SwiftIRC network rules

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By connecting to SwiftIRC, all users agree to follow these network guidelines. Failure to adhere to them will result in your access being limited or, in extreme circumstances, revoked altogether.

No Spamming

Spam is defined as irrelevant and annoying (potentially disruptive) messages. Spam is usually sent in an effort to illegitimately promote something.

Most likely you've experienced receiving spam in the form of marketing e-mails. This can also be an issue on IRC, especially with new users trying to attract users to their channels. However, a more serious form of spamming is the advertising of (potentially malicious) web sites.

To maintain a quality chatting experience on the network as well as protect users, spamming in any form is against the network rules.

The following sub-topics are available concerning spamming and advertising:

Advertising channels
Messaging random people or channels with messages designed to attract them to a channel is considered spam advertising. This will usually earn you a warning from an IRC operator, however if you continue to spam, you'll likely end up getting banned for the network for a few days. Also, if the channel in question belonged to you, it may be either suspended or forbidden at the staff's discretion. If you do not own the channel, but otherwise represent it, we may speak to the channel owner about your behavior.
Advertising URLs/web sites
Messaging random users or channels in an attempt to get them to visit a web site is considered spamming. Depending on the severity of this spamming, you may be banned without a warning. Also, the staff may decide to filter the URL from all messages sent through the network if it is seen as appropriate.
Advertising IRC servers
Spamming IRC server addresses as a form of advertising is not permitted. You will usually be warned once about doing this. The server address in question may be filtered if the staff deem it necessary. Please note that it is still acceptable to mention a server address within an appropriate context, and also to have one in your channel topic (if you have moved networks, etc).
Spamming malicious URLs
A malicious URL is one intended to harm the user. This includes sites that attempt to install malware (or entice the user to install it themselves), phishing sites, and certain "shock" sites. Spreading/spamming a malicious URL is very likely to get you banned.

No Flooding

Flooding is defined as sending large quantities of (usually repeated) text for no valid reason. This can often be very disruptive to the normal functioning of a channel. However, in most cases, a simple ignore or channel ban should be enough to deal with flooders.

Dealing with allegations of flood can be very time consuming for the network staff, since often accusations and subsequently denials will come from both involved parties. Thus it is hard to reach a settlement. Please only report flood if you are still having repeated problems after taking appropriate action.

Also, please do not "retaliate" to flooding (by flooding the user back). This could void your right to report the issue to the network staff and could potentially end up getting you banned as well as the original flooder!

There are sub-topics available on different areas of flooding:

Flooding in a channel
Normally, it is up to the channel staff to ban users that flood. However, if the flood is bad enough (i.e. done by multiple users), then the channel staff may wish to contact the network staff about this issue. Please note that logs demonstrating the alleged flooding will be required for staff to become involved, and without witnessing the actions for ourselves, we will only be able to speak to the user(s) in question.
Flooding in private messages
It is best to use your IRC client's ignore function (or the server's silence command) if you are being flooded in private messages or notices. However, as with channel flooding, if you really feel that a member of staff should intervene, you can contact one with the relevant information.

Nickname Ownership

The current method of establishing an identity (i.e. a login name) on the SwiftIRC network is through a nickname. Thus, it is possible to register a nickname and also prevent other users from being able to use it, if you wish.

If you attempt to steal a nickname (after obtaining the password through any method), then your changes will be revoked and further action may be taken against you. Be aware that the network keeps logs identifying all logins to a nickname, as well as any password or e-mail address changes. If someone has stolen your nickname, you should contact a staff member immediately. If you delay for too long, the information needed to restore the correct ownership will be lost.

However, there some rules and policies concerning the acceptable use of nicknames, broken down into the following categories:

Ownership
Disputes
Nicknames are registered to users on a first come first serve basis. However, it is inevitable that disputes over the claim to a certain name will arise.
Expiry
A nickname will expire after not being use by it's owner for 60 days. After a nickname expires, the previous registrant losers any claim to the name, and it may be registered freely to another user. On demonstrated need, the network staff can flag a nickname so that it will never expire.
Stealing nicknames
If you attempt to steal a nickname (after obtaining the password through any method), then your changes will be revoked and further action may be taken against you. Be aware that the network keeps logs identifying all logins to a nickname, as well as any password or e-mail address changes. If someone has stolen your nickname, you should contact a staff member immediately. If you delay for too long, the information needed to restore the correct ownership will be lost.

Fair use of nicknames
Please only register the nicknames that you actually intend to use. Registering nicknames just for the sake of owning them or even to keep them from another user will be frowned upon. The current network policies allow for a maximum of 5 nicknames to be a member of any one group. However, there is currently no limit placed on the number of groups that you may create.

Channel Ownership

While the day to day management of a channel is up to the owner and any appointed staff, there are certain rules in place to allow a channel to be run properly.

Ownership
Disputes
Channel ownership is done a first come first serve basis. However, at times there will be disputes over who a channel should belong to. While the network would rather not invervene in such issues due to the ethics involved, action may be taken in certain cases.

For example, if a large community is wanting to use a channel related to their name, that was registered and used for no significant purpose, it may be acceptable for the network to reassign ownership. However, this is something that will not be done lightly.
Expiry
A channel will expire after 2 weeks (14 days) of not being joined by a user on the access list (including the owner). If your channel expires, and is registered by another user, then you lose all claims to the channel. It is possible for the network to prevent a channel from ever expiring, however this should not normally be needed, and will not be done without a valid reasion.
Stealing channels
Attempting to gain unauthorized ownership of another user's (registered) channel through any method is forbidden. If your channel was stolen, you should contact a member of the network staff immediately. The network log files will be able to confirm who the previous owner of the channel was, yet only within a limited timeframe (around 7 days).

Channel bans

Right and responbility
It is up to the each channel's staff to kick and ban users as they see fit. They also have the right to ban users for any or no reason without intervention from the network. If you believe you have been banned unfairly from a channel, please contact the channel owner or another appropriate member of the channel's staff. The network staff will be unable to help you with this issue.
Evading bans
It is forbidden to intentionally get past a channel ban. Methods for doing this include but are not limited to:

  • Recycling your Internet connection to receive a new IP address
  • Using a proxy (open or closed)
  • Using a BNC (IRC "bouncer")

Please note that any ban evading done from a source tracable to yourself could potentially result in abuse reports being sent to the appropriate people.

If a user is evading a ban in a channel, and you believe that you have made a reasonable effort to ban them properly, you should contact a member of the network staff and provide the relevant information. However, please bear in mind that depending on how the user is evading, it may be difficult for us to keep them banned as well!

Network Bans

Unfortunately, it will sometimes be necessary to deny a user or groups of users access to the SwiftIRC network. The reasons for a ban can range from security purposes to removing uncooperative users that refuse to abide by the network rules.

In somes cases, a user may be unlucky enough to be affected by a ban intended for another user or an automated ban set in an effort to protect the network against malicious clients.

The cases in which a user may be affected by a ban are listed below:

Wide bans
Unfortunately, it may sometimes be necessary to place a ban on a certain Internet Service Provider (ISP), region, or a combination of the two. This will only be done when a user repeatedly abuses the dynamic IP address allocation of their provider to get past network bans and otherwise cause significant problems. We will also make an effort to contact the ISP in question concerning the abusive customer.
Automated bans
To help protect the network and it's users, there are systems in place that will automatically ban clients under certain circumstances. The forms of automated bans are listed and described on this page.
Open proxies
Open proxy blacklist
An open proxy blacklist is queried every time a client connects to the network. If an IP address returns positive, it will be banned from the network for 4 hours, and information will be provided in the ban message to help the user get themselves delisted.
Open proxy scan
Assuming a client returns negative on the blacklist, it is then subjected to a light port scan on common proxy ports to determine if it hosting an open proxy. If an open proxy is detected, the client's IP address will be banned for 4 hours and the user will be informed via the ban message that they have an open proxy. A link to further information concerning open proxies will also be provided.

Spam filter
The IRC server software that the network uses has a built in spam filter. This allows the staff to filter certain text, with URLs to dangerous/malicious web sites being the most common example. While most spam filter entries will simply block the suspicious message (alerting the network staff at the same time), some less common and more dangerous text (the URL to a password phishing site for example) may result in an instant ban upon being sent.

Specific bans
It will sometimes be necessary to explicitly deny a specific user access to the network. A user will usually be temporarily banned after repeatedly breaking the rules (and subsequently ignoring the warnings that they have been given). However, in some cases a user may be removed from the network immediately if they are seen as a significant detriment to the functioning of the network or are a threat to users.

Proxies and IRC bouncers

Secure (closed) proxies
You are permitted to use closed and secured proxies to connect to the network, providing that you do not use them to evade bans or otherwise break the rules. This also applies to IRC "bouncers".
Unsecure (open) proxies
However, it is against the network rules to connect with an open proxy. These types of proxy allow abitrary individual to connect through them, thus allowing malicious users to easily circumvent bans, or worse, use the different IP addresses of the proxies to get around the usual 3 connections per user restriction, and launch flood attacks. Every client connecting to the network will be subject to a light port scan that checks for the presence of an open proxy.
IRC bouncers (BNC)
An IRC bouncer, commonly referred to as a "BNC" is a piece of software that essentially acts as a proxy designed for IRC. Usually, a BNC will stay connected to IRC even if you are not connect to it. This allows you to maintain a presence on IRC and log private messages around the clock, without having to have your computer on and connected to the Internet all the time.

BNCs are most frequently hosted on dedicated servers, with accounts on such a server being sold at a monthly fee by a shell provider. As such, is it also very common for a BNC user to have access to a lot of IP addresses (usually with vanity reverse DNS), this potentially enables a user to evade a network or channel ban. Abuse from a BNC or other similar proxies running on a shell account server will result in an abuse report being sent to the provider.

Bots and botnets

Bots are automated IRC clients. While bots in general are usually legitimate and harmless, some types of bot can be disruptive, to downright malicious or criminal. Some information on the different types of bot as well as what is and what is not acceptable on the network in the following sections:

Warez and file sharing bots
A warez bot is a bot intended for the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted material. Such bots are not permitted to use the network as per our rules concerning intellectual property. While sharing legitimate files via such a bot is acceptable, this activity is likely to attract attention from the network staff due to the potential for copyright violations or distributing malware.
"Botnets" (DDoS bots, trojans)
A botnet is formed by computers infected with trojans. These trojans then connect to an IRC server, join a channel, and then wait for commands from the people responsible for creating or releasing it. The infected computers are usually located in peoples home and running Microsoft Windows, however it is not uncommon for business networks as well as Internet servers to also be compromised.

Over IRC, the bot master (the person responsible for the trojan) can issue various commands, allowing them to for example, record the keystrokes of infected computers, thus potentially allowing them to obtain sensitive information such as credit card numbers, and bank details. Another promiment use of botnets is to launch Denial of Service attacks. These attacks, launched against e-commerce web sites in the worst examples, use the combined network resources of the infected computers to overwhelm servers with fake requests that can make it very hard for legitimate traffic to get through.

Attempting to host a botnet on SwiftIRC servers or otherwise make use of SwiftIRC resources to assist in such activities is strictly forbidden. Any botnets found on the network will be immediately removed.

It is also not uncommon for bot masters to attempt to flood IRC networks/channels using the resources of their bots. If you believe that you are being flooded by a botnet, or otherwise suspect that a botnet is present on the network, please contact the network staff as soon as possible.
Friendly bots
A friendly bot is a bot that simply automates legitimate tasks. This sort of bot is welcome on SwiftIRC, and the staff does not require any special notification concerning their presence. However, please do ensure that your bot(s) - or any other form of automation on irc - is properly secured from malicious manipulation. We have seen many times a malicious user using an insecure bot to spam or otherwise disrupt the network, resulting in the bot and it's owner being banned.

Copyright

Intellectual property concerns a party's rights concerning intangible entities. IP most prominently comes in the form of things such as software, music, films, artwork and books (text). As these are simply ideas or data, they can be very easily reproduced or manipulated, without the author/owner's permission.

This can allow people to obtain these sorts of products without paying the author a single penny. In many jurisdictions, this is illegal. It also has the potential to significantly disrupt the livelihood of authors or other people involved in the creation of such material. However, although illegal, this activity is also rather hard to identify and track appropriately on the Internet. Therefore, the protection of intellectual property, as far as consumer products go, relies mainly on the honesty and goodwill of individuals.

Legal application
The copyright laws of the United Kingdom and the United States should be used as guidelines for what is considered a copyright violation.
File sharing
IRC has become a popular method of illegitimately distributing copyrighted files thanks to the DCC functionality present in popular IRC clients, with some IRC networks being almost entirely composed of file sharing activities.

To help protect the quality of the network, and also to avoid any legal issues, the distribution of copyrighted material is not permitted. While nobody is going to notice you occasionally swapping an MP3 with a friend, any channels or automated clients set up for the purpose of sharing copyrighted files without permission from the copyright owners will be removed as appropriate.
Unauthorized deriviative works
The network does not permit channels based on software that has been modified without permission from the copyright owner(s). A relevant example of such a work would be a "RuneScape private server". This rule also disallows channels promoting cheating in online multiplayer games.
RuneScape
This rule explicitly disallows any user to engage in the selling, buying, or trading of RuneScape accounts, items, membership, for out of game money or anything else, this also includes, but is not limited to, SwiftIRC channels, nicknames, or anything similar. The account and membership parts of this clause also extend to ingame items/currency. Users are encouraged to bring any such activity to the attention of the network staff.

Fair Usage Policy

By using SwiftIRC, clients agree not to significantly waste SwiftIRC resources. Examples include sending large quantities of meaningless messages or connecting several clients to the network for no practical purpose. SwiftIRC reserves the right to remove or take action against clients deemed to be wasting network resources.

In addition

You may not scam, harm, or otherwise attempt to deceive another user with malicious intent

It is forbidden to attempt to deceive a user into revealing confidential information, installing malware, or anything otherwise harmful to them. It is also not allowed to attempt to disrupt a user's IRC session, using methods such as flooding and exploiting vulnerabilities in the user's IRC client.

Don't try be a vigilante

The network has rules for a reason. If you feel that another user has broken the rules, or is otherwise acting in a manner unacceptable to you, you should contact the network staff or either ignore or ban the user as appropriate. Never "retaliate" against a rule breaker or otherwise take matters into your own hands. Example: This means if your friend, Jamie, was keylogged by such user, don't turn around and try to do something to the user. Report it immediately to a member of staff or in channel #Support.