Knowledge Base::MEMO:2014-04-21-Re:IRC Bots Versus IRC Services

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Date: 21 04 2014

From: Kradorex Xeron

To: All UCSN IRC Network Users

Re: IRC Bots Versus IRC Services


After several incidents where there has been a distinct need for clarification on bots and services.

IRC Bots are an important infrastructure as they offer automation mechanisms that anyone can set up and define. These bots can provide valuable databases, information retrieval like weather reports, search engines right on IRC, gaming systems so on and so forth. IRC Services on the other hand like NickServ and ChanServ provide registration services to protect names and are actually able to operate on a much lower level to the IRC network than a bot to enforce those protections along with providing access control. Services are also capable of controlling the fabric of the IRC network and freely manipulating modes, names, channels, even connections and many other elements of the IRC infrastructure.

Despite looking similar often times, there is a very important distinction between the two and bots are not permitted to appear to be services.

To be clear, bots are not capable of reserving resources or acting to restrict people from using names or the like aside from the name the bot is using itself. Bots are also not capable of enforcing registrations or the like across the IRC network and attempts to do so by bots are a violation of UCSN regulations. This means if say a bot has your name in a database, you can proceed to still use that name is it is not registered through NickServ and the bot owner cannot restrict you from that name. Bots however are permitted to assist channel operators to manage their channels, but that management may not exceed the scope of that channel.

Users are also urged to remember that the channel(s) that they join are not the only channels on the UCSN IRC Network and that the bot they may be familiar with will not be in all channels and people are not obligated to respect bot databases so to best protect names it is advised to utilize Nickserv for that purpose and to register names formally through /nickserv register and to maintain them through /nickserv identify upon each connection and not depend on good will as there may be a user of another channel who does not know about you, that bot, its database, or your usage of that name and may proceed to register it through Nickserv which means you may lose usage of that name.

On the UCSN IRC Network, this is the following list of valid services as of the date of this memo:

  • NickServ - Provides name registration
  • ChanServ - Provides channel registration
  • MemoServ - Provides the ability to send messages to users with registered names the next time they connect and identify
  • HostServ - Provides the ability to obtain and maintain a virtual host.
  • BotServ - Provides the ability to operate bots and place them into channels for in-channel management commands. Used in conjunction with ChanServ
  • SYSTEM - Provides an interface between Kyana and other services
  • Kyana - Provides additional commands accross multiple channels
  • Mute - Provides additional commands accross multiple channels
  • HelpServ - Legacy, used to hold help information for services. Information on *Serv series services is now available by /msg servicename HELP
  • OperServ - Commands for administering the *Serv series services. Only utilized by authorized individuals.

Despite the above distinction that is needed to be drawn, we would like to continue to encourage anyone who currently maintains or operates a bot to continue your innovation and growth of your techniques and what your bots may offer any channels the bot is placed upon and to extend the IRC experience for your users. For those who are interested in doing so to pursue it. If you are interested in developing a bot, obligatory reading material that we suggest is RFC 1459 and RFC 2812 to understand how the IRC protocol works and be sure to follow UCSN IRC NRD section 5.1 to make sure your bot is following regulations while on the UCSN IRC Network. If you are developing a bot, we encourage you to create a channel or to use our existing #exclusion_zone channel to test any feature of your bot before running it in a channel with many people.

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