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:Teahouse – 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.

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 connect, and helpers are requested to be present in the channel whilst providing help. It is a channel for identified helpers to coordinate 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, wmopbot, wm-bot, and litharge. New bots should be approved by the contacts.
  5. No public logging. Public distribution of logs from this channel are expressly disallowed without express permission of all discussion participants.

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 experienced and voiced users should attempt to provide help and assistance to users. Please note that due to the "live" nature of IRC, helping on IRC is markedly different from helping on-wiki. If you are interested in helping, please ask for assistance from current helpers.

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

Voicing and verification is done through cloaking, described at m:IRC/Cloaks.

Dealing with common queries[edit]

General[edit]

  • Avoid heated discussion; there is no cause for it. Uncivil users should be politely asked to stop first. If that does not succeed, channel operators can intervene to silence or ban users; see Channel operators. It's normal to sometimes be frustrated with helpees, just step away for a bit, make sure let the helpee know that you are stepping away.
  • 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.
  • Help should always be provided in the channel, not via PM. If confidentiality is needed for some reason, they should be directed to one of the existing "private" channels (such as #wikipedia-en-revdel) for context-appropriate assistance.

Content[edit]

  • 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).
  • One of the most common queries #wikipedia-en-help receives are those relating to a user's draft, and why it was declined. Helpers should explain, without the use of acronyms, why the reviewer failed the draft, and provide any suggestions on how to improve it. Helpers should not accept any requests for expediting reviews of drafts.
  • Probably the next most common query would be users asking advice on if a subject is notable enough for inclusion on Wikipedia. Helpers should again refrain from the use of acronyms and provide an easy to understand explanation of which (if any) notability guidelines the subject fails. Helpers must understand that for many users, hearing that their chosen subject is not suitable for inclusion will be frustrating, and discussions may become heated.

Out of scope[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.
  • Please do not answer questions pertaining to other language Wikipedia projects. Each Wikipedia project has its own guidelines and policies that may not match the English Wikipedia, so giving advice based on the guidelines and policies of English Wikipedia could cause confusion and problems on other projects. These helpees should be directed to the correct help venue for that project.

Unblock requests/questions about a block[edit]

  • Users asking to appeal their block should be directed to #wikipedia-en-unblock connect.

Disputes[edit]

  • Users sometimes join #wikipedia-en-help to ask for assistance during an edit war, content dispute, or other potentially controversial matters. Users asking on IRC for others to revert edits (in order to avoid violating the three-revert rule) is not acceptable. Helpers must not get involved in these matters except to give general explanations of guidelines and policies and should direct users to appropriate on-wiki discussion venues such as talk pages, WP:DR, and similar venues.

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 (https://helpmebot.org.uk/commands) 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
Waggie Waggie
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.

Operator list
Master IRC nick Username
*!*@libera/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
Praxidicae Praxidicae
Prodego Prodego
Rjd0060 Rjd0060
Samwalton9 Samwalton9
Shirik Shirik
Slakr Slakr
SpitfireWP Spitfire
Srikeit Srikeit
Steven_Zhang Steven Zhang
Tanvir Wikitanvir
TBloemink TBloemink
Theo10011 Theo10011
TheresNoTime TheresNoTime
Tim_Song Timotheus Canens
Waggie Waggie
WilliamH_UK WilliamH

Bots[edit]

(Bot flags +V)

Master IRC nick Username
Helpmebot Helpmebot
wm-bot wm-bot

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: m:IRC/Cloaks#Obtaining_a_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 {{IRC}} 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, Libera staff have access. Ask in #libera connect for their attention.
  2. ^ Closing of RfC on linking to help channel