The Policies


The freenode project exists to help peer-directed project communities flourish. Peer-directed projects combine open, informal participation with broad licensing and wide dissemination of output.

freenode provides facilities to peer-directed project communities, including those of free and open source software (FOSS). The IRC component of freenode is a self-referential medium, existing mainly to service IRC users — but the network was created to serve groups that exist outside of IRC. freenode is designed to encourage community members to improve their skills in the areas of cooperative effort, interpersonal communication and project coordination, and to create a real-time bridge to the outside world for our target communities.

Nickname ownership

Nicknames are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, to the first person who registers the name with NickServ. However, we expect users to act in good faith and reserve the right to remove a nickname registration where we believe that this has not been the case. Nickname and account registrations expire ten weeks after they are last used. For nicknames, ‘used’ means that you were using the nickname while logged in to the account which owns it. For accounts, ‘used’ means that you logged in to the account, regardless of the nickname you used to do so. Nicknames which are the primary account name only expire when the entire account is expired.

In some cases, such as for very old accounts, we may, at our discretion, extend the expiry time of a nickname or account. We will not normally do this beyond 15 weeks past the last use.

Some nicknames and accounts, including but not limited to some of those owned by current or former network staff, do not expire at all. These accounts can be identified by the ‘Hold’ flag in their NickServ info output.

Nicknames and accounts which are expired will not automatically be dropped. Please contact network staff if you would like to take over an expired nickname.

Channel ownership

Channels on freenode fall into one of two categories. Primary channels, which begin with a single # character, are reserved for on-topic projects. If you’d like to take over one of these channels, then you’ll need to be associated in some way with the project in question. Topical, or ‘about’ channels, begin with two # characters, and these are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis to the first person who registers it with ChanServ. As with nicknames, however, we reserve the right to remove or alter registrations where we believe they have not been made in good faith.

Primary channels do not expire with inactivity, though they can be claimed at any time by a representative of an on-topic project with the appropriate name. Topical channels expire after 60 days in which no user on the access list for the channel has joined it. Further information, policies and guidelines relating to channel ownership can be found under group registration.

On-topic Use

freenode’s primary goal is to encourage and foster the development and use of free and open source software projects and other peer-directed communities producing broadly licensed creative output. Any project falling under this broad description is likely to be considered on-topic for the purposes of primary channel naming and other project services which we may provide, but individual decisions may be made at the discretion of staff.

We strongly urge you to adhere to the channel guidelines and catalyst guidelines.

Off-topic Use

We expect all users of the network, whether affiliated with a project or not, to act in good faith and in accordance with both their local laws and those applicable where freenode operates. Use of freenode and its facilities is a privilege, not a right, and may be withdrawn where we believe that this has not been the case.

Unlawful activities and related support activities are considered off-topic, as are inappropriate advertising, heavy media file trading, proprietary game software modding, warez, porn and various forms of antisocial behaviour, including (but not limited to) political, racial, ethnic, religious or gender-related invective.

In accordance with UK law freenode has no tolerance for any activity that could be construed as:

or any other behaviour meant to deliberately put upon a person harassment, alarm or distress. We do NOT endorse or encourage discrimination on the grounds of e.g. race, religion, gender or sexual preference and operate with a zero-tolerance policy for libel and defamation.

While we believe in the concept of freedom of thought and freedom of expression, freenode does not operate on the basis of absolute freedom of speech, and we impose limitations, e.g. on "hate speech".

We expect all members of the community to be respectful of one another and of the privacy of others, and we reserve the right to terminate anyone's access to our services at our discretion.

While we encourage registered groups (projects) and channel owners to adopt our channel guidelines and catalyst guidelines, projects are free to set their own policies for their namespaces as long as such policies do not contravene network policy, and many projects choose to extend their code of conduct and similar agreements to their presence on freenode. In the event that a project makes the decision to ban a user from their channel(s), we ask that such bans be respected and note that ban evasion may result in a network ban.

Please note that the examples above are examples only and do not constitute an exhaustive list. In line with our policies, philosophies and guidelines we will review each case individually and the response and actions may differ from case to case.

Unlawful Activity

freenode cannot condone or support behaviour which is clearly unlawful. While we do not have the resources to closely monitor the thousands of channels on the network, volunteers are required by policy to pass on credible information, provided by you as a user of the freenode project, about any unlawful activities. This is true whether you are talking about your own activities or those of someone else. Please be aware that we have this responsibility.

freenode and financial transactions

We appreciate that end users may sometimes wish to reward a project or a project contributor after having had a positive support experience in a project channel and it is great when this results in a donation to the project in question or perhaps a micropayment to the contributor concerned or the purchase of an item from the contributor's wish list.

Nevertheless, we would urge our users to carry out their own due diligence before entering into financial transactions of any kind and stress that any financial transactions entered into on the freenode network must be undertaken entirely at the user's risk and freenode accepts no liability for any losses incurred as the result of such transactions.

Public Logging

If you're considering publishing channel logs, think it through. The freenode network is an interactive environment. Even on public channels, most users don't weigh their comments with the idea that they'll be enshrined in perpetuity. For that reason, few participants publish logs.

If you're publishing logs on an ongoing basis, your channel topic should reflect that fact. Consider providing a way for users to make comments without logging, and get permission from the channel owners before you start. If you're thinking of "anonymizing" your logs (removing information that identifies the specific users), be aware that it's difficult to do it well—replies and general context often provide identifying information which is hard to filter.

If you just want to publish a single conversation, be careful to get permission from each participant. Provide as much context as you can. Avoid the temptation to publish or distribute logs without permission in order to portray someone in a bad light. The reputation you save will most likely be your own.

In addition to these policies, you may wish to read our Catalyst Guidelines, Channel Guidelines, Philosophy, Group Registration Information and this KB article on Conduct.