Setting a Freenode channel’s taxonomy info

Some recent flooding in a Freenode channel sent me on a quest to discover whether the network’s services were capable of setting a custom message rate limit for each channel. As far as I can tell, they are not.

However, the problem caused me to re-read the ChanServ help section:

/msg chanserv help
- ***** ChanServ Help *****
- ...
-                 DROP, GETKEY, HELP, INFO, QUIET, STATUS,
-                 WHY
- ***** End of Help *****

Taxonomy is a cool word. Let’s see what taxonomy means in the context of IRC:

/msg chanserv help taxonomy
- ***** ChanServ Help *****
- Help for TAXONOMY:
- The taxonomy command lists metadata information associated
- with registered channels.
- Examples:
-     /msg ChanServ TAXONOMY #atheme
- ***** End of Help *****

Follow its example:

/msg chanserv taxonomy #atheme
- Taxonomy for #atheme:
- url                       :
- ОХЯЕБУ                    : лололол
- End of #atheme taxonomy.

That’s neat; we can elicit a URL and some field with a cryllic and apparently custom name. But how do we put metadata into a Freenode channel’s taxonomy section? Google has no useful hits (hence this blog post), but further digging into ChanServ’s manual does help:

/msg chanserv help set

- ***** ChanServ Help *****
- Help for SET:
- SET allows you to set various control flags
- for channels that change the way certain
- operations are performed on them.
- The following subcommands are available:
- EMAIL           Sets the channel e-mail address.
- ...
- PROPERTY        Manipulates channel metadata.
- ...
- URL             Sets the channel URL.
- ...
- For more specific help use /msg ChanServ HELP SET command.
- ***** End of Help *****

Set arbirary metadata with /msg chanserv set #channel property key value

The commands /msg chanserv set #channel email and /msg chanserv set #channel property email appear to function identically, with the former being a convenient wrapper around the latter.

So that’s how #atheme got their fancy cryllic taxonomy: Someone with the appropriate permissions issued the command /msg chanserv set #atheme property ОХЯЕБУ лололол.

Behaviors of channel properties

I’ve attempted to deduce the rules governing custom metadata items, because I couldn’t find them documented anywhere.

  1. Issuing a set property command with a property name but no value deletes the property, removing it from the taxonomy.
  2. A property is overwritten each time someone with the appropriate permissions issues a /set command with a matching property name (more on the matching in a moment). The property name and value are stored with the same capitalization as the command issued.
  3. The algorithm which decides whether to overwrite an existing property or create a new one is not case sensitive. So if you set ##test email and then set ##test EMAIL foo, the final taxonomy will show no field called email and one field called EMAIL with the value foo.
  4. When displayed, taxonomy items are sorted first in alphabetical order (case insensitively), then by length. For instance, properties with the names a, AA, and aAa would appear in that order, because the initial alphebetization is case-insensitive.
  5. Attempting to place mIRC color codes in the property name results in the error “Parameters are too long. Aborting.” However, placing color codes in the value of a custom property works just fine.

Other uses

As a final note, you can also do basically the same thing with Freenode’s NickServ, to set custom information about your nickname instead of about a channel.