So, you want to be an IRCnet Operator?

I am often asked how somebody becomes an IRCnet operator, so I thought I'd write a small reply about this to clear up any uncertainty... This document is also available in Finnish , Polish , Slovenian and Italian.

Although this document does not reflect the views of every server on IRCnet, you will find that most of the operators will reluctantly agree with much of what is in here. We IRCnet operators never agree on anything and on the whole, we are a fairly miserable and argumentative bunch. Why you would wish to join us is beyond me but if you are reading this then I assume you do so, I hope you enjoy this.

Why would you want to become an IRC Operator?

Hellooo? Can anybody hear me?

IRC operators have no real power: This is becoming even more of the case as time goes on. The days of operators using /kill to get rid of people who pissed them off have long gone. These days if an operator uses /kill they will be whined at by all the other operators until they are bored to death or their brains explode. It really isn't worth it.

It's also a lot of hassle: You stop becoming able to be a "normal user" whenever people on the channel see the "*" by your name. You end up with people groveling to you, asking you how you become an IRC Operator, asking you if you will mend their channel or remove various K-lines and most of all, you will spend your life avoiding Italians asking for access to your server.

You will become unbearable: New IRC operators, with very few exceptions, become arrogant, obsessive and basically just another class of "newbie" all over again but without the grace to accept this position. They find themselves with this perceived power and then realise that there isn't actually anything they can really do with it. To make up for this last prize in the penis-size competition when they thought they would win, they end up trying to make up for it by getting involved with politics they don't really understand, interfering with users and just generally being pains in the arse. This calms down after 4 or 5 years but it's a long term sentence.


Far from getting more respect, you will probably get less:

Bear in mind that if you ever get made an IRC operator, you will be a faceless newbie in a bunch of old-time argumentative old-women (well we are mostly male, but you get the idea). Your opinions will be worth very little, the other new operators will spend their lives showing how much more than you they know and basically, you'll end up in the middle of a sad nightmare clown act, with you being the main target for abuse.

You really want to do this then?

Frankly, I think you are mad... But it's your perogative to be that. The selection criteria for new operators varies across all of IRCnet and generally nobody really agrees with other people's ways. Here are some of the ways you could become an IRCnet Operator.

Possibly the easiest way is to go and find a dodgy little 30 user server in some backwater country and bribe or threaten the server administrator into giving you an O-line. This probably works for some people but there aren't many of those left any more, so I wouldn't say much for your success in this one and if you go this route, it is fairly obvious that you are just a complete fraud anyway.

The next best way is to bring us (IRCnet) a brilliantly connected IRC server that would be excellent for the network. This does happen sometimes and if you are in Asia, or the Pacific region there's a lot more chance than if you are in Europe. Of course, if you are going to go this route then you will probably be fairly senior in an Internet Service Provider anyway and probably the sort of person who may make a good operator.

Cookie, anybody?

The traditional way is the best... Be nice, be helpful and do it for a very long time. Occasionally, I have looked for operators for a new server, or just because some "new blood" would be nice. Usually, I will look on the help channels like #Help or #Beginner for people who are knowledgeable, helpful and importantly, are nice and understanding to new users and aren't obsessed with simply showing how clever they are (which is why I avoid #IRChelp). Personally, I nearly always pick female operators. They are more reliable, less obsessed with the status and generally a lot more helpful and nice. This is a personal preference though and is rare, by far the majority of IRCnet operators are nerdy males. I am not suggesting that if you are female, you get a sex-change but the statistics say that it would help.

If you are really serious, stop wanting to become an operator, and start wanting to become an asset to IRCnet. Help out with writing documentation, manage channel homepages, advertise the network and be helpful to new people. You don't need a "*" next to your name to be important, remember that. This network is here for users, not operators.

Ok... What about other networks?

By all means, if you want to know about how IRC works, set up your own server and join a smaller network. It will give you a good appreciation into how IRC networks work in general. You will never be able to experiment on a large and mostly stable network like ours in the way you would on one of the smaller test networks and a year or two running a server on one of those will give you any of the technical experience you could ever want and will also make you more helpful on the user channels if you want to do that on IRCnet. Most things you read in here will also apply to the other big networks, in fact I would say on IRCnet, we are a lot less tied up in administration than the rest.

Who are you to tell me this, anyway?

Nobody much. I am just an old Dinosaur - I have seen a lot of operators come, and a lot of operators go. It is probably fair to say I am one of the longest serving of IRC's operators. I got my first O-line in 1989 on Vijay's machine at which was the first ever IRC server outside Finland but I missed most of the very early IRC wars since I was busy trying to introduce the world to MUDs.

I connected my first server to the network that is now IRCnet in 1991 and have managed servers on and off since then. These days, I consider myself one of IRC's "Grumpy Old Men".

Michael Lawrie ( Lorry )


Illustrations by Sofie Åberg [], extra bits by Katrina Horsnell ( Kat ), Finnish translation by Salla Hakulinen ( Tinky ), Polish translation by Agnieszka Zlomanczuk ( Agnie ), Slovenian translation originally by Gregor Magista ( McHregec ) and updated by Aleksander Hropot ( quattro ). and Italian translation by Eleonora Maccacaro ( hobo )