IRC channel prefixes for Gmail labels

I filter a lot of email at work, and got into a really hellish game battling hierarchical labels. To restore myself to sanity, and to corral them into some sort of system, required inspiration: IRC. Specifically, the prefixes used on its channels (chat rooms). These prefixes vary from most important to least, and they sort in the following order as well.

& — Local channels

RFC28111 describes the & prefix as indicating a channel “local to the server where they are created,” or, not shared on the rest of the network. I’m using this prefix exclusively for internal email sent by a human:

  • &Basecamp for discussion posts.
  • &Everybody for company-wide emails.
  • &Recruiting for anything about candidates.
  • Internal lists which disallow external email.

# — Shared channels

Unlike the previous prefix, #-prefixed channels are shared across the network. This fits well with email coming in through a mechanism I can control, sent by either a robot or a human:

  • #Feedback for support emails from humans.
  • #Automated for daily statistics reports.
  • #GitHub for notifications I’ve opted into.
  • Internal lists which encourage external email.

+ — Unmoderated channels

The + prefix signals a channel without moderation. The parallel I draw is with public discussion or announcement lists:

  • +Libraries for library announcements.
  • +Apple for developer updates.
  • Any regular old mailing list, really.

  1. RFC1459 established it first, of course, but the wording is barely intelligible:

    There are two types of channels allowed by this protocol. One is a distributed channel which is known to all the servers that are connected to the network. These channels are marked by the first character being a only clients on the server where it exists may join it. These are distinguished by a leading ‘&’ character.

    Every copy I’ve found has the same grammatical horror.