So you’ve made it into the Official SparkFun IRC channel! (If not, please feel free to join us at #sparkfun on freenode!)

We are a community of electronics enthusiasts that range from beginners just picking up an Arduino to experts with degrees in electrical engineering. As the community has grown, there have been a few questions that pop up from time to time that have the same answer. Before asking a question, skim the list below to see if your question may have been answered before.

Are there any SparkFun employees in this channel?

If you are online during normal business hours in US mountain time (UTC-6), the answer is generally yes. Most - but not all - of the channel operators in #sparkfun are Sparkfun employees and idle in the channel during business hours. They range from web programmers to engineers to customer service representatives, so asking a question of them does not guarantee an answer.

If you have a question, feel free to email techsupport@sparkfun.com or customerservice@sparkfun.com as appropriate.

Can I ask a question about the project I’m working on?

Yes! By all means, throw it out there. There are many competent engineers and hobbyists lurking in the channel waiting to help. Whether it’s choosing the right resistor for your voltage divider, which Arduino you should use or trying to figure out how to pass Graham’s Number as an argument to the Ackermann Function, you’re almost sure to find someone who can help.

Please realize, however, that most of the people in the channel are not employees of SparkFun not to mention it would be impossible for us to get to every question that goes through. While it’s likely that you will find the help you’re looking for, it’s entirely possible that you might not. If you are truly having technical difficulties getting your SparkFun-bought product to work, please email techsupport@sparkfun.com.

Is it ok to talk about SparkFun’s competitors, products you don’t sell, etc.?

Absolutely. This is a place for people who share our interests and ideals. Help each other out. Share information. Go to town.

Where’s my order? Do you ship to X? When will you stock Y?

All good questions, and they all have answers! While you may get lucky if you ask these types of questions in #sparkfun during MST business hours and ping a mod, chances are that it will get lost in the ether. Your best bet is to email customerservice@sparkfun.com and we’ll get back as soon as we can with an answer.

Can you carry my widget?

Maybe, but please don’t ask in IRC. The SparkFun employees in #sparkfun are usually code monkeys working on getting the time to first byte of the website lower or battling mod_rewrite in Apache and wouldn’t even know how to help.

For more information, please see the tutorial Selling Your Widget on SparkFun.

Can you/an employee/anyone else build my project for me? I’ll pay!

As a rule SparkFun employees don’t do contract work, so our answer is no. We do encourage you to dive in and try it yourself, and we and the community are happy to help if you run in to trouble!

#sparkfun is not a job board, so please don’t spam your job posting or contract project. Feel free to ask nicely if anyone’s interested, but keep in mind many people already have full-time jobs and are not looking for work - in fact many people are in the chat room at their current jobs! Keep the noise to a minimum and we can all find a happy medium.

So what’s not ok here?

Technical folks tend towards strong opinions and heated discussion. We understand this, and we believe passionately in freedom of expression, but we’re also hoping to foster a welcoming, decent community.

The basic rules are these: Be decent to neophytes, the unschooled, and people whose technical preferences differ from yours. Don’t start flamewars. Don’t troll. Don’t create an unwelcoming environment. If anyone feels the need to be overtly racist, homophobic, unpleasant towards women, or otherwise cruel to their fellow human beings, many venues on the internet will accomodate that need. We don’t intend for #sparkfun to be one of them, and we’ll act accordingly.

In short: Be good to one another.

Can I promote my products or services here?

If your product or service is genuinely relevant to the discussion at hand, you’re welcome to mention it. Overt spamming won’t be tolerated. If you’re curious which side of that line your behavior falls on, ask yourself whether it would be acceptable in a social setting like a bar or coffee shop, around people you know and respect.

If you’re still not sure, you can ask an op.

Can I run a bot?

No.

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