StarLink Channel Services Manual

Channel Services exists to help StarLink users register and maintain their channels.  As a CService person, you have more responsibilities than a regualr channel op because you are representing StarLink toanyone who comes into #Channels.  CService is responsible for assisting with the day-to-day running of StarLink channels by their managers 
and operators as well as handling channel registrations. 

Maintaining Professionalism In Helping StarLink Users

It is very important that the CService Staffers present themselves in a professional and caring manner.  There are various ways this can be accomplished, the first being alert to the needs of users who come in with questions or requests.  Chatter on the channel is fun and interesting, but should be postponed when there are users with questions.  Any observations to other ops can be made through op-chat rather than in open channel. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the other ops…each has his or her own expertise. It is also a good idea to let the other Staffers know when you will be away from your computer for a moment. If you are going to BRB,mark yourself as BRB so all will know.  If you are going to be AFK for a while, please de-op yourself. Parking at ops when you aren’t available to users is strongly discouraged

Helping users should be accomplished *in open channel*.  This lets the other ops know what is going on and prevents flooding the user with many copies of the same document.  It also prevents a user from being ignored by all because each assumes another is helping that person.

If one Staffer is helping someone, please avoid jumping into the process. If you see that information may be needed, use op-chat or a notice to help out.  Having too many people assisting one user is confusing, and it may give the impression that CService Staffers don’t have much credibility.  It is extremely important that CService Staffers present
themselves as competent and friendly people.  You might want to prefix your conversations with the nick of the person you are helping, such as <Norm> Enigma:  Would you like to register a channel?

Nobody Knows All The Answers

If you are unsure of an answer, ask among the other Staffers in the channel, using op-chat.  If no one knows, find one of the IRC opers and ask them. You can usually be directed to someone who has that information.  Sometimes the information or help should really be given by an IRC oper or StarLink Admin, rather than CServ Staffers. In this case, refer the user to the proper Admin. 

There is an abundance of information on the StarLink website. 

A good way to remember how to refer to another person is to ask yourself the following questions…. 

Is it something someone else in the channel might know? (op-chat) 
Is this something to do with running a channel, bot commands or registrations? (CService) 
Is this something to do with clones, flooding, or spamming? (IRC op) 
Does this have something to do with StarLink policy? (Website and/or StarLink Admin.) 
Does this have anything to do with adding servers to StarLink, or other technical questions? (Website and/or StarLink Admin) 

Please don’t speculate with information.  Refer a user to the proper source. 

The Irate User

This will happen to everyone at one time or another.  The best thing to do is ‘kill them with kindness’.  If they are being vulgar or abusive, it is OK to kick them from the channel.  Some people come in with an ‘attitude’ and seem to want to prove something.  If these people are getting on your nerves, do what you recommend to users, put them on /ignore.  If the individual is flooding or otherwise distrupting the channel, it may be a matter for an IRC oper to handle. If there is no IRCop in #Channels, do a /who 0 o to see who may be available. 

Helpful Users That Are Not Cservice Staff

There are a few people who will be in #Channels and want to help.  They all mean well but sometimes they may not have the current information, or they may ‘pounce’ on every user who enters the channel.  A brief /notice to these individuals, saying something like, ‘I have this one, thanks’ is usually enough to subdue them.  If a particular individual seems to be disruptive to the flow of the channel, it is best to contact the CService Admin and let someone in authority have a little ‘chat’ with them.  If all else fails, and they persist, you might want to consider banning them for a while. Posting your comments to the CService List is a good way of both letting others know of the pest, and of determining if anyone else has had a similar problem with that user. 

We Don't Handle Problems Within Individual Channels

Sometimes a user will come in and complain about being banned, or a person causing problems within a channel.  CService staff does not get involved with local channel politics.  We can suggest to the user that the unpleasant person be put on /ignore, but CServ staff are *never* to become involved in problems within a channel.  If it is a problem with a flooder or spammer, and there is no IRCop in #Channels, do a /who 0 o to see who is available to help you.

Verifying User Information

Users will come in and request ops and other bot-related activities.  It is very important that you verify that this person is who s/he says they are before you begin to help them.  You can do this by using the MARS /ACCESS command to determine the level of the individual within the channel.  You can also ask others if they know this person is an op in a given channel.  If it is not known whether a person has ops or not, it is best not to give them ops in a channel. 

Users may come in and request a list of ops on a given channel.  The rule of thumb is, if the individual is not on the list, s/he does not need the information.  You may want to set up a separate channel and invite the individual into it. Then you can paste the chanaccess information to that channel and avoid cluttering #Channels with the information.  It is also a good idea to ask the user to log the access information for future use. 

Users Who Cannot Authorize In A Channel

At times a person will come in and ask why the bot will not op them.  Most of the time it is because their connection has resolved to an IP (series of numbers) rather than the host, which is what has been put into the bot.  You can find this out by typing /dns nick and seeing how the invidual’s connection has resolved.  You can then check the bot, after finding out which channel, to see how the information has been placed with the bot.  If they do not match, the person is not going to be able to op.  Suggest that the person go to a different server and then do a /dns on themselves.  Recommend that channel owners put themselves into the bot at 499 using their IP numbers, and also to put their channel operators in with both host and IP.

Another reason for not being able to AUTH is that the user either has changed his/her userID, or that his/her ident is not enabled.  It may be necessary to talk a user through how to change the userID or to enable the ident.

When The Bot Does Not Re-Join A Channel

After the bot has been gone, some users may ask us about how to get MARS back into the channel.  These people must be operators in the channel, and they must auth first.  After that they can invite the bot to JOIN the channel. If there is a real problem in the channel and there are no ops on line for that channel, a CService Staffer may put MARS in the channel. 

If someone requests that the bot be placed in a channel, those with enough access to do this *must* verify that the channel is registered.  If it cannot be verified, the bot is not to be placed. 

Handling Questions Not Related To Channel Service Duties

#Channels is primarily for channel registration and help with MARS. Questions about mIRC, ircle, scripts, and other related information are best handled by referring the user to one of the many excellent help channels on StarLink.  Referring users to the popular web search engines is also a good way to help them get the information they want.  If it is not busy in #Channels a few answers are good, but as a rule, it’s best to refer.  We are not in the position to become help experts for everything.

Helping In The User's Channel

If it seems that your help will involve more than a few minutes, it is fine to go into a channel to help.  Usually the request is from new channel owners who are having difficulties making new ops.  It is *not* the role of CService Staff to enter a channel to police it, nor to restore order.  That is the responsibility of the channel operators in that local channel and, if things are totally out of control, the local operator can appeal to an IRCop for help.  

If you go into a user’s channel to help, please let other CService Staffers know. Some users may stay in #Channels and appear not to 
be receiving any help.

CService and IRC opers are not to become involved in channel ‘politics’, nor are they to mediate disputes.  A suggestion can be made to set up a separate channel and talk things out there among the individuals involved, but CService should not actually be involved in that process.  Internal problems of a channel need to be resolved within that channel. 

Becoming A Better Channel Service Staff Member

The first thing to remember is to ask questions of other Staffers.  There are often more experienced Staffers in Channels with you, as well as individuals who have special areas of expertise.  If you don’t understand, ask in op-chat, or in the channel if there are no users present.  Do not give out information if you are not certain it is accurate.

It is not always wise to trust your memory.  Have a notebook handy which lists all the MARS commands, and other information you may be asked about.  You may remember the command but not the level at which it is authorized.  Note any helpful information, such as URLs for StarLink and related websites.  Jot down things you learn by watching in the channel, because someone else will be in with the same question!  Read and keep copies of StarLink documents because someone will come in with some obscure question that you may have to answer.

The best thing you can do to become a better CService Staff member is to be a team player.  We are all in this together.  What you don’t know, someone else will.  Ask for help.  Be supportive of other staff members. Maintain a caring, professional attitude in the open channel.  Have fun behind the scenes, but remember that we are there to help the users. Keep your gripes, complaints, or negative remarks, out of op-chat.

Use the mailing list to communicate any ideas you have, innovative ways of dealing with things, share your popups, ask advice about a situation, let us know who the annoying users are… We all need to know and are not all online at the same time! This makes people feel like they are not being left out.

Please read and use the web page for information. If you see something missing or in error on the web page, please let SageWlf know about it. If something needs to be changed or added to the Channel Service section email the channel service list.

Encourage users who have problems or want to chat about StarLink to use the StarLink mailing list.  Users may share ideas and suggestions there as well.

#Channel's Netiquette

#Channels exists to help users with registration and MARS commands.  A little friendly chatter when it’s not busy is fine, but it should be limited when there are several users in for assistance. 

Hugs and greets are fine, as long as they are kept to one line and are not distracting from anything happening in the channel.  Multi-lined hugs and ascii art displays are to be discouraged, as are away messages and other things which disturb the continuity of the channel. 

Please remember that we are all volunteers.  There are times that individuals cannot be available to help because of real life situations.  

As long as a CService staff person makes him/herself available for at least three times a week for an hour each time, s/he can be kept abreast of what is happening, any changes, and learn information needed to help the users. 

If it seems you will be unable to help on a regular basis, please notify the CService Admin by email. 

Asking for help is fine!!!  If you are unsure of how to answer a question, ask in op-chat to see if someone else knows the answer.  No one knows it all, and there is nothing wrong with asking for a little advice. 

Please do not give ops to individuals who are not CService Staff or designated helpers.  It is difficult for new users to know who has the correct information and op status gives the impression that the individual in that position has the correct information. 

It is sometimes good to preface your comments with the name of the user to whom you are speaking.  In this way the user will know that the information is for him/her and staff will know that the user is being helped. 

If you are away or busy, please mark yourself as such.  Change your nick to something that shows you are not totally available, such as KzooBuzy, SeaAFK, DawnBRB.  If you are away from your screen for some length of time, you should consider deoping until you are able to see what is going on. 

If you have problems or complaints with what’s going on, please let the CService Admin, or any Assistant CService Admins, know.  Some problems are handled on an adminstrative level, while others can be discussed in a CService meeting.  Complaining in op-chat, or in other channels, is not in the best interest of the CService team. 

Channel Service Administrative Structure

Channel Service is headed by the CService Admin who holds the highest access on MARS (usually 900).  The CService Admin may choose to appoint Assistant Admins who will also have higher access on MARS. The CService Admin will publish the Channel Service administrative structure to the CServiceList and will update any changes in the
same manner.

As a general rule, those in #Channels with the highest MARS access may be able to make minor decisions in the name of CService.  The major decisions are made by the CService Admin.