Channel Hoarding Syndrome

An alternative, complementary version of this article is available here. It's mostly the same but slightly more technically-worded.

Unsurprisingly common with people who show some sort of obsessive-compulsive behaviour, it consists of realizing that a popular IRC server is the host of thousands of channels, nearly all of them hosting a community of its own. Some users, particularly those who suffer from a need to “belong” somewhere, end up adding a ton of channels in their autojoin list. Another cause of this is the ever-present spectre of FOMO, as if massively joining servers somehow gave you the superhuman ability of keeping track of all of them all at once.

This generally isn't sudden; the process is gradual, slowly adding new channels to the ever-increasing list. Before you even notice you're already a member of fourty-five channels. Most of the channels will either fade away into inactivity after a while, its purpose long fulfilled and its users gone in search for greener pastures - but you can't be arsed to renounce to the feeble sense of community identity that carries being a member of an IRC channel (which may or may not represent a community that may or may not have died of old age).

The issue here lies in that being a part of so many channels causes a generalized lack of attention when it comes to channels that are actually active. Too many inactive channels mixed with active ones and you stop paying attention to the client altogether. Too many active channels and you hit your Dunbar's Number in no time, unable to keep up with so many conversations at once. At the end of the day, you end up participating in no communities at all.

How to cure yourself from Channel Hoarding Syndrome

Learn to let go.

If your main drive from hoarding channels and joining as much as you can is the aforementioned “fear of missing out”, a re-examination of this yields to the realization that it is a very irrational decision - no matter how much you join, you'll be unable to keep track of the conversations in an IRC channel 24/7, let alone 50 of them. Logging them won't be of much help either1); even if you had nothing else to do the logs will sooner than later become gargantuan, impenetrable.

Your need of belonging will not be sated either by joining a hundred channels either. Perhaps you whois'd users you look up to and realize that some of them have communities in common - this is normal, of course, and perhaps even expected in the social circles inherent to the realm of IRC. But it's a vey tyrannical type of bait: if the new servers you join aren't already enough to exhaust your capabilities of observation and participation, you'll eventually end up either repeating them with new users you find or even just indiscriminately joining other people's channels without consideration. If your wish is participation, you will not be able to participate in all these channels all at once. Concessions have to be made, your visits from some have to be culled, prioritizing those in which you really want to make a name for yourself. But I'll concede you that, after a long habit, leaving these channels forever aren't easy. But when again, when did letting go of something was easy, even if it meant to you as little as you meant to it?2)

An Addendum from and for the Present Time

The appearance and ever-increasing prevalence of the Discord chat/VOIP client is at this point undeniable in the contemporary web. While this is not yet the place to go in length about this service (and its blatant faults, but whatever), it can be briefly described as a the spiritual hybrid between IRC and Skype. As such, people can join user-made “Servers” which is at the same time populated with both text and voice channels of their own. Now that every community and even Internet friends clique seem to have their own Discord server, Channel Hoarding Syndrome renews itself for a new public and a new platform. Joining the server of every community you may enjoy sounds like a good idea, but have fun keeping track or satisfactorily socializing in any of them if you intend to have your fingers in such many pies.

Unless, of course, you're logging channels for any other reason, from research to espionage to what have you.
If you're actually diagnosed or suspect the diagnosis of an obsessive-compulsive disorder, which drives your fixation towards “keeping track of everything”, and the sudden absence of these channels from your eyes are cause of grave concern and anxiety, it is imperative that you solve this situation through an adequate psychiatric professional. Not just for your problem with hoarding channels, you see.
internet/irc/channel_hoarding_syndrome.txt · Last modified: 2021/08/16 19:44 by Curator
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