Replacement filing cabinet.svg
Archived discussion
This page is an archive. Please do not edit the contents of this page, other than for maintenance. If you wish to revisit this topic, please bring it up again in a new thread.
Forums: IndexCommunity discussionsOngoing issues on the IRC channel | Forum new.gif Post

I wanted to open up an on-wiki discussion regarding some ongoing problems plaguing #wikia-sims, The Sims Wiki's IRC channel, in the hopes of devising some solution to the problems.

I will say at the outset of this thread that I am not an expert in the workings of the IRC Channel; there are several users who are vastly more knowledgeable than I am and who can give you a more intelligent explanation of the particular issues facing the channel; among them are Xd1358, MrBenC and Lost Labyrinth, all of whom are or were channel ops on #wikia-sims. What I describe below is only a basic explanation of the issues and possible solutions.

#wikia-sims is part of the Freenode IRC network. A number of users on the Freenode network (some registered with the network, some not) have been deliberately attacking the channel and some of its frequent inhabitants. These attacks have included joining the channel with an unregistered nickname (which is allowed under normal conditions) and spamming all the members of the channel, or writing offensive and slanderous comments about certain channel members. These incidents tend to coincide with other incidences regarding the same set of people, on other channels on the Freenode network, and can happen several times a day.

The main tool that #wikia-sims operators have to stop these incidents is to set the channel so that only registered and identified (i.e. logged-in) nicknames can access the channel. The major downside to this action is that legitimate people who are not registered with Freenode cannot join #wikia-sims; this affects users of The Sims Wiki who may choose to participate there because, unlike the wiki Chat, on-wiki/Wikia registration does not carry over to Freenode or other IRC networks. In essence, by keeping #wikia-sims locked to unregistered people, we are blocking out a significant segment of the wiki community who may wish to use the channel but who do not have a Freenode registration.

In conversations on #wikia-sims regarding the issue, MrBenC has offered one possible solution. Since the majority of the problems seem to originate on other channels in the Freenode network, it may be preferable to close #wikia-sims on Freenode and start a new IRC channel on a different IRC network, potentially a network that MrBenC owns and operates. The channel would be accessible to the public as before but would no longer be part of Freenode and thus not susceptible to drama overflowing from other Freenode channels. However, there are some drawbacks to this plan. Each IRC network has its own registrations, meaning that if the channel were to re-locate off of Freenode, frequent channel users (and especially channel operators) would be required to register with a new IRC network. It's also worth considering that Freenode is a very popular IRC network, and this popularity has led to some people joining the #wikia-sims channel, even people not otherwise active on The Sims Wiki; leaving Freenode would mean that we'd lose access to this potential audience.

I am not at this time proposing any changes. But I feel as though this matter, including the possibility of moving the channel, deserves additional discussion. -- LostInRiverview talkblogcontribs 04:42, November 30, 2014 (UTC)

Moving the channel is something that I would like to avoid at all costs due to several factors, including but not limited to those listed above as well as concerns such as practicality, as I know numerous users on the IRC channel use various other freenode hosted channels such as those of other wikis and the like. This comes from a conversation I just had a few minutes ago on IRC and adds a little extra information, for those who are interested:
[16:02:16] <@woganhemlock> how long has this been going on
[16:02:19] <@woganhemlock> a month or so?
[16:03:09] <@woganhemlock> and before i look like an absolute idiot and post this and its wrong, do these same trolls attack other channels as well
[16:03:57] <@MrC> At least a month, probably longer. And other than #uncyclopedia, I don't know.
[16:04:12] <@LiR> a lot of it seems to originate at uncyclopedia, yes
Moving on with what I'd like to say (please stay with me, my questionable IRC knowledge may show but I'll try to be as clear as possible), right now I'd like to wait and see what happens and just leave things as they are. I don't know the extent to which freenode is acting against these spammers although given I've seen staff members join the channel at some points I can safely assume that they are at the very least aware of the situation. The card I'd like to play is wait it out a little longer and just hope that they get bored eventually. In my opinion at least I don't see what is going on as little more than an annoyance which comes with the territory. If we start actually losing users due to this I think then would be a time to act. As I've said, if we keep doing what we are at the moment I think it will end up fine, and someone more competent at IRC could probably work out a better idea than what I've written.
Finally, while this might not be entirely relevant and just shows a bit of my thought, I'd also like to state that I consider this an issue with Freenode since its happening across multiple channels. I might be a bit naive in thinking this but I'd like to think that they are working towards a fix in this, since in the end this isnt just a channel specific issue. Time will tell, I suppose. ђ talk 05:28, November 30, 2014 (UTC)
I believe ecks (or MrC?) had once proposed bringing in a spam/flood-control bot to #wikia-sims, since they have experience running such bots. I don't support moving to another IRC network (like Ben's ChatLounge) unless we really, really, REALLY cannot deal with it any longer. Until then, though, a bot might be useful in automatically catching the trolls, kicking and banning them if needed. We've also tried setting the channel to +z (only users on a secured connection may join), but I'm not sure how successful it has been. Currently the biggest issue with putting the channel at +r is that legitimate users that have not registered with NickServ are instead directed to our overflow channel, #wikia-sims-admins. For the meantime I'd advise channel operators to join that channel as well when they join #wikia-sims. --I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 12:39, November 30, 2014 (UTC)
This issue is beyond my understanding. Seeing that the issue isn't specific to our channel, I suppose the possibility for them to eventually leave isn't nil. Nonetheless, I really don't know how severe the problem is, and I'm sure those who are bothered with this wish to act on this. I suppose kicking and banning them aren't sufficient?
But you see, I'm not quite sure if I understand what creating a new IRC network is for. Is it like creating a completely separate chat room, but because the offenders only attack Freenode, they won't track us to the different network? Nikel Talk Vote! 11:40, December 1, 2014 (UTC)
Since the attackers only seem to target Freenode channels, moving to a different IRC network might mean they won't find us if they load a list of channels and then pick which ones to attack. Of course, moving to a different IRC network has the massive disadvantage that is similar to moving the wiki to a different server/wiki-farm - you wind up with two IRC channels, two websites, etc. A rift in the community is formed as there are people that refuse to leave the old channel/wiki, and new members become confused as to whether they should join the old or new channel/wiki. Plus, it's a massive pain to try and get non-IRC geeks to teach them how to join a different IRC network and do this and do that, et cetera.
Which is why I hope this never happens, because it would create a lot of problems, and I'm not sure if fighting a problem by creating problems is the way to go. --I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 12:03, December 1, 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict)We wouldn't be creating a new network, we'd be moving to another network, in this case one operated by Ben. A network is basically a set of channels all hosted on the one server with common information, i.e. if i was to try to log in to my account on another network the account either not exist, or be completely different. I guess you could sort of say its like creating a separate chatroom if you want to, and we're going on the assumption that these trolls are only targeting freenode as they've been in other channels. ђ talk 12:07, December 1, 2014 (UTC)
I think we should file Operation: Create a new IRC network under Plan B. We don't know how long this can go on for, but we do know that they are bound to get bored, sooner or later. Perhaps we can get in contact with a member of Freenode and see what they have to say about it. I also think we should invest in a bot that can automatically kick mischievous members from IRC. It's a bit of a drastic and bold move, to divert a channel to a completely different network. That's all I could come up with for now. Beds (talk - blog) 20:53, December 1, 2014 (UTC)
We don't need to create another IRC network. User:MrBenC already operates one called Chatlounge. If we do need to initiate Plan B, we have the technical aspects done... --I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 20:56, December 1, 2014 (UTC)

As an admin of another channel hit by this spammer (I assume this is about TaylorSwift1989/Rob_Ford/whatever their name is - they're all the same person either way), a former admin here and an individual who has been pinged countless times by this very user, I feel I may as well say something.

The issue is across multiple channels. Freenode staff are aware of this user, but there's only so much they can do. This spammer uses proxies, VPNs and cloud-based bouncers to evade their bans. They do indeed have common targets (here, ##wikia, #uncyclopedia just to name a few) and I've heard they've been to one of Wikipedia's channels too - basically they're all over the place. In fact, I'd say some other channels actually have it worse than #wikia-sims does believe it or not but I digress.

Anyway with regards to solutions for #wikia-sims in particular...I don't know if there really is anything practical that can be done without bringing another issue into play. I'll just echo what's already said about banning and just hoping they get bored. It might sound ridiculous but it seems like the only safe approach. I don't really support nuclear options (such as +r or +q $~a) as a long-term solution as the collateral damage is just another thing to worry about. I know there's an overflow channel with regards to +r but still.

Moving to a different network will more than likely cause more headaches than it's worth both practically and technically. Ultimately it would just be reinventing the wheel. What's to say whatever network the channel moved to won't ever be hit by similar issues? Would this thread end up coming to fruition again in that case? Plus there's the whole deal with registrations, user rights, accessibility, community rifts and so on. Ultimately I don't think it's a good idea unless it's an absolute last resort (and even then it's a stretch).

As for a bot...I know that freenode has a bot named AntiSpamMeta that's in some channels and can boot spammers from the network completely upon detection. I don't know how or if freenode would consider putting it in #wikia-sims but it sounds like the best solution should a bot be desired. Note that this would only catch spammers and not everyday trolls but then again, the latter is honestly a side effect of having an IRC channel in the first place (well so is the former but you get the point).

Another option is to give the +Aiov flags to *!*@freenode/staff/* on the channel. It wouldn't deliver immediate fireworks but it's another safety net as it would allow freenode's staff to essentially function as ops in the channel.

That's all I've got. Hope you read the wall of text, because I'm not putting cliffs down here. Lost Labyrinthstuffreading 21:10, December 1, 2014 (UTC)

The Labbie has spoken! --I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 21:12, December 1, 2014 (UTC)

I had hoped this troll gave up, but he (She? Eh it doesn't matter.) struck again.

The reason I mentioned my network as a possibility, is because it has an additional tool to combat abuse. A means by which certain hostmasks must be identified to NickServ to join and speak. In short, this means it's possible to ban WebChat users who don't identify to NickServ before joining. There is of course the downside of having to register your nicks again, but that's a quick one-time process.

A more immediate fix, which does not involve channel relocation, is for me to run a channel protection bot. It would only act on flooding, which is pointless regardless of context. Any automatic bans the bot would place can be removed by any Op, in the event of a false positive, though in my experience false positives are extremely rare. I can of course only speak about my bots. I have no idea how Delta's banning/anti-flood mechanism works.

I'm not necessarily pushing to have this bot up and going immediately, or even within days. However, I did want to reopen discussion about possibly reintroducing an anti-flood bot. If I'm not mistaken, there was such a bot once upon a time. But it was before my time on TSW.

Ben (talk) 22:46, December 25, 2014 (UTC) 22:46, December 25, 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps we could have it run a "trial" period to see how it does. --I am k6ka Talk to me! See what I have done 23:01, December 25, 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm okay with this as well. DanPintalkcontribs 15:41, December 26, 2014 (UTC)
A trial run wouldn't hurt, I'm all for it. Beds (talk - blog) 00:02, December 27, 2014 (UTC)
I'm fine with adding a bot. From an auth perspective I'd probably assume it would have +Aeiorv or something simply because all other non-admin ops have this, but this is all just theory at this point. ђ talk 01:37, December 27, 2014 (UTC)

1 month later[edit source]

Overall consensus indicates that users are fine with a bot. Who shall run it? When will the trial run start? Ѧüя◎ґ (talk) 22:40, January 31, 2015 (UTC)

I volunteer to do this, because I have experience doing it. Not sure how Delta could do it, but perhaps Xd1358 can weigh in or I can ask him how it'd work on IRC. The bot is already in the channel and most of the framework is there. All I'd have to do on my end is load a script and do a little bit of configuring.
The bot would most likely need the +AOeiorv flags, which you will note is similar to what ops (who are not Admins/Bureaucrats on the wiki) have with the addition of +O. This is due to the expectation the bot will be opped at all hours, as it must be in order to perform this function.
To recap, my bot:
- Sets temporary bans that are removed after a time (so as not to fill the ban list).
- If another op removes such a ban, the ban will not be reapplied immediately (unless of course the same offender comes back and does the bad behavior again).
- False positives in my experience are very rare.
- It will only take automatic action on flooding. It will not ban based on anything else. This is consistent with my belief that everything else depends on context.
- The bot doesn't take action against opped or voiced users.
- It's often possible to exempt other users from the bot's behavior. In practice this would only be used for ops who don't remain opped at all times, and possibly for folks who used to hold a position of trust before (channel op, admin, etc.).
Another thought is this. Even if at some future date the bot can no longer be operated, the owner of any replacement bot should hold some sort of operator status, because otherwise the owner would be granted operator status by proxy through the bot.
No idea when a trial run may start though.
Ben (talk) 23:19, February 1, 2015 (UTC)
Ben seems to know what he's doing, considering his vast knowledge with IRC and how to run a bot. I see no problem in having him partake in running the bot. Beds (talk - blog) 17:45, February 2, 2015 (UTC)
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.