To the Editor, or whom it may concern:
I've been an IRC user for several years now, even now helping to run a small private IRC network. I regret the tone of the article "The Internet's Wild Side", because it overly portrays IRC as a zone for piracy and illegal activities. I'm sorry you did not get a chance to interview more of us average users, who are mostly there not to conduct illegal operations, but to chat with our friends. In fact, most of us don't like the illegal operations ourselves, since it disrupts our legal activities.
For instance, my story around IRC: I am a computer professional, security is a very important issue for me. I first got onto IRC because local friends of mine, like-minded computer users, were forming a channel on EfNet for us to remain in contact with each other while we worked at our computer jobs. We have used the channel as a means for asking for help in our early days at our jobs when stuck on a problem. Though more often we've just used the channel as a means for being in contact and planning out our evenings together after work/classes are done.
After EfNet was having troubles due to a select few "script kiddies" (more commonly known as "hackers"), we did leave it. We were not involved in their IRC warfare, and we did not appreciate it since it effected our ability to communicate with one another. We tried moving to other public IRCnets like UnderNet and DALnet (which is no longer available at this time because of the script kiddie problems), and eventually decided to make our own private IRCnet so that we had the control to oust anyone who was engaged in harmful illegal activities ourselves.
During my time on IRC because of the local channel, I have also gone to and participated in many other IRC channels because of my music and career interests. Even those oriented around computers, in fact especially those, have taken unkind views of script kiddies because of the destruction they create.
I suspect that my story is not unusual, and most IRC users and channels on the internet are in fact ones of communication and community; not of illegal activitiy. To condemn us all as pirates and hackers is like condemning all Americans as criminals because of the percentage of those in jail. IRC users are, by and large, not criminals; we just want to talk to our friends.
Gwendolyn R. Schmidt
UNIX Systems Administrator
IRC user and operator
Ok, definitely not getting printed since I didn't find out until the autoresponse that I have a maximum of 150 words to submit, and this piece is 428 words. Alas.