Getting Help In IRC

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How to get useful help on IRC

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) is a real-time chat where you can talk to other people from around the planet. Although many channels deal with smalltalk about the weather, girl-friends and politics there are IRC networks and channels that are dedicated to provide support for a piece of software or an operating system. for example exists to support open-source projects. If you are in a help channel, please do your best to stay on topic. The IRC channel is not there for social interaction, it's for technical support. This means technical support in relation to Sabayon, we are not here to support other distros, or help you with your homework. We also will not help you with items of questionable legal integrity. Please stay calm, and do not start yelling or throwing tantrums if someone doesn't respond how you want them to. In case you need urgent help, or need something on the Sabayon Forums or Sabayon Wiki further clarified. This page will provide you with some very good guidelines to make the most out of using the #sabayon IRC channel (which is also the same thing as the webchat/get live help link)

Don't ask to ask

It's a bad manner if someone enters a channel and asks "May I ask a question?" or "Can anyone help me?". Although that may be polite in normal human interaction it does not work that way on IRC. You are simply supposed to just ask your question right away. Remember while this is real-time interaction, people in IRC are frequently multi-tasking. Please be patient, and someone will get to your question eventually. If necessary, go grab a drink and a snack, and come back to the computer. Being impatient and leaving in less than 2 minutes doesn't give anyone much of a chance to answer your question.

Do not repeat yourself

Asking the same question every minute is annoying. If anyone in the channel isn't paying attention then they will not read you the second and third time. Those who came back from lunch or sleep will likely see in their scrollback or lastlog what has happened lately. This is demanding and is poor IRC etiquette. Repetition may get you ignored.

Answer the questions that you get asked

It may sometimes be hard to follow all the conversation on IRC, but if people are trying to help you and need to ask you a few questions, please answer them all. Frequently this information is necessary to know how to answer your questions or what solution is necessary. It is not uncommon for things to be different between two different versions of a distro or program, or even under different architectures. If you get asked three questions and only answer one or keep asking the same question time and again (showing that you don't read what you get asked) you risk to be ignored. Show some initiative and your problem will likely be fixed within a few minutes. If you believe you have answered a question, and the people helping you REPEAT the question, it most likely means that you have given insufficient information. Please keep in mind, if someone asks you a version number, latest, and most recent are NOT version numbers. If you are unsure of how to get the information to answer the questions you are asked, PLEASE ask how. We are not mind-readers in IRC. In addition, please do not leave those who are helping you waiting for long periods. We are volunteers who choose to help. If you do not respond in a timely manner, we will assume that we're being ignored and move on to someone or something else.

Be precise

There is nothing worse than "My printer doesn't work." or "My mail server doesn't work.". How are others supposed to help you when you don't give them any information? Make sure you include at least this information:

   * What did you try to accomplish? (I wanted to fetch my mails via POP3.)
   * What has happened (wrongly) instead? (But my inbox remains empty.)
   * What environment are you using? (I am using kmail 1.8 in KDE 3.4.)
   * What did you try to find the cause? (I already checked my POP3 account setup.)
   * Are there error message or log files? (The error message reads: "SSL negotiation failed.")
   * Has it ever worked? What did you change? (I switched accounts to a new provider. It worked before with another provider.) 

If all this information is included then you will have a high chance of getting a useful reply. If you are unsure of how to provide proper information to us to help you solve your problem, we will tell you what commands to run, but if you do know, pastebinning the output of a few commands in advance would be of great help. lspci, lsusb, eselect opengl list, eselect kernel list, uname -a, lsmod, ifconfig, iwconfig are commands that you would be commonly asked for the output of, as well as knowing what version of Sabayon you are running. Keep in mind there are usually several varieties of a version in circulation; 2 Editions per architecture (ie. A 32 bit DVD and CD, as well as a 64 bit DVD and CD, and if there were public betas that means there are additional DVD's with a particular version numbers. Betas will usually be called loop)

Please note that many of the information gathering commands need to be run as root.

Please click here for explanation of a pastebin.

Tell what you are doing

Others only know what you tell them. If you change things silently then nobody will know about it. The worst thing you can do is say: "I changed something. Now I have another problem." This will get you ignored quickly. If you expect help you need to work with the supporters. Please help us to help you. Also, if you are having problems and working off a HOWTO page, please supply us with the URL so we can be looking at the same thing you are.

Write, Log or Print

If you have received help, please write down, print, or make a logfile of all the steps you took to fix your situation. There is nothing worse than helping someone, and having to repeatedly walk them through the same steps over and over again. It shows a lack of willingness to learn and or follow directions, and shows the people who have helped you that they have wasted time.

Read the /topic

Your IRC client will likely show you the "topic" of a channel when you enter it. If you have missed it, most clients will give you a recap if you type "/topic". You will find items of importance to the channel, and may also find links to documentation. Asking something that is clearly answered in the topic is poor form. If there are FAQ URLs listed in the topic, look there first to see if you can find the answer to your question.

Do not be demanding

Do not expect a single person to stay online until your problem is fixed. IRC is a stateless medium. Anyone can quit at any time. People stay there because they like staying there. Nobody is paid for helping you. Instead it's a behavior that will likely get people to ignore you, or worse, for you to get kicked out of the channel. We are all volunteers, please do not abuse us.

Don't Rush Things

There is a chance that sometimes the solution to your problem may take some time. It is best not to rush through things. You won't remember if you rush, and you're at risk of making mistakes if you rush. When asking for help, please be able to take the time that is necessary to get your problem solved. Not everything has a quick fix. Things that are guaranteed to take some time are initial synchronisation of the package managers and world updates. Please do not start these if you cannot let them finish. For certain things it's fine to leave the computer doing it's own thing while you go do others, then pick up where you left off, but do not start a world update if you cannot let it take the time to finish, as you risk causing major system problems.

Do not /msg people without asking

You can either talk to others in a channel publicly or /msg them privately. However the doing the latter without permissions is considered rude. Don't monopolise a single person for your purpose. Others may also be interested in the solution to your problem, or they may have alternative solutions.

Unintended rudeness

Sometimes you may feel that others are rude. You may get a response like "Reinstall the package. Restart the service. Read the /usr/share/doc/mysoftware/README." Although this is a very brief reply it is likely not meant to be rude. IRC is often like human interaction without all the friendly bits. Other people have probably answered your question a dozen of times today and they just want to help you solve the problem - not become close friends with you. Don't be offended by it. The people don't mean it.

Speak English

In most channels the language spoken is English. This is generally due to the fact that there are people from all around the World, and it tends to be the common language shared between most people. It doesn't matter if your English is bad. Most people in the World speak something different than English, too. And if you find another person that speaks your language then do not start to talk in your local language in channel. Nobody else can follow you and it's considered rude. If you are insecure with English, you can use a web-translator. It doesn't always give the best results, but it breaks down the barriers. Please visit the following link if you need IRC Translation. HOWTO: IRC Translation

Don't be lazy - read the documentation

If people tell you to read the documentation then you should do so. Never say: "I'm too lazy. Come on. You all know what I need to do. Just tell me what I need to do." or "I clicked on Live Help" then cop an attitude of entitlement. This will get you ignored for all eternity. However, you can expect to be told where to find the documentation. If you get an URL, load it and read it. It is difficult to help people who refuse to help themselves. If you make an effort, this will go far with everyone. If after reading, the documentation is too technical or you don't understand certain sections then say so. We are more than happy to clarify information, if you're making an effort to help yourself. People who are repeatedly lazy get remembered and generally ignored.

In general, IRC should be your last stop for help. Sabayon has very active forums and a rather complete wiki. Because Sabayon is also a gentoo based distro, you can find plenty of help on their forums and wiki as well. Please make use of these first, then if something is confusing to you or if you want to verify something, that is considered proper use of IRC help. The bugtrackers for sabayon and gentoo are also good places to look, and always remember, google is your friend.

Follow Directions

When you are getting help in the IRC channel, if people are telling you to run commands, please do not get creative with them. Cut and paste them from IRC into your terminal. If we give you commands to run, the EXACT syntax needs to be followed, and if we ask for the output of a command, we need you to give us the EXACT output. Linux is case sensitive, meaning that lspci, LSPCI and Lspci are three different things to your system, and only one of them is right. Spelling and punctuation are important. Many commands given in help channels are chained or piped commands, so the && and | symbols you see are not there for decoration. they're part of the command. Also, if something is given in quotes, it's generally to set it apart from the rest of the sentence, leave off the quotes unless you're told otherwise. Also, you will frequently see nopaste as being part of a command. This is a script which will take the output of the command you are running and pipe it to a pastebin so we can see what's happening. Please keep in mind, a large proportion of the commands we will be giving you to run, need to be ran as root. Please use su instead of sudo to become root. Also, please keep in mind that most GUI interfaces are not meant to be run as root, so you will get "command not found" when attempting to do that, similarly to when you would try to run a command that needs to be run as root as user.

In addition, if we have given you a howto guide to follow or a link explaining the solution to your problem please read it fully before applying your solution. Many of the howto's start from a point where you don't have a particular thing installed, and there's a bit that you can skip over in them. Please do feel free to ask, especially if we're telling you a necessary component is installed and the howto guide is telling you to install it.

Stay if you can

Using IRC is a matter of give and take. At the beginning you will surely you'll have questions over questions. Just ask them and be grateful if you get attention and replies. Others do not expect more than a "Thank you." for their help.

If you can, please consider staying online in the channel. The more knowledge you gain the more you can help other people. And you probably get to know people you like to hang out with - even if it's just virtually. It's perfectly fine to leave yourself lurking in a help channel. Chances are if you go through your scrollback, you'll learn something new. Even the experts find this to be true!

Tell others about the solution

If you have been having a challenging problem, it doesn't help anyone if you just say "Nevermind, found it." and quit the channel. Please tell the others what the solution to your problem was so everybody can learn from it.

Do not flood the channel - use a pastebin

Sometimes you need to show others more than one line. Perhaps parts of your configuration files or a log file. Never just copy and paste larger amounts of text right into the channel. Always use a pastebin. Pastebins are public services (web sites) where you can paste your text and everybody can access them as a URL. Just paste your contents there and send the URL into the channel. That should allow everybody who's interested to take a look. Just don't paste it without any comment.

Common pastebins are as follows, please choose one. No need to post your problem to ALL of them:


Not everybody is an expert

When getting responses be careful about who you trust. While malicious "helpers" are very rare in #Sabayon, we haven't been without some problem users in the past. Most of the people helping in the channel know what they're doing. If people are opped or voiced, you can be guaranteed they will not give you malicious commands to run. If you are unsure about what you are running, it's fine to ask the purpose of a command. You can also get a list of malicious commands if you type "?? malicious" in channel (minus the quotes of course) and the bot will give you a link regarding that.Some people just want to feel important and reply to you although they have no more clue than you do. Some people are even jokers who want to be funny by telling you how to erase your harddisk. Malicious helpers will be banned.


My thanks to the people at for providing me with a wonderful link to plagiarise. While the article appearing here has been edited in some places, there is still some of the original work left. The original link may be found here. Pardon the poor spacing. What I added was spaced properly, but the original article was single spaced. I put additional spaces between sentences where I spotted it, but I"m sure I didn't catch them all.

-- Lythandrel