Large Channel Administration

Keeping Users Happy

This page is a work in progress! More content is to come.

Things that make a good large channel

Running an IRC channel can be stressful when you have a large amount of users. However, there are several things that you can do to make it easier for yourself. The most important of those things is to take advantage of services. ChanServ and BotServ, amongst many of the other services, provide many tools that will help you run your channel. Services can only help you part of the way though, and so this page will also cover general things to bear in mind when running a channel.

Note that this page is based on personal experience, and some may disagree with my methods of running a channel. This page is meant to serve as a guide for inexperienced channel owners, and is by no means a definitive guide for running an IRC channel. So don’t get mad at me if you don’t agree!

Promotions and staffing

Not Giving people too much power

Types of channel operator

There are several types of channel operator, each with different levels of power. The typical levels of power are as follows:

  • Founder - Highest level of power. Has complete access to the channel, including the ability to remove everyone from the channel and close it.
  • Owner - Has access to all channel commands. In a channel, an owner can kick and ban all other users. Owners are indicated by the tilde ~ symbol or by the +q mode. Owners can set any mode on other users, including making them owners too. For this reason, only very trusted people should be set as channel owners.
  • Super Operator - Also known as SOP or SuperOP, a Super Operator has access to all operator commands. As well as this, they can also manage the Auto Kick (AKICK) lists for channels, and modify channel bad word lists. SOPs are indicated by the & symbol or the +oa modes.
  • Operator - Also known as an OP, or AOP (Auto-OP). Operators are able to kick and ban users from the channel, as well as modify the channel’s topic. Operators have access to channel ban lists, and can ban and unban users. Users that are Auto-OPped can invite themselves to (and unban themselves from) the channel as necessary. Operators have the at @ symbol, and have the mode +o.
  • Half Operator - Halfops, or HOPs, are the least powerful of the operator ranks. Halfops can kick and ban users, as well as modify the topic. However, half operators cannot kick or ban anyone that is set to Half operator or above - Only regular users and voiced users. Half Operators have a % symbol to identify them by, as well as the flag +h.
  • Voice - Voiced users, or VOPs, are not operators. However they are worth mentioning as there are still a couple of notable differences between voiced users and regular users. If your channel is set to +m (Moderated), voiced users can still talk in your channel. As well as this, voiced users can also view the channel’s access list. Voiced users will have a + symbol next to their name, and have the mode +v set on them.

Putting this into context

Okay, so we know what each different type of operator can do. What does this mean in an actual scenario though? Let’s say we have a channel which has 4 active people; three of them set as Super Operators with no one above them.

<&User1111> I hate you, User2222
<&User2222> lol i bet ur dad loves u User1111
<&User4444> You're both idiots.
<&User2222> lol no 1 even likes u User4444 why r u here
* User4444 sets mode +b on ([email protected])
* User4444 kicks User2222 (Get lost.)
<&User1111> what was that for? you're so obnoxious and ban-happy User4444, someone needs to show you what it's like
* User1111 sets mode +b on (User4444!*
* User1111 kicks User4444 (see how you like it)
<RegularUser> This place is stupid.
* RegularUser has left (Bye)

What you see above is an (admittedly slightly exaggerated) situation in which there are three users with +oa. These three users clearly do not get along, and end up banning and kicking each other. This incident has caused RegularUser to question the channel’s stability, and made them leave. Whilst this may seem ridiculous, plenty of channels collapse due to disagreements between operators. A solution to this, and the key point of this section, is give power to responsible users, and don’t ‘over-OPulate’ your userlist. A userlist of a more organized channel may look like this:

  • ~ChannelOwner
  • &ResponsibleAdmin
  • &ResponsibleAdmin2
  • @TrustworthyOperator
  • %UsefulHalfop
  • %AnotherHalfop

With a structure like this, you’re more likely to maintain a stable channel. If there was a disagreement between UsefulHalfop and AnotherHalfop, then anyone above them could step in before things get out of hand. By them being halfops, it is not possible for them to kick or ban each other - This makes +h useful for giving some amount of power to people that you don’t quite yet trust enough to keep the channel pleasant, but you trust enough to deal with unruly users.

Power and Responsibility

Running a successful IRC channel can give you power over a large number of people. However, I feel this is a very, very important point. Do not let it get to your head. In much the same way as we discussed making sure your operators aren’t causing problems, it is important to bear in mind that this applies to you too. Users are not toys. You can enforce rules without ‘power abusing’, and the difference between enforcement and abuse is what will make your channel thrive. Since ‘abuse’ can be used as a blanket term for many, many situations, I’ll briefly sum up some examples of ways you shouldn’t use your power.

  • “I don’t like you.” - Banning or kicking users simply because you personally don’t like them is a surefire way to make people question your authority. Just because you don’t like a user, doesn’t mean other members of your channel don’t! Naturally, if you do not like a user becuase they do not abide by your rules, then it’s a different story.
  • “Stop liking what I don’t like.” - On the internet, people have different opinions. More often than not, banning a user because they don’t share the same opinion with you on a subject is just going to make people dislike you.
  • “It was just a joke.” - This one is really more personal judgement and common sense. A joke kick might fly every now and then with your users, but you should always bear in mind that it might not be funny the 600th time you kick a user because ‘lol dongs.’

This is by no means a complete list. In short, ‘abusing’ your power is to use your power to kick and ban people for little to no valid reason.


Writing awesome rules

You should have a clear idea of what you want out of your channel. You should use this idea to form your channels rules, which will be vital for keeping peace in a large community. There are many things to consider when writing a set of rules, but here are a few pointers to keep in mind

  • Be concise. You want your rules to make sense, and to not leave room for manipulation. You should try and cover all possible applications of your rules.
  • Be sensible. It may seem obvious, but make sure that following your rules is actually feasible. Ridiculous rules such as ‘you must call me John The Great’ are obviously not going to be followed due to their sheer silliness. Your rules should cover the essential requirements for your channel.
  • Be fair. This one depends on the purpose of your channel. In certain circumstances, your channel may need to be very strict. However in most cases with a large channel, you want your rules not to be too strict. There’s a difference between being strict and being draconian in your channel management.
  • Rules for all. Make sure your rules apply to all of your users. ‘Rules for one, rules for another’ methods of running a channel tend to lead to disputes about how and when rules should be enforced. Rules should be applied to everyone, even if they’re your friends.

Enforcing Rules

Controlling your users