- 1 How to Ask for Help
- 1.1 General Etiquette
- 1.2 Let's Not Be Rude
- 1.3 Remember
- 1.4 Related Links and Attribution
How to Ask for Help
IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a real-time chat where you can talk to other people from around the planet. This article is meant to help you understand how the IRC works socially, and how to get the most out of it. IRC is both 'live' but also persistent. People will often idle for hours, days or weeks at a time without speaking, don't be afraid to wait for the right person to answer your question. Our IRC channel is filled with server administrators with a huge range of experience, some of which volunteer a large amount of their time to help others.
Don't Ask to Ask
It's bad manners to enter the channel and asks "May I ask a question?" or "Can anyone help me?". Although that may be polite in normal human interaction, it does not work that way on an IRC. You are supposed to just ask your question right away.
There is nothing worse than "My Essentials doesn't work." or "My GroupManager doesn't work.". How are others supposed to help you, when you don't give them any information? Make sure you include at least this information:
What did you try to accomplish? (I tried to type /motd) What happened (wrongly) instead? (But it just says Error: null) What versions are you running? (I am using CraftBukkit 1.1 and Essentials 2.8.2) Are there error messages or log files? (There is a error in the server log) Has it ever worked? What did you change? (I just updated WorldGuard.) If all this information is included then you will have a high chance of getting a useful reply, as well as fixing your problem.
Do Not Flood the Channel - use a pastebin
Sometimes you need to show others more than one line. Perhaps parts of your configuration files or a log file. Never just copy and paste larger amounts of text right into the channel. Always use a pastebin. Pastebins are public services (web sites) where you can paste your text and everybody can access them with a URL. Just paste your contents there and give the channel the generated URL. That should allow everybody who's interested in helping, take a look. If you type .paste in channel, you'll get a list of some useful pastebin websites.
Read the Topic and Join Messages
When you join the channel you will be greeted with some messages from Lain, our bot. These will cover the most recent news or issues. For example: "Use version 188.8.131.52 if you have a problem with item blacklists". The information was put there for a reason, and usually answers the most asked questions.
Tell Us What You Are Doing
Others only know what you tell them. If you change things silently then nobody will know about it. The worst thing you can do is say: "I changed something. Now I have another problem." This will get you ignored in no time. If you expect help, you need to work with, and provide adequate information to the people online.
Do Not Be Demanding
IRC is a stateless medium. Anyone can join and quit at any time. People will often be doing other things while sitting in the channel, but they stay there because they like staying there. Nobody is paid for helping you. So if someone is making lunch while answering your questions, you'd best be patient or they might decide they'd rather enjoy it in peace.
Do Not Repeat Yourself
Asking the same question every minute is annoying. When people in the channel read the most recent chats and see a question asked multiple times in a row, they will pay no attention to you. Chats don't disappear. In fact, they are saved so anyone can read them whenever they want.
The More Detail Provided, The Better the Answer
Often in other message mediums, people are drawn to sending 2 or 3 word lines, as if they need to press enter every 5 seconds or an island is going to explode. If you spend a moment on what your trying to write, and write full sentences, you'll find the process goes a lot smoother. Of course this extends to spamming for attention. If you sent a message to the channel, it will generally be read, if you start spamming, people will simply ignore you, or remove you from the channel.
Read the Auto-replies
While the auto reply messages in IRC channels, might not always look like they address the specific issue your having, they generally work on a rough match on what you say. So if your having an issue with a certain type of sign, then you might get a reply regarding sign options, following the advice or reading the given wiki page might just allow you to help yourself, as whoever wrote the wiki page has probably heard your specific issue a hundred times.
Let's Not Be Rude
Do Not /msg Random People
Posting your question for all to see will result in the right person helping you. However the latter is considered rude. Don't occupy a single person for your purpose. Others may be interested in a solution to your problem too.
While it is generally accepted you will have a personal opinion on what are the best servers and plugins, you should not link to or advertise any servers, services or other products unless directly asked.
Sometimes you may feel that others are rude. You may get a response like "Update your bukkit. Restart the server. Read the wiki." Although this is a very brief reply, it is likely not meant to be rude. IRC is often like human interaction without all the friendly bits. Other people have probably asked your question a dozen times today and they just want to help you solve the problem - not become close friends with you. Don't be offended by it. The people don't mean it.
Generally the only universal language spoken is English. It doesn't matter if your English is bad. Most people in the world speak something different than English, too. But it will generally be the only language all people in the channel know. Speaking in another language limits the number of people who can reply to you. It's considered rude to others looking for he same answer as well.
Don't Be Lazy - Read the Documentation
If people tell you to read the documentation then you should do so. Never say: "I'm too lazy. Come on. Just tell me what I need to do." This will get you ignored for all eternity. However you can expect to be told where to find the documentation. If the documentation is too technical or you don't understand certain sections then say: "I have now read section 'configuring yaml' of the URL you gave me and I understand what groups are in general. But how do I set up mirroring users specifically?"
Give Others a Chance to Answer
Even if you are in a hurry, you should allow other participants quite a bit of time to answer. Sometimes you are lucky and a helpful reply appears within a few seconds. But it is not uncommon that you will have to wait 10-20 minutes until the right person who is familiar with your problem replies to you. The pattern looks something like this:
10:07 Foo joins 10:07 Foo> How can I translate the messages? 10:09 Foo quit
Then at 10:14 the developer gets back from lunch but can't help you any more because you gave up too quickly.
Answer Questions That Are Asked
It may sometimes be hard to follow all the conversations on IRC. But if people are trying to help you and need to ask you a few questions please answer them all. If you get asked three questions and only answer one or keep asking the same question time and again, showing that you don't read what you got asked, you risk being ignored. Show some initiative and your problem will likely be fixed within a few minutes.
Tell Others About Your Solution
It doesn't help anyone if you just say "Nevermind, found it." and quit the channel. Please tell the others what the solution to your problem was so everybody can learn from it. You will not look stupid for doing so.
Stay If You Can
Using the IRC is a matter of giving and taking. At the beginning you will surely you'll have questions over questions. Just ask them and be grateful if you get attention and replies. Others do not expect more than a "Thank you." for their help.
If you can, please consider staying online in the channel. The more knowledge you gain the more you can help other people. And you probably get to know people you like to hang out with - even if it's just virtually.
Careful Who You Trust
When getting responses, be careful who you trust. Some people just want to feel important and reply to you although they have no idea what they're doing. Perhaps even an "educated guess" might help - just make clear if it's something that was tried and worked. Some people are even jokers who want to be funny by telling you how to erase your hard-drive. So verify others' proposals instead of applying them blindly.
Related Links and Attribution
- http://workaround.org/getting-help-on-irc - Original version reused and edited with permission, be aware that copying this post for use elsewhere does not absolve you of the original copyright.
- http://www.koepf.de/irc.html (german)