wikiHow:IRC Governance

Overall View

wikiHow's IRC is special: We believe that wikiHow's IRC is deserving of foundational ground rules and guidelines to make sure it functions effectively to assist our mission. In addition, for our purposes, unlike some sites with IRCs and contrary to the contentions of some of our contributors, we consider that wikiHow's IRC does form a part of wikiHow when it comes to reputation, basic principles, and acceptable standards of behavior. Just as we try to differ from other wiki communities for the significant reasons of building and maintaining our community structure as a friendly, enabling, and supportive one that always assumes the best of everyone, we believe in extending this community expectation to our attached IRC. It makes logical sense to us that provision of an IRC in the name of wikiHow is precisely because we believe wikiHow principles and usage expectations thrive in our IRC. If it does not, then there is no need for an IRC to share wikiHow's name. This means that everyone using wikiHow has a valid interest in what happens in IRC, whether or not we actively participate in it. We are very community-driven and we are very proud of maintaining a stable, friendly, and mutually supportive community, both on wikiHow and in wikiHow's IRC.

Executive Summary

Governance Policy

These are voluntary, but persuasive guidelines for the wikiHow IRC channel on freenode. General principles include practing good etiquette, assuming good faith, respecting one another, practicing self-restraint, and displaying common sense.

All of these guidelines should be applied with common sense; literal enforcement without considering individual situations is discouraged. Operators (Ops) should carefully enforce blatant violations through use and documentation of warnings, kicks, and bans, respectively.

WikiHow IRC Behavior

"What's Good in wikihow is Good in wikiHow's IRC". Collaboration, productivity, and friendliness are encouraged. A general 'netiquette' is observed that highlights positive participation, privacy, and respect and tolerance of differing opinions. Swearing, discrimination, hate speech, and other inappropriate content, words, or links are unacceptable.

The Proposed Governance Policy :

This following is a proposed guideline for governance in the wikiHow IRC chat room:

  1. Guidelines: The basic principles of wikiHow (civility, collaboration, mutual support, good faith, self-responsibility, and community-first) will underlie all interaction in wikiHow's IRC and these courtesy and common sense rules are expected of all participants. This reality reflects what any good chatroom system should have in place. At the bottom of this document is a detailed list of guidelines that can aid in cases of question.
    • Voluntary but persuasive: While these Guidelines are voluntary, they represent both elements of our community agreed approaches reached during the IRC Pow-Wow process and basic elements of Netiquette/IRC usage as well as replicating the expectations of wikiHow participation generally. Therefore, they are considered a good indicator of how every participant in IRC should behave.
    • Principles that always apply: With or without adherence to the Guidelines, the following principles always apply in IRC:
  2. Consistent Identity / User IDs: All of us have a reputation on wikiHow that is based on our user name. Clearly, multiple name changes and multiple ownership of names in IRC have confused and frustrated a number of participants; they also prevent transparency. Multiple names or frequent name changes undermine goodwill and disorient participants not familiar with the changes. wikiHow's IRC is not a secret club understood by a few but is, rather, a place open to any person who cares to drop by. Being unaware who they are dealing with can be unsettling, and may scare off participants who would otherwise use IRC.
    • Keep name changes to a minimum: If you feel you must change your one designated IRC name, you may do so, but like changing your name in real life, this should be done rarely and with careful thought beforehand. When you do this, update your change on your wikiHow page so people can still tie your IRC and wikiHow identities together. Changing this frequently (say, more than once or twice a year) will be viewed as a violation of the spirit of openness and transparency.
    • Use your wikiHow name, if possible: While not required, it is a best practice to use an IRC ID that is recognizable as your wikiHow ID. It is preferred that this name be the wikiHow username, real name or a name that can be easily recognizable as being the same person (eg wH: Dvortygirl, IRC: Dvorty or Dvorty|Gone or wH: Khluvr621, IRC: Khluvr or Khluvr|Away). If you must have distinct identities on IRC and wikiHow, please indicate your IRC user ID on your wikiHow user page, so that people know who you are.
    • Have just one ID: For similar reasons each person should only have one identity, rather than multiple ones. Again this is not a requirement, but a best practice that helps build trust with other users.
  3. Ops: Like wikiHow admins, Ops (operators) must hold themselves to the highest levels of decorum. They must be very active editors of wikiHow and clearly working to build a how-to manual in accordance with our mission. wikiHow administrators who are active in IRC can become Operators. In the event that more Ops are necessary in the channel, the community may create a process to grant operator privileges to some non-admins.
  4. Warnings, Bans and Kicks:
    • Warnings: Warnings are to be given using common sense and sparingly in the case of such behavior as obvious malice, flooding (see definition in Glossary), personal attacks (criticism and anger directed at a single user), abusive language, and rudeness. If any behavior disrupts the enjoyment of all participants or singles out particular participants for negative purposes, this is likely to warrant a warning. While there are no hard and fast rules, it is prudent to warn a person a few times before proceeding to a ban if the disruptive behavior can not be tolerated.
    • Record of bans: On wikiHow:IRC Bans the Op who made the ban should record a record of the Ban and its duration. This is standard practice for wikiHow blocks and therefore is considered to be a valid and transparent process suitable for IRC also. It enables any person to ascertain who and why a person has been banned and it also enables patterns of behavior to be quickly noted in the same way that vandalism and trolling can be noted on wikiHow.
    • Length of bans: Ban times should be the same as for blocks on wikiHow. See wikiHow:Block-Times for details.
    • Natural justice: Participants must be able to contest a long-term ban, offer their side of the story in the same manner that they can do so through wikiHow. Basically, they should have access to the reason(s) (provided for on the Ban list and on user page if a wikiHow user) and they can appeal to or the mediation team and can request reconsideration of their long-term ban. Common sense should prevail for short bans of a few hours or even a day - the person in question will just have to ride this out. Natural justice applies to long-term bans to ensure that a banned person is not forgotten about or has been unfairly removed for a long time.
    • Double bans: In some cases, it may be appropriate to ban an IRC participant from IRC and from wikiHow site. If this is considered to be the case, the Ops who feels the need for this must discuss with another admin before proceeding, to ensure that this decision is made for sound reasons and does not unfairly restrict a wikiHow contributor.
  5. Off-Topic Chatting, Flooding, and Multiple Language Chatting: These are considered to be one and the same issue, namely one of self-restraint, exercise of courtesy/commonsense, and respect for the level of tolerance of participants present in IRC at any given time. If a participant voices irritation with any of these elements, standard procedures of Netiquette should kick in, as outlined under the Guidelines. Generally, common sense should prevail, along with a fair amount of self-initiative and discretion, dependent on the context of the needs at hand.
    • Off-topic conversations: Off-topic conversations (i.e. discussions not about wikiHow) are acceptable so long as those conversations are civil and respectful. The channel was created so we could get to know each other, not just discuss articles and patrolling problems. The nature of IRC is that multiple conversations operate at the one time and entering a chatroom generally is an acknowledgement that you will find a lively situation underway. That said, if many people are chatting "on-topic" and the "off-topic" conversation becomes a unworkable distraction for the on-topic people, it is courteous to open a new off-topic chat room, announce it in #wikihow and invite others to join so the wikiHow-focused conversations can continue in #wikiHow. Remember that this is a subjective decision, based on the needs of those who feel they are not able to carry on a productive conversation in the normal wikiHow channel and therefore the onus is on the off-topic chatters to create another channel to discuss things. Be nice, be patient, and be prepared to make your own channel if needed. Also, if help is required to make another channel, this should be provided by those who can.
    • Flooding: Flooding is just bad netiquette and is inappropriate. See Guidelines for what is expected of participants by way of participation.
    • Multiple languages: There is no rule saying that our channel is purely English. Given the ability and nature of IRC to accept multiple conversation flows, there should be a tolerance for usage of the channel in another language where this is a productive and sensible use. Again, etiquette demands that it not be abused to criticize a participant or to disrupt IRC. This will depend on the context and the participants. See Guidelines. As the non English wikiHow sites grow, English wikiHow may gain its own channel, and non-English wikis may also gain their own channel(s).
  6. Mediation Team Usage: Usage of the Mediation Team to resolve IRC disputes is to be invoked rarely, if at all. The Mediation Team will not take on any mediation matters concerning IRC without evidence of numerous attempts being made via other relevant means to resolve the matter satisfactorily beforehand. Also there must be evidence of exchanges between users available should a situation ever escalate to Mediation Team level. Usage of the Mediation Team on the wikiHow site also guides its usage for IRC; namely, rarely and only where no other avenue is left. So please keep this in mind before seeking a solution this way - all other solutions must be exhausted first!

wikiHow IRC Behavior Guidelines

These Guidelines are a positive statement of how we perceive participation in wikiHow's IRC. They are a distillation of Netiquette: spoken and unspoken expectations of interaction in an immediate chat environment. They are not intended to be a substitute for common sense and maturity, but they are a means by which any person can get guidance on good behavior and usage of wikiHow's IRC chatroom.

Purpose of the wikiHow IRC

wikiHow's IRC channel is a discussion place for:

  • wikiHow topics
  • topics raised by participants
  • sharing information
  • building and sustaining friendships

Guidelines for wikiHow IRC Usage

  1. What's Good in wikiHow is Good in wikiHow's IRC
    • WikiHow's IRC is an offshoot of wikiHow site and therefore the same expectations hold.
  2. Be productive, collaborative, and friendly
    • wikiHow's IRC is a productive, collaborative and friendship-building resource. It is a resource that is provided with goodwill and the intent of its existence is to provide a harmonious environment for wikiHow contributors to share ideas, hold friendly discussions and be a real-time experience not offered by the wikiHow site.
  3. Be Civil
    • Participants in wikiHow's IRC agree to behave civilly, with kindness and care. They agree to be mutually supportive of each other and to respect one another.
  4. Netiquette
    • Participants in wikiHow's IRC acknowledge the role of Netiquette in their IRC communications. This means the following:
  5. Positive Participation:
    • Participants treat one another with civility, respect, courtesy, tolerance, and good faith.
    • Participants understand and respect that at any one time in IRC, there can be people of a range of ages, coming from different places and backgrounds, and with differing language abilities. Keep this in mind and always assume good faith.
    • Participants respect that Ops are performing a role of responsibility that carries additional effort and participants respect the reasoned requests made by Ops to keep the IRC running smoothly.
    • Participants accept that the immediate nature of IRC makes it a lively forum in which several different conversations may take place at once. This means that participants accept the need to learn to follow their own thread of conversation without being unreasonable about other participants carrying on conversation on another topic. This reflects acceptance that there is a difference between multiple good faith conversations and negative behaviors such as flooding, abuse or deliberate, disruptive behavior.
    • Participants take care to speak clearly, make meanings clear and not rely on forms of communication that might transmit misunderstandings. Where possible, avoid use of sarcasm, tongue-in-cheek comments, secret jokes, etc. where you cannot do so without making your real meaning clear, and do not exclude others deliberately in the manner of school yard taunts or sidelining. Be mature and use common sense.
    • Participants respect reasonable requests to refrain from behaving in a way that other participants perceive as disruptive.
  6. Restrained Participation:
    • Participants understand that if it isn't appropriate in real life, it isn't appropriate online either.
    • Participants do not SHOUT, flood (pasting large chunks of text over and over again with the intention to disrupt the discussion), annoy other participants on purpose, insult others, or carry on flame wars.
    • Participants never engage in rudeness, disrespect, discourteous exchanges, bad faith assumptions, or intolerance.
    • Participants do not display malice or intent to undermine IRC.
    • Participants do not use the IRC to plot, scheme, or undermine other participants, whether they are on wikiHow or in the IRC channel.
    • Participants respect requests from Ops or other participants to stop activities that are proving annoying to other participants, such as "flooding" (see definition below), criticizing others, or using profanities.
  7. Respect and Transparency Foremost
    • All participants in wikiHow's IRC adhere to respect for certainty and transparency. This means being an open community in IRC (which by its very immediacy is a natural pre-condition) and yet also being one that operates on some basic certainties as to what will happen for disruptive behavior and for being able to access information on such activities.
  8. Turn Down the Heat
    • When things heat up in wikiHow's IRC, these are the things that guide IRC participants:
    • Keep a cool head and be a catalyst for turning down the temperature;
    • Help one another. Do not gang up on a person but do share civil conversation aimed at getting an overheated participant to chill out;
    • Do not exacerbate flooding, cursing, or disrespectful language by participating in it or responding to it heatedly;
    • Do not feed a troll. If an Op is not on hand to resolve a trolling situation, remove the incentives for a troll by shutting down on the troll or even by temporary evacuation of IRC; or make use of chat tools that blank that person from your view. One good solution is to to type "/ignore [name of user]" which will make that user's trolling invisible to you. Use private chats to encourage other users to do the same thing, so the troll fails to receive the attention they crave and moves on to terrorize a chat room other than wikiHow's.
    • Use common sense. If you are doing something that, however innocent, results in the rest of the chatroom going bananas, use your common sense and remove your amusement to a private channel, or take a break and come back another time when your participation style might be more accepted. There is a time and a place for everything;
    • Practice "S.T.O.P." - when you feel yourself losing perspective in the IRC chatroom, call a halt to things for your own sake:
      • Stay out for a brief time when it gets heated and talking only adds fuel to the fire
      • Talk civilly with others, even if they won't do so with you on return
      • Offer to try and see the perspective of others, rather than getting annoyed with them
      • Practice good faith, civility and respect rather than making assumptions, having suspicions, and resorting to "punishing" others; leave it to Ops to make the decisions and don't badger the Ops or other participants.
  9. Don't Criticize
    • Think before criticizing another participant openly on IRC. This can be a major source of distress and turning up the heat. If you must participate in this type of discussion, move it to private channel space and live with your own karma there. Stand in their shoes and see how you would feel if this were said about you in the open: if you'd be offended or embarrassed, there is your answer.
  10. Ops and Privileges
    • Ops are chosen for demonstrated ability to make sound judgments, to be trustworthy, and to react clearly under pressure. Ops must display a high standard of personal conduct and have the responsibility to help make the experience of all participants a pleasant one:
    • Ops exercise their privileges with maturity, respect for others, and good judgment
    • Ops always assume good faith in all interactions and look for alternative ways to solve challenges before invoking their privileges.
    • Ops exercise privileges sparingly and only when clear, negative problems arise, such as malice, breach of privacy, or trolling (persistent disruptive behavior)
    • Ops help one another and support one another but do not gang up on good faith participants
    • Ops seek help from other Ops when personally attacked, involved in a conflict of interest, or under pressure
    • Ops always provide clear warnings before invoking sanctions - first a warning with clear reasons in polite terms before any other action
  11. Format & Follow-Up of Warnings
    • Warnings must use appropriate language and not suggest disrespect of a participant
    • Warnings must be mature and avoid schoolyard taunt type approaches - not only is that way not clear but it lacks maturity and reduces a sense of trust in the person giving the warning
    • Warnings must clearly convey one or more reasons
    • Warnings entail a duty to listen, however briefly, to the participant's response and address it
    • Warnings must not be given lightly - if you cannot find a good reason, there is no need for a warning
    • Listen to other participants if they raise a voice to say that a warning is not given fairly - the wisdom of the crowd should help guide you
  12. Appropriate posting of material
    • Outside links should never lead to pornographic, harmful, hate-based, or nefarious pages. If they do, a user will be warned once and then may be banned if it occurs again.
    • A poster of an outside link warrants that it is safe to view by any person in the IRC channel at the time.
    • Nobody is compelled to visit an outside link posted in IRC channel. The choice to not click on it is yours and each user is strongly advised to use his or her own discretion.
  13. Usage of Language
    • English: wikiHow's IRC was set up as an English language channel but this does not preclude use of other languages in there. In the spirit of respecting that multiple conversations can be carried on in an IRC environment, if some users choose to use another language for good faith purposes, this should be accommodated unless to do so would confuse other users, or is being used as a bad faith attempt to criticize another participant.
    • Swearing/cursing: Profanity is generally unacceptable in wikiHow's IRC in the same way it is unacceptable on the wikiHow site. Use common sense - if it offends somebody, cease using it. If it is an abbreviation that is commonly invoked in a light-hearted manner and is inoffensive, it may be okay depending on the context, time of day and makeup of participants. If someone tells you they are offended, this is a pretty good indication to stop. If in doubt, leave it out.
    • Racist, sexist, and discriminatory language: This is never permitted in wikiHow's IRC and can be regarded as a valid reason for a warning. Always tell a participant of their faux pas first before coming down on them, however, as a lot of people simply do not realize their error, and you can be a catalyst for others learning more inclusive ways.
  14. Respect Privacy
    • Never divulge another person's personal information without consent.


This is a quick reference guide to understanding elements of the Guidelines. Please update as necessary.

"Flooding" - At its most basic, flooding refers to repeated additions of large portions of text, repetitive amounts of text, mash, spamming, etc.; anything the "floods" the IRC, aimed at disrupting the flow of one or more conversations being held on IRC. Many wikiHowians added their definitions of flooding and create an extensive list for those who wish more information. Basically, common sense dictates that if a participant's text interferes with the normal operation of the site, it can be viewed as flooding and the person should respect requests to cease doing so. "Netiquette" - This is the basic etiquette for the internet. It requires that users adhered to a generally understood set of rules. Make use of wikiHow's own articles to learn more:

  • How to Behave in Internet Chat Rooms
  • How to Follow Internet Etiquette
  • How to Use Proper Chat Room Etiquette

"Discriminatory, racist, or sexist language" - Language that denigrates people because of their race, gender, age, background, etc. wikiHow aims to be an inclusive, supportive, and discrimination-free environment that operates universally and encourages understanding between cultures. We support non-discriminatory language and approaches.

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