Monday, March 31, 2008

Attacking the noise...

A Screenshot of Xchat, an IRC client.Xchat IRC client
Image from Wikimedia Commons signal to noise ratio.

I forgot about this, and I'm glad I remembered. It seems that there are IRC channels where fans of xkcd hang out and chat. ( xkcd is a webcomic. If you don't know what that means, follow the links.) Oddly enough, (or maybe not, see my post about obsession) this is popular enough that the channels were suffering from a surfeit of inane comments. Channel regulars were apparently not amused.

Turns out my fellow LEGO fan Dan Boger, alias zigdon (I have no idea why) a wizard Perl coder, and creator of the boffo LEGO set database coded up a bot... what sort of a bot, you say? Well, go read the source code and figure it out!

OK done? Figured it out? Your perl-foo is strong.

Everyone else: It's a bot to enforce originality. Say something in the channel that has been said before, and you get devoiced for 4 seconds. Say another something that has been said before, and the devoice quadruples. Not just something that YOU said before, something that ANYONE said before.
Read more about how this came to pass, and then laugh with me. Note, others have blogged about this as well...

I actually got to try this out, and it's surprisingly difficult to not get zapped by the bot. Think you can do better (warning, theoretically, it gets harder as time goes by, all the obvious things to say have been used up)? Try it and see, assuming you have an IRC nickname set up.

Wikimedia IRC channels need this! Well, some of them do. Maybe not all of them :) I suspect that the stewards channel needs people to be able to say !steward more than just the one time. But #wikipedia REALLY needs this! You know it does.

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