Bigpond IRCops show their true colours – again

On 12 November, 2006, the IRCops of Bigpond’s IRC network once again displayed their inability to understand their place in the grand scheme.

Since May, 2005, they have shown complete disregard for proper handling of their positions as IRCops.  They have shown time and again that they are quite happy to place long term bans against users simply because those users have dared to voice an opinion that is either different to their myopic views, or that they consider is in some way personally slanderous or insulting.  It seems these control freaks simply can’t stand it when someone has the audacity to stand up to them, and they view any comments that are not uplifting to them or a stroke to their egos as an attempt to undermine their authority rather than simply being someone else’s opinion!  Woe betide the person that attempts to make it public knowledge the wrongs these IRCops have inflicted on users of the network!

One of the most heinous acts these IRCops are guilty of is seizing control of chatrooms on the network in very dubious circumstances.  Indeed, they have been known to disperse all sorts of misinformation to garner support for their actions.  The most notable case, until 12 November, 2006, was the seizing in late 2005 of the room #Peers.20s.  Their official story was that the founder had come to them and asked them to take over the room as he no longer was interested in looking after it.

Well, I’m here to tell you that is one of the biggest lies of the century so far!

The founder of that room is a friend of mine, and the real story is this.  These IRCops deliberately seized control of the rooms and banned him from accessing the network because he dared argue with them about them idling in the room.  Having an IRCop idle in a chatroom is kind of like having a policeman sitting in the back seat of your car when you are driving.  The majority of chatters didn’t want them in there, and neither did the founder.  The room’s chatters took offence to the degree that they made quite a few disparaging remarks about the presence of these IRCops in the room.  The IRCops called the founder to their inner sanctum to ask him to tell the chatters to cease and desist.  His response was that he would ask people to be polite, but his policy was that the room was one where people were free to speak their minds on any topic and he wasn’t about to curtail that freedom.  He suggested that if they didn’t want to be insulted, then they should focus on what they are IRCops for and shouldn’t idle in the room and try to interfere in room management.  This went over none to well, and shortly thereafter the room’s founder discovered his access had been cut off and the lies had started circulating.

When they seized that room, they also deleted his chat nickname, and thereby all his other rooms disappeared as well.  Furthermore, by seizing control in the manner that they did all the room’s existing control staff (“hosts”) were deleted from the network records.  As IRCops, they had plenty of other ways of achieving their aim of taking control of the room without deleting the founder’s nickname.  Doing it as they did was sheer laziness, and done in haste for their own expediency.  The fact they didn’t re-instate the room’s host list is a good indication they didn’t want anyone associated with the previous founder having anything to do with the room.  Consider this – if the founder had indeed come to them and asked them to take over the room, wouldn’t he have simply given them the room password?  Furthermore, why remove all the existing hosts, the ones with the experience and knowledge of the room’s regular users?

Well, they’ve done it again – only this time they’ve taken a series of commercial rooms that are positioned by a major media group for their promotional purposes.  The person holding the founder status of these rooms on behalf of the media group also happens to be someone I know quite closely.  The scenario surrounding the seizure of these rooms is quite similar to that of the situation for #Peers.20s.  This person already held a low opinion of the IRCops abilities and that opinion is even stronger after this current turn of events.  What makes this latest seizure laughable is that the founder logged in from a different connection to speak to the IRCops about the ban, and spent some time in one of their so-called “Help” rooms (and the Help rooms on this network are something of a joke in the IRC fraternity as the IRCops technical and people skills are generally deplorable) talking to them at the end of which they agreed the founder was permitted to come back again whenever suitable to further discuss the ban situation.  The founder then spent the rest of the day quietly minding their own business in one of the media groups chat rooms, until one of the IRCops kicked the founder off the network (even though the founder had done nothing all day) for reasons still not known as they refuse to answer e-mails and the founder is unable to log on as he would be “evading a ban”.

And therein lies one of the ways they abuse their power.  How is an affected user to find out what they’ve done wrong or how to have a ban removed if the user cannot log on to the network, nor will the IRCops respond to e-mails?  It is only because of some information from other friendly sources that can connect to the network that the founder has discovered they have deleted the founder’s chat nickname, and thereby all the rooms are no longer registered.

In closing, let me just say that the above actions are undertaken in the main by a group of 3 of the network’s IRCops.  They use the chat nicknames sammee, megs, and merle.  These 3 megalomaniacs appear to have nothing better to do than try to inflict their will over the entire network and want to control everything and everyone, especially any room with a large number of users.

These people don’t understand their function is to serve and assist WHEN ASKED, not march around the server poking their noses into everyone else’s business.  As IRCops they should be concentrating on maintaining server security, not trying to maintain room operations and over-ride room founders. They have to go!  Are you listening Sol?  GET RID OF THESE FOOLS!!

What Happened to Freedom of Speech on Bigpond’s IRC Network?

I expect there are those that will agree with what follows, and those that won’t.  So be it.  Freedom of speech is a basic democratic right in our society, isn’t it?  I think it was Voltaire that said it – something like “I might not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Nevertheless, there are those that don’t seem to understand this.  Take this example, if you will.  One of my pastimes is to spend a few hours a week chatting with friends via IRC.  Telstra have an IRC network running under the Bigpond banner, and this network was my introduction to the world of IRC.  I consider IRC to be a superior chat service to the plethora of instant messenger services that exist today, mainly as the chat rooms on any decent IRC network have live moderators there to help weed out any undesirables.  But that’s another issue entirely, so I’ll get off that soapbox and back onto the freedom of speech one.

Around mid-May, 2005, there was a power play amongst senior network operators on the Bigpond network.  The network operators on Bigpond IRC are all unpaid volunteers that give freely of their time so that the IRC server can function for the benefit of the chatters that use it.  The network administrator, on the other hand, is a paid Telstra employee.  Unfortunately, this person has many other things to do as well as look after the IRC server network – it appears Telstra don’t consider it a resource of high priority.  Given that the server network costs a considerable sum of money to maintain yet it returns almost nothing financially to Telstra, it’s not really surprising that Telstra management look like they are scaling the network down.  In fact, prudent financial management of a company under the pressure to perform that Telstra currently finds itself would be to close any services that aren’t contributing to the bottom line.

In an amazing piece of mismanagement (so typical of Telstra), the administrator of the network removed the access rights of 3 of the most highly experienced and skilled operators the network had.  As a result, the network operator team is now being “guided” (and I use that term very, very loosely) by a woman that has dubious technical skills, and, in my opinion, no management skills to speak of.  She is untrained in any of these areas, yet Telstra, in their “wisdom,” have left her alone to bring the network to its knees.

With this woman and her lapdogs at the helm, the Telstra Bigpond network is bleeding profusely and losing chatters faster than it can gain new ones.  From a network that once boasted in excess of 1500 chatters per day, it now struggles to reach 400.  This person is responsible for making the network a place where chatters are unable to express an opinion that is contrary to that person’s myopic view of the network or the operators and their cronies for fear of being permanently banned from the network.  This person further seems to believe that she and her cronies can march around the server like a bunch of jack-boot wearing Nazi storm-troopers and dictate to room owners how they should run their rooms.  She seems to have no understanding of the concept that Bigpond is providing a service to people.  She and the other operators seem incapable of realising they are there to SERVE the chatters and the room owners, not RULE over them like a dictator.  They should be there to assist room owners and chatters when asked, not run around poking their noses into other people’s affairs and trying to control everything that is going on.

Addendum: The Bigpond IRC servers have since been closed down and the users have all dispersed to other networks or services.