I am a long time undernet user, first frequenting the network in 1996, and since then on and off over the years.
My latest return has been a perfect example of terrible PR, and while I appreciate that IRC is open and my access to it is a privilege, not a right, I still believe people deserve to be treated with common courtesy, especially by those acting in an official capacity as representatives of the network.
The problem has, thankfully, been fixed, albeit I only discovered this purely by accident and no one informed me, and while I am extremely appreciative of whoever did fix it, I think it's important that attention is brought to such things so that procedures can improve and accountability can be held.
So, here's the story:
Upon returning to Undernet, I immediately registered a new username. This in itself was problematic, as I am vision impaired and cannot read captchas (obfuscated security images) and the registration process has one, and didn't offer an audio alternative. I enquired as to how to go about this in #usernames and was ultimately banned, being told that if I can't read it, it's a problem with my software and to go elsewhere for help with that. It was apparent the person who banned me wasn't overly familiar with English, but this understanding didn't prevent it leaving a sour taste in my mouth.
About 24 hours after registering, I login and get informed that my username is suspended. Interesting, I think, and pop over to see my bestest friends in #usernames for assistance, where I was informed to email email@example.com and ask them, which I did.
I received a reply indicating that their scanners had determined I had multiple usernames, and that I had to wait 60 days for them to expire at which point I could reregister. Given I hadn't been on undernet in easily a year, I knew that this was impossible and I immediately replied and pointed this out, asking what can be done to resolve the matter. To this email, I got no reply.
I then sent another email that also went unanswered.
By this point, I was becoming rather frustrated. At this point I visited #usernames again, and thankfully found someone who was a little compassionate and thought I was getting the run around also, however they weren't in a position to solve my problem, and it appeared that the higher-up person they spoke to had total faith in the "scanners" and wasn't prepared to look into the matter any further, nor were they prepared to provide any explanation as to why exactly it was believed I had multiple usernames.
The frustration grows.
So now I start looking for official CService reps which lead me to Rusteaux. I was hoping that speaking to someone directly, being able to have a civil, mature discussion about it may solve it, but he was rather unresponsive and told me to "just wait the 60 days."
After another visit to #usernames, I sent another email with the subject of: "2nd request. Seeking further information regarding username suspension", to which I received this rather terse and unhelpful response:
you received your answer. Please stop asking again.
I will include the main body of the email I sent here, as I believe it's important to show that I was being polite and reasonable.
I recently registered the username "egotist" and shortly after
registration it was suspended.
>From previous correspondance with firstname.lastname@example.org I have been
told the reason for the suspension is due to multiple usernames. This
howerver is in error and I would like to get it resolved.
I have been instructed to wait 60 days for the username to expire and
then reregister, however I feel this is both unreasonable and also
doesn't do anything to address the underlying issue, whatever that may
I'm also fearful that I will wait 60 days, reregister, and then the
exact same thing will happen again, because I *absolutely*
*positively* have not registered any other usernames.
So, there is *clearly* something that's upsetting the scanners, and I
don't think it's unreasonable for me to expect assistance in having
this resolved. Could my ISP be doin gsomething weird? If so, tell me
so I can pursue the matter with them. Or worse yet, is the "problem"
you're seeing indicative of a system/network compromise? If so, then
the responsible and courteous thing to do is alert me so I can fix it.
I look forward to hearing from you so this matter can be resolved in a
reasoanble, mature and appropriate manner.
So I had resigned myself to the fact I was just going to have to wait. A couple of weeks had passed since my username was suspended, but as I wasn't sure whether successful (but disallowed) logins would reset the 60 day timer, I went into #usernames again and asked how long until it expires, at which point I received the rather surprising, but welcome news that my username isn't suspended anymore. I have no idea who fixed it, or when they did, but I'm glad that common sense has prevailed. That said, this does raise the following points:
- My username was unsuspended, obviously because it was reinvestigated and found to be in error. This makes the dismissive responses I had previously gotten even more unprofessional, especially when I said that there *must be a mistake*.
- This evidences that mistakes *can* and *do* happen, and there should be procedures in place to resolve this without punishing innocents.
- Would this have been fixed if I hadn't have been so persistent? One shouldn't have to go to this much trouble when the mistake isn't theirs.
If you've made it this far, I thank you for your time and your attention. I also thank the people who did try and assist me when I was trying to get this sorted. I think having people supporting my claims may've helped, and I am very appreciative. I hope that this negative feedback can be taken as the constructive criticism it's intended as and people will keep an open mind, and perhaps most importantly, learn to say "Woops, I screwed up. I'm sorry." There is no shame in admitting there has been a mistake.