Rules and guidelines for the official GNU and FSF IRC channels

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) provides a wonderful resource to connect free software users and developers together. Our channels try to be welcoming to both new people and long-time regulars. These guidelines exist with that goal in mind.

Everyone who uses or contributes to free software is a valuable member of the free software community. The goal of the GNU and FSF IRC channels is to provide a place for the community to discuss things and talk about free software and other issues which affect the rights of computer users, such as Digital Restrictions Management.

If you have problems with any of these channels, with trolls or abusive members, please email us at:

List of channels

This is a list of our channels.

Channel rules

  1. Respect — don't engage in racism or hate speech. People are entitled to different opinions.
  2. Appropriate — think before you type, is your comment appropriate? Is it possible someone may misinterpret what you're saying in jest as hateful speech?
  3. Keep it on topic — personal attacks, trolling/baiting or flooding (posting multiple repetitive lines or large amounts of code) of the channel will not be tolerated.
  4. And finally — each GNU Project and FSF channel exists to promote a specific aspect of GNU development or use; more generally, they all exist to promote free software and software users' freedom. Use the channel in ways that support these goals.

Abuses will not be tolerated

IRC is not the exclusive playground of a few select individuals, and recently some users have been banned from various official channels. These bans are an unfortunate, but unfortunately necessary action in order to prevent further abuses from these users.

Bans can be applied to a channel, or to all channels based on the severity or frequency of the abuses, at the discretion of the channel operators.

Before you are banned, you will often be warned by an operator first, however this is not always practical and an operator may deem it unnecessary if a user has recently been kicked or banned.

In an ideal world, there would be no need for IRC operators, but instead of trying to blame operators for this, blame the users who are not willing to be in our community.

Rules end here, but here are some helpful suggestions…

Getting help

Speak to one of the operators. If an operator is unable to help you immediately, please be patient. Ask other members of the channel for help and contact details for the operator.

You can find a list of operators by typing /msg chanserv access #gnu list (where #gnu is the channel you are interested in).

Freenode guidelines

Freenode also maintains a list of channel guidelines which you should also consider. Certain discussions such as GNU vs BSD, vi vs Emacs are often healthy to free software discussion and we encourage healthy debate.


IRC is there for everyone, not just seasoned GNU developers. It is unreasonable to expect everyone to ignore a user who is misbehaving, and if you have a GNU or FSF cloak, you may be reassigned an “unaffiliated” cloak if you continue to abuse your privileges.

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