CHANFIX: EFnet Channel Fixing

by Jolo, tiggergrm and many others
Original version at http://www.irchelp.org/irchelp/ircd/chanfix.html
updated Mar 28, 2003

CHANFIX is a service on EFnet that can restore ops to the "regular ops" of a stable channel. CHANFIX is not the same as chanserv or other such registration services, where the channel founder owns the channel forever. Instead, CHANFIX constantly monitors the entire network and keeps a score database of how often each person held ops in each channel. The ops and the channel both must qualify under certain rules, as described in later sections. The regular ops are those who qualify and held ops the most according to the score database during the past two weeks. If you qualify, the more often you hold ops, the higher your score. If a channel loses ops, CHANFIX will automatically re-op any qualifying regular ops. CHANFIX uses the scores to determine who gets ops automatically; we cannot arbitrarily give or take away ops to anybody. CHANFIX is a last resort; it does not exist for your convenience or to substitute for good commonsense and proper channel management. You should still run your channel properly, such as requiring username@hostname and password verification before granting ops. Manually opping people, even ones you think you know, is a recipe for disaster.

This guide will introduce CHANFIX and tell you how to get help from it. This page is laid out in the form of the most frequently asked questions at the top. Please look for your particular situation and read the answer, this way you can understand what we are talking about when we speak to you on #CHANFIX.

Please understand, we did not break your channel, it's not our fault, so don't vent your frustration on us. We're just volunteers who are trying to help, so please treat us with courtesy and respect.

1. How do I register with CHANFIX or trigger it to work?

You do not register your channel with CHANFIX. You just need to make sure that it meets certain qualifying conditions. CHANFIX then will automatically keep track of the ops in the channel. Likewise, if your channel qualifies and you lose ops, you do not need to trigger CHANFIX, it will reop your channel automatically. See the next question on qualifications and opless channels.

2. My Channel is opless, how do I get ops back?

If you have lost ALL ops, CHANFIX will restore ops automatically as long as your channel meets ALL of the conditions listed below. This process may take a few minutes or an hour or more, depending on how regularly your qualifying former ops held ops. People who hold ops all the time tend to be re-oped quickly. You cannot invite or trigger CHANFIX to do its job. If CHANFIX joins and leaves without giving ops, you do not qualify. Read on to find out why.

2A. Conditions for CHANFIX to reop an opless channel:

You must meet ALL of these conditions, no exceptions.

  1. The channel must have existed for at least half an hour. Although that is the technical minimum, please be realistic. Any channel less than a few days old is probably too new to fix, because you have not established a stable set of regular ops. Either create a new channel, or just chat on an existing channel since you might not be ready yet to run your own.
  2. The channel has to have had at least 4 people in it. Again this is a technical minimum, but unless you really have a lot of people, it is often quicker to fix the channel by cycling it (everybody /part, then recreate the channel from scratch).
  3. You have at least 1 and preferably 5 or more qualifying former ops in the channel right now. Qualifications are listed below.
  4. Those former ops had identd working, so that /whois nickname did not show a ~ (tilde) before their username. For example, if your nickname is JoeBob and you type "/whois JoeBob" without the quotes, and you see "JoeBob is ~blah@whatever.com" then your identd is broken, and CHANFIX will not recognize you no matter how long you were an op.
  5. The former ops were ops regularly during the past 2 weeks. "Regular" doesn't have to be 24/7, but it means they are usually an op - not just a few hours every few days. Anything before 2 weeks ago is irrelevant because CHANFIX only keeps records that long. It does not matter who created the channel or who is supposed to "own" it.
  6. Their hostname or IP is "static", meaning it has not changed over the last 2 weeks. (The hostname or IP is the address following the @ in your /whois, in the JoeBob example above, the hostname is "whatever.com".) Hostnames containing certain keywords like "ppp" or "dialup" are always treated as dynamic. Certain domains are always dynamic, including bb.online.no and AOL.com.
  7. The nickname does not matter, but the username must not have changed. In the example for JoeBob above, the "blah" before the @ symbol is the username. CHANFIX uses username@hostname to track scores.

If you meet ALL of the above conditions, just get those qualifying regular ops back in the channel. CHANFIX will automatically reop the highest scoring ops first, then it goes down the list until there are 5 ops. It may leave and rejoin several times before this is accomplished, depending on how high the scores are. Higher scores are given ops sooner.

If you just cannot meet those conditions and do not get reoped automatically, read the next section below.

2B. Why won't CHANFIX reop my opless channel?

If you lose all ops and CHANFIX does not join your channel automatically within 5 minutes, then that means your channel does not qualify according to the conditions in the previous section.

If you lose all ops and CHANFIX joins your channel, if CHANFIX keeps joining without giving ops to anybody, it means you do have qualifying ops in the score database, and it is trying to find 5 people to op, but nobody currently on the channel qualifies. Stay calm, re-read the conditions in the previous section, and try to get those qualifying former ops back. For example if you usually have a bot or botnet holding ops, it may have the highest scores, get it back in the channel!

If you just can't meet those conditions, such as if you have a new/small channel, or if you have been opless over 2 weeks, then CHANFIX just does not have a record of your channel, and you are on your own. You must cycle the channel (clear everybody out and restart it) to regain ops. Consider it your first challenge: If you can't even manage the channel properly (by keeping ops or cycling the channel) when you have only a few people in it, imagine the chaos if you had 50 or 500 people in the future. The simple fact is, running an EFnet channel takes at least 10 people (not bots) who qualify according to the previous section. If you don't have that, what's the point of having a channel anyway? Visitors aren't going to come to some small, poorly organized channel when there are thousands of bigger channels already. If you insist on running a channel anyway, consider moving your new/small channel to a network with registration services.

2C. Why Can't you just op me?

On EFnet, nobody can just op you on any channel, not even IRC operators ("opers") or admins. There is no secret command. EFnet is not like other networks such as DALnet where they have services that give opers these powers. For more information, see Why EFnet has no registration services and The Myths of Opers.

3. We still have ops but they are all idle, can you op me instead?

As long as at least one regular op (one holding a high score) is opped in the channel, there is nothing CHANFIX can do. You need to work it out with that person. It doesn't matter if he is idle for weeks or doesn't want to share ops, you should have thought of that before giving him ops in the first place. CHANFIX is a last resort only when you lose ALL ops or get taken over by outsiders. EFnet does not have services like chanserv for your convenience. As chan ops, just pretend there is no CHANFIX, and learn to run your channel properly, including setting up scripts to safely request or give ops.

4. My channel was taken over, please help?

CHANFIX can be triggered manually to reverse a recent takeover. A takeover is defined as when there are still ops on the channel, but they did not hold ops before (example: you mistake a stranger for a regular and accidentally give him ops, he then deops everybody). We do NOT interfere in internal op disputes, where regular ops fight each other for control (example: there is a disagreement about who should run the channel, so one of the regular ops decides to deop everybody else). In other words, if somebody was one of your top 10 most regular ops over the last 2 weeks (anything before that is irrelevant, doesn't matter if you created the channel or if you held ops for years), he can do anything he wants including deoping everybody else. That's unfortunately what happens when you trust the wrong people, but neither CHANFIX nor anybody else can help then. Please settle it yourself or start a new channel.

If you had an actual takeover by an outsider, then you need to figure out how they got ops (accidental op, "hacked" bot/shell, denial of service attack that knocked everybody else offline, etc.). Then make sure it doesn't happen again. We do not issue fixes until you have demonstrated that you won't get taken over again right away. You should have as many as possible of your qualifying regular ops online and awake, either sitting in the channel or ready to rejoin at a moment's notice. Be ready to act to secure the channel right after the fix is issued.

How does the fix actually work? Once we verify there is a takeover, CHANFIX can be triggered manually. It would first de-op everybody and remove all modes that might keep people out (+b bans, +i invite-only, +k keyword-required, +l limit). This is when you must rejoin quickly. Then CHANFIX rejoins later and restores ops to the regular ops as it would in an opless channel.

To reverse a takeover, if you meet all qualifying conditions for opless channels, go to EFnet #CHANFIX and tell us the name of your channel, what went wrong, what you've done to prevent a recurrence, then wait quietly for help. We will get to you as soon as we can.

If you don't qualify, see the relevant section above. Good luck, you'll need it.

5. How does CHANFIX keep scores?

CHANFIX keeps track on who has ops on a channel by using a score database. To hold a score, your channel must meet all qualifying conditions above. These conditions include having a minimum number regular of ops with identd and a static hostname/IP over a minimum period of time. If you qualify, you do not need to register or log in, and it doesn't matter if you change nicknames. The score is kept automatically according to your username@hostname.

If you qualify, for every 5 minutes that you hold ops on a channel, your score is increased by 1 point. The more regularly you hold ops, the higher your score will be. The scores are kept for only the last 2 weeks. The best scores tend to go to people (or bots) who qualify and have a 24/7 connection, and who get ops automatically as soon as they join the channel. A stable channel should have preferably 10 or more ops with high scores, i.e., holding ops at least 25-50% of the time. That way even if something goes wrong, it's obvious who are the regular ops and CHANFIX can do its job easily. Score information is accessible by IRC operators but cannot be given to you, even if you are one of the top 10 regular ops. This is to protect you and your channel against possible attacks targeted against your top ops.

For a more technical discussion of how the scoring system works, see "What CHANFIX really is and isn't" [ext. link].

6. More Information

Original documentation: see the "What CHANFIX really is and isn't" [ext. link] guide which contains an example describing how CHANFIX really works, including details on the scoring system, and the older original FAQ [ext. link] which does not cover more recent developments such as the manual fix feature.

History: CHANFIX (originally named JUPES) was voted upon and passed by a majority of EFnet admins in April 2001, and began operation in early July 2001. You can see the vote proposal [ext. link] (if your browser cannot handle https:// pages, see our local mirror). This proposal also contains a somewhat technical comparison to other competing channel-fixing ideas.

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