a happy Valentines Day and leave you with a few wise words by my friend Albert.

“A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe”,
a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our
thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest.
A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a
kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and
to affection for a few persons nearest to us.

Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by
widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living
creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty… We shall
require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to
survive.” — Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

[Scheduled Maintenance] IRCD upgrade.

In order to upgrade our ircd code to fix various bugs and security issues, it has become necessary to restart a large portion of freenode network.

This morning, between 6:00 and 7:00AM UTC, we will be restarting numerous servers, including our network hubs. Approximately 35% of the network will be disconnected and the rest will notice significant fragmentation. We have planned the upgrades well in advance and with hope, the affected servers will only be down for a few minutes, at which point the network will return to normal operation.

We have already sent notices to users on the affected servers (i.e., those that will shunt clients). A list is also below. You may find which server you’re on by a WHOIS command on yourself (i.e., /whois nick)

  • adams.freenode.net
  • asimov.freenode.net
  • lem.freenode.net
  • leguin.freenode.net
  • niven.freenode.net
  • orwell.freenode.net
  • sterling.freenode.net
  • zelazny.freenode.net

Additionally, servers used for tor connections will shunt users.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and thank you for using freenode. Further questions can be directed to [email protected]

[Announcement] Introducing the PDPC board

It is with great pleasure that I can finally introduce the new board of directors for PDPC, the not-for-profit entity that runs freenode.

Following Rob “lilo” Levin’s death earlier this year, the PDPC board has voted in new board members and are about to embark upon some exciting new tasks. The new board is as follows:

  • David Levin
  • Chris Mills
  • Christel Dahlskjaer
  • Phil Stracchino

With this new board come the new corporate officers for the PDPC: David Levin as President, Chris Mills as Treasurer, and Christel Dahlskjaer as Secretary.

Chris and Phil are both resuming their positions from the original board, with the newcomers being David, Rob’s younger brother, and Christel.

The board also saw the resignation of Seth Schoen. We would like to thank Seth for the time he has invested in PDPC, and wish him luck in his future endeavours. We trust that we will be working closely with Seth in the future, although he no longer holds a position on the board.

With a new board in place we are moving forward again, both from a freenode perspective and with other PDPC projects. For those of you who have been awaiting your PDPC sponsor cloaks, I’d like to apologise for the delay and reassure you that we will start processing the backlog over the next few days.

I would also like to extend thanks to the excellent volunteers who staff the freenode network, for their support, energy and enthusiasm over the past few months, our amazing and generous sponsors and last but not least, the diverse and vibrant userbase that make freenode what it is. Thank you for using freenode and have a great day!

Questions can as always be directed to [email protected], or feel free to /msg christel or LoRez on IRC.

Christel Dahlskjaer
Head of Staff, freenode

[Downtime] Unexpected downtime.

We would like to apologise to those of our users affected by the network downtime earlier tooday, November 2nd 2006. The network went down unexpectedly after one of our staffers accidentally found a bug in the IRCD code.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to suggest that you keep your eyes on this webpage as we will shortly be announcing some exciting changes and bringing you some great news!
Thank you for using freenode and have a great day.

Questions can as always be directed to staff@freenode.net, or feel free to /msg christel or LoRez on IRC.