What is IRC? What is ##marxism?

IRC is short for Internet Relay Chat, one of the oldest chat protocols still in existence. Users join chat rooms (“channels”) which are hosted on servers connected together in a network. They do this through an IRC client, which allows one to connect to a network and join any channel that they’d like. One can be connected to multiple networks and channels at a time. In addition, users select names for themselves, generally called a “nickname” or a “nick” but occasionally referred to as a “handle.” Once they have a name that will appear to other users and they have connected to a channel, users can begin chatting.

There are a wide variety of popular IRC clients out there, and most of them are free. Some of the most popular IRC clients include mIRC (which is proprietary and costs money), xchat (also costs money for the Windows version), irssi, and ChatZilla (which is an add-on in the Firefox browser). However, you can also connect to us using Freenode’s web-based client, which is exceptionally simple to use.

##marxism is a channel on the Freenode network, devoted to discussing Marxist theory and practice. Readers are encouraged to join us at ##marxism at the freenode IRC network, which generally has around 50 to 60 users on at a time (although we’re not all talking at once). Spirit of Contradiction was started as a project among a few of the long-standing members there, and so the majority of our contributors can be found there. Plus, we usually have some pretty good discussions that you’ll miss out on if you just read the blog.

In addition, during the summer months we participate in structured, semi-formal debates on controversial or otherwise important topics.

Are there any rules?

Yes, there are. IRC allows for certain users to have certain privileges — there are varying levels, but one of the most common, aside from a normal user, is that of an “operator,” who has the power to set certain privileges on other users and ban or mute people from/on the IRC channel. They are responsible for carrying out the rules as they appear below:

##marxism rules enacted on 2013-11-27 15:00 UTC

0. Object:

These rules operate as the means of self-government of ##marxism. ##marxism is an IRC channel to discuss Marxist theory and practice. The object of these rules is to regulate the functioning of the community to improve communication and reduce disruption. The interpretation of the rules should, where otherwise not specified, favour SNR (signal to noise ratio).

1. Users:

All Freenode users have the right to join the channel unless explicitly excluded. Users may prompt operators to enforce the rules on behalf of themselves, other users, or the community. Users are entitled to a response from operators in such cases. Users who have participated in the channel for longer than three months with any intensity are considered regular users and have the right to participate in public channel processes.

2. Operators:

The operators of ##marxism are the effective means of coercion in the community. They shall enforce rules, should be productive channel participants, shall have been regular users for a period longer than three months, and may attempt to dissolve conflicts without resort to coercive means.

2.1. A list of operators will be kept updated on SoC’s ##marxism page. Operators may choose channel regulars to increase their numbers. Operators will act by constructive consensus (no blocks) on such choice. Operators will consult regulars on such choice.

2.2. Operator removal:

Operators are not themselves exempt from rules. Operators who violate the rules will be temporarily suspended during the term of measures applied to them. If operators engage in more than one rule violation over a term of less than two months, they will be subject to a vote of confidence by the channel regulars. Removal requires more negative votes than positive plus abstentions, abstentions must be explicit. Term to vote will be 48 hours. Votes will be public and take place on the Forum. Discussion on the vote may take place on the Forum or ##marxism-ot but not the main channel. For the removal process to be valid there must be at least 10 votes registered.

3. Ambit, core topic:

##marxism is dedicated to the discussion of Marxist theory and practice. This includes all tendencies, currents and traditions that acknowledge themselves as intellectual heirs to scientific socialism. General socialist discussion, including electoral aspects, as well as news and analysis on current affairs without a specific Marxist relevance is allowed, but not core.

3.1. Off-core discussion:

Mathematics, programming, and matters regarding human culture (preferentially the natural and social sciences) outside their specific implications to Marxism are not core and should, like other off-core issues, not displace core discussions. They are however not off-topic. Ops may request users to refrain from such discussions if they interfere with core.

3.2. Off-topic:

Discussion that has no relevance to socialists should not displace core or off-core issues, and those who engage in it may be asked to take it to PM or ##marxism-ot. This includes flirting, sexual talk, and discussion about the subjective effects of illegal drugs. Discussion about issues regarding sexuality or drugs from a socialist perspective shall be on-topic.

4. Disruption:

Any lowering of the SNR counts as channel disruption. Where no other rule is applicable, ops may through constructive consensus undertake any action deemed necessary or adequate to decrease disruption in the channel.

4.1. Subjectively trolling:

Making statements with the purpose of provoking anger or outrage is not welcome. Trolls may be banned by ops without consensus in emergencies, subject to review, or with constructive consensus. Bans shall not last less than 24 hours or more than 6 months. Trolls shall be banned in particular if users demand it. Rehabilitation may require a private or in-channel apology.

4.2. Objectively trolling:

People making statements that, however sincere, cause channel disruption by entertaining views that are reactionary, unconnected to reality, or otherwise objectionable, shall be dealt with by the mechanism specified in rule 4.1, independently of the fact that they honestly hold such views and they do not intend to disrupt. Ops may, if they form the conviction that the situation is temporary, resort to a quiet instead of a ban.

4.3. Holy wars:

People joining ##marxism with the purpose of disproving or confronting core marxist tenets such as the labour theory of value are not welcome. Process of rule 4.1 applies to them. Sincere belief is no defence. This rule shall be applied residually to those who aren’t clearly trolls but functionally act like it.

4.4. Toxic ideologies:

Fascists, consistent apologists for imperialism, racists, male chauvinists, homophobes, transphobes, ableists, and other bigots are not welcome. They shall be banned on sight by any single op without consensus. Bans shall not last less than two weeks or more than two years. Rehabilitation may require a private or public repudiation of the toxic ideology and a private apology to those affected or an in-channel apology. Ops may through constructive consensus expand the ideologies regarded as toxic. A list of toxic ideologies will be kept updated on SoC’s ##marxism page. The list on rule 4.4 is for indicative purposes only. Bans on ableism will only result from repeated use of ableist language, or personal attacks on users on the basis of disability. The use of terms such as stupid or insane are permited when not used to demean disabled people and in reference to arguments.

4.5. Off-topic and rudeness:

Users engaging in undue rudeness beyond community norms or off-topic conversations shall be asked by ops to correct their behaviour. Sexual banter when talked about in excess or beyond community norms shall be treated as rudeness. They may be quieted by ops with constructive consensus, or by a single op in case of emergency, if no other ops are present, and subject to further review. Quiets shall not last more than two days. Rehabilitation in case of extraordinary rudeness may require a private apology. Consistent and heedless instances of rudeness and/or off-topic discussion ignoring op warnings may result in a ban to be approved through constructive consensus of no less than one day and no more than one month.

4.6. Doxing:

Revealing private details of users in the channel or to other users is strictly prohibited. On the light of the sensitive nature of Marxism in some locales and circumstances, doxing will result in a ban no shorter than two months. Ops will not act on doxing without a user complaint or evidence of distress by the affected user. The degree of reserve kept by the user, the potential for harm in real life, the nature of the revealed details and the intent of the doxer will be used to decide the length of the ban, which may be permanent.

4.7. Emergency powers:

Ops shall do whatever is necessary to preserve channel functionality in case of floods, spam, raids and other unusual conduct. No consensus needs be taken for such action, though it may be reviewed by other ops later.

4.8. Sexual harrasment:

Sexual harassment or solicitation are not welcome in the channel. All sexual advances require the explicit consent of the person to whom the comments are addressed. If a user objects to sexual comments aimed at them, the issuer must immediately stop their behavior, and ops have the authority to temporarily quiet the perpetrator otherwise. Ops may ban on victim’s request without consensus, to be reviewed. Bans shall not last less than one month or more than one year. Rehabilitation may require a private or in-channel apology to the victim. Severe or continuous violations of this policy may result in a ban at the ops’ discretion, by constructive consensus, without requiring the victim to directly pursue action. Ops shall ban on their own initiative in all cases where sexual violence is threatened. Repeated offenses which result in disciplinary action may result in a permanent ban when sexual violence has been threatened; especially vulnerable people have, by their own understanding, been affected; a person or persons have been systematically harassed or bullied; or there are potential foreseeable real-world consequences from the perpetrator’s conduct.

5. Means of coercion:

Ops may use warnings, quiets and bans. Warnings may be private or public. A warning will always be given before a quiet or ban excepting those under rules 4.4, 4.6 or 4.7.

5.1. Length:

People being subject to change, quiets and bans shall generally not be permanent. When consensus is required, consensus shall include the length of the measure. When it is the result of an individual op’s action, the op shall decide the length of the measure, but ops may later review it.

5.2. Right of hearing, right of appeal:

Users have the right to present their side to ops, but this will not preclude them being warned, quieted or banned. Users banned by a single op may ask to be heard by the CC at large (central committee). Users banned through consensus may ask to be heard by the CC, which may refuse to hear.

5.3. Sources of evidence:

Logs from bots, operators and reputable users shall be admisible. Private messages will not generally be used to rule against a user, except in special circumstances, such as evidence from several users or an op. Evidence from other channels, public or private, is admisible.

5.4. Right of information:

A warning to a user will specify the reason they are warned, and contain guidance on how to correct their conduct. Users may ask ops for further guidance. Operators may refuse to give it when it is being asked for disruption or rule-mongering purposes.

5.5. Interpretation and presumptions:

Rules will generally be interpreted in favour of users. Good faith will be presumed. Previous behaviour by the user suffices to destroy the presumption.

5.6. Length of measures:

Previous behaviour of users and in particular previous attempts at rehabilitation shall be taken into account when determining length of measures.

6. Process:

Operators will whenever possible act through consensus. When not enough operators exist for a clear sense of consensus to arise, operators may at any time act in favour of SNR temporarily. Such action may be reviewed later.

6.1. Constructive consensus is achieved when no op blocks a measure and more than 1 op supports it.

6.2. Full consensus is achieved when no op blocks a measure and more than half support it.

6.3. At any time, through constructive consensus, any measure may be taken for the purposes of preserving SNR.

6.4. Rules may be modified through full consensus, after consulting the community.

Toxic ideologies

  • Fascism
  • Imperialism
  • Racism
  • Male chauvinism
  • Homophobia
  • Transphobia
  • ableism

Operators of ##marxism

The operators of the ##marxism channel, without order or qualification, are the following: