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Social Guidelines for Away Messages

Away messages suck. Please turn them off.

You see, nobody on IRC gives a rat's ass where you are at any given point in the day. If they do, they can contact you via more appropriate, private means.

In the meantime, there are forty other people on the channel you're spamming with your play-by-plays who are all on ten or twenty other channels themselves. Your stupid

* randomgit is back: I'm done pissing now!

messages are forcing them to at least look at a window and read something they don't care about, potentially they even have to wiggle their mice around and click on things in order to find out you've run out of pork rinds and are going down to the Minute Mart for more.

Were you even talking to anyone before you announced that? Do any of your actual *friends* need to know? No! That's the beauty of IRC: it's asynchronous. If you're leaving your client connected anyway, the messages will still be there when you get back! It isn't like talking to your grandma on the phone. You can scroll right up there and read the things you missed.

Seriously, if you're that worried about people wanting to talk to you while you're away and finding you unresponsive, it's a simple matter to set yourself away without public notifications and automatically inform people who /msg you that you're out. You can log anything sent to you privately, or even public messages that contain your nick! I mean, we're talking about 15 lines of trivial ircii script here, counting comments. And you don't annoy a single person!

Changing your nick is not ok, either.

The same thing goes for being a rabid nick-swapper:

*** randomgit is now known as git_lunch
*** git_lunch is now known as pssng_git
*** pssng_git is now known as githairct
*** githairct is now known as randomgit

We just don't care. No one on IRC has any misunderstandings about the nature of the medium. It's all about idle chatter. People do not assume that you're hovering there over your keyboard drooling over the next message to come down the pipe, or that you've got an 802.11 connection jacked straight into your skull just so you can instantly respond to their off-topic Enlightenment configuration questions at any time of the day.

Leave your nick the way it was. It's not cute, it's not helpful, and it's just confusing to people who come in looking for you later.

That said, changing your nick is a lesser sin than public /away messages, because it's easy to filter out.

Auto-away messages are the spawn of Satan.

* randomgit is away: (Auto-Away after 10 mins) [BX-MsgLog On]


Someone needs to beat panasync six miles deep into hard granite for even thinking about making that a BitchX default. I mean, what was he thinking?! That is the single-most annoying misfeature I can think of in recent software history excepting Microsoft Chat in comics mode. How's that for company? mIRC, in all its pristine glory (praise khaled!), is far less annoying than that.

Here's a tip: if you don't want your IRC experience cut tragically short, do this:

$ echo set auto_away off >> ~/.bitchxrc

The world will be forever indebted to you for it. Or else it will ban you from all its channels.

(Last updated May 13th, 2004.)