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A Democratic IRC Network?

By mind21_98 in Internet
Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 04:54:23 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

"Aren't democratic principles a good thing?" I thought to myself one night. I was in bed, with my mind in hyperactive mode (why can't the world adapt to night people? ;p) and I thought: why not adapt IRC with those principles in mind? And then DRI was born.

DRI stands for "Democratic Republic of IRC". What I'm planning on doing is providing the same infastructure in terms of IRC, etc, but at the same time allowing the general public to vote ircops in. For those unaccustomed to IRC, ircops are the server administrators for an IRC server. But in order to get the rest of the things I want to organize in, the network needs a constitution. I call it a Statement of Rights. It discloses what rights administrators and users have on the network.

Right now I have 2 IRC servers running at irc.translator.cx and irc.thankhim.org port 6667, but would such a thing work? Is it even feasible? What rights should people on this network have?


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o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
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Is a democratic IRC network a good idea?
o Sounds good to me! 45%
o Heck no. 55%

Votes: 40
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by mind21_98

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A Democratic IRC Network? | 19 comments (17 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Democratic IRC network eh? (4.00 / 7) (#1)
by sasha on Sat Dec 15, 2001 at 09:32:01 PM EST

The idea's nice - I've presided over many community-oriented Internet communication endeavours that sought to embody principles of popular favour for the leadership.

The idea's flawed. The social and political dynamics of an online community are not analogous to those of real organs of government in the world. They just are not the same thing, on top of simply not having enough day-to-day 'issues' to deal with in online communities to justify the bureaucratic overhead of organising 'elections' for IRCops, etc. It's just not that big of a deal to people.

Which brings me to a more succint point; who is IRCop where just is not that big of a deal. You can interact with people online through thousands of different IRC servers, not to mention other mediums. You don't have such options in real life, and for that reason are compelled to secure for yourself basic rights to equitable, humane treatment. Online, you can just pop away to another place if you have a blood feud with the administrators of an IRC network.

--- Signal SIGSIG received. Signature too long.

experience (3.00 / 1) (#9)
by Arkady on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 03:37:50 PM EST

One reason embodying democratic principles in the operation of relatively unimportant, or easy to manage, online operations is that it gives people experience with direct democratic operations. Sure, it's not that big a deal, and you can always use a different online resource that's managed more to your liking (unless direct democratic control is your preferemce ;-), but how can you expect people to do this in the real world with no experience in how it works?

I don't use IRC at all, but I'm a member of the OpenNIC (as, I think, is the author of this one if I recognize the domain name correctly) which is organized on similar principles. It _can_ actually work (though, with the current state of democratic software, it is difficult; the software will get better) and it gives the members the experience they'll need to be able to operate in a democracy in The Real World.

The can only be a good thing.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
Democracy doesn't work (3.40 / 5) (#2)
by warpeightbot on Sat Dec 15, 2001 at 09:32:44 PM EST

Witness the Usenet. Oh, sure, there were guidelines and a voting procedure, but every once in a while, something would stink, and then the real Powers that Be would step in and call a halt to the bovine scatology. And Usenet continued to work for a long, long time. Nowadays you need either really good filters or to read only the moderated groups, but until the spammers got into the act, the quasi-constitutional-monarchy anarchy that was Usenet worked.

The problem is that Sturgeon's law applies to the masses. If you allow the masses complete democratic control, you're going to get crap. You need a clause in there that says "It's my machine, and while I will endeavor to listen to the will of the people within reason, when they become unreasonable, I reserve the right to take my ball and go home." Or at least that's a start.

The point of Republican government is to elect people who actually know what the hell they're doing and let them run the show. (Of course, these days, republican govenments routinely get taken over by those who act based on largess for their constituents rather than what's best for everyone... but I digress.) Not sure how's the best way to do that in an IRC community, but I know for certain you need some form of safety valve, or they'll vote themselves root on your home workstation and commence deleting files every time you do something they don't like...

Usenet and governance (4.25 / 4) (#3)
by seebs on Sat Dec 15, 2001 at 10:52:10 PM EST

Usenet is a system whereby a number of anarchists and libertarians vote democratically to tell a group of hereditary monarchs when they want to install absolute dictators over parts of the network, thus assuring reasonably equal access to resources for everyone. I am having trouble thinking of a governmental system not represented in the process, in fact.

[ Parent ]
IRCops vs. ChanOps (3.50 / 6) (#5)
by J'raxis on Sat Dec 15, 2001 at 11:16:41 PM EST

IRCops are mostly invisible on IRC networks I visit (such as DALnet); it’s the channel ops that everyone interacts with. IRCops usually only become involved in something when someone needs to get their password, or when some nit needs to get /KILLed, both of which are fairly rare; channel operators are the ones to whom I think a democratic process would be more applicable as they are omnipresent in the channels you visit.

However, I do not see how a democratic process is going to clear up any of the main “issues” surrounding IRC, such as vengeful idiots DOSing servers. They’re not going to care if it was one despotic IRCop that /KILLed them or a committee; they are still gonna go apeshit on your server.

— The # Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

Why bother? (4.00 / 4) (#7)
by Otter on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 10:57:04 AM EST

To the degree that this is a fun hack for you to work on, have fun! Otherwise it strikes me as a solution in search of a problem.

Users can vote with their feet as to which channels, servers and networks they frequent and it's not as if there's a scarcity of any of those options. I don't see any reason why adding a layer of complexity and giving script kiddies a new target to blast away at is going to add anything. Generally, I don't understand the idea that users are entitled to control over the services they're given beyond choosing to stay or leave.

My Karma Ran Over My Dogma (2.33 / 3) (#8)
by miah on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 03:08:54 PM EST

Instead of using the democratic process why not use a karmatic process? One of my favorite characters said this:

Democracy is based on the assumption that a million men are wiser than one man. How's that again? I missed something.
--Lazarus Long

Such as to say, democratic systems are just the best thing we've found, yet. While most of us enjoy a karmatic system of "Gift Culture". If you do good things, people will recognize your name. Make productive posts and you'll get mod'd up, make a flame and you get mod'd down. There are replies that talk about how most of the chanops are the people you see the most, I think they are right. Another quote for before I part on why democracy doesn't work:

Think of how stupid the average person is. Now realize that by definition half of the population is even stupider.

Religion is not the opiate of the masses. It is the biker grade crystal meth of the masses.
IRC is IRC (3.60 / 5) (#10)
by strlen on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 07:01:30 PM EST

Trying to suggest it's anything more than what it is is non sense. I've ran a decent size IRC network, and we've split because of politics. And that's exactly what IRC needs less of - politics, IRC is for chatting, not for sociological experiments, and owners of the servers can do whatever they want, it's their hardware in the first place.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
Read my .sig, no more democracy (2.00 / 1) (#11)
by p0ppe on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 09:14:45 AM EST

Read my .sig, no more democracy

"Democracy is three wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner."
Re: Read my .sig, no more democracy (none / 0) (#14)
by Amerist on Tue Dec 18, 2001 at 07:50:38 PM EST

I believe I recall the rebuff to this one:

Freedom is a well armed sheep contesting the vote.

Amerist A'Toll

"What are dreams when we are but the dreams of dreamers yet to be born?"
[ Parent ]
Democracy is not widespread because it is "go (none / 0) (#12)
by valency on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 05:22:43 PM EST

...it is widespread because it is stable. In any other form of government, it is possible for the government to do something blatantly in conflict with the desires of the majority of the people. When this happens, there is a revolution. When something like this happens in a democracy, the leaders simply get voted out.

Hence, given any semi-random distribution of government policies, over time, non-democracies will undergo many more violent, costly, and painful revolutions and coups than democracies, putting them at a harsh disadvantage. It's also the case that once a country stumbles upon democracy, it's pretty hard to get out of it.

Anyways, going back to IRC, democracy works because the power to stage a revolution is roughly proportional to the number of people you have on your side. Hence, majority-rules yields the most stable situation.

On IRC, the power to stage a revolution is proportional to the number of server owners/admins you have on your side (ie they rebel by splitting the network). That's why IRC is roughly a democracy amongst the site-owners/admins, but not amongst the users. And that's why it's probably going to stay that way.

If you disagree, and somebody has already posted the exact rebuttal that you would use: moderate, don't post.

democracy (none / 0) (#15)
by kubalaa on Wed Dec 19, 2001 at 10:39:13 AM EST

Has this -- the government doing something completely contrary to the will of the people and then being voted out -- ever actually happened in a democracy? I think the reason a democracy is stable is that it keeps people feeling like they have some power in the government. Even if you're not cynical and paranoid, and believe that voting generally does result in policies reflecting the will of the majority, you as an individual don't have any power at all unless you happen to be part of the majority. So in terms of power distribution it's only mildly better than the alternatives, but in terms of keeping the masses happy it's far more successful.

It's also worth noting that the rule that the most numerous group should decide things makes as much sense as that the richest group should, or the group with the same last name.

[ Parent ]

OT - night people (none / 0) (#13)
by pbryson on Tue Dec 18, 2001 at 04:29:41 AM EST

(why can't the world adapt to night people? ;p)

I think the world is run by the makers of Unisom, Benadryl and Tylenol PM. They supply me with sleep generally before 2AM, I supply them with enough money to run the world.

Seriously. I think those day people are tryin to keep us down.

better living through chemistry (none / 0) (#18)
by dfcalvert on Sun Jan 06, 2002 at 06:59:27 PM EST

I like tylenol pm but it leaves me groggy the next day. Nyquil is nice for having to wake up feeling slightly more alert. I take adderrall so after a binge sleep is tough. The herbal sleeping things never work...
Douglas Calvert
[ Parent ]
kava kava (none / 0) (#19)
by dfcalvert on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 01:30:04 AM EST

i also like kava kava now...
Douglas Calvert
[ Parent ]
i think it sounds marvelous (none / 0) (#16)
by turmeric on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 10:39:07 PM EST

naysayers are ... well, i have no idea what they are thinking about. but i have seen alot of ops do alot of crap. i saw a 'channel owner' who traded netsex for channel ops, and people seemed to think this was 'ok' somehow. thats not ok. you dig? these same people will get all pissed off if you say 'fuck' or 'shit' in the channel, or if you disagree with an op, but its ok to trade netsex for ops and play stupid politics games? demojcracy exists to protect joe blow from the morons who tend to gravitate to positions of power. in irc, you basically have no protection whatsoever. they all claim 'we are fair' 'we are not biased' 'we only ban spammers and people who are hurting the channel'. dont they realize that what is hurting the channel is relative? that other people might not agree with them, and its ok? in irc supposedly you are supposed to chat, but there is nothing more 'chilling' to meaningful discussion than the feeling that you cant say anything without some asshole kicking you out of the group because they dont like what youre saying. with 'democratic' irc, youd have to have a whole group of assholes, not just one.

hypocrisy of k5 users dissing this idea (2.00 / 1) (#17)
by turmeric on Thu Dec 27, 2001 at 10:51:53 PM EST

I see alot of posts here saying such things as 1. rule by the people sucks,
2. i have lots of experience running online things and i think 'rule by the people' sucks. 3. some other thing tried 'rule by the people' and it sucked 4. nobody cares about rule by the people. 5. (my favorite) you have no rights because
everywhere on the internet is privately owned b/c the hardware is privately owned. (thus there is no public space on the internet, thus there is no
free speech or anything else that is supposedly so great about modern civilization, in fact we are back to some proto-feudalism where a small
group tells everyone else what to do, what to say, and how to act)

well, first off, there is this thing called 'abuse of power'. i think its hilarious
that nobody seems to think this is a problem on the internet. well, maybe
the folks at slash.geekizoid.com do, but they dont have much of an answer
except for pouring hot grits down their pants.

why slashdot is a raving bunch of zealot groupthink lunatics. the flames
people get on kuro5hin are 'your idea is expressed poorly', the flames
you get on slashdot are 'you are a windows lamer'. why is this?
i dont know, but i cant help but find a striking correlation between the fact
that K5 stories are chosen by users, for users. Slashdot on the other hand,
chooses stories by a small group of 10 or so people, and the posts are
'moderated' by an infantile clique of brainwashed dragoons whose
editorial choices are based on how well the comment tows the slashdot
party line, all the while screaming about how 1. they are always fair
2. they dont need any checks and balances on their power 3. its private
4. etc etc etc (everything listed above).

So, k5 readers, k5 users, suck it up and admit it:

A Democratic IRC Network? | 19 comments (17 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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