Request for Feedback: Document on dealing with Ubuntu IRC Problem Users

Nathan Handler nhandler at
Thu Jan 13 19:26:11 UTC 2011

Hello everyone,

At the last IRC Council meeting, we decided to send a copy of a
document [1] that explains how to deal with Ubuntu IRC problem users
to the mailing list for feedback. I am including a copy of the
document inline to make it easier for people to comment on particular
sections of it.

Nathan Handler
On Behalf of the Ubuntu IRC Council



There are many technical as well as social methods for dealing with
users causing problems in an IRC channel. In most cases, if the
problem is not very serious or urgent (i.e. someone includes a few
swear words in their messages), the first step that should be taken is
a simple public warning in the channel. Something like, "foo: This is
a family-friendly channel, please do not swear in here". Many times,
this will be sufficient to resolve the problem, and then everyone can
happily return to going about their business. If this does not work
and the user continues to carry out their problematic behavior in the
channel, a quiet can be set. Once the quiet is in place, if it was set
via ChanServ, please acknowledge that you set the quiet in
#ubuntu-ops. You should also immediately follow it up with a private
message to the user. In this PM, try and explain in a bit more detail
why their behavior is a problem, link them to the specific
rule/guidelines that they are violating, and try to work with them to
reach an understanding and resolve the problem. If the problem is
resolved, the quiet can be removed. If not, leave it in place for a
little while to give the user some time to think about their actions a
bit more. Try and talk to them again in PM in a day or so. An unedited
raw transcript of the PM conversation should be added as a comment for
the quiet on the bantracker so that other operators are aware of the
situation and how it is being handled.
    A quiet will keep the user from talking in the channel, which
should prevent them from violating the rules. However, there are a few
instances where a quiet is just not sufficient. For example, some
users, upon being quieted, will decide to start joining/parting the
channel very quickly in order to flood it with join/part messages. A
quiet will do nothing to stop this. Instead, a ban should be used. Be
sure to follow the ban up with a PM just like above. Another instance
where a ban might be necessary is for a user with an inappropriate
nickname who refuses to change it.

    Operators are not expected to be perfect and know how to deal with
every problem on their own. If you are having issues working with a
user in PM, you can refer them to #ubuntu-ops for other operators to
help. This should not be the first step when dealing with the user;
instead, you should try and resolve the problem yourself first.
    Some users insist on trying to evade bans that are set on them.
This might be done accidentally due to a poorly constructed ban
string. Look over your ban and possibly ask another operator for help
in correcting it. If the user is clearly intentionally evading, talk
to them and try and explain why evading is discouraged. If you can't
get through to them, maybe try having other operators talk to them in
#ubuntu-ops. Finally, if the issue persists, contact a member of the
IRC Council. They will review the issue and escalate it to freenode
staff if necessary.

    Remember, as an operator, you have agreed to spend the extra time
and effort to deal with these users. You are also expected to abide by
the Ubuntu Leadership Code of Conduct
(, the normal Code
of Conduct (, the Ubuntu IRC
Guidelines (, and the Operator
Guidelines ( at
all times. If you quiet or ban a user, it is your job to follow up
with a PM. If you do not have the time to deal with a user, ask
another operator in #ubuntu-ops to do so, but it is your
responsibility to find another op to help you out.

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