I posted this first on Community/General Discussion since it was about the larger Raspberry Pi community. Apparently the IRC channel is off-topic there regardless. As this is also a matter of feedback and a request to the Foundation on a matter that concerns the Foundation's good name being used to endorse a questionably run channel, I am posting here then instead:
While Freenode's Raspberry Pi channel is somehow not "official", it advertises itself as having been "Blessed" by the Foundation. I'd like to point out to the Foundation that the channel operators' behaviour in their duties leaves much to be desired, giving the Foundation an opportunity to rethink this Blessing. As I like openness, I'll make this an open letter on the forums.
It's well understood that the channel has a "No Foul Language" policy (though not everyone notices it at once, hidden in plain sight in the middle of a rather sizable topic). It's less well understood how far it reaches, never mind the concept itself being inherently fuzzy and unclear. More disturbingly, the manner the operators choose to police the ban is rather unwholesome.
First, even if everyone noticed the topic, not everyone understands the severity with which the rule is interpreted. Debatable words? Pretty much kick. Censoring words with asterisks? Kick. Sending a URL for a _Pi-related_ article (which I dare not repeat here, lest the Foundation actually agrees with this and this forum has a similar policy) with a asterisked out swear word in the title (plus, to be fair, an uncensored one way down in the middle of the page in the text)? Kick. I've personally been scared out of providing any informative URLs on the channel, generally unable to ascertain that they won't contain objectionable content.
Second, one infraction is all that's needed to be kicked out. "<@IT_Sean> any adult content or swearing will result in a kick." There's generally no warning. Kicking is by nature a punitive action, not to be taken overly lightly. Especially new users who didn't notice the rule or didn't think the word they used was "foul" or relied on self-censorship are in for an unpleasant welcome here. (Incidentally I've taken to warning people about it being coming to them when I notice. The ops complain of my "whining" but have not yet taken direct action against me. This is probably coming now, but frankly, I don't value being allowed to remain on the channel very highly at this point.)
Third, a kick will come even if the swear was a _typo_ and even if the person _expresses contrition_ before being kicked. I was helping out a person (nick censored for his protection, and swear word removed for mine) and this is what happened:
<xxx> oh nice. I'll give that a [word]. ty. I was trying all kinds of things with dpkg and stuff.
<mjr> fyi: if an op catches you and is in a suitable mood, you may get kicked for saying that
<xxx> shot [this is what he meant to say - mjr's note]
<xxx> i assume you meant that. lol
<xxx> my bad. it's been too much typing today so far
* mjr has considered running a script word replacing some things on this channel
[a fair minute passes]
-!- mode/#raspberrypi [+o IT_Sean] by ChanServ
-!- xxx was kicked from #raspberrypi by IT_Sean [language, please.]
Fourth, the ops behave very brashly with their power. They openly tout their absolute power over the users. This is of course the reality of any IRC channel, but it doesn't do good for the channel atmosphere if the enforcers are seemingly getting their jollies through it. "<@ReggieUK> it doesn't really matter how much you all complain about how we deal with it, we will deal with it how WE want
And finally, the ops are also capricious and arbitrary, despite IT_Sean's statement earlier. Reggie's comment is more honest. Editing out the other discussions happening at the same time as this conversation:
<yyy> Jesus stop [asterisked out swear word]
<zzz> isnt that foul language?
<yyy> no, censored.
<qqq> zzz: yes
<@ReggieUK> censored isn't an excuse
<qqq> yyy: self-censorship is irrelevent
<yyy> but you love me reggie :3
[Apparently this is true, as even though it isn't an excuse, yyy remains on channel. I wonder out loud about the capricious nature of enforcement. Even under a strict regime, one likes to know where one stands, and that a fairness of sorts exists.]
<mjr> if it isn't an excuse, why is he still here? people have been kicked before for starstuff
<mjr> different rules for different people?
<zzz> mjr, "we will deal with it how WE want"
<mjr> that would be a yes on arbitrary enforcement then
<@ReggieUK> jeez, so you moan when we kick people and you moan when we don't, fickle, much?
<mjr> a user being fickle isn't a problem, ops being fickle is
<yyy> Are you two still going on
* yyy shoves zzz and mjr into the corner
<@ReggieUK> apparently I should kick you
-!- yyy was kicked from #raspberrypi by ReggieUK [they told me to]
Judging by the retorts accompanying the kick, Reggie thinks kicking people from the channel is an appropriate joke. He's an op, he's entitled, but should the Foundation "Bless" this behaviour?
There's more logs I could dig through, and I'm sure there's more of the same to come, but this shall suffice for now. Thank you for your attention.