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The Art of Channel Management

One of the great things about choosing DareNET as your preferred IRC network is the ability to register and manage your own channel. DareNET continues to provide efficient channel and nicknames services, and C is still the most robust and user-friendly service around.

It is precisely because a channel is very easy to register that many chatters fall into the trap of believing it is also easy to manage and make successful. There's an old maxim in the world of online community builders - building a community is not like that old film, Field of Dreams; it is not a case of "build it and they will come". This is the reason why so many who register a channel suffer the disappointment of it not being a success, and this failure sometimes drives chatters to break the fundamental rules of DareNET by resorting to desperate measures such as mass-inviting.

Thankfully there are some simple tips and tricks you can use to make your channel a success; so let's find out what they are:

In This Guide:

Before you begin

Don't be rash. Your impulse will be to pick a random name and register your channel as soon as you can - don't do it! There are already established channels on DareNET, so you need to have a think about the sort of things that will make chatters choose your channel to chat in rather than somebody else's.

Have a topic in mind. It is far more likely that your channel will be successful if you have a theme for it. Most channels on DareNET are general chat channels and, given one general chat channel is very much like another, human nature dictates that you are bound to go to those which are managed or used by your friends. So, unless you have lots of friends who don't already have their own channels, and who you know will help you build a good general chat room, your best option is to pick a theme.

Research. Ok, so you have your theme; there are now a couple of important things to bear in mind. It may sound obvious, but whether your theme is cats or C++, you do need to actually know something about the subject yourself! The next thing you should do is find out if your topic of choice is well covered by another channel. So, do the /list command (you can narrow your search with /list *keyword*), and have a look to see what else is out there. If you picked C++ as your topic, and there are already several well-established C++ channels, then you will either need to come up with a good twist on that topic (eg: C++ ircd development), or think of a completely different one.

Have some ops in mind. Unless you are going to be online 24 hours a day to 'meet and greet' people coming to your channel, you will need some ops to keep the flow of conversation going and to help you manage access. Ensure these are people you really trust, and who also have an interest in your topic of choice. Don't give them your account password (DareNET does not have channel passwords!) - no matter what. If you do give anybody else your password, and they cheat you, or lose it due to bad security, DareNET will not return your channel to you. You may wish to choose ops in a different time zone to yourself so the channel is active when you are not online. You may also wish to give one or two of these people co-owner or manager access for greater control over the channel.


Pick a good name. Remember that, in order for people to return to your channel easily, the name will have to be easy to remember. If you use lots of non-standard characters, digits in place of letters, underscores and such like then it will be much harder for people to remember where to go. Therefore, in a choice between #!!!|\/|y_Chann3l and #mychannel - pick the latter!

Once you have decided on a name, use "/msg C INFO #channelname" to make sure it is available. If so, go ahead and join it. Then you may use C's REGISTER command to actually register it. See "/msg C HELP REGISTER" for more information.

Make use of C settings. There are many settings that will allow you to customise your channel - they are all detailed here on C's help page. Some very useful ones to remember are Enforce Ops (ENFOPS), which can be used to deop anyone not on the channel's access list. Initially you may also wish to make use of Enforce Topic (ENFTOPIC) which will allow you to select who you wish to be able to change the topic. The topic is an important tool when you are establishing a channel as it's basically a short advert which shows up to chatters when they /list. If you are wise, in the early days of your channel, you will ensure that the topic has something to do with the theme of your channel and that it is short, pitchy and entices people in.

Growing a successful channel

So now you have your channel, and you have some friends of like interest helping you keep the room animated when you are not around. Is it now time to sit back and hope it becomes successful? Well, no. The work has only just begun!

Create activities. No matter how deep an interest someone has in a particular topic, chatting about it can become boring. You need to get your thinking cap on and invent some activities to keep people interested, and they'll then, hopefully, spread the word that your channel is a fun place to visit. You could try running quizzes at set times yourself (remember to advertise the day and time, with time zone information, in your topic), or get yourself an eggdrop bot which can automate the process - http://www.egghelp.org has all the information you need about getting an eggdrop, plus a lot of prewritten scripts for you to use. When your channel has become more established, you could try inviting some experts to give a 'celebrity chat' in your channel - if your channel is #Siamese-Cats, see if you can tempt a well-known breeder to give a talk, or perhaps a friendly vet to give advice.

Code of Conduct. Create a Code of Conduct for your ops and your visitors. Set out clearly how you expect an op to act and how a visitor to your channel can expect to be treated. Doing so will minimise the risk of conflict in the future.

Build a website. You need to think beyond your channel. Chat is a real-time medium and, as such, means that information is lost very quickly. Having a website will cement the theme for your channel, give you a place to refer people to important information (your Code of Conduct for instance), and create a sense of permanence for your channel. Some things to think about including are profiles on your ops and regular visitors, the channel history and theme, rules and policies, up-coming events, 'shout outs' for special occasions, galleries, links and resources, a voting tool or even DareNET's webchat client to gain access to your channel from your website.

Make use of other community tools. Again, because IRC is real-time, people will miss what goes on there when they are not online, or active. What keeps people returning to a place is a sense of belonging, and to achieve a sense of belonging you need to make your visitors feel as though they are not missing out on anything. Some message boards, a mailing list, Facebook page, or Twitter account will allow people to keep in touch and stay informed, even when they can't get on IRC. Luckily, there are many free tools on the Internet these days to allow you to create such things quickly and easily.

Things not to do

Mass-inviting. Successful channels take time to build. It may take a year for your channel to be really popular, so your biggest personal assets should be patience and stamina. It's a big temptation to try a short cut to success by mass inviting to your channel. Don't do it. All this will achieve is, at the very least, getting your channel a bad reputation. At the very worst it will get your channel closed down, and may even draw attacks from other angry channel owners.

Filler bots. You may decide to pay a little money to some shady person who promises to fill your channel with bots to make it look popular. Be warned, this practice is against DareNET rules and may result in your channel being closed. Even if you do manage to escape such a penalty, think carefully about what you are doing. Your channel may look popular when someone does a /list - but they are going to be nothing but disappointed when they enter your channel to find all these 'people' are not talking. That is a bad user experience and it's a good bet that they will never return.

Become a despot. You own your channel, so there's a big temptation to force your will on everyone in it - opping or banning with extreme prejudice and with no fore thought. Make no mistake; such behaviour will frighten people off. A good channel owner is fair and unbiased - he, or she, will take action only after consideration and will always be able to give a solid reason for that action if questioned.

Give up. As mentioned before, growing a successful channel takes time. If you only get a handful of users for months on end - don't get disillusioned. If you put as much care and effort into your channel when it has 5 users as you would if it had 500 users, then chances are it will become successful. If you get apathetic and stop caring about it yourself, soon your users will stop caring and your channel will slowly die.