The term IRCop stands for IRC Operator -- not IRC Cop or mIRC Cop as some believe (it's important to make the distinction between IRC and mIRC since mIRC is a program used to access IRC; there are many other IRC clients besides mIRC). They may also be referred to as an oper.
IRCops are users who have access to commands that allow them to administrate their server or the network. They usually have more experience with IRC and the DALnet network than normal users, and are therefore qualified to deal with problematic situations. Please note that they are all volunteers and do not get paid for their work.
The primary function of an IRCop is to see that their server, and the network as a whole, are running smoothly. That includes removing clones, flooders or mass advertisers (spammers) and disconnecting and reconnecting servers to fix significant lag or netsplits (an explanation of netsplits is available at http://docs.dal.net/docs/netsplits.html).
An IRCop may also choose to spend some of their time helping users. For instance, one of the most common reasons for seeking out an IRCop is because you have forgotten your password. It should be noted that an IRCop is not actually *required* to help users even though it is encouraged by the DALnet administration.
A specific server administrator may demand a certain amount of helping time from their opers, but this does not apply to all servers. Even if an IRCop is on one of these servers, they do have the right to refuse assistance for any reason they wish. Please keep in mind that most IRCops are often busy with their various tasks in addition to their own chatting time and real life concerns.
Contrary to common belief, IRCops cannot just do whatever they feel like. They were chosen as opers for the good of their server and the network and, as such, are expected to follow the rules and behave in a responsible manner befitting their status.
IRCops will not start dropping or stealing nicknames and channels for the fun of it. Everything they do is logged and any abusive actions are dealt with severely. However, this does not mean that IRCops will not take action against abusive users, be they spammers, cloners, Services abusers or other troublemakers. There are also myths involving powers that do not exist. For example, it is not possible for IRCops to listen in on someone's private conversation. While this option may be available on other networks, it is not on DALnet.
This means that IRCops will not drop nicknames or channels that are on the verge of expiring. During Services outages, they are very unlikely to op you in your channels since there's no way for them to verify your identity (in other words, your right to be opped in the channel) with absolute certainty. However, they will help you with cloning and flooding problems.
Keep in mind that DALnet rules state that channel founders may run channels however they wish, even if they are unfair, as long as they don't abuse DALnet's Services. There are no rules that state that channel founders should be fair -- if you don't like the way some channel is run, there are many others to try. Thus IRCops don't have any authority in internal channel matters of this type.
It should also be noted that IRCops will generally not involve themselves in channel management issues unless they involve the disrespect of network guidelines. Problems such as having been unfairly kicked/banned from a channel, irresponsible channel ops, etc. should be reported to the channel founder.
An O:line (capital 'O') denotes someone who is a global operator. A local operator's access is configured with an o:line (lower-case 'o').
In technical terms, the O:line is a line of code in the IRC server (IRCd) configuration file. The O:line contains information about the IRCop's host, nickname and password. It also specifies the levels of commands the IRCop will have access to via the use of flags which set user modes when the person invokes the /oper command. Further information on user modes is available at http://docs.dal.net/docs/modes.html.
When a Server Administrator selects a person they wish to add to their server's team of IRCops, they will add an O:line for that person into the configuration file. Once this line has been added, the /oper command will enable that person to become an IRCop on that server. The IRCop must always connect to the server which carries their O:line as the /oper command will not work on any other.
Therefore, an IRCop will always belong to the server staff of only one server (commonly referred to as their primary). However, they may also have the ability to /oper on other servers, which will be known as their backups.
IRCops do not have identical powers. There are different categories of them and each one has access to different commands. Generally speaking, a category has access to the commands of the previously listed ones (with the exception of server admins). As such, the higher categories also face a lot more responsibilities and duties. The following should give you a general idea of what they can do.
A local IRCop is only shown to be an oper if you are checking the WHOIS information from the server that they are using. They have the ability to set k:lines (local server bans), to connect their server, to disconnect users on their server, to see users who are set to +i and other limited abilities.
Generally speaking, local opers can only affect things on their particular server and not on the rest of the network.
A global IRCop is shown to be an oper, no matter what server you happen to be on. They can disconnect users from the network, have the ability to see ChanServ access lists (aop/sop/count), etc.
Unlike local opers, global opers can affect the entire network through their actions.
A Services Administator is also known as a SA (user mode +a). They can set network-wide bans, masskick channels, view NickServ access lists, change channel modes without being opped or in the channel, etc.
A Server Administrator (user mode +A) is the administrator of a DALnet server. They are responsible for the primary opers on their server and the well-being of the server in general. There can be up to two server administrators for a given server.
Channel Services Operators are usually known as CSops. They can retrieve and send passwords, freeze nicknames and channels, close channels, etc.
Since they can help with password problems, CSops are usually the opers that are asked for the most. However, it's not possible to tell if an oper is a CSop or not by looking at their /whois. A list of CSops is viewable with /motd services.*.
There are only a handful of SRAs on DALnet and they have the highest level of access to Services. Some of them are Services coders, while others are members of the Administrative Oversight Board (known as Executive Board in the past), etc. They are the only group of people who actually maintain Services and act on the bugs reported to them. Generally speaking, only other IRCops need to consult with the SRAs.
There are various teams on DALnet. While not all of them are composed solely of opers, the majority of them are. They all exist for a specific purpose, such as keeping track of mass advertising, managing the mailing lists, maintaining the webpages, etc. just to name a few examples.
There are a few main teams under which all the subteams are grouped. For instance, the MassAds Team would be a subteam of Main K-Line.
A complete list of teams and their members is available at http://www.dal.net/admin/teams.php3.
The Main K-Line Team is by far the largest team on DALnet and is responsible for anything that may cause a network ban to be set. Thus their name: the K-Line Team. They handle all relations with ISPs, judge the amount of abuse coming from a specific domain and take action as needed.
The Main K-Line's subteams include: Clones, MassAds, Closers, CyberCafe, Exploits, Open Proxy/Wingate and Services Abuse. Please visit http://kline.dal.net for further information.
The Help Committee is also composed of a main team and its various subteams. It is dedicated to providing help for users on DALnet. The main team primarily deals with help channels, gives their approval for any new ideas and discusses any outstanding issues.
The subteams include: User Documentation, Events, HelpDesk and WebTeam. You may wish to take a look at http://help.dal.net in order to find out more.
The postmasters are the managers of the mailing lists and email aliases for the opers. Their subteam, the moderators, also moderate some of the mailing lists so that nothing inappropriate will go through.
There are also independent teams or groups that don't have any subteams and are not subteams themselves. Among them are the Web Team, the Coders, the Security Team, the Routing Team, the Oper Training Team, the Services Root Administrators, the Administrative Oversight Board, etc.
The position of an IRCop is not one for which a person can apply. It is granted by Server Administrators and tends to be given to people they have known for a number of years either on IRC, or in real life. Therefore, if the role of IRCop is your goal, you are likely to become disappointed and disillusioned over time. Being an IRCop is a job, not a status symbol. You have been given this job so you can help the network and its users. If you are only interested in being an oper so you look cool and can kill people who irritate you, then don't be the least bit surprised when you suddenly can not oper. It's a volunteer job. Looking cool is just a fringe benefit. :)
The easy answer to this question is that if you go around asking IRCops how you can get to be one, you probably will never be one. There is not a list of potential IRCops or any kind of application procedure. There are actually two ways to become an IRCop: start your own DALnet server or get asked by an admin to be an IRCop on his server. Starting a server is not practical for many people, so the latter is the more common way.
The most important thing to know about being an IRC Operator is that you probably wouldn't like all the work that is involved. Being an IRC Operator is not a glamorous position. It takes a great deal of hard work, dedication, and most of all patience. The overall amount of time an operator spends on IRC talking to his/her friends is drastically decreased. To use an analogy, you no longer get to play in the pool, you are the one who sits on the side watching others have all the fun. Take note, becoming an IRC Operator does not turn you into a vigilante who can ride about in the night taking the law into your own hands. Mean going on mass /killing sprees to rid this world of corruption make you a "Cop" or an "IRC Cop"
Far better to ask yourself what you can contribute to DALnet. The role of IRCop is one of support, so ask yourself what you can do to support DALnet -- not with an eye to what you could become, but with your mind firmly fixed on what you would enjoy contributing over time. DALnet always needs dedicated people who are willing to help others, so if that is what you enjoy doing, try gaining a role in one of the officially recommended or unofficial help channels. This kind of work is just as rewarding as that of an IRCop and far more realistically attainable.
In the past, there have been some channels that were considered good places for admins to find potential IRCops. As soon as word got around that this was happening, such channels quickly become populated by "wannabe IRCops" who only had the wish to have "IRC power" without possesing any of the necessary technical skills. Right now, it is actually very difficult to become an IRCop on DALnet, but please do not think that this means that you can not help. #DALnetHelp, #Help, #mIRC, and other various help channels, are always on the lookout for well-intentioned people who really do just want to help out without looking for a quick way to get an O:line.
You will spend a large proportion of your time answering the same questions over and over again and again. You will be asked all kinds of questions, and to help on many subjects. You are not expected to know the answer to everything, but you are expected to point them in the right direction for help. You will spend numerous long sessions of several hours moderating blatantly trivial disputes. You can not just tell them to go away, or to find 'someone else' - an IRC Operator is the 'someone else' and is required to see a dispute (how ever insignificant) to a conclusion that is acceptable to all parties. You will have people try to flood you. You will have people kick/ban you from their channels (you will not unban yourself). People will call you nasty names. People will think you are a creep. People will mailbomb your email account. They will try to hack your shell account. They will even try to impersonate you. You may disregard these scenarios, but you would be surprised what some people can do or have done. There will be many thankful people, grateful people, people who actually do something as seemingly unimportant as to say "Thank you". These are those who make it all worthwhile. Being an IRCop has very little to do with that /kill command (as seemingly attractive as it may be). It is about the skill of appearing to be a perfect human being who takes the time to help everyone.
If being an IRC Operator still appeals to you, here are a few hints as to how to become one:
1.- Know the various IRC clients. Not only mIRC, but the myriad of other clients. Make sure that you are vaguely aware of their basic operation.
2.- Also learn how to operate the services. Learn the command syntax for ChanServ, NickServ, MemoServ and HelpServ. Since we are fortunate enough to have them, they should be used as much as possible since they are really helpful. HelpServ contains the helpfiles for all the commands supported by the ircII client for Unix, and most of them work with all other clients as well, easy to look-up. Take use of it.
3.- Know user modes, channel modes, and very importantly, masks (nick!user@host).
4.- Help out users as best you can. This does not mean only helping when an IRCop is present.
5.- You must sincerely want to be an IRCop. If you want to be an IRCop for status or because being an IRCop is "kewl" it will be obvious.
6.- Always be courteous, kind and human. Interpersonal skills are some of the most important qualities of an IRC Operator.
7.- Try helping out in some of the recommended help channels. You may not be opped right away (or at all), but if you make an honest effort to help out, you will be noticed and appreciated.
8.- Know the basic raw IRC commands.
Remember: Not everyone will be asked to be an oper, no matter how well qualified he/she/it may be. Do not get dissappointed.
Things you should not do in order to become an IRCop
1.- Idle in lots of server and help channels and expect the mere presence of your nickname to get you an O:line
2.- Hassle other IRCops and server admin about becoming an IRCop. The more you hassle, the lower your chances become
3.- Helping in order to be noticed by Admins so you will be picked as an IRCop. Help because you enjoy helping.
4.- Ask to be an Oper - in most cases you will come across as a beggar.
These are guidelines on what to do and more importanly not do. This text is by no means a guarantee that you are going to become an IRCop.
A good idea would also be to search the web for various other information. Take note that not all networks use the same procedures as DALnet.
A complaint about an IRCop should always be directed towards the administrator of the server that they oper on. To find the name of the administrator, please whois the IRCop in question (/whois opername) and then check the MOTD (Message Of The Day) to find the administrator of that server by typing /motd servername.*
Should you be unable to execute this command for one reason or another, you can always /whois the IRCop and note down the server that they are currently opering on. Usually a /motd servername.* will give you the name of the server admin. Example: /motd liberty.*. You can also navigate through http://www.dal.net/admin/teams.php3 which should list most, if not all, IRCops.
A server admin can always be contacted at email@example.com. If the admin's nickname was "whatever" then you would email firstname.lastname@example.org. Complaints about a server admin should be directed to the Administrative Oversight Board at email@example.com.
As a last resort, firstname.lastname@example.org can be emailed for assistance on directing your complaint to the right place.
When writing your complaint, please be polite, explain the situation in detail and try to be as concise as possible. If you want your complaint to be taken seriously, heaping abuse on the people you want to help you is not very smart. DALnet takes abuse very seriously, and will act on legitimate complaints, but being called names or reading a long, incomprehensible e-mail from someone who makes empty legal threats and apparently foams at the mouth while typing is not going to make anyone feel receptive to your complaints. Also, sending mail to every DALnet address you can dig up is not going to make people take you more seriously. Let's all try to behave responsibly.
Naturally, you do not have to write only complaints to a Server Administrator. An occasional praise for an IRCop on their staff about a job well done is always appreciated. ;)