Guide to ISM-UK Online Meetings


  • Basics:
    • Step 1 – Join the channel
    • Step 2 – Type stuff!
    • Step 3 – Change your nickname
    • If you get disconnected…
  • Useful Stuff:
    • Private chat
    • Chat etiquette
    • How meetings work
    • Registering your nickname
    • How to ignore/block people
    • Where to find more information

Step 1 – Join the channel

All you need to do to join a chat meeting is to go a link in your browser – . (This is a webclient – using it means you do not need to install any software. The link will take you to the channel #ismuk on the chat network ‘DALnet’, which is where the chat meeting will take place). When you following that link, a lot of random text will pop up, but just wait a minute or two and eventually you should see something like this:

Step 2 – Type stuff!

To send a message to the channel, just type it in the box at the bottom of the webclient and press enter. Any messages you and others send will appear in the main area of the screen. Simple as that 🙂

Step 3 – Change your nickname

See that list on the right hand side of the webclient? That’s a list of the ‘nicknames’ of people in the chatroom. To start with, the client sets a random nickname for you, so you will show up as something like “qwebirc54290”. It’s good to change your name to something more recognisable so that people can see who you are throughout the meeting. To do this, you have to send a command, typing “/nick [yournick]” where “[yournick]” is the nickname you want. So, if I wanted to set my nickname to be ZeroCool, I would type:

/nick ZeroCool

If this worked, your nickname will now be changed! However, it might be the case that someone else has this nick already, or that someone else has reserved it by ‘registering’, in which case you’ll see something like this:

-NickServe-This nickname is registered…

If this happens, just pick a different nickname and repeat the process, for example by typing:

/nick AcidBurn

If you get disconnected…

When a lot of people are using an irc network, it can sometimes crash, or disconnect people – sometimes a message will pop up telling you what has happened, but sometimes your client will just stop responding: you won’t see any new messages from other people appearing, and anything you type wont show up. If this happens to you, it will almost always just be a temporary glitch. However, the webclient won’t automatically re-connect you. So to re-connect yourself, just start following these instructions again from Step 1 🙂

If this doesn’t work, then your best bet is probably to consult this guide to common connection errors:

Private chat:

Often during a chat you’ll want to say something to just one person. The best way to do this is to start a private chat. You can do this by clicking on their nickname as it appears on the right hand side of the webclient. Select ‘query’ on the menu that comes up:2

This will then open up a new tab in the webclient. You can see the tabs you have at the top of the client, and switch between them by clicking on the one you want. To get back to the channel where the meeting is taking place, just click on the ‘#ism-uk’ tab:


When someone starts a chat with you, it just opens a new tab on your client – so it’s worth keeping an eye on the tabs in case someone tries to start a private chat and you don’t notice.

Chat etiquette:

Like any meeting, there are some social guidelines which will make a chat meeting run smoother when people follow them. Some things worth considering are:

  • Avoid flooding the channel. If you send lots of lines at once, it fills up everyone’s screen and is hard to read. If you’re sending something long, consider using a service like pastebin, and just posting a link to it in the channel.
  • Affirm people’s proposals. In a face-to-face meeting it’s much easier to gauge the reaction to a proposal than on the internet. Often, when someone makes a suggestion that everyone agrees with, no-one responds, and it’s hard for the facilitator to work out whether that means people agree, disagree, are staying quiet, or are just thinking. Likewise if someone has expressed agreement with a proposal that comes up, please say whether or not you do too, as otherwise it is hard to work out whether everyone feels that way, or if they are intimidated from speaking, or something else.
  • Try and keep to one topic at a time to help the meeting run smoother
  • Make clear proposals
  • Make sure that for each decision has someone delegated to make sure it happens
  • Don’t take it personally if someone disagrees with your ideas
  • Try to be friendly and avoid being aggressive when making points – not only is this less productive, it also scares away less confident people from taking part
  • IRC meetings are completely open and insecure, so do not discuss illegal activity or share unnecessary information (for example, personal details of activists)

How meetings work:

This is a rough overview of how meetings have worked in the past – it’s not set in stone and is definitely open to being improved!

  • Each meeting has an agenda. Contributions are made to it before the meeting via an etherpad (an online notepad that anyone can type into), and the order and contents are finalised before the meeting starts. (people who can’t attend should be encouraged to send in contributions/thoughts via email or the pad beforehand)
  • During meetings, we essentially follow the process of consensus decision making – one person ‘facilitates’ the meeting, and the people in the meeting try to find proposals that are acceptable to everyone in the group (this doesn’t mean everyone has to agree – just that the majority agree, and the rest find decisions acceptable). As well as helping make the meeting run smoothly (keeping to the agenda, etc), the facilitator *should* also be making sure that no-one dominates the meeting, and encouraging people to speak if they’re staying quiet. If they aren’t doing this effectively (say, mainly men are speaking and they haven’t said anything about it), it’s worth calling them out on this. 
    Consensus Decision-Making Flow Chart
    Flow chart for how consensus decision-making works. Lifted from the Seeds for Change website
  • To make things flow quicker, in the past we’ve used the ‘*’ symbol to signal we agree with a proposal. If you do this and there’s more than one proposal being talked about, make sure you indicate which proposal you’re agreeing with!
  • We haven’t got a safer spaces agreement at the moment (though the admin collective is committed to actively challenging informal hierarchies, patriarchy, racism, etc), but we should probably make one! In any case, it’s important that we all work to avoid oppressive behaviour, and support anyone calling out behaviour that’s inappropriate.

Registering your nickname:

DALnet have their own guide to this, so it’s probably best just to read that –

How to ignore/block people:

If someone is flooding the channel with irrelevant posts, or even harassing you personally, then you may want to “silence” them using the /silence command, which will mean you no longer receive their messages – instructions on how to use this command here.

Where to find more information:

  1. […] We suggest the meeting take place on Sunday 23rd of June, with proposed agenda points submitted by Wednesday 19th to uob_against_privatisation[at] . We suggest that we use the chatroom and processes for online meetings used by the International Students Movement: […]

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