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IRC is a communication medium, Internet Relay Chat, used commonly by people in open source projects, people working on programming languages, and for social or topic-focused chat rooms. You can download an IRC client to use on your computer to connect to IRC.

Freenode is one popular IRC network that hosts many F/LOSS projects and programming language channels. Relevant channels include:

  • ##feminist The most active channel, with its own website
  • ##feminism A quieter alternative to ##feminist
  • #geekfeminism Not run or moderated by the same people as the blog and wiki, though there are people who hang out in all 3 places.
  • #archlinux-women A project for getting women involved in Arch Linux (a lot of men hang out in the channel too)
  • #ubuntu-women A project for getting women involved in Ubuntu

Behavior considerations for IRC usersEdit

While IRC is quite useful for many people, it has a history of being a particularly difficult or hostile environment for many women, trans people, people of color, and other people from marginalized groups. For many years, women have often used neutral or male-gendered names (nicks) on IRC to avoid harassment or misogynist judgment of their skills and abilities. This is sometimes experienced as a general hostile environment with "frat guy" style chatter using pejorative and/or sexualized language. But it can also be experienced as direct communication such as harassment in public channel or in private messages (25 times more likely for feminine nicks) that are hateful or are from people who try to hit on anyone in the channel who's perceived as female.

If you experience bad behavior on an IRC channel, try messaging a channel moderator or "op" with the /msg command to explain or point out the bad behavior. Some channels have policies against hate speech or specifically against misogyny. For example, the #perl channel's policy on freenode -- and how to fight misogynist speech -- is explained in this post: http://shadow.cat/blog/matt-s-trout/on-being-part-of-the-solution/ Other avenues could go directly to server admins or the server's policies to combat harassment or hate speech. Here is freenode's policy: http://freenode.net/policy.shtml#offtopic

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