Acrophobia(TM) FAQ

This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document is maintained by Michelle A. Hoyle ( It is normally posted on a monthly basis to the IRC Games mailing list maintained by Eingang. Copies are also available on the Games page available at

Table of Contents

Section 1: What Is Acrophobia(TM)?

What Is Acrophobia(TM)?

Acrophobia(TM) is a Mach and Eingang game invented by Anthony "Ace" Shubert where players are presented with an acronym between 3 to 7 letters long. Their job then is to form the funniest/most original phrase for that acronym. Like all of our other games, Acrophobia(TM) can be played day or night with people from all around the world through the magic of the Internet Relay Chat. If you do not know about the IRC and how to use is, you can consult the primer which will explain how to connect, obtain clients, and navigate around the IRC.

Acrophobia(TM) as a name and a concept is used on the WWW pages and on the various IRC networks under a licensing agreement with Berkeley Systems (1997).

The Gameshow Hosts

The scoring and answer display are controlled by a 'bot, which is an independent C program designed to work on the IRC. All of the Acrophobia(TM) game show hosts ('bots) are named "AcroBot" or "Acro" for short.

Where to Acrophobia(TM)

There are three different places where you can indulge your need to play Acro. DALnet, a splinter network, offers you the chance to play Acro in what was originally a Star Trek like environment. DALnet currently hosts about 45,000 users on about 30 different servers. You can access DALnet at

Acro on DALnet is coming soon!

The most common location is on the group of IRC machines known collectively as the EFnet. Most client software for the IRC comes with a list of EFnet server sites to which you can connect. An example of an EFnet server site is EFnet tends to be quite crowded, lagged, and prone to netsplits.

An alternate group of machines form a network known as the Undernet. On the undernet, netsplits, hacked channel operator privileges, and such like are relatively uncommon due to the structure of the network. Your same client software for EFnet will also work wonderfully well for the Undernet. Some common Undernet sites are or

You're not sure which network you're on? A quick and easy way to tell is by using the /lusers command. If it comes and reports to you that there are over 30 000 users connected on 70+ servers then you're connected to the EFnet. If there are fewer than 30 000 but more than 15 000, you are likely on the Undernet. DALnet will report around 40000 users. To change servers, type /server machine_name, where machine_name is something like or

A Description of the Game

Acrophobia(TM) is simple in concept and simple in play. AcroBot randomly generates an acronym from 3-7 letters long. With acronyms of 5 or fewer letters, players then have 90 seconds to create an expansion for that acronym and /msg their answer to AcroBot using /msg AcroBot <Answer>. With acronyms of 6 or 7 letters, players will have 2 minutes to submit an answer. On systems other than DALNet or StarLink, you must preface your answer with "acro" so that AcroBot knows you are not issuing an AcroBot command. AcroBot will acknowledge having received your answer.

Before the voting round takes place, AcroBot issues a 10-second warning to tell everyone that time is almost up for answer submission. At the conclusion of the 90-second answer submission period, AcroBot will randomise the answers and display them for voting. Each player is allowed to choose one acronym expansion submitted by another player. This is done by messaging AcroBot with the number of your choice using /msg AcroBot <Number>.

At the end of the voting period, AcroBot will tally the votes and display the answers and the votes for each answer. Scoring is variable and calculated by adding the number of votes an answer received. If the answer was the first answer to be received and the player submitting the answer has a score less than 25 points, the player is awarded an additional 2 speed points. The players with the highest tally of votes for that round receive bonus points equal to the number of letters in the round's acronym.

The following abbreviated example demonstrates a typical Acrophobia(TM) round.

 <AcroBot> The current acronym for this round is: CIC 
 -> *AcroBot* acro Chiron is Cool!
 *AcroBot* Your answer of "Chiron is Cool!" has been registered.
 <AcroBot> Ten seconds left.
 <AcroBot> Voting Round:  Choose one of the following.  (Use /msg
  + AcroBot <Number>)
 <AcroBot> 1. Crazies induce Chaos
 <AcroBot> 2. Coronary imminent, Candice!
 <AcroBot> 3. Chiron is Cool!
 -> *AcroBot* 2
 *AcroBot* Your vote has been registered.
 <AcroBot> Eingang's answer of "Coronary imminent, Candice!" received
  + 1 vote.
 <AcroBot> Eingang gets 2 speed points.
 <AcroBot> Mach's answer of "Chiron is Cool!" received 2 votes.
 <AcroBot> Loser's answer of "Crazies induce Chaos" receive 0 votes.
 <AcroBot> Mach receives 3 bonus points.

The game is over when a player is able to score 30 or more points total. Players can start any time simply by submitting an acronym expansion. Players will lose points for submitting an acronym but not voting. Players using multiple accounts or signons to cheat are not appreciated. /msging your friends to vote for you is also discouraged.

DALnet/StarLink Game Features

Acrophobia(TM) on these networks is slightly different than the other networks. The basis premise of the game remains the same but the interface is slightly changed in its input and output. The following list details changes made to the AcroBot for these networks:

  1. Answers may now contain non-alphabetical characters inside words as well as the beginning character of each word. That is, "Creation:" G*d's Gift! is a valid answer if the acronym was CGG. This also enables answers like "Moonies:" Proctor &Gamble, if you so desire.

  2. Answers are case-insesitive. So, if you submit !Acro rULeS big time, the answer will be displayed as !Acro rULeS big time.

  3. You can change your nickname on the fly without any adverse effects. AcroBot will follow your nickname changes. In theory this means you can come back and resume your score if you get cut off. (If your nickname is still on the channel, this won't work!)

  4. Duplicate answers are rejected by the 'bot, but only if the spelling of alphabetical characters in the answer is the same. So, "Eingang! Loves Acro!" would be rejected if "Eingang LoVeS AcRO" had already been accepted as a valid acronym. The check for duplicate answers is also case- insensitive.

  5. If you don't vote, you can't receive the bonus points (1 per letter in the acronym) for having the received the most votes.

  6. Variable time allowed for submitting answers. When the length of the acronym is 4 or fewer letters, you have 60 seconds to submit an answer. 5 or 6 letters give you 90 seconds. Finally, if the acronym is 7 letters, you have 2 minutes.

  7. Prefacing your answer with 'acro' is no longer required. However, in order to maintain compatability with IGM, answers can still be submitted with 'acro' in front of them. This does lead to a problem: If the first word of your answer is 'acro' then you could lose a point because then the 'bot thinks you're using the IGM method of submitting. To get around this, use /msg acrobot acro answer when the first word of your answer is, in fact, the word 'acro'.

  8. If all the players who submitted answers have voted, the voting period will be cut short.

Section 2: Controlling the 'Bot and the Channel

AcroBot Commands/Game Commands

A number of commands can be issued by players to AcroBot. The following list of commands should be sent via a private message to AcroBot. This can be done by typing /msg AcroBot cmd, where cmd is one of the following:

* help 
    This provides the current list of commands to which  AcroBot will 
    respond.   This may be disabled due to problems with people flooding
    the robot with help requests.

* show acro Messages you the current acronym in play.

* show answers The bot will message you with the current answers.

* show scores Displays the current points accumulated by the players for the current game.

* show hall of fame Shows the top ten all-time Acro winners, compiled from monthly winners. (This command may be particular to DALnet/StarLink Acro)

* show hof Shows the top ten all-time Acro winners, compiled from monthly winners. (This command may be particular to DALnet/StarLink Acro)

* show top wins Will send you the list of the 10 players with the greatest number of wins during the current month.

* show top scores Will send you the list of the 10 players with the greatest number of points in a single game during the current month.

* show stats nickname Will send you a summary of a given user's number of wins and highest score.

* free channel Will remove +m, +i, +s, or +k modes in case the channel gets stuck in one of these modes.

Channel Operators & Game Masters

Channel operators are users entrusted to maintain order on the channel as well as correct errors and notify the administration in the event of errors or mishaps. If you are not on the bot op list and think that you qualify, contact the appropriate game administrator.

People are granted operator status on EFnet/Undernet by Mach ( For StarLink/DALnet, you need to contact Eingang ( Usually, operator privileges are granted to people who have played the games for awhile so that their behaviour can be evaluated.

We do not find it amusing if people are constantly asking us for operator privileges for the games. Being an operator is not just a status thing, it is also a responsibility. If you just want to be an operator because you think it is cool, please do not even bother to ask. In fact, in general, operator privileges are granted automatically to people deemed capable of assuming the responsibility for managing the channel.

We cannot stress the importance of operators behaving appropriately. With so many games running, it is impossible for the game administrators to monitor all the channels all the time. As such, we rely on the operators to enforce the rules, particularly the rules regarding language and conduct on the channel. The games are designed to be family-friendly. If you are an operator or would like to be an operator, please be sure that you are also committed to this.

If you think someone is abusing their operator privileges or perhaps using them to cheat, please feel free to contact the appropriate game administrator with details of the problem.

Channel Rules (For Everyone)

Thousands of people have played our games, from countries all around the world, at many different times of the day and the night. In order to make sure that everyone has a good time, we have formulated the following rules which lay out guidelines for proper behaviour from all the users of our game channels. With so many games running, it is impossible to monitor all the channels all the time. Therefore, we rely on the operators to enforce the rules, particularly the rules regarding language and conduct on the channel. The games are designed to be family-friendly, which means we do have restrictions on language and content, for the comfort and enjoyment of all.

Channel operators are users entrusted to maintain order on the channel as well as to correct errors and notify the administration in the event of errors or mishaps. If you think someone is abusing their operator privileges or perhaps using them to cheat, please feel free to contact Eingang with details of the problem.

The most important rule for our game channels is that all people on the channel must be treated with respect, be they just regular game players, operators, game hosts ('bots), or game administrators. Treating people with respect means being polite, obeying the rules, and contributing in a positive way to a healthy channel atmosphere.

If you find yourself in a position where you are being verbally attacked, flooded, or otherwise harassed, please ask the offending party to cease. If they fail to cease, make use of the /ignore user@host -all command to ignore any message, public or private, coming from them and report to the problem to one of the game channel operators. Do not bother to respond to the person.

If you have a fight to pick with another user, please do it off channel or in private messages. Respecting other people means letting them enjoy the game without being subject to any personal problems you might have with other users. This would, of course, include any slights aimed at people on the basis of the colour, religion, sex, or age.

The games are meant to run in a "family" atmosphere, which means, ideally, no profanity or vulgarity at all. The users on the channel range in age from 10-80+. While the majority of us are adults and can handle language that is a little blue, it would be better to keep such language to a minimum. Going hand in hand with this is a caveat on language of a sexual nature. Vulgar comments or comments of a sexual nature are prohibited. This injunction also extends to the development of categories for any of the games.

The profanity rules do not constitute a violation of the American Constitution regarding free speech. The rules for free speech only apply to printed materials and areas of public congress. With these games, the administrators are inviting you into a private space and therefore are exempt from the rules regarding free speech. If you find their rules intolerable, you do not have to visit their "home."

We recognize that, at times, the game can be extremely frustrating. We would like to suggest that you make use of the following fun and clean expletives to express your displeasure: Krunk! Aaaargh! Ack! Wok?! Eep! Krunkola!

Channel Language
The official language of all the game channels is English. Unless the game category calls for something in a foreign language (in trivia or Chaos), all conversation on the channel and answers submitted to the bot should be English. Derivatives of English, such as Singlish, are frowned upon. The games are open to people from all over the world, so be friendly! Use proper English!

Category Complaints
Please refrain from complaining about the Americo-centric categories. The games have been running for a number of years now and most of the original players who contributed categories were from North America, which does the tilt the balance of play in their favour. Complaining about it, however, does not do anything and just annoys the other players. Instead of complaining, why not check out the category writing FAQ and write your own categories for inclusion in the game? This is a much more productive action than just complaining.

The operators are on the channel to ensure that the game runs smoothly. Operators are drawn from the pool of regular players. Asking an operator to op you is pointless and futile. If you are a regular IRC user, you probably already know how annoying it is to be constantly asked for access on a channel. If you are interested in becoming a channel operator, check out the FAQ on how to become a operator and apply!

Game bots and Errors in the Game
The game bots are programs, albeit programs with some degree of sophistication. The game bots have no idea of what is really right and what is really wrong. All they can go by is what was programmed into them by the category writer. Therefore, when the bot claims that the answer is "Aplpe" instead of "Apple," there is not much point in abusing the bot about it. Often channel operators will fix your score in such cases. If not, you yourself can report the problem using the "/msg botname /note answer x in category y should be answer z" so that it will be eventually fixed. Please do not bother to message one of the channel operators to reset your score. If they are paying attention, they will likely fix your score without prompting.

Flooding is defined as the rapid dumping of material to the channel or to other users via private messages, or repeated ctcp commands aimed at another user. Flooding often includes dumping ASCII art pictures to the screen, large pieces of conversations, textfiles, repeated pinging, etc. With the advent of colours in Ircle, mirc, and Pirch, dumping large amounts of coloured text to the channel can also be construed as flooding. We would request that you keep the use of colours to a minimum, since not all clients support colour.

Bot Commands
Most of the commands that can be issued to the game bots on a channel can also be sent to the bot via a private message. Repeatedly issuing "show scores", "show categories," etc. on the channel can be annoying. Use the /msg command instead to accomplish the same thing.

Idling on the game channels is not permitted except by the game administrators and the game show hosts ('bots). Most of the channels have a restriction on the number of users allowed on at a time. If you are idling there, you are probably preventing other users from playing.

Cheating often depends on the game being played. In general, however, the use of scripts to provide answers to trivia questions, solve Boggle boards, or provide Chaos category answers would be construed as cheating. There are some scripts around to help you play the games, such as the Boggle script and the IRC Game Machine (IGM). These scripts do not store answers of any kind, and thus are permitted. In a game such as Acro, cheating would include collaborating with other players on your acryonym expansion, using multiple nicknames or logins, or exchanging information about authorship of acronyms for the purposes of gaining points. For all the games, using multiple logins or multiple accounts to play is considered cheating as is using a search engine to look up material or keeping lists of answers. Cheating does not make the game fun for other people and, if you are caught, can be embarrassing and will result in a ban from all of the games. (See also the discussion of this in April, 2000's EinLetter. )

Electronic Terrorism
This category of behaviour includes nuking, sending people viruses or other programs when they join the channel, and spamming for other channels, networks, games, or anything that doesn't have to do with our games. In the case of nuking, firewall logs will be collected and sent to your ISP and you will be banned from all of the games. If you're auto-dccing people files when they join, you'll be told to stop and will be banned until you do so. You may be directed to an appropriate help channel on viruses or IRC for instruction on how to do this. If you're spamming inappropriately, you'll be asked to stop and banned if you fail to stop.

Revealing Answers
In the trivia games, there are moments when it is inappropriate to reveal the answer to a question, especially during the final round and during a steal. Please pay close attention to the status of the game before typing your answer.

Giving Up
In the trivia games, it is possible to say "we give up" and have the 'bot go on to the next questions. The 'bots all ignore repeated "we give up" commands from the same user for the same question; so only say it once. Secondly, it is better to have a concensus on the channel before giving up; try asking if it is OK to give up before issuing the command.

All interactions are logged and will be monitored in the event of a complaint. Please abide by the guidelines. Repeated violations of the guidelines will likely result in a global banning from all the game channels with little or no warning. Permanent channel bans for any user are the right of the game administrators.

Finally, if you have any complaints or questions about the channel guidelines, please contact one of the channel operators first and then one of the game administrators (See the game FAQs for information on contacting game administrators). We do want the games to be enjoyable for everyone.

Section 3: About the Authors

Who Are They?

Acrophobia(TM) was developed by the team of Mach and Eingang, based on an idea by Anthony Shubert, in 1995. Mach was a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of California at Davis. He is now working for Intel in Portland, Oregon. Eingang is a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of Sussex, in Brighton, England. Mach and Eingang also combined to produce some other IRC games such as Chaos, Risky Business, and Boggle.

More information can be obtained from their home pages. Mach's home page is located at More information about Eingang can be found at

Contacting the Authors

Mach's e-mail address is Eingang's e-mail address is

Section 4: Other Items of Interest

Other Items of Interest

In addition to the IRC Games Information Server (, a number of other support groups and areas are available for Acro players and people interested in IRC Games.

Eingang moderates an on-topic mailing list devoted to the games on her networks. Announcements of upcoming tournaments, machine problems, game upgrades, new games, etc. are sent to this list. To subscribe to the mailing list, send an e-mail to with "SUBSCRIBE IRCGAMES your_email@address" as the subject of the message. To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to with "UNSUBSCRIBE IRCGAMES your_email@address" as the subject of the message. Or use our online form.

Gigi44^ has slaved over her editor and her paint programs to bring the DALnet and StarLink game players the "Ein-Gang Pages", in which you can find pictures and short paragraphs about all your favourite players. The page is located at

Sker has provided us with a bang-up script to help make your game playing easier when you're using a UNIX-based IRCii client. This script simplifies play on #riskybus (and variants), #acro, #chaos, and #boggle! Check it out at!

Jess and the Bartles have brought you the Acro song. You can check it out at

For Windows users, check out Dwight Duensing's IRC Game Machine (IGM), which provides an interface to all of our games. (His WWW page seems to be missing so the latest version here in .zip file format is stored here at Games/Information/

If you have a page or resource that should be added here, contact Eingang!

[Michelle's Mind]

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Michelle A. Hoyle
About Acrophobia, Last modified: November 25, 2002