The Zakim IRC "bot" is a Semantic Web agent ("swagent") that helps
facilitate meetings using IRC
in conjunction with the W3C's Zakim audio
It is generally available on W3C's IRC server,
under the "Zakim" nickname.
It gives information about teleconferences
available on the bridge, such as the names of the conferences available at
that time, the attendance list, and the possibility to associate telephone numbers with
people. When someone joins a conference, she/he will be announced to the channel using the
+xxx convention, where xxx can be a name, an anonymized phone number or a
generated ID for numbers that do not have callerID information. When someone
leaves, -xxx will be used, following the same convention.
In the following command descriptions, optional words in commands are indicated in square brackets. "please" can be abbreviated to "pls" if you wish to be polite yet still save keystrokes. ("please" is also accepted at the end of all commands.)
/invite Zakim <channel>
will bring Zakim on to your IRC channel.
/invite zakim &test [16:41] *** Zakim (~firstname.lastname@example.org) has joined &test
Some irc clients let you omit the channel name and will fill in the name of current channel. This is a feature of the irc client, not of Zakim.
You might also want RRSAgent in your meeting channel to keep a record of the meeting in W3C Web space. To start logging the channel, invite the RRSAgent bot as follows:
/invite rrsagent <channel>
You can find the URL for the log being written by RRSAgent by typing the command:
Once Zakim is on your IRC channel, all commands to Zakim begin with
Zakim's commands are not case sensitive, but, in general, must be grammatically correct.
Zakim will respond to normal irc lines and to ACTION lines (typically entered with the '/me' command in many irc clients). The '/me' form is especially recommended for avoiding clutter in RRSAgent logs; interactions that serve no useful purpose in the permanent irc record can be prefixed with '/me'. This typically includes 'q+' and 'ack' commands; e.g. 'q+' will be logged by RRSAgent whereas '/me q+' will not [see RRSAgent log recording]. Zakim will generally mimic the same usage in the reply. For the commands such as 'agenda?' to which Zakim will respond without being directly addressed, Zakim responds directly if he is addressed and in third-person ('/me') form if he was not addressed.
Stores <description> for later query.
Teleconference participants appreciate having a simple way to retrieve a reminder of the teleconference coordinates; what number to dial or URL to access, what conference code to use, etc. This command saves such information for later query.
[16:43] <Alan-MIT> zakim, this is WebEx 640 999 321 [16:43] <Zakim> ok, Alan-MIT
Returns the conference description that was previously entered.
save this conference description
If the conference description will apply to future teleconferences on this channel you may wish that Zakim save the information more permanently. Zakim does not actually know when your teleconference has started or ended, however. Descriptions previously entered will not be saved when Zakim restarts unless you use this command.
Informs Zakim and all others present on the irc channel that you have joined the teleconference. Recommended practice is to enter this after you confirm you hear audio from teleconference or when you enter the meeting room to which the conference is connected.
Zakim previously was able to announce the arrival of new teleconference participants automatically. This is no longer the case; you must now tell Zakim that you have joined the teleconference.
If you omit <name> Zakim will use your irc nick.
Informs Zakim and all others present on the irc channel that you have left the teleconference.
Good practice is to inform others when you leave or drop off the teleconference or leave the meeting room.
[17:06] <Alan-MIT> zakim, who's here? [17:06] <Zakim> On the phone I see Dan, Alan [17:06] <Zakim> On IRC I see Alan-MIT, gerald
Note that Zakim reports both phone participants and irc participants.
The report will show participants who are currently in your conference or who had been in the conference earlier and have since departed.
All disconnect the Zakim bot from your IRC channel. This has no effect on the conference bridge itself.
[17:19] <Alan-MIT> zakim, excuse us [17:19] *** Zakim (~email@example.com) has left &test (Zakim)
Displays an abbreviated list of some major commands. Due to "flood control" in IRC, this may be slow.
Looks up a telephone number prefix in a North American area code directory or in an international country code directory. The '+' may be omitted only if the dialing code is exactly 3 digits; this will be interpreted as a request to lookup a North American area code. Hyphens and periods may be used in the dialing code and will be ignored.
Zakim will help track a queue of participants wishing to speak. The commands in this set need not be directly addressed to Zakim; they will be recognized when addressed to no one in particular and also when received as third person ('/me') messages.
If <name> is omitted or specified as 'me', the irc nick issuing the request is used. The last three forms are intended particularly for /me messages.
If <name> is omitted or specified as 'me', the irc nick issuing the request is used. The <note> is a comment to indicate why that person wishes to speak; the word 'to' may also be written as ':'. If the same name is added to the queue multiple times there may be multiple notes. The word 'also' can be given in such cases however it is not necessary.
If <name> is omitted or specified as 'me', the irc nick issuing the request is used. If a <name> is given explicitly and if it matches the start of exactly one entry in the queue then it is interpreted as if that full entry were entered; that is, unambiguous abbreviations are recognized. Abbreviations are not recognized if the name is omitted or 'me' is used; i.e. when the irc nick issuing the request is assumed. The last three forms are intended particularly for /me messages.
Moves the irc nick issuing the request to the end of the speaker queue.
Use this command if you wish to speak more than once rather than presenting all your comments at one time.
or replacing any names already on the queue. If "queue" is spelled out and no names are specified then the queue is cleared.
'queue' can also be abbreviated to just 'q' in the first two forms.
If <name> matches the start of exactly one name on the queue of individuals wishing to speak (see 'queue+' above) then the corresponding name is removed from the queue. However, <name> need not be on the speaker queue, nor is the chair obligated to acknowledge speakers in any particular order.
The name will be displayed along with the remaining speaker queue.
Causes subsequent queue+ and 41# requests to leave the speaker queue unchanged.
Causes subsequent queue+ and 41# requests to be added to the speaker queue. This is the default state when Zakim is invited to a channel. The speaker queue will also be reopened whenever a new agendum is taken up.
Grants <name> permission to speak, clears the remainder of the speaker queue, and closes the speaker queue. Subsequent queue+ and 41# requests will leave the speaker queue unchanged.
Causes the ack command to start a timer. Zakim will issue reminders as the speaker approaches the end of the alloted speaking time. The keywords 'minutes' and 'seconds' can be abbreviated to 'min', 'm', 'sec', or 's' respectively. 'give' may be used as a synonym for 'allow'.
Causes Zakim to cease issuing reminders as speaker are acknowledged and approach the end of a previously established speaking time.
Requests that the Zakim bot stop tracking speaker queue changes. This request must be addressed specifically to Zakim. This is not the same as closing the queue; after Zakim has been told to ignore the queue, it will give no feedback to queue+, queue-, and recognize requests. If the queue is closed Zakim will continue to give feedback unless it has also been told to ignore the queue.
Requests that the Zakim bot begin tracking speaker queue changes. This is the default state when Zakim is invited to a channel. This request must be addressed specifically to Zakim. Note that the speaker queue may be opened or closed independently of whether Zakim is tracking the queue.
The speaker queue will be cleared at the end of the conference assigned to the irc channel.
Zakim will help track agenda items requested while a meeting is in progress. Like floor control, the commands in this set need not be directly addressed to Zakim; they will be recognized when addressed to no one in particular and also when received as third person ('/me') messages.
Adds an item described by <text> to the agenda, assigning it the next sequential number. The irc nick of the person who entered the request is recorded. In the second form, the brackets '[ ]' are part of the command (the quotes are not) and indicate that the proposer is someone other than the person who entered the request. The word 'agenda' may also be entered as 'agendum'.
[12:10] <RalphS> agenda+ minute-taker [12:10] * Zakim notes agendum 1 added [12:11] <RalphS> agenda+ chair for next meeting [Alan] [12:11] * Zakim notes agendum 2 added [12:11] <RalphS> zakim, agenda? [12:11] <Zakim> I see 2 items remaining on the agenda: [12:11] <Zakim> 1. minute-taker [from RalphS] [12:11] <Zakim> 2. chair for next meeting [from Alan via RalphS]
Displays the agenda.
Replaces the text of item <number> with <newtext>.
Removes item <number> from the agenda. Note the '-' (hyphen) between the word 'agenda' and the number. In the second form the word 'agendum' may also be mis-written as 'agenda'.
Indicates that agenda item <number> is open for discussion. This gives Zakim the information needed to respond to subsequent commands. The word 'agendum' may be mis-written as 'agenda' or as 'item'. A text pattern (regular expression) may be given instead of a number if the pattern matches exactly one agendum.
Indicates that the next non-closed agenda item in the list specified by 'agenda order' or the lowest-numbered non-closed agenda item is open for discussion. If an agendum is currently open it will be closed unless it has been open for less than a minute. (This reduces confusion if several people simultaneously instruct Zakim-bot to move to the next agendum.) The word 'agendum' may be mis-written as 'agenda' or as 'item'. The third form, 'move to ...', causes Zakim bot to display the next agendum for the record, whether or not you addressed the bot directly. If the current agendum has been open for less than a minute use close this agendum explicitly to permit moving to the next agendum.
[15:57] <RalphS> zakim, what is on the agenda? [15:57] <Zakim> I see 3 items remaining on the agenda: [15:57] <Zakim> 1. pick scribe [from RalphS] [15:57] <Zakim> 2. review previous meeting minutes [from RalphS] [15:57] <Zakim> 3. schedule next meeting [from RalphS] [15:57] <RalphS> zakim, take up next agendum [15:57] <Zakim> agendum 1. "pick scribe" taken up [from RalphS] [15:57] <RalphS> next agendum [15:57] * Zakim thinks agendum 1 was just opened [15:57] <RalphS> close this agendum [15:57] * Zakim notes agendum 1 closed [15:57] * Zakim sees 2 items remaining on the agenda; the next one is [15:57] * Zakim 2. review previous meeting minutes [from RalphS] [15:57] <RalphS> next agendum [15:57] * Zakim thinks agendum 2. "review previous meeting minutes" taken up [from RalphS] [16:10] <RalphS> move to next agendum [16:10] <Zakim> agendum 3. "schedule next meeting" taken up [from RalphS] [16:11] <RalphS> zakim, what is on the agenda? [16:11] <Zakim> I see 1 item remaining on the agenda: [16:11] <Zakim> 3. schedule next meeting [from RalphS]
Schedules a reminder for n minutes in the future. The reminder will be canceled if the current agendum has been closed or a new agendum has been taken up.
Indicates the expected order in which the agenda items will be taken up for discussion. Agenda items are specified by number. A list of numbers separated by spaces or commas indicates individual agenda items. Two numbers separated by hyphen indicates a range of items. A single number followed by a hyphen followed by a space or comma indicates a range of items starting with the first number and running through the end of the list. Any items not included in the list will be assumed to be added to the end of the list in numerical order. The items need not actually be discussed in the indicated order.
[23:19] <RalphS> agenda+ first item [23:19] * Zakim notes agendum 1 added [23:19] <RalphS> agenda+ second item [23:19] * Zakim notes agendum 2 added [23:19] <RalphS> agenda+ third item [23:19] * Zakim notes agendum 3 added [23:19] <RalphS> what's on the agenda? [23:19] * Zakim sees 3 items remaining on the agenda: [23:19] * Zakim 1. first item [from RalphS] [23:19] * Zakim 2. second item [from RalphS] [23:19] * Zakim 3. third item [from RalphS] [23:19] <RalphS> agenda order is 3,2 [23:19] * Zakim notes agenda order [23:19] <RalphS> Zakim, agenda? [23:19] <Zakim> I see 3 items remaining on the agenda: [23:19] <Zakim> 3. third item [from RalphS] [23:19] <Zakim> 2. second item [from RalphS] [23:19] <Zakim> 1. first item [from RalphS] [23:20] <RalphS> zakim, next agendum [23:20] <Zakim> agendum 3. "third item" taken up [from RalphS]
Requests feedback about the current open agenda item. The word 'agendum' may be mis-written as 'agenda' or as 'item'. The word 'which' may be used in place of 'what'.
Marks item <number> as needing no further discussion. The next remaining item (if any) will be displayed. The word 'agendum' may be mis-written as 'agenda' or as 'item'.
Marks the current agenda item as needing no further discussion. The next remaining item (if any) will be displayed. The word 'agendum' may be mis-written as 'agenda' or as 'item'.
[23:28] <RalphS> zakim, close this agendum [23:28] <Zakim> agendum 3 closed [23:28] <Zakim> I see 2 items remaining on the agenda; the next one is [23:28] <Zakim> 2. second item [from RalphS]
If the specified agendum is currently open for discussion and the speaker queue is not empty Zakim will report this fact and decline to close the item. If the meeting facilitator wishes to move on despite this (e.g. perhaps knowing that a speaker is really queued to speak to a later topic), prefix the request with the word 'really':
Marks item <number> or the currently open item as "skipped" and lists it at the end of the agenda after any non-closed items. Items may be skipped even after they have been taken up; e.g. by 'open next agendum'.
Removes all items from the agenda.
Takes uri as a file of RDF/XML and queries it for agenda items. Any agenda items found will be added to the current agenda. See description of agenda format for details on the RDF graph that is expected. Paul Downey wrote a tool for extracting RDF/XML agendas from text messages; you can append the URI of your text message to Paul's RDFAgenda URI to construct a URI for the RDF/XML form of a suitably-formatted text agenda.
Writes the current agenda to the Web in RDF/XML form as http://www.w3.org/yyyy/mm/dd-<channel>-agenda where 'yyyy' is the current year, 'mm' is the current month, and 'dd' is the current day. If an access option is specified, the URI will be given the corresponding visibility. The suffix -access may also be written as -visible or may be omitted entirely.
Schedules a notice for <interval> minutes or hours in the future. <text> will be displayed at that time if it is specified. This request must be addressed specifically to Zakim. The word 'minutes' may be abbreviated to 'minute', 'mins', 'min', 'm', or may be omitted. The word 'hours' may be abbreviated to 'hour' or 'h'. There is no significant difference between 'ping' and 'remind', between 'me' and 'us', or between 'about', 'to', and 'that'.
Requests that the Zakim bot stop tracking agenda changes. This request must be addressed specifically to Zakim.
Requests that the Zakim bot begin tracking agenda changes. This request must be addressed specifically to Zakim. This is the default state when Zakim is invited to a channel.
The agenda will be cleared at the end of the conference assigned to the irc channel.
Zakim will help choose a scribe (minute-taker) from the current participants in the meeting.
Randomly selects a minute-taker from the current participants. The word 'victim' may also be used in place of 'scribe'.
W3C decommissioned the bridge hardware that provided many additional features of Zakim, including automatic announcement of caller arrival and departure, muting and unmuting callers, and teleconference schedule lookup. Many commands associated with control of particants' phone connections have been disabled. There is no longer a direct connection between Zakim and a particular teleconference system.
'Skip agendum <n>' and 'skip this agendum' added. 'Delete' and 'forget' added as synonyms for 'drop' in 'drop agendum <n>'.
Decline to close an agendum unless the speaker queue is empty or 'really' is part of the close request.
'Take up item <pattern>' had been case sensitive and no longer is.
Zakim bot leaves a channel after a long period of inactivity (nothing for Zakim to do). Previously only a queued reminder would keep Zakim from departing. Non-closed, non-skipped agenda items will now also keep Zakim on the channel indefinitely.
Other improvements and bug fixes that may only be noticed by a few.
The first draft of this tutorial page was written in December 2001 by Alan Kotok with help from Ralph Swick. Yves Lafon gave it a good start with a Unix-style man page. Karl Dubost restyled it to match the W3C participants Guidebook style in July 2006.
The Zakim IRC bot was written by Ralph Swick.
The development of the Zakim IRC bot was supported in part by funding from US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Materiel Command, USAF, under agreement number F30602-00-2-0593, "Semantic Web Development".
The Zakim teleconference bridge
iswas a customized
Contex Conferencing system. Thanks to Compunetix for providing
technical details that enabled the original development of W3C's Zakim tools.
Why is this called 'Zakim'?
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) conducts a lot of its technical design discussions using the Web, e-mail, and teleconferences. We use so much teleconferencing that we have our own in-house teleconference bridges, housed at MIT. When we were choosing names for the systems someone proposed that we adopt the names of the vehicle bridges across the nearby Charles River. So in 1998 we had our own 'Longfellow' and 'Tobin' conference bridges. When we made a major upgrade of our teleconference systems in 2001 to a new generation of all-digital bridge of course we were immediately attracted to the name 'Zakim', in honor both of human rights advocate Lenny Zakim who gave voice to the people and the Zakim bridge across the Charles. In 2015 when the W3C-owned bridge was decommissioned we retained the name of this bot to not forget the past.