IrCQNet / Ignored by representatives
A copy of letter to IrCQNet:
I am emailing you to complain about the current state of your IRC servers (irc.icq.com). This complaint has been triggered due to the mounting over kill on security placed on your server, which is now, more then ever, simple affecting users getting the full potential and enjoyment out of the server.
I have been on IrCQNet for close to 9 years now and have seen many drastic changes to a server group that I use to enjoy going to. Many of these changes have been for the worst and I can not help but notice that they where implemented after AOL brought ICQ.
I personally come from a heavy ICT background, with privies jobs including running IT support for 3 large E comers company’s in the UK, running my own business which had a large portion of it based on my own IRC server and I have been a Global IRC Oper on many of the large IRC networks. It is coming from this experienced point on the subject that I base my comments.
Now down to the problems at hand.
Firstly I will cover the current core root of IrCQNet’s problems, its IRCd. IrCQNet currently run’s an unreal IRCd, an IRCd that you changed to from Hybrid IRCd. Please note that none of IRC’s 4 biggest servers, QuakeNet, Undernet, IRCNET or EFnet, run an unreal IRCd. These servers also all carry over 70,000+ users.
Unreal IRCd is widely seen as a hobby IRCd. It gives a bad image that ICQ can not implement and maintain a big network IRCd. I can only presume that this limited IRCd was implemented by your staff due to lack of experience dealing with IRC related software and protocols.
However, unreal IRCd aside (which could still work for you, if it was not for the poor management of the server), the server has been set up with modes in place that are chocking it.
The first mode I would like to talk about is +T. This is the newest mode that you have implemented by default to all users joining IrCQNet and the mode that has finally prompted me to do this e mail, as I seem to get no where talking to your representatives on the server (more on this later). The mode +T stops using from receiving and sending out all CTCP commands. Please note that you only implement this mode AFTER your server has sent a CTCP version request to every client that joins it.
CTCP is a useful tool in IRC and a big part of the IRC data handling protocols, most clients use it and it is widely used by many scripts and Linux Eggdrop bot nets. Blocking this mode has prevented users doing some of the simplest things like CTCP PING to check if a friend is lagging on there connection. Something you sometimes need to know in a Relay Chat situation.
The next mode that is a problem is +G. The default implementation of this mode is pure censorship on your parts. +G mode stops your client from viewing words that YOU have deemed to be “in appropriate”, however, rather then just setting it on public channels you set this mode, on default, onto everyone, which affects what they can see in private one on one chats and in there own private chat rooms. Most these words are simple “swear words” which any English Language stupid will tell you is simple emotive language, the language used by people to express there feelings at the time. But you have removed the ability for people to express themselves in the matter that they feel most comfortable with, and are trying to force them to compile with the way you feel people should speak, even how you feel people should speak to each other in private, or between close friends. You have removed peoples most basic right of freedom of speak.
The last mode of real issue is +x. +x or IP masking, is used to encrypted users IP addresses on an IRC server. Now where this can be a good thing at times for security rezones, it does however course more problems then is solves. For advanced IRC user’s it removes there ability to correctly moderate there own chat rooms and IRC clients. +x renders many script’s for IRC bots useless. It also stops you from seeing the address, so that you can place wildcard bans on harassing users in your own private rooms. More disturbing is that you have disabled users ability to remove this mode, deeming that they must do as you say, when you say it. You have removed user’s freedom to choose.
Upon entering IrCQNet my connection becomes subject to a number of unwanted scans on a number of my computer ports. My firewall log’s these scan’s, from your servers, as a DoS attack. As you probe and try and connect to my computer ports against my will. If I am then found to be running or connecting through a proxy server (as many people using a computer from any large network do), then the IP address is banned from your server and I am unable to connect. This is the same for some other port’s you scan for, including recognised remote access admin tools. So my firewall is right, you are aiming to deny me of service.
Within your public IRC chat rooms, you bots can be found to be a tad over zealot. Kicking and banning users for saying words like “Hitler”. Again you are directing what users can and can not talk about in a free flowing chat environment.
Your bots are not really the problem thaw; the most problems are coursed by your live ops. These are people who you choose to represent your company (by there very nature of being in a position of power), in your private chat rooms.
Your channel ops are recruited from among themselves, after you handed out a large degree of server control to non-employs of AOL/ICQ. This has bread a culture of “friends” and “the right type” becoming channel moderators, where it is often clear that these types of people are fare from “the right type” needed for the rooms. You have stopped using the right person for the job and started representing yourselves will ill qualified and poorly skilled users.
The idea of live ops in itself is a good one but at current it’s simple not working. Ops often play favourites in the chat rooms they op in, with there friends and room regulars and pick on new comers who don’t yet know the rules of chat. This is because the channel ops also go to these rooms for fun, as part of there chatting hobby and so they have become close friends with many of the other users. This makes it impossible for them to affectively do an impartial job or a moderator, which is what you’re asking them to do.
These live operators are also never on hand when needed. There presents in a public room is erratic at best. When you do need one to dear with a troublesome user, then you normally find that they do not have the social or technical skills to deal with them, they are unwilling to use any degree in common sense to evade problems before they arise of escalate, they simple can not be bothered or more commonly you hear “there is no one to op us in that room so we can do nothing about it”. It is basically a poorly organised setup which reflects badly on you as a company.
Now all this extra “security” you have put in place was done so, from my understanding, to protect users from “hackers” and other militias users, however if anything it has had the opposite affect. For instants, instead of the use of anonyms proxy’s to flood people on the server now, “script kiddies” have been forced to go out and infect peoples computers with Trojans to build big DDoS networks. This now has an affects even more users then before and so the problem is worse. But that’s just one example of the many ways in which poor server management has compounded security risks and endangered users computers and personal information to a greater degree.
Now from dealings with your representatives on your server, I have come to expect my views and opinions, as a user, to be ignored by yourselves. As a result it has put me off the use of an AOL or ICQ product, due to my lack of faith in the company paying attention to its users. I am not the only person that feel’s this way, in fact this feeling is general consensuses within the server among your core user group, and if you just took the time to investigate and talk to users on the server, from an anonym’s login, you would find this out for yourselves. A little time to stop and check would stop you from alienating the very people that keep your server going, by keep chat flowing in your public rooms and being the first point of enquiry for new users.
I look forward to your reply.