An introduction: Barliman’s chat guidelines and netiquette

Dear Fellow Chatter

Welcome to Barliman’s chat rooms!

You’ve undoubtedly seen our motto: “Barliman’s is a place for good conversation about J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, and about the Lord of the Rings movies”.

We’re also an incredibly diverse community of folks of all ages and nationalities. Put bluntly, that means we all have to be a bit accommodating of each other to get along (because it ain’t much fun if a chat breaks down into finger-pointing). We try very hard to be maintain a “family friendly” chat.

While I do still think that essentially boils down to “Be polite to others, don’t swear, and don’t be crude”, here are a few additional guidelines for folks who are still trying to get a feel for how the chat community “works”, and would like to be more involved in it.

We do regularly chat about stuff beside Tolkien. This might be other books, or movies and music, or hobbies like cooking, travel or photography. We like hearing from people from new places! Feel free to talk about yourself and your own interests, though remember you should never feel pressured to reveal any more about yourself than you’re comfortable with!

If you’re greeted by silence, don’t run away immediately! People often chat and do other things at the same time. Be patient. There’s no need to nag — that just looks like desperate attention seeking (and you don’t want to do that). If you hang around a bit, someone will say hello to you eventually. But if it does really seem to be a lull period, just log off and simply come back a bit later on.

You can also entertain yourself with a variety of commands that work with the channel robot, Barliman. You can get a full, up-to-date list by typing !menu in the chatroom. Some of our favourites are !blame, !bunnysled and !nazgul. Just don’t go overboard.

Because we try to run a family channel (though probably closer to PG than G-rated), we hope you’ll exercise discretion with innuendo. Moderators will warn, kick, and ban when necessary. Don’t post pr0n links — you’ll just get banned.

You’ll find that the chat doesn’t normally delve into discussions of politics and religion. Sometimes it occurs, but the problem tends to be that everyone wants to be right. Naturally, this leads to people getting upset! I’m sure you don’t need me to point out that at the least you need to be patient, and respect others and their ideas. Sometimes moderators will get involved in the discussion; other mods in different situations may ask you to move to another subject. If you’re asked to stop by one of the moderators, please do so immediately.

You’re also probably wondering what constitutes swearing. Swearing is largely enforced by our channel “bot”, Barliman, and he uses a very strict and literal swear filter. To give you an idea, he will issue warnings for words such as “damn” and “crap”. Note: he won’t always catch some swears (it’s a programming thing), but if he catches you don’t say you weren’t warned in advance!

My advice is that if you have any question in your mind as to whether a word might be considered obscene or offensive, then you should almost certainly consider rephrasing your thoughts less crassly.

Extreme forms of swearing can — and most likely will — result in an instant ban. A ban can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 48 hours.

We don’t permit the harassment of our chatters. If you feel you are being repeatedly pestered, or stalked, on the chat, tell one of the moderators right away. We generally can’t tell these things are happening because we do not track, record or monitor private messages. However, we don’t allow harassment and will permanently ban repeat offenders. We also ban those who post racist, sexist or homophobic comments.

If you happen to make a mistake and get banned, can you come back to the chat? Usually, yes. After all, it’s just a chat. Our guidelines are intended to help make chatting more enjoyable for all (including for the moderators, who don’t get paid for their efforts!), not to provoke endless to-ing and fro-ing over rules.

We try our best to be flexible and reasonable; if we judge that you really want to be a positive part of the TORn chat community and not simply troll us for “the lulz” then we’ll probably give you as many chances as you need.

In the end it boils down to common sense.

See you in the chat!

IRC Administrator and Hall of Fire moderator