Chat Op Guide

User Intent

As a note, a lot of things on this page will be dealing with one, specific concept: intent. Understanding and reading intent is the most important and difficult thing for an op to learn to do. Let's take an example from logs:

<User> all da gays is satans peepee buddies

Now comes the question: what was this user's intent? Obviously, this is some form of hyperbole and overstatement. It appears that this person could be joking. But what if they've just joined chat and this is the first thing that they said? Obviously, this quote (which was, hilariously enough, actually said by our very own DrMann circa 2009) needs some form of context to figure out what is going on. It's further worth noting that this quote took place during a conversation concerning redneck stereotypes. Obviously, no harm was intended here. There was an ongoing, humorous conversation to which many people were contributing.

Welcome to the mire of intent. This is the most shallow section of it.

Understanding Intent

Understanding a user's intent means understanding a user themselves. It's one of the reasons why newbies are the most targeted people when it comes to discipline. They don't understand the site culture; ops don't understand them. They're unknown quantities, and we often assume the worst.

There are two extremes of intent, and most ops fall somewhere between the two of them.

The first: always assume the worst. People are horrible, and if someone makes a comment which could be read in a negative way, then it should be interpreted in that way. This leads to users believing that you overreact often, don't have a sense of humor, or are overly sensitive, and OPs who tend to lean in this direction are often called these things.

The second: always assume the best. People are just having a good time, and if someone makes a comment which seemed negative, then they probably didn't mean it. This leads to users believing that you are a pushover, unwilling to stand up to people, or even contemptible because of your lackadaisicality, and ops who tend to lean in this direct are often called these things.

Of course, both extremes are wrong, but overreactions and underreactions are basically the source of most people's complaints about ops. The most difficult part about your job is finding a happy medium between these two extremes. In the end, no one is perfect, and you'll almost certainly screw up from time to time. That's fine. Learning from your mistakes always makes you a better op in the end.

For now, keep in mind the following ideas while you're reading the next few tabs to help understand your job here:

  1. Is the user's intent to do something shitty? This calls for discipline: warning, kicking, banning, etc.
  2. Is the user not intending to do something shitty, but something shitty is still happening? This calls for you to step in and stop the action as soon as possible: mute the channel, announce a change in conversation topic, ask people to move on, etc.

Obviously, this is flexible. Someone may not be intending to be shitty, yet still spouting racism or similar, in which case discipline is appropriate.

These two situations are why you're here.

This guide was created by TroyLTroyL, thedeadlymoosethedeadlymoose, and EldritchCadenceEldritchCadence with editing by LilyFlowerLilyFlower and input from the op team.