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Why a HowTo on debating on IRC

As with any medium IRC has its own character and properties that influence the way conversations flow and are conducted. This makes a specific way of signalling important, since on IRC nobody can see your facial expressions or gestures. This often leads to confusing and chaotic posting that does not help any conversation. For this reason, there are a few simple rules and signals that can improve IRC communication for everybody, making it more profitable and fun.

  1. Switch on timestamps for your chat client.
  2. Get familiar with ignore list support for your client.
  3. Get a tea/coffee/drink.
  4. Relax and focus.

All following signals are single line and must appear on the line by themselves.

  • . End a post and give voice to next participant
  • .? Ask if post is completed and just missing the dot
  • +! Raise hand to make a post
  • +? Raise hand to ask a question of understanding on current post
  • -! Lower hand to NOT make a post
  • -? Lower hand to NOT ask a question
  • - Lower hand to not do anything at all
  • +a Signal agreement to current post
  • -a Signal disagreement to current post
Rules for smooth debates
  1. Before speaking, listen for at least a few posts and ask active participants for context over private message.
  2. Do not interrupt.
  3. Posts must end with a dot “.” on a single line.
  4. Posts always end when no new line is send within one minute. Not ending a post with “.” is punishable.
  5. To participate, raise your hand by sending on a single line a plus (“+” ) followed by the type of post you would like to make:
    1. To respond to a previous post, send “!” (that is, send “+!”).
    2. To ask a question of understanding to a post, send “?” (that is, send “+?” ).
  6. To withdraw your raised hand, send a single line with “-” followed by the type of post (“-!” or “-?” ) or a dash without type to withdraw any raised hand.
  7. Raised hands have right to speak in the order they were raised. They must follow promptly (within 30sec) or the position is given to the next person. Questions are served first, followed by short response by the previous poster. Afterwards, other posts may be made.
  8. Communication that is off-topic is not allowed.
  9. To make a post that is off-topic or does not expect a reply, the post must be short (30 characters maximum) and must be enclosed in brackets “[]” .
  10. Agreement or disagreement may be signaled anytime by a single line containing “+a” (agree) or “-a” (disagree).
  11. Precede your posts with the list of active participants (that is, previous posters), or at least the last poster you refer to.
  12. Do not react to posters that do not follow above rules, maybe even by putting them on your ignore list.
  13. Never react to trolls (people that want to provoke emotional responses/division/repetition/anger).
  14. Reacting to trolling is punishable.
  15. Wait a considerable amount of time before reposting. Flooding or repeating yourself frequently is punishable.
  16. If you participate in a discussion, be available to send backlog or answer questions in private messages for newly arriving or users that lost their connection.
  17. Please make sure to signal to other participants when you will become unavailable during a conversation, either by sending “afk” (away from keyboard), “brb” (be right back), “bbl” “bbl” (be back later) or similar.