VID > Stewart Douglas > Notes

So Who's Got Ops? Power, Control & the Undernet Virtual Community

Stewart Douglas


1 The article is an account of a speech given by Professor Robert Sillane from Macquarie University in an introduction to a report presented to Apple Computers.

2 Nieuwenhuizen, p. 33

3 Spender, p. xiii

4 The individual merits of mIRC and Pirch are frequently 'debated' during the course of channel conversation, with each side resolutely defending their choice and denigrating the software of the other. Several other programs capable of IRC are also available, but are not generally used.

5 The names of all members of a channel are usually listed down the right hand side of the program. People who regularly 'sit' in a channel without participating directly are usually referred to as 'lurkers'.

6 Spender p. xxiv

7 Spender p. xvi

8 It is not uncommon for 'established' channels to organise 'meets' for members to interact 'face to face'. Often these are organised in various cities, frequently with he photographs 'published' on the web for those members unable to attend.

9 The major focus will be on #quiz, with other material coming from #wasteland. Occasional references will be made to other channels in order to clarify a point.

10 The nature of the Australian Undernet will be explored in greater detail later. Users can join the Undernet by connecting to a number of IRC servers, in this case:,, Overseas users are encouraged to use . The undernet also maintains a 'home page' to provide information to new users at:

11 Generally, a channel only 'exists' when there is at least one member on the channel.

12 In his book Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte refers to a "... very good and now famous cartoon of two dogs using the Internet. One dog types to the other: "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog."" (pp. 193-194)

13 NOYB = None of your business

14 Anderson, p. 7

15 Variations of this cartoon are relatively common within the 'cyber-community'. This example was recently posted as a script on an IRC chat channel:

> <dcat>          _.-|   |                    ( (
> <dcat>         {   |   |       /\___/\      | |
> <dcat>          "-.|___|       \ o o / ___ _) )
> <dcat>           .__|_|_.     _(  Y  )  \. `O /
> <dcat>           |      |   _((_ `^-' _ /__<  \
> <dcat>         .+|______|_.-|__)`-' (((/   ((_d
> <dcat>   On the net, nobody knows you're really a cat...

Obviously, this involves a complex piece of 'play', which will be examined in greater detail later.

16 Negroponte, p. 231.

17 Negroponte p. 191

18 Negroponte p. 192

19 Anderson, B., ibid, p. 7

20 Ward, R., The Australian Legend (Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1966, 2nd Edition) p. v

21 Witness the recent treatment of the Paxton family by A Current Affair for an example of the universality of restrictive practices. Clearly the implication is that the Paxton family have forfeited the right to membership of the imagined community of Australia.

22 Anderson, B., bid, p. 146

23 The West Australian p. 2

24 The Weekend Australian

25 The Weekend Australian

26 Anderson, p. 145

27 Anderson p. 146

28 Social Semiotics p. 3

29 Social Semiotics p. 87

30 Australian Personal Computer May 1997 p. 70

31 Rheingold Virtual Communities Chapter 2 p. 1

32 Rhinegold, p. 3 Chapter 2

33 Rheingold Chapter 2, last page.

34 Smith, Marc Voices From The Well p. 1

35 Rheingold, Virtual Communities , Chapter 6

36 Further to this, the school now requires IRC use to be conducted under strict teacher supervision as students where spending too much time in 'idle chat' rather than in more constructive activities. Similarly, a draft policy on Internet use in West Australian schools featured in the February edition of School Matters, recommends "..restricted access to certain functions such as Internet relay chat."

37 Hebdige, p. 104

38 In general, an individual wishing to register a channel must obtain the support of ten familiar IRC users prepared to establish the bona fides of the applicant. Once the application is accepted, the channel is monitored for a given trial period before z access is provided.

39 The Australian Undernet consists of a number of servers:,, and To reduce congestion, people using an education based ISP are encouraged to use, while overseas users are meant to use

40 #quiz forms the foundation for this study and the bulk of material used will come from this channel. While the material obtained from #quiz is regarded as public and open to any who wish to join, I have decided as a matter of personal choice to change the nicknames of those users mentioned in this study as well as remove any email addresses. Any reference to any existing nickname is therefore purely co-incidental and no correlation should be established between them.

41 Danet, Ruedenberg-Wright, & Rosembaum-Tamari, in "Where's that smoke coming from?"

42 Usually termed 'nick'. A users 'nick can be changed by typing /nick (new name). Most users regularly use only one 'nick' and their IRC personality is constructed around this favourite nick. Indeed, using someone else's 'nick' is regarded as a particularly bad breech of etiquette.

43 The majority of IRC programs allow the user to perform a number of commands. Using /whois (nick) will reveal the information the other user (if any) has elected to place in the personal information section of the IRC program.

44 When 'z' access is used to 'kick' people, the member's nick who accessed 'z' appears in the command line. Similarly, any message appears on the channel and on the screen of the member being 'kicked'.

45 It is also possible that Dorothy's original 'hug' may be a script as well. It is not uncommon for IRC users to have a 'pre-prepared' list of such scripts which can be accessed at well through the IRC software.

46 The popularity of soundfiles should not be underestimated. A registered channel (#soundstudio) currently exists devoted to the exchange of sound files.

47 Social Semiotics p. 79

48 An explanation of this terminology is included as Appendix B

49 Threadgold, Semiotics, Ideology and Language p. 17

50 Threadgold, ibid, p. 29

51 Hanben, M., "The Netizens and Community Networks", CMC Magazine,

52 Hanben, M., ibid,

53 Reid, E., "Electropolis: Communication and Community on Internet Relay Chat"

54 In IRC the Channel Manager is usually the person who had the channel registered. They are considered to 'own' the channel.

55 Quiz Rules Appendix A

56 #quiz Rules Appendix A

57 Hebdige, D., Subculture: The Meaning of Style, p. 90

58 Barlow, J., P., "Crime and Puzzlement" 1990 (Electronic manuscript available from; /pub/Publications/John_Perry_Barlow)

59 Barlow, J., P., ibid

60 Hafner, K., "The Epic Saga of The Well", in Wired, May 1997, p. 110

61 Hafner, K., ibid

62 Hafner, K., "The Epic Saga of The Well" in Wired, May 1997

63 Anderson, B., p. 7

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