Responding to Harassment within the Arch Linux Community

The Arch Linux community is large and diverse, representing many cultures and societies. They are unified by a pursuit for technological elegance. While most members of the community are respectful, and polite, you may run into someone who is highly toxic in behaviour. In this post you'll be shown what to do if you come face to face (online) with someone who thinks the answer to the ultimate question (of life the universe and everything) is to be an asshole.

Harassment in all forms are forbidden by the forum etiquette and kept by the community. Harassment here means trolling, sexual proposition, unwarranted criticism of personal characteristics (including and not limited to race, gender, sexual orientation, and age), flaming, etc. When faced with hostility, remember two things, you are not alone and you have powerful allies.

First let the person know their behavior is inappropriate and ask them to stop, if they continue their harassment, withdraw from the attacker. The time-tested adage “do not feed the troll” applies here.

The second step is to call on help and report the person to the moderators of the forum or IRC channel you are in. Don't take on an attacker by yourself. You may end up bringing more harm to yourself and further disrupt the community. There are specially designated individuals who can quickly handle a situation and subdue harassers when necessary. The next few sections describe how to contact them.

Forums (BBS)

The fastest way to bring a post to the attention of the forum moderators is to use the report feature. At the lower right hand corner of every post is a link labeled “Report”. If you click it, you will be take to a page with the title “Report post” and a large text box. Enter the reason for the report into the text box and click submit to send the report. The forum software informs active moderators of new reports to handle. Reports are private and are seen only by current forum staff.

You can also contact forum moderators individually via personal message (PM). A list of forum moderators is visible to logged-in users. Click on whichever moderator you wish to contact to see their profile. Follow the “email” link to bring up an interface to write to that moderator.

Forum administrators can be contacted by email via forum@archlinux.org.

IRC

The Arch Linux Internet relay chat channels have a very different culture from the forums. It is less moderated simply because interaction is real time, and people can send private messages outside the scope of the OPs (channel operators) influence. A channel operator can ban and kick users in the channel who don't follow the rules, but these users can still send you private messages.

A list of ops for #archlinux and #archlinux-offtopic is available here. You can send those users a private message to let them know about a problem. The exact command may depend on your client. Try /query <nick> or /msg <nick> <msg> with <nick> being the nickname of the OP you are trying to contact.

Examples:

/query meskarune

/msg ioni help!

You can also put specific people on “ignore”. This means all their messages will be hidden. You can do this with the command:

/ignore <nick>

Pitfalls

Please do not brush off harassment, make a joke about it, or stay silent. Not taking appropriate action against these behaviors will only make people think it is alright to continue doing them. Take action and help make the Arch Linux Community a better place for everyone.

Further Reading

Addition regarding IRC added by tigrmesh

Sometimes the wiki list of channel ops gets out of date. A list of current #archlinux ops can be found by using the following command:

/msg chanserv access #archlinux list

For other channels you would change #archlinux to #fedora, #archlinux-offtopic, etc. This command may be specific to freenode.