The following policies govern the use of the freenode interactive network and describe what we expect from our users. Thank you for using the network!


The freenode network exists to help peer-directed project communities flourish. Peer-directed projects combine open, informal participation with broad licensing and wide dissemination of output.

freenode provides facilities to peer-directed project communities, including those of free and open source software (FOSS). IRC is a self-referential medium, existing mainly to serve IRC users — but this network was created to serve groups which exist outside of IRC. It's designed to encourage community members to improve their skills in the areas of cooperative effort, interpersonal communication and project coordination, and to create a real-time bridge to the outside world for our target communities.

Channel Ownership

Channels on freenode are owned and operated by the groups which register them. No minimum level of activity or moderation is expected or required of channel owners. The network exists to further on-topic uses, as explained in this policy, and channels or groups may be removed from the network for activity which is considered to be off-topic.

Groups using freenode are strongly encouraged to adopt the network channel guidelines.

Channel Naming

Policy organizes the network into two classes of channels, primary and topical (reference) channels. Primary channel names are reserved based on a formal or informal claim, external to IRC, to a specific project, group or trademark name. Topical or reference channel names are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis by groups wishing to discuss a project, group or topic.

The goals of the naming policy include:

  1. Ensuring that groups and organizations own and control channels associated with their names,
  2. Allowing users to distinguish easily between official and unofficial channels, and
  3. Encouraging groups to develop their unique identity and presence outside of freenode and IRC.

The channel naming policy is currently in transition from the informal, single-namespace, first-come, first-served model employed by most IRC networks, to the policy described here. Groups using the network are encouraged to begin using the new naming model as soon as possible, to avoid last minute problems, including the unavailability of specific topical or reference channels. Advance notice will be provided at some point and the old naming model will be retired. No schedule has yet been determined for this transition.

Primary Channels

Primary channel names, formatted with a single leading hash mark (#), are reserved for participating groups and organizations based on their legal or informal claim to the associated name or name prefix. For example, freenode has reserved and holds control of the freenode namespace. That means freenode has been granted control over channel #freenode, as well as any channel beginning with #freenode-.

Name claims can be appealed, at which point network staff will look for an appropriate resolution to the conflict. We may suggest informal solutions to promote compromise by the parties involved; but in the absence of such solutions, we'll give priority to groups in the following categories, listed in order from highest to lowest priority. Within each category, we'll give priority to the group with the longest documented use of the name.

  1. Non-governmental organizations, standards organizations, government entities, formal news organizations, corporations, businesses and individuals with legally valid claims.
  2. Informal FOSS community projects and other projects producing broadly-licensed output.
  3. Web media projects, geographically-based interest groups, FOSS support groups and informal education/reference groups.

freenode has limited resources to research trademarks. Though uncertainties can exist as to the validity of a claim on a name, we'll try to resolve such claims to the best of our abilities. The use of social-engineering-style tactics (such as legal filings) to acquire a project name already in use may negatively affect your reputation in the communities we serve.

Groups on freenode which clearly do not have claim on a name, or whose activities are considered to be off-topic, will not generally be given administrative control over primary channels bearing a given name or name prefix. These limitations may be implemented at the server software level at some point in the future.

Topical or Reference Channels

Topical or reference channel names, formatted with two leading hash marks (##), are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis to unofficial groups wishing to discuss a project, group or general topic area. For example, the channel ##linux has been reserved for an unofficial group which uses it to provide GNU/Linux support to visiting users.

These channels should not be used as platforms for flaming and trolling. By registering such a channel, you indicate that you assert no legal or informal right to the channel name used. Topical or reference channels should not be registered directly or indirectly by their corresponding projects. You may not register such a channel on freenode without accepting these policies.

Channel Forwarding

Our current policy is not to create new forwards between # and ## channels of the same name. Some channels may be forwarded to a holding channel that explains the namespace policy. Exceptions to this are looked at on a case-by-case basis.

On-Topic Use

As a program of a not-for-profit entity, freenode was established to provide resources to specific communities for activities which advance the public good. The categories listed below are considered to be "on-topic." We strongly urge your adherence to the freenode channel guidelines. Please be sure to register your group to indicate its official participation in the network and to use the facilities provided with registration.

  1. Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Project coordination, support, discussion or contact channels associated with software projects which are licensed under terms consistent with the Debian Free Software Guidelines, the Free Software Foundation's Free Software Definition or the Open Source Initiative's Open Source Definition (preferably all three) are considered to be on-topic.

  2. Non-Software-Related Peer-Directed Project. Channels which serve projects combining open, informal participation and broadly-licensed, widely-disseminated creative output are considered to be on-topic. If you believe your non-software project may meet the criteria for a non-software peer-directed project, please consult a staffer or email support at freenode dot net.

  3. Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). Coordination, support, discussion or contact channels run by educational institutions, registered not-for-profit entities and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their related consortia are considered to be on-topic. Be sure to register your group or organization.

  4. Governmental Entity. Coordination, support, discussion or contact channels run by local, national or international governmental entities are considered to be on-topic. Don't forget to register your group.

  5. News Media. Formal news organizations with an interest in our target communities are encouraged to create contact channels on freenode.

  6. Corporate. Contact channels for registered corporate or business entities or consortia with an interest in our target communities are considered to be on-topic.

  7. Standards. Discussion channels associated with official standards committees or with informal standards groups are considered to be on-topic.

  8. Geographically-Based Interest Group. Channels associated with formal or informal geographically-based interest groups are considered to be on-topic. These include local Linux and FreeBSD user groups (LUGs and FUGs) and community wireless groups. If your group doesn't fall into one of those categories, but you think it might meet the criteria, please consult a staffer or email support at freenode dot net.

  9. Other groups. Other groups not covered by the above examples may be suitable for the network. Please drop an e-mail to [email protected] if you want to find out if your group/project is a good fit for the network.

Off-Topic Use

Unlawful activities and their related support activities are considered off-topic, as are inappropriate advertising, heavy media file trading, gaming and proprietary game software modding, warez, hax0r activity, porn and various forms of antisocial behavior, including (but not limited to) political, racial, ethnic, religious or gender-related invective. Off-topic activity may result in users being barred from the network.

In accordance with UK law freenode has no tolerance for any activity which could be construed as:

or any other behaviour meant to deliberately bring upon a person harassment, alarm or distress. We do NOT tolerate discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, gender or sexual preference and run with a zero-tolerance policy for libel and defamation.

While we believe in the concept of freedom of thought and freedom of expression, freenode does not operate on the basis of absolute freedom of speech and we impose limitations eg. on "hate speech".

We expect all members of the community to treat other community members with respect and reserve the right to terminate anyone's access to our services should they be found to be in breach of policy.

NOTE: Development and support for FOSS-licensed peer-to-peer file transfer software is considered on-topic. Unlawful use of such software is considered off-topic.


Information on the freenode network can be found on our website. Of particular interest: the policy page, the FAQ, the news page, the channel guidelines and the network philosophy section. In addition, policy is to send via global notice those announcements whose contents have an effect on a large portion of the network community. These include announcements about scheduled and unscheduled downtime on major servers, and notification when the network news page has been updated.

In contrast, WALLOPS messages may contain nearly any information provided for, by or about the network, the network staff or the communities we serve. This may include detailed network status information, announcements of new channels and group contacts, staff birthdays, group events, random news, commentary, banter and/or bad puns.

By policy, the answer to complaints about the content of WALLOPS messages is, please turn off WALLOPS on your client. Information has been provided in the FAQ describing how to turn network staff informational messages on or off. Thanks in advance for your understanding.

Inappropriate Advertising

Unsolicited commercial advertisements via channel messages or private messages are considered inappropriate on freenode. This should not be construed as limiting in any way the discussion of commercial offerings in corporate contact channels or elsewhere on the network. But please, show courtesy, honesty, tact and discretion.

Announcements may be made from time to time by freenode staff about fundraising activities or formal programs of not-for-profit entities. We'll try to keep such announcements within the bounds of our announcements policy. As such, these announcements are considered to be appropriate and on-topic.

Using freenode channels as advertisements for another chat network, or for your project channel on another network, are considered inappropriate. Please refer people to your official channel via your project web page. Channels on the network are meant to be actively used; those which appear to be set up primarily to advertise other networks, or channels on other networks, may be removed by staff.

Behavior and Cloaks

When you're wearing a group or project cloak, any antisocial behavior on your part reflects on the group which provided you your cloak. Most groups will withdraw a cloak rather than have its owner reflect badly on them. If we receive complaints about your behavior and you're wearing a cloak, we may remove your cloak. This includes "pdpc/supporter" cloaks. If we remove your cloak, we may replace it with an "unaffiliated" cloak; but antisocial behavior may result in the loss of those cloaks as well. We'll try to contact you in order to let you know when and why your cloak was removed.

Termination of Use

We welcome users and developers in our target communities. The network hosts both official and unofficial support channels for a variety of projects. If you want to open a coordination or support channel for your project, we'd be happy to have you on the network. Our channel ownership policy is designed to make it easy for you to move your channel to freenode

We also recognize that we are not the only interactive facility for community projects. If you announce that your group or channel has moved from freenode to a new network, we'll render the channel or channels inactive and leave pointers to your new location for one week. If you've announced you're moving, we'll leave your channels untouched for that week. After the week is complete, we'll render "primary channels" (starting with #) inactive (possibly forwarding them to another channel) and free topical or reference channels (starting with ##) for the use of another group. At that point, you should use your project web site to point people to the new location, so that everybody gets the message.

Open Proxies, IIS and Appeals

Like many interactive networks, we've had our share of problems with denial-of-service attacks. As a result, we've had to develop a variety of measures to reduce the impact of such attacks. freenode may block access to users whose IRC clients run on hosts with open proxies, IIS servers or other categories of software determined to present special risk to our server environment. We reserve the right to use automation to attempt to detect such software on your host, as you connect to our servers, while you remain connected to the network and on occasion during post-connection analysis. Your use of the network signifies your acceptance.

If you do not accept the above policy, any use of freenode from your facilities is unauthorized and should cease immediately, after which we'll be happy to discuss the matter further.

If you've been affected by a connect limit or a server ban, please feel free to appeal via email to: support at freenode dot net. Sometimes users are affected by problems not of their own making. We'll try to remove the ban or provide an exception if possible.

Tor and Freenode

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Tor project is a special case in freenode's treatment of proxy servers. Tor provides anonymous access to internet services, including IRC, and protects its users' privacy from various forms of traffic analysis. The freenode network welcomes Tor users, and you can find more about Tor on freenode on the irc servers page.

Unlawful Activity

freenode cannot condone or support behavior which is clearly unlawful. While we do not have the resources to closely monitor the thousands of channels on the network, staff and volunteers are required by policy to pass on credible information, provided by you as a network participant, about unlawful activities. This is true whether you are talking about your own activities or those of someone else. Please be aware that we have this responsibility.

Information about unlawful activity outside of freenode is best provided directly to appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Using the network

Please be aware that freenode is a communication platform and we are not involved in the day-to-day operations of the projects that use freenode. Whilst we embrace the technology and the opportunities made available through projects that use freenode, we are unable to endorse, monitor or guarantee the activities of those projects or between users.

Transactions or trades you may be considering entering into with other users on the network will be between you and the relevant user(s), subject to any terms or conditions imposed by your chosen payment platform; freenode accepts no responsibility or liability for any such trade or transaction. We urge you to conduct your own risk assessment before carrying out any financial transactions or entering into any agreements with other users.

In other words: Your use of the freenode network is at your own risk.

Copyright © 2002 – 2016 by freenode Creative Commons License
Comments to email address: support at freenode dot net