There is a consistent group of Alfresco enthusiasts that hang out in #alfresco at freenode.net.
Though there are people in the channel almost all the time, you can meet the most people during the hours when business in the Europe and the US overlap (afternoons in Europe, mornings in the United States). Though there are also channel members from Asia and Australia who are active at other times.
We often use the channel for participation in public events held through Google Hangouts on Air. You can get information about these events at http://alfresco.com/events/webinars
If you ask a question, please hang around and be patient. Most channel participants only check the channel a few times a day, so replies can often take a few hours. If you need to log out, then you should post in the forums.
Please don't spam the channel with large text files such as log files or code. Instead use a pastebin service.
How to get an answer
Of course you would like an answer to your question. Here are some tips that increase your chances to get an answer.
Ask just one question at a time. If you ask multiple questions at once, someone that knows the answer to just one of them may not answer at all since they may not know the answer to all of your questions.
Ask a specific question. If you just throw out 'Can someone help me?', then the answer is always 'Yes'. So now that you already know the answer, ask the question for which you seek help.
Keep your initial question short. If you write an essay it will be to lengthy to be read and for you to get attention. But have enough details so that it that it looks interesting and challenging. Then be prepared to give more details as the conversation starts.
Do not address your initial question to a specific user. Only do that on follow up replies when you already have a conversation. If you address the question to a specific user, all other users that knows the answer will ignore your question. But the user you addressed the question to can be busy or just don't know the answer. There exists of course subject matter experts that you want to ping specifically and this is fine, just know that other user will not just jump into your conversation.
If the above seems formal, keep in mind they are just tips on how to get an answer. Greetings and cheers are always welcome, and you are allowed to have informal conversations with your fellow Alfrescians!
Good IRC Clients
The web client on http://chat.alfresco.com is probably the easiest way to connect to the channel, but a dedicated client can be useful. Here are some recommendations to help narrow the search of the right client for you.
There is a bot in the channel named alfbot. It's primary purpose is to log the channel, but it can do a few other useful things. The bot is Llimnoria which is a maintained version of Supybot. The HTML logging plugin is custom, and available on Github.
You can issue a command to alfbot by using its nick, or by starting your message with the alias character: ~
If you want your conversation with alfbot to be private, you should /msg alfbot to keep it out of the main channel. Sending a command to the alfbot in public is not a problem, as it shows other channel members how to use the bot.
Features of Alfbot
Give titles to Web URLs
Whenever someone posts a URL, alfbot responds with the title. If the URL has been shortened, then alfbot follows it to the final destination and reports on that title. This helps you decide if you want to follow the link. This behavior happens automatically.
Displays interesting stats about the channel. Trigger it with ~channelstats.
Report when a user was last seen in the channel. Trigger it with ~seen <nick>.
Leave a Note
Leave a note for another user. This does a simple match on the user's nick, so it isn't secure. But it is convenient. Trigger it with ~later tell <nick> <msg>.
The next time that user is active in the channel (log in, become active, or post), alfbot will post the message publicly in the channel.
Update the Log File
The log file can lag the actual chat by up to 30 lines, resulting in the log file not containing the last few hours of conversation during slower periods in the channel. You can trigger a flush to disk of the log cache by using the command ~HtmlLogger flushlog. Then the web log will be current with that command in the chat.
Alfbot currently has very few plugins enabled, which means it doesn't have many interesting behaviors. There have been a lot of requests for enhancements to alfbot. I will list them here so that they are not forgotten and we can tackle them as time permits.
Flush the cache every X minutes even if the buffer isn't full.
If a user asks a question (if a question mark appears in the message), and there is no response for 10 minutes, post a message about getting help in the forums.
alfbot should broadcast to the channel everyday that there are useful tips and channel etiquette on this page.
Users who have authenticated with alfbot should be able to opt-out of logging
There is a plugin for teaching alfbot facts. This could be configured to respond to common requests.
Enable the joke plugin
Evaluate other plugins for Limnoria.
threadwatcher is a simple RSS reader bot which will announce the latest threads from almost all the alfresco forums (non-technical and spam-bound forums excluded) into the IRC channel. It also searches Stack Overflow for questions with the tag 'alfresco' or 'alfresco-share', and announces those too. Alfresco blogs are also announced but these are much lower traffic.
If you notice any odd behaviour with aelfraed, or you would like to suggest an additional feed, please talk to marsbard in the IRC channel or email martin [at] ocretail [dot] com.
Alfresco forums publish an RSS entry for every comment. This is overkill for the IRC channel and so the RSS feeds are fed through a Yahoo pipe which excludes all RSS entries which have a '#' in the URL as this invariably means it's a comment and not a thread.
Stack Overflow republishes the original link in its RSS feeds every time the question has a new update, be that an edit or a response. Another Yahoo pipe filters non-unique links to ensure that a thread is only shown once.
Pushing these feeds into the IRC channel is done by Francoise-node, https://github.com/Slipyx/Francoise-node, a very simple, single-purpose bot built on node.js and run using the 'forever' daemon controller.