My trip to the TWiT chatrooms

This is why we can't have nice things

I like tech. I’ve always liked computers and gadgets and technology in general. I like tech podcasts too. Podcasts are a major part of my life, as I have a long, three hour drive every morning, that I can listen to a wide variety of podcasts centered on my favorite subject. One of the largest networks in that genre is the TWiT network. I’ve been an admirer of Leo Laporte since he was “Dev Null” on MSNBC’s The Site back in the late ‘90’s, and then later on TechTV. I liked how Leo presented everything, was always friendly, never talked down to anyone, and got into some pretty cool things (such as building a Linux box on-air).

Leo now has a media empire with TWiT that he built basically from scratch in a small studio in Petaluma, California. There are several shows on his network I listen to every week. This Week in Tech, Macbreak Weekly, This Week in Google, Security Now and others. Each of these shows are recorded “live”…meaning that they live stream the show on the TWiT website as it’s recorded. During the show, they have an IRC chatroom going so people can watch and comment live. It’s quite engaging and Leo and his guests refer to it all the time.

I normally listen to the shows the day after they’re recorded, so I’m usually not watching it live. But this past weekend I decided to mosey over to the chat rooms during the live broadcast of their flagship show, This Week in Tech.

So I fired up my IRC client of choice, Textual, put in the address to TWiT, and off I went. There were more than 600 people in the chat when I joined, and later I learned sometimes it gets so packed that there is spill-over to another channel. I also noticed the channel rules up in the Topic of the room, so I clicked them and was taken to their rather onerous set of rules. Such as:

Keep chat conversation at a family friendly level, as there are a wide range of ages in our chat. Self-censorship of swearing is not considered “family friendly”.

No offensive references to a person or group by race, religion, gender, or orientation.

Do not “hit on” the hosts or guests on camera. This includes comments on physical appearance, especially for female hosts or guests.

The list of rules goes on, but when I read that I knew right away they had to put all that in there because they’ve had people come in only to disrupt the channel, make lurid comments on the female guests and hosts, and be general all-around jerks. You know…trolls.

So anyway, I’m sitting there in the chat room and listening to the live stream, and sure enough, about halfway through the show, someone pops up in the chat and calls one of the guests on the show, Jolie O'Dell a “c#nt”. Jolie seemed to take it in stride, and even laughed it off. But really? Really? Heaven forbid there should be a smart and highly opinionated person like Jolie speaking her mind without someone coming in that just has to show her what they think of her! How dare she speak her mind!

And right there, I knew this is why we can’t have nice things.


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