Meanwhile, a lesser (but still irksome) phenomenon seems to be that of channel thieves. A few months ago some undesireables from Romania decided to join our QL channel (that page is very out of date, by the way) which has been in use twice a week since January 1997. They weren't persistent enough, so we quite easily reclaimed our channel and I joined a user from a permanently connected machine, after which they seemed to give up pretty quickly. Unfortunately, power cuts and service downtime at our end and (apparent) downtime at the local Undernet server meant that my user didn't stay in the channel permanently, and after a while it was forgotten about, as it wasn't needed any more.
...Or so we thought. Unfortunately our old adversary from the Philippines is back. This charmer caused us some problems about three years ago by installing an eggdrop bot on our channel. (Incidentally, the machine he was connecting from had a web server with an impressive collection of porn pictures on it.) He was a lot more persistent than the Romanians, but we combatted him in two ways: firstly, many of the Undernet servers he was connecting to have explicit no-bot policies, so we could sometimes find a friendly IRC-op to kick the bot off for a while (although never for very long). Secondly, he was using a flakey dialup connection, so by monitoring a window in the corner of the screen I could nip in and reclaim the channel when his connection dropped. It took several weeks, but we won the skirmish in the end. We then attempted to register the channel, but the Undernet ops declared it to be not busy enough to merit registration.
And so it was that when we arrived yesterday we found our channel squatter back again, who had thoughtfully changed the topic to "Welcome to #queensland hotel undernet branch." but who hasn't, to my certain knowledge, said or done anything in this channel during the last 24 hours. He had been squatting since Sunday afternoon, and unfortunately for us he seems to be on an adsl connection which is rather more stable than his old dialup. It isn't a bot this time, so far as I can tell, but it also doesn't respond to ping or CTCP VERSION requests. Also, Undernet now has a convenient feature for "logged-in" users which hides your real host name - and guess who is logged in.
This may be a long battle. But I haven't given up yet.