We've had a Stack Overflow IRC channel specifically for meta discussion since early August, but Jeff seems very intent on refusing to acknowledge its existence.

Here's the channel information:


While we're on the topic of IRC:

#SOMafia on irc.slashnet.org is NOT associated with Stack Overflow!

I've gotten several email complaints:

Yesterday, just out of curiosity, I joined #SOMafia on irc.shashnet.org and there was a JeffAtwood op there. If it wasn't you, then I'm sorry, please ignore this email, but if it was - what the hell man?

I understand I stumbled upon a private chatroom, and it's all fun and games, but I didn't expect to be called a "flaming homosexual" from someone like you, a man I admire and read his blog for several years. It was probably an inside joke with you guys, but still - not cool. I'm not going to pretend to be offended - I really could care less, but it was just juvenile.


Please delete my accounts on all Trilogy sites including Meta. I am no longer interested in SO after the verbal abuse today on #somafia by JeffAtwood


I am an avid reader of your blogs and recently I stumbled across #SOMafia IRC channel which had somebody who called himself as "Jeff Atwood" and abusing those who are entering the channel. At first I was shocked, then after some googling, I found What about the IRC channel?
and realized that it was bogus. As one of the comments for your post pointed out, It would be nice to see some blog post from you pronouncing the channel as fake. Keep up the great work.

In general I never use IRC, so you can very safely assume if you see "me" on IRC it is not me.

Also: not cool.

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    I think this may require a blog post :) – BinaryMisfit Jul 14 '09 at 8:06
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    The Internet is full of impersonators and trolls, there's not much you can do about it. It sucks when they decide to target you though. – Ryan Fox Jul 14 '09 at 16:15
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    #SOMafia: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. – Brad Gilbert Sep 13 '09 at 17:33
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    blog post would just encourage these types of people. – Jeff Atwood Jan 13 '10 at 10:57
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    so does this answer :) they are obviously doing this to piss you off. – waffles Jan 13 '10 at 11:12
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    this is why IRC should be cancelled. – Jeff Atwood Jan 13 '10 at 11:18
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    This is what cease and desist letters are for. – user27414 Jan 13 '10 at 14:51
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    These people are finding #somafia from bios on some users' profiles. I'm not sure what the best way to approach the problem of those users luring others into this abuse would be, especially when one is a moderator (meta.stackoverflow.com/users/22164). – Gnome Jan 13 '10 at 15:53
  • Roger Pate is correct.I actually found the channel run by these lunatics thanks to serverfault.com/users/590/belgariontheking profile. I found him there with 2 aliases("whocares" and another one obscene word). I traced the IP of the false "Jeff Atwood" via dnsstuff.com and it was something like MasterPlan Computing, Connecticut,IIRC. Funnily I found another correlation too. See the cute Pony here TheTXI(meta.stackoverflow.com/users/22164) and the word pony here in the venn diagram:(somafia.com/about). – user141781 Jan 13 '10 at 18:06

It's not that I refuse to acknowledge IRC, I know nothing about it. I've spent maybe 30 minutes on IRC in my entire life!

We do have some community members who are interested in IRC that help maintain it on our behalf, and I fully support this. Gamecat, for example, and I know Geoff occasionally delves into IRC and of course represents us wherever he goes as an official Stack Overflow Associatetm.

My only concern is that I don't want IRC to degenerate into a weird back channel where people are rude to each other, as has happened in the past. This (indirectly) reflects poorly on us.

  • Update to reflect current reality (since Gamecat and Geoff have both been absent from IRC for so long that their accounts have expired): rchern is the official staff representative, and the channel ops include rcfox, Daeken, and me. (I fully vouch for their responsible handling of channel admin matters.) – Chris Jester-Young Dec 29 '12 at 18:03

It's very difficult to make an official irc channel for meta discussion.

This format makes it possible to record and analyze all suggestions. The irc is more focused on casual chatting and often strays away from serious discussion.


Also splitting up official meta discussion into two or more locations leads to split community. I know this from watching the discussion on many large open source projects.


Jeff also commented on irc channels on his twitter. Referencing to xkcd's problem on their irc channel.

  • 1
    no logging, not searchable, mostly OT = totally useless. – Sarah Mei Jun 28 '09 at 19:32
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    irc is loggable btw – redsquare Jun 28 '09 at 19:34
  • so type of logging power > irc logging power :) But i get your point. – Ólafur Waage Jun 28 '09 at 19:37
  • I disagree. I can search my IRC logs with regular expressions. – Ryan Fox Jun 28 '09 at 19:38
  • @Ryan can you log what comments on irc are the most popular? Can you discuss things on irc in a non linear way? – Ólafur Waage Jun 28 '09 at 19:40

I've gone in from time to time...and nobody is ever there/talking. I'm not the type to squat in an IRC just to have my name there.

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    There has been a lot of dead air lately, but we do also have involved conversations. It's not something that can be planned though. – Ryan Fox Jul 14 '09 at 16:18
  • I've mentioned this within there a number of times, only to be told that it's normal for an IRC channel to be practically dead until someone wants help. Channels like ##java are typically buzzing but a large number of them remain dead for hours, despite having 300+ users within the channel. – Mike B Dec 29 '09 at 18:51
  • General language channels on popular networks attract a large number of random users with specific programming questions. – Gnome Jan 13 '10 at 15:50
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    In "IRC culture" as I know it (or at least the brand of culture I know), it's common to stay logged on 24/7 and read the scrollback "to catch up on yesterday's activity". In that way, it's actually easier to do if the channel isn't full of conversation all day. – Chris Jester-Young Jan 25 '10 at 0:38

IRC is just a primitive, open, fast, version of Twitter. Atwood is looking to the future of self-absorbed cliquish chat, not the past...


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