BIC-rfc draft

Global IRC Management Framework

Volker "Yegg" Paulsen,
Michael "Lorry" Lawrie,
Bernhard "Fingwe" Lorenz

The following article proposes a possible organization for IRCnet. The first part focuses on a hierarchical management structure which divides IRCnet in easy comprehensible administrative units. Here are meta questions of the organization discussed. The second part focuses on the tasks which must be solved after a global IRC management framework has been established. In this section contents and urgent tasks will be discussed.

A major intention of a global IRC management framework is to give decision power to a representative board of IRC coordinators (BIC) which vote democratically on major IRC issues. This ensures a balance of power, and gives such a BIC the possibility to enforce its rules, which was one of the big shortcomings of the previous EBIC organization. Another issue is to avoid power concentration to single servers and thus avoid egocentric behavior of single administrators which finally lead to the EFNET split.

Normally IRC is running more or less without explicit intervention. Ideally such a management structure just rules exceptional conditions. That means if an exception occurs this management structure rules who is responsible or who needs to be involved to solve the problem.

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Control Hierarchies in IRCnet

Such a management structure should enable different hierarchies of administration. While the top level in this hierarchy deals with abstract global IRC issues, the lower levels manage daily administration issues. To establish such a hierarchical IRC management, IRCnet needs to be divided into administrable units. The following administrative units can be identified:

Administration Units

IRCnet Servers

IRCnet Server Operators operate their own servers and may well operate other people's servers (linking, reconnecting etc). The actual powers of Operators is all done on convention, there are no firm rules, people just tend to agree and with a few exceptions.

Traditionally IRCnet servers are grouped around their top level domain (TLD). The "native" TLD of a IRCnet server builds the first level of the administration hierarchy. Operators collaborately deal with the daily administration issues, like the management of network problems, sanctions of abusive users or operators or the linkage of new TLD servers.

While IRCnet server operators normally coordinate daily administration issues ad hoc within their TLD, there are also rise global administration tasks, where several TLD may be involved. To solve such global tasks the next level in the administration hierarchy is needed.


IRCnet is organized into a number of bodies, usually made up of a number of servers in a geographical, commercial or political region. The bodies are simply and obviously named, for instance, the UK, or CEE (Central and Eastern European Body; SK, CZ, HU, RO, AT).

A body builds a geographical and/or net topological region which autonomously administrates its region user base. A body is sovereign in administration of its' region and decides about the connection of new servers and server linking within the body. Each body has a representative (coordinator) that is decided on within that body. The coordinator is member of the BIC and represents that body. A body coordinator act on the democratic decisions of all body server representatives, but should have the power to act autonomously where necessary.

A body has to qualify for a seat within the BIC. This qualification has to involve the real user base of a body. This will introduce a required minimal size for a body (w.r.t its user base) and reduce the number of seats within BIC.

A BODY consists of one or more top level domains (TLD's) that exceed 500 users average. If a TLD has less than 500 users, it may seek to join a BODY that is already formed or may form a new BODY with other TLD's (see table).

To participate all new connecting TLDs, each TLD is preassigned to a BODY: Every square kilometer on Earth is preassigned a "godfather"-BODY, even if there was no real activity there yet. Once there starts to be activity there, they will have automatic representation in the BIC by their "godfather"-BODY and if the area grows dramatically in user base, it can be split up as its own BODY [Cor]. Alternatively there is a provision for a "Misfit BODY" for servers which doesn't fit elsewhere, like large Internationally based ISP's [Lorry].

If a TLD within a BODY is not satisfied with it then they may leave that BODY and join another neighboring body if they feel they could be better represented there. If a TLD wishes to not join a BODY then that is acceptable and that TLD will simply not be represented.

Summary of the proposed requirements to form a body:
TLDs Users required
(on average)
1 500
2 300
3 400
4 or more 500

The reason why less users are required for BODIES with more than one participating TLD is to encourage TLDs with a smaller user base to join a BODY. This should avoid domination of "small" TLDs by "big" TLDs with a huge user base in the same body.

To have a simple deciding factor which does not require permanent/complicated evaluation of statistics, the qualification feature should be the connected user base of the BODY to IRCnet (regardless of the server location where these users connect to IRCnet). Using the total user base of a body as qualification criterion has the advantage, that BODIES wouldn't compete for users to connect within their BODY to gain more influence within the BIC.

Current BIC proposal (updated 06/2004):

Body: TLDs Coordinator
yegg, delta
DK,IS ra
FI Axu
IL ely
Francesco, cleX
NL koopal
NO aness
PL Beeth
SE Core
UK,IE TRiG, pils

Changelog created (2004-07-22)


Board of IRC Coordinators - BIC

IRCnet is governed by a BIC (board of IRC coordinators). The BIC consists of one coordinator from each distinct BODY within IRCnet. Decisions of the BIC are met by voting, while each member of the BIC has ONE vote.

The BIC decides on global IRC policies, determines rules for IRCnet and (if necessary) sanctions for BODIES/servers who infringe these rules. A sanction may also the permanent withdrawl of a server from IRCnet.

The BIC is definite not intended to establish a forum for a small group of elite operators dictating decisions to others. The antipode is true: the hierarchical management structure is intended to enable a global decision making mechanism. Without a hierarchic management, decision making turns out to be impossible because of the size of IRCnet: hundreds of operators fail to coordinate themself without a suitable management structure.

Executive Committee - EC

Since the BIC is to sluggish to react on daily events, it nominates an additional executive committee, which decides on urgent/daily issues.

The purpose of this executive committee is to have an unbureaucratic instance which solves on the fly issues of international routing, or which settle conflicts. Thus members of this committee should be active well known, respected and trusted people.

The executive committee has the following tasks: It introduces new guidelines/policies/etc to be voted on by the BIC and also has the power to take immediate action on problems that can not wait for a BIC vote. All actions/decisions of this executive committee are controlled by the BIC and can in case of doubt cancelled by the BIC.


Additionally to this management structure of IRCnet, a set of globally agreed rules are required to address common problems.