Wikipedia:IRC/wikipedia-en-help

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IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. There are several different chat rooms available for wikipedia. #wikipedia-en-help connect is the primary channel for both new and experienced editors seeking real-time web-based help on using and editing the English Wikipedia. Unlike #wikipedia connect and #wikipedia-en connect, Wikipedia's more central channels, #wikipedia-en-help is specifically oriented to help new users. Regular members of the channel, "helpers" are voiced (the IRC channel mode +v), to distinguish the helpers from those requesting help.

Because #wikipedia-en-help is specifically designed for helping (primarily, but not limited to) our newest users – an IRC equivalent to Wikipedia:Help desk – it is important that helpers be patient, friendly and understanding. The range of questions is usually rather straightforward (see #Dealing with common queries), but the majority of people who come to the channel for help do not always know how the channel works. Therefore, channel conduct should reflect this. "Noise" (excessive off-topic chatter) should be moved to another channel, for example #wikimedia-social connect or ##chat connect, especially when there are users requesting or receiving help. However, it is important to remember that greetings and minor off-topic remarks while people aren't being assisted are perfectly acceptable. If an extended conversation is conflicting with user(s) requesting help, they should be asked politely to move it elsewhere.

The current contacts for the channel are Deskana and Thehelpfulone.

Channel guidelines[edit]

Do not spill the tea.

Channel operation requires that users of the channel follow guidelines in keeping the purpose of #wikipedia-en-help focused on helping users of Wikipedia. A few basic guidelines are enumerated as follows:

  1. Don't be a jerk. Inexperienced, new, confused, and just plain inquisitive users must experience a warming, friendly environment. This requires helpers to remain positive in providing the best service possible, even if the person that is being helped is hostile.
  2. Not for social networking. Helpers have a small channel for general discussion of assisting users and the specifics of a particular query that may bog down the main channel if other users are being helped simultaneously. This channel can be found at #wikipedia-en-helpers. It is an open channel for anyone to join in discussion of aiding Wikimedians.
  3. Staying on topic. The help channel exists to help. There are other places for social interaction.
  4. Sanctioned bots. The help channel limits the number of bots we allow by function. Current bots in the channel are Helpmebot, AntiSpamMeta, and wm-bot. New bots should be approved by the contacts.

Who can help?[edit]

Voiced (+v) channel members provide assistance to those who need help. A user may request to be voiced if they meet the following qualifications:
  1. The user must have at least 250 total edits on Wikimedia projects (check)
  2. The user's Wikimedia account must be at least 3 months old
  3. The user must be in good standing on Wikimedia projects and related IRC channels

It is expected that only voiced users should attempt to provide help and assistance to users.

Inappropriate conduct, including poor and incorrect answers or incivility, may lead to the removal of voice and the expectation that the user stop trying to help other users. Failure to do so, or further inappropriate conduct, may result in removal from the channel.

Users who are currently blocked and/or banned from English Wikipedia will not be permitted to help or idle in the channel.

Dealing with common queries[edit]

  • If the query is unrelated to editing the English Wikipedia but possible to answer at one of the reference desks, it may be helpful to direct them there. There also may be another IRC channel suitable for the query. (Example: if the query is about chemistry, #chemistry connect may be useful.)
  • If the matter is unrelated to editing the English Wikipedia and not possible to answer at the reference desk or another channel, politely inform them that the channel isn't the venue for the question, and advise them to seek somebody in the field. (Example: Valuation of an antique vase made in 1900.)
  • Do not consent to offer legal or medical advice under any circumstances. Advise to seek professional help from a medical practitioner or lawyer. You might also wish to give them a link to WP:NOLEGAL and/or WP:MEDICAL.
  • Do not overuse technical Wikipedia jargon without explaining it – acronyms like AFD, ANI, DRV, and RS are not likely to be known by newer users.
  • Users sometimes join #wikipedia-en-help to ask for assistance during an edit war or content dispute. If you do feel comfortable getting involved, please read around the situation thoroughly. Users asking on IRC to revert edits so they are not in violation of the three-revert rule is not acceptable.
  • Non-admins dealing with page deletion queries can link the user to Wikipedia:Why was my page deleted?; and if there is still further clarification required, the contact information for the deleting admin can be provided (user talk page or email).
  • Users asking to appeal their block should be directed to #wikipedia-en-unblock connect.
  • Avoid heated discussion; there is no cause for it. Uncivil users should be asked to stop first, in a private message if necessary. If that does not succeed, channel operators can intervene to silence or ban users; see Channel operators.

Helpmebot[edit]

Helpmebot is the channel's bot. As well as reporting which users on-wiki need help and welcome users to the channel, it allows for pulling information back about a specific user, specific page, or even a stored bit of text.

Common commands for Helpmebot are:

  • !helper - Pokes a helper on the channel for help.
  • !link - When a message appears saying a user needs help typing this command will provide a link to the userpage of the user requesting help:
    • !link [[Wikipedia:IRC]] will make the bot say a link to Wikipedia:IRC
    • !link by itself after saying a link will make the bot say a link to the page you just mentioned:
    <MrBean> For instance, see [[WP:GNG]]
    <MrBean> !link
    <Helpmebot> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GNG
  • !time - Display the current date and time in UTC
  • !commands - Displays a link (http://helpmebot.org.uk/wiki/Special:CommandList) to the list of Helpmebot commands

Channel management[edit]

The channel is managed by a group of experienced volunteers, most of whom are administrators on the English Wikipedia. They all have the technical ability to silence, remove and ban abusive users from the channel, with some able to perform channel maintenance.

If you encounter excess incivility, trolling or spam, type !ops in the channel or ask in #wikimedia-ops connect.[1] If it looks possible, try to catalyse first.

Channel contacts[edit]

(Founder flags +vVotsriRfAF)

Master IRC nick Username
Deskana Deskana
wmfgc

Access Moderators[edit]

(AccessMod flags +vVotsriRfA)

Master IRC nick Username
Fluffernutter Fluffernutter
Huon Huon
Keegan Keegan
Snowolf Snowolf
stwalkerster Stwalkerster
werdan7 Werdan7

Operators[edit]

(Op flags +vVotiA)
To get a channel operator (e.g. if there is a troll in the channel, or someone is being offensive), type !ops to get attention.

Master IRC nick Username
*!*@freenode/staff*
addshore Addshore
Barras Barras
bjelleklang Bjelleklang
blur Blurpeace
Cameron11598 Cameron11598
Cbrown1023 Cbrown1023
DeltaQuad DeltaQuad
Earwig The Earwig
eir
eurodyne Eurodyne
Excirial Excirial
fetchcomms fetchcomms
foks Foxj
GDonato GDonato
Gfoley4 Gfoley4
Golbez Golbez
GorillaWarfare GorillaWarfare
Heligoland{{A}} Nick
Hersfold Hersfold
jamesofur Jamesofur
jdelanoy J.delanoy
JoeGazz84 Joe Gazz84
Josve05a Josve05a
Killiondude Killiondude
Logan Logan
Luna-San Luna Santin
Mabdul Mabdul
MajoraWP Majora
MasterofPuppets Master of Puppets
MZMcBride MZMcBride
Ocaasi Ocaasi
OlEnglish OlEnglish
openstrings Sonia
Oshwah Oshwah
petan Petrb
Philippe Philippe
Pine Pine
Prodego Prodego
Rjd0060 Rjd0060
Samwalton9 Samwalton9
Shirik Shirik
Slakr Slakr
SpitfireWP Spitfire
Srikeit Srikeit
Steven_Zhang Steven Zhang
Tanvir Wikitanvir
TBloemink TBloemink
Theo10011 Theo10011
Tim_Song Timotheus Canens
Waggie Waggie
WilliamH_UK WilliamH

Bots[edit]

(Bot flags +V)

Master IRC nick Username
Helpmebot Helpmebot
AntiSpamBot AntiSpamMeta
wm-bot wm-bot
Sigyn Sigyn

Channel modes and operation[edit]

Voicing[edit]

Voicing means that you are given the mode "+v" in the channel. This is used to help separate the helpers from the helpees. Therefore, when you join the channel, all helpers will be voiced.

Auto-voicing[edit]

For those users that have a cloak affiliated with the projects (wikipedia/*, wikimedia/*, etc.) will be automatically voiced when they join the channel.

Cloaks[edit]

If you are an IRC user who has a Wikipedia or other Wikimedia-related cloak, then you will automatically be given voice in the channel. This is because due to the requirements for cloak requests, it is automatically presumed that you can be trusted to be a helper providing useful information to newbies.

The requirements for cloaks are:

  • 250 edits
  • Valid Email Address
  • 3 months of service on a Wikimedia project

For more information and cloaks, and instructions on how to request a cloak, please visit: Wikipedia:IRC/Tutorial#Applying for a host cloak.

Quiet and banning guidelines[edit]

If a user is disruptive, trollish or spams the channel, they may be "quieted", which means that they can still remain in the channel, but will not be able to speak, or, for more serious cases, they may be "banned" from the channel for a specified period of time.

Efforts should be taken to speak to the user, politely informing them to cease their disruptive behaviour, usually in PM. This is often far more effective than taking operator action immediately, and is especially useful in cooling a heated situation. Avoid threats, and do not counter abusive comments with more abusive comments; this does nothing to aid any situation. If that fails, and the user continues disrupting the channel, operator intervention may be required at the op's discretion.

Discussion among other operators is often very useful. Encourage ops to join #wikimedia-ops connect if you would like a second opinion (many may already be idling there).

When banned from a channel (+b), the user will not be able to rejoin the channel. Banning will not necessarily solve the problem, and in some cases will only inflame the situation. Thus, this should only be used in exceptional circumstances—join/part flooders, or users with connection issues who are flooding the channel. However, channel operators should use their own judgement when dealing with disruptive users; there may be circumstances where banning is the best course of action. Misuse or abuse of ops may result in removal at the discretion of the channel contacts.

Please note that if a user is quietened and they have the auto-voice (+V) flag, then this should be removed for the duration of their quiet. Otherwise ban evasion may occur, which will result in the user becoming completely banned for the channel for a time determined by of the channel operators.

Linking[edit]

There is consensus[2] to use Wikipedia:IRC help disclaimer when linking to the help channel because using a more direct link, like one given by the {{freenode}} template, does not sufficiently inform users of how IPs are handled on IRC.

Additional information[edit]

Insert appropriate links here, e.g. to help desk etc

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ If there are no ops around, freenode staff have access. Ask in #freenode connect for their attention.
  2. ^ Closing of RfC on linking to help channel