cjwatson: (Default)
[personal profile] cjwatson
I've had several days of prompts that involved really quite complex and thoughtful answers, so it's helpful that today I have a completely frivolous one: [personal profile] emperor said "I think you should write about trouts". Given the unusual plural, and the fact that I don't really know much about the fish beyond that they're tasty with butter and samphire, I'm going to assume that he in fact meant the silly IRC kind.

I hang around on a good number of IRC channels, many of which are largely serious and for work, but the relevant one here is #chiark on chiark's own little IRC network, which is frequented by a fair crowd of geeks. Now IRC is a pretty old chat system and has accumulated some quirky traditions. A lot of those are channel- or network-specific, but quite a few found their way into some of the popular client software and so spread further than that. One of those was the /slap command in at least mIRC, which caused the client to emit "* <person> slaps <other person> around a bit with a large trout". This sort of silliness was ubiquitous enough that it made it into some surprising other places.

Anyway, enough #chiark users were old-school IRC types, and presumably quite bored, that they decided to totally overengineer the whole business. Thus the "Servus" bot was born, whose function is to hang around on channel until somebody asks it to do something, at which point, depending on the command, it might complain at somebody's pun with a "trout", say something subtly or otherwise flirtatious to somebody, search the web for something and post a summary, expand a Twitter link into the text of the tweet, those kinds of things. The lists of trouts and flirts (and indeed of slashes; that command takes two arguments rather than one and its purpose is hopefully obvious) have grown over the years as people suggest things, and are now thoroughly exotic and weird. Trouts range in destructive power from "mutters darkly about %s" and "hits %s with a squeaky hammer", through "staples %s to Gordon Brown's nose" and "earnestly discusses railway routing regulations with %s", to "sacrifices %s to dark gods" and "introduces %s to their antimatter twin".

I think that's about as much as I can manage to write about a silly IRC bot, except to note that it is occasionally speculated what type of being Servus must be in order to actually carry out all these requests, or at any rate what kind of supply cupboard it must have; and it would appear that [livejournal.com profile] ewx was bored enough to compile a list of its consumables.

This post is part of my December days series. Please prompt me!

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-18 03:42 pm (UTC)
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
From: [personal profile] liv
I have to admit, it is always boggling but amusing when people explain IRC culture. (It's very slightly like trying to read Talmudic stories without any explanation from someone familiar with the weird shorthands and conventions and so on.) #dreamwidth has a very earnest attempt to explain everything to make the channel more welcoming to newbies, but I'm not sure how much that actually makes things better...

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-18 05:08 pm (UTC)
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
From: [personal profile] liv
It works very well for me as a chat network, I feel extremely comfortable with it. But it doesn't work so well for Dreamwidth-the-project, because no matter how much we try basically all the dev communications and volunteer socializing fall back to IRC all the time, and a lot of people are really put off by needing to use IRC in order to get in to contributing, and it's a big barrier, unfortunately.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-18 04:01 pm (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emperor
I like the ones that reference events that are otherwise mostly-forgotten "attacks %s with a replica of Milan cathedral", or that make most sense in relation to other trouts (e.g. releasing woodworm into someone's library vs releasing Vashta Nerada, or the bricking up with and without Amontillado). In any case, the complete trout list is here.

How had I not heard of WP-trouting???

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-18 04:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ghoti.livejournal.com
Oh! I thought hitting with trouts was a Monty Python thing, is it not?

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-18 05:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ghoti.livejournal.com
AH.

(Also, samphire is delicious, but I don't think I can get some for the recipe I was going to make when I write about trout)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-12-20 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badriya.livejournal.com
IRC was one of the first things I did on the internet. There were few webpages and I only had usenet and IRC. I think my first software, KA9Q? would not have done web sites. There was, I think, just IRCnet. Then effnet came along? I use just IRCnet now but there was anotehr for a while which had BDSM channels. They had bots on them that prevented channel takeovers and had other functions.

#GB was where some of Demon staff chatted and they had the slap and also there was kicking. I used it before MIRC though, when you had to type commands.I was still able to telnet to people's systems and use commands up to a year or so ago.

#GB mostly moved to #DL-bar, which stood for Demon Local. There are few Demon staff left on it now though. I still sit there all day when online and chat now and then. I used to use the nickname snowgoose but I'm grannygoose now, having skipped past mothergoose :). They used to have meets and I went to a few and so know some of the users in person. But I've been chatting there so long that it feels as if I know most of the rest in person too.They are very good if I want advice on geeky things.

My ambition was always to be able to sit there 24 hours a day like the people with a permanent connection, and I did for a few years when I got one, but now we save electricity and I turn my computer off at night.

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