Asking Questions on IRC

If you want to annoy people on IRC, do this:

<newbie> hi, can I ask a question?

Don’t get permission to ask your question. Just ask it.

But why?

IRC is full of idlers. You’ve probably noticed that you sometimes join a channel with 100 people in it, but nobody at all is speaking. This is normal.

When you show up with a question, if you ask everyone if you can ask your question, there are a few problems:

  1. The few people that happen to notice channel activity will have to go out of their way to answer your initial “can I ask?” question. Unless you’re just in the wrong place, the answer is going to be “yes.”
  2. If they answer that question, they’ve now committed themselves to answer a second question: the actual thing you want to ask. Some people are simply too lazy for more than one.
  3. Someone with the answer to your real question may not check the channel for new activity after they see your uninteresting request for permission.

The Solution

Even if it is the first thing you’ve ever said on the whole IRC network, just start with your question. Nobody will think it is rude. Nobody will thank you for cutting to the chase, either, but at least you won’t hear any complaints (unless you’re in the wrong place).

Asking before asking:

Starting with the real question: