[beginning]   [the rules]   [the staff]   [##security blog]
the rules
We try and remain as informal as possible, but there are some rules we'd appreciate it if you'd follow! Broadly, if you're friendly, tolerant, and reasonable, you'll probably get a pretty long way without any specific knowledge of the rules - but for the avoidance of doubt, here they are!
How to treat other users
In order to make the channel a pleasant place to be for all of our users, we'd appreciate it if you tried to remain as friendly and tolerant as possible. We don't maintain a family-friendly or restrictive language policy, but you should bear in mind the tone of what you write and who's around if you feel the need to swear. If you find that you're becoming frustrated with the channel or other users, we'd encourage you to take a moment to do something else, or apply the principle of equality by simplicity. Try and ensure you don't make people feel like you're just taking advantage of them - help others out whilst you're waiting for a reply to your questions, and say thanks!.
How to argue
As mentioned above, we'd appreciate it if you'd endeavour to be friendly and tolerant. We also encourage debates and in-depth discussions about topical subjects. If you choose to participate in one, we would appreciate it if you'd remain as reasonable as possible, and employ the skills of logic and critical thinking. If you're unfamiliar with these, don't worry - not being a dick will get you a long way. However, the basic skills of critical thinking will serve you well in discussion, and enable you to communicate more efficiently, and spot when others are being less than forthcoming with the truth!
On being topical

We maintain no strict policy regarding offtopic chat in the channel - however, the discussion of Computer Security, and broadly related disciplines is the primary focus of the channel, so you may be asked to take discussions elsewhere, particularly if there are venues on freenode better suited to them (such as ##politics or ##philosophy), if there are other conversations going on, or if they're repetitive or otherwise seen by the channel staff as being detrimental to the good atmosphere of the channel.

Certain things are seen as being specifically offtopic. These topics include:

Help with homework - we'd rather you not ask others to do homework or assignments for you. If you have questions that relate to others subjective opinions on topics (eg. "I'm writing a paper on corporate wireless security - can anyone comment or provide case studies?"), or if you want to ask for a pointer to resources for research then (eg. "I'm writing a paper on VPN deployments - can anyone recommend some good reference material?") others may be happy to help; but if these questions do relate to academic work, please say so.

Maliciously compromising systems - it should go without saying, but we don't exist to help you break the law or do things you shouldn't be able to. Such queries are offtopic from the channel, and from freenode as a whole, and may well get you removed from the channel and/or network. Please don't ask.

Warez/Cracks/Pirated Software - these too are offtopic for the channel and network. Please don't ask.

On asking for help

If you're asking for help, first off, thanks! - questions and the resulting discussion of the answer(s) in a collaborative environment are what make IRC great, and by helping to add to the atmosphere, you benefit all of us. We often find that we learn a lot even from questions we already think we know the answers to - about people, alternative approaches, and cool new resources and tools. However, if you are intending to ask a question, we'd appreciate it if you'd follow a handful of useful guidelines to help you, and us, make the best use of our time:

Do your research first - it's very frustrating when people ask a question that can virtually be answered by punching the keywords into a google search!

Let us know what you've tried / how you've looked already - it's your job, particularly if this is a troubleshooting question, to give us all the relevant bits and pieces to ensure we don't tell you to try things you've tried already, or give you bad information.

Give us the whole picture - If you're asked for more information, please provide it - and although we appreciate the need to anonymise topologies, command line outputs, etc, please try and avoid hiding information behind layers of abstraction or assumption wherever possible. Looking at this from another angle, the more we learn about your problem, the more this independently benefits us too - a large part of the satisfaction derived from helping others on topics such as the ones this channel covers come from learning about security and computing in other environments that we're not already exposed to; even if you're asking us questions, you can help teach us something too!

If you find the answer somewhere else, tell us - it isn't compulsory, but if you don't get an answer to your question inchannel but you find it elsewhere, consider letting us know! That way we can help out the next person with a similar question. It also lets people know that you already have an answer you're happy with, or that if anyone's researching the question for you, they can stop.

Wait for the answer - not everyone in the channel is online all the time - you may find you get an answer a few minutes, or even hours, later. Feel free to stick around and chat, or even answer other peoples questions - you'll find it helps pass the time and makes others likely to help you! Help us build a community of friendly security professionals and enthusiasts - we're not just a helpdesk! :)

Spam, flooding, and various other forms of disruptive behaviour
Spam, flooding, attacks against other users, and other forms of disruptive behaviour not otherwise specified are unwelcome. This includes, but is not restricted to, the operation of bots, public logging of the channel, and scripts such as those that publically announce what track your MP3 player is playing or your away status.
On dealing with the channel staff
From time to time, you may be asked to take conversations elsewhere, treat others reasonably, steer a conversation in a particular direction, or a variety of other things in order to preserve the ambience and usefulness of the channel. If you're the target of such-a request, please be as reasonable as you can, and if you wish to query or take issue with it, do so in private message with the channel staffer in question, rather than making noise in channel.

Repeated breaking of the rules will cause channel staffers to mute (+q), ban (+b), kick, or otherwise remove you from the channel. This will particularly apply if you're seen to be wilfully ignoring the rules after we've drawn your attention to them. Many forms of disruptive behaviour, such as flooding or trolling, may result in discipline such as a mute without a warning. We try and avoid the use of force wherever possible, and we'd appreciate it if you'd help us in pursuing this goal!

If you're a bystander whilst a staffer is forced to use his or her powers for channel management, we'd appreciate your understanding and consideration in awaiting the end of the incident, and your assistance in keeping the SNR as favourable as possible by not complaining, commentating or gloating. This serves to make antisocial behaviour such as flooding less attractive (the smaller the reaction, the less the return on the malfeasance), and so benefits you as well as us! As before, if you have queries, please feel free to /msg a staffer - or ride the turbulence out!