Getting some stuff out, no one really cares. Hee

I don’t like writing about IRC.  If I write about it, it’s like admitting that it affects me, and maybe it does. But it really shouldn’t.  There’s been a lot of changes over the years, perhaps made more obvious by the 5 years or so I was absent from the scene. I’ve always questioned “Professional” networks.  I’ve always tried to figure out what exactly a professional network means. The company line always seems to be something about transparency and a clear business identity, which really seems silly for a series of chat forums.  Let’s face it, IRC from the start was a series of Ad-hoc networks setup to share ideas and talk with friends back in the days when academia ruled the net.

Every “professional” network I’ve seen  does, however, share a few traditional traits. One is there is often a quid pro quo arrangement of some form. Some call it benefits, but often seems like bribery to me. Often along with these benefits come punishments as well. They love you attracting people to their network but a disparaging comment or worse an approval of a competitor may get you easily banned.  A lot of this, I suspect, comes from the minds who run these networks. Once upon a time we referred to these people as twinks, and maybe even trolls; people who viewed a channel as their own play thing where they have supreme power and can toy with others, often with little positive input to the community as a whole. In the past this was usually put a stop to quickly by IRCops on open networks,  and perhaps on the modern open networks this is still the case.

 I originally wrote that this was simply another system of the September that never ended;  that the good ops have left IRC because they saw the effects of September. But in retrospect, I am not sure it’s a simple answer as that. Yes, the influx of new users has far surpassed the ability of a small population of old-timers to acculturate them to an acceptable sense of netiquette. (Yes  I know I am mixing usenet with IRC here, but in reality I feel that September’s effect reach to every facet of the net.) However, there gave it a good try, and to be fair netiquette managed to hold its own on IRC for the better part of a decade. Maybe the old-timers just grew up, maybe there are just too many new users. But one thing is sure: there has been an increase in these twinks of old, and they are the ones that seem to run the channels and servers of these modern “professional” networks.  It’s a logical extension, people who can’t play nice form a system with they can reign supremely and not get kicked or have to work at being good ops.

One of the benefits of open networks is that this is, or at least was, harder to accomplish. Once upon a time the description of a good operator(op) included communication skills; someone who would educate users on netiquette, convince users to become productive members of a channel or at least decide the channel was not for them. Three strike rules existed everywhere, any op unfortunate enough to have to kick (let alone kickban) a user felt like (s)he failed. The good measure of an op was not having to use your OP powers, but to be a leader and a communicator. It seems today, what is considered a good op, we would have called a twink with an op-bit a decade ago. Kick at the first sight of loosing supreme control, ban as soon as possible, and feeling good or giddy about it all. These are not the actions of someone interesting in shareing ideas, but now has become the time for wanna-be geek bullies to have a haven where they can “get their rocks off.”

Having said this, it’s not hard to see that IRCops with these characteristics are not likely to get along with others for any lengthy period of time. This is likely the reason you see “professional” irc networks bud occasionally. A segment of the operations/user base will get tired of perceived slights, and bud-off  to form a new network. Interestingly, if unsurprisingly, its always to form a new network not to join an existing one. Always I hope this budding is actually the formation of a network not run by twinks, but at least two previous experiences that I’ve been directly involved in don’t give me much hope for any future or current buds.

So why am I writing this? It’s for me .. I need to get this out. Full disclosure, I rarely stay on networks I like, I stay on networks where I have friends. Often they seem to be mutually exclusive. I won’t bad-mouth a specific network if I can avoid it, but hell if I will shill for them. Also, hell if I will ever take any group at face value without seeing them in action for several weeks. This may mean nothing to you, and frankly I hope it does mean very little. Any organization you take part in, that you recommend, you should analyze carefully and ask yourself how does this reflect on me? Is it what I feel about myself and what I want other people to feel about me?  That’s really all I want people to take away from this. Does it matter? I suppose in the end, it depends on what ideals you are willing to stand up for.

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