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IRC.com Bought by London Trust Media, Pledges an IRC Revival (irc.com)
493 points by metabrew on June 22, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 381 comments

As a routine user of IRC: This scares – nay, terrifies – me.

London Trust Media is colossal. They seem to have control over freenode and Snoonet, two networks basically unchallenged in their niche. Snoonet hasn't been doing so well since Discord, but that's another story. They also seem to own Private Internet Access. If a player becomes too big, they'll change the rules of the game. Just look at the state of Internet advertising: A few corporations probably know a lot more about most better than you wish they did.

Re "IRC University": Practically every non-trivial network has its own software stack of some sort. Trying to teach people every kind of IRCd/services combination is more or less doomed to fail. Mainly because people usually just don't want to know.

Re "IRC Ventures": There's no money to be made on IRC, at least in its current form. Slack, Discord, etc. gained traction because IRC is fundamentally inaccessible. It does not meet any of the common needs of today: server-side storage of history, mobile-friendly data usage and session management, built-in uploading, profiles and profile pictures, first class support for emoji. Though whether addressing them is correct is another story. However, these would all need to be addressed to try and make IRC competitive on any kind of market. The IRCv3 team, which does have a decently broad amount of adoption, has had issues pushing through much more trivial issues. Hell, we don't even have everybody on the same page about TLS – QuakeNet and UnderNet are still plaintext only. QuakeNet undeniably intentionally so[1].

Mark me highly skeptical of this undertaking.

[1] https://www.quakenet.org/articles/99-trust-is-not-transitive...

EDIT: Seems I misunderstood some points, see also neatnosleep's response to this comment.

Heyo, I'm the head of snoonet. LTM provides servers for us, with no asks or meddling.

Andrew is passionate about IRC and has been for a very long time. This is just another outflowing of his vision and gratitude, not some kind of cash grab.

Re: University: It's a 'University' ON IRC, not ABOUT IRC. There will be partnered educators and developers teaching classes about many topics, likely a good portion development focused.

Re: Ventures: This isn't ventures FOR IRC, it's an incubator. The communication, application, and interaction will be centered on IRC, but the ventures will be varied.

The team working on irc.com has extensive experience of IRC communities and networks and will be opening the door to collaborations with others within the IRC environments, whether network operators or ircd developers and seeks to work closely with the wider community on these endeavors.

I know most of the people involved personally, feel free to ask questions if you want!

Since you offered, I'll ask. What's the down low on IRCv3? Is it actually going to ever have any sort of impact? It feels like too little too late. Far too late to ever have support in most clients.

IRCCloud implements it but servers don't, and IRCCloud feels kind of dead development wise. And it doesn't really solve the problems that Discord solves, for example.

The dream of instant messaging being built on top of open protocols, just like email, doesn't feel terribly far out of reach but it also doesn't feel like we're making progress towards it and the efforts spent on keeping IRC alive feel, at least to me, kind of futile compared to say, efforts spent on Matrix.

I don't think it's crazy to leave IRC behind, and most people who mourn it will either do so out of nostalgia, or because of the loss of an open protocol. I'd rather centralize on something that has a future though.

>What's the down low on IRCv3?

Well, it is, but it's slow. IRCCloud and KiwiIRC both use it, and IRC.com will support it as well. There are some exciting new plans surrounding encrypted voice and video on the Kiwi side, for example.

>doesn't really solve the problems that Discord solves

What specifically? Hard to address that one without more granular discussion points.

>it also doesn't feel like we're making progress towards it

It could be argued that IRC.com is going to be a major step toward more rapid progress, between the foundation funding development, and the likelihood that it will be an enormous network that's V3 compatible.

I've heard that Twitch implements some of IRCv3 (or at least uses that format for some of their custom message attributes); however my impression the last time I gave just a glance at IRCv3 was more of a cautionary learning example.

My biggest issue with the protocol is that if I want to develop for an advanced data interchange protocol there shouldn't be any optional extras. Everything should be in the spec and required of real clients. (I can, however, envision a protocol in which 'relay servers' exist that don't need to fully understand a message to pass it's content.)

Protocols which have a minimum implementation are fine. Protocols which prohibit extensions end up with them anyway.

Trust me, I attempted to veto a few things in IRC's early life, they are all in there now, can't stop them.

I'm part of LTM and starting to build up irc.com, along with founding kiwiirc.com.

I can say that London Trust Media does not impact freenode in any way - they purely fund it to keep it running so that they can focus on other areas.

As for the issues with IRC - I agree. Major improvements has happened already but it has a long way to go and that's why were putting money into it to boost these efforts. We have open source projects and fund open source projects, each one focussing on what the project communities and developers believe in.

What really is needed IMO is a place that can work on these things full time, prove that IRC can in fact work at scale and solve these problems, then others may hopefully follow. We fully intend on growing the IRC community as a whole - not just ourselves.

I’d rather see irc dead than turned into something else

How could any of this kill IRC? It's an open standard.

Embrace Extend Extinguish, the root of Electronic Evils. Hopefully it doesn't happen with IRC as it has with other lovely parts of electronic history. Microsoft was the origin of the term with their browser and OS products of old, yet it has been unfortunately more and more relevant with Google, particularly email and android openness (gmail only features and Google play services, respectively).

It's being extingushed right now because nobody is extending or embracing it.

That didn't really answer the question that was asked. IRC is an open protocol. Whats your fear?

There are some seriously paranoid people on HN these days, and it is rather disenchanting to have to sift through all the negativity. Failure to embrace new things and new ways of doing things is a surefire way to irrelevancy.

London Trust Media owns the networks where almost all users are, and either funds and closely works with most client developers, or directly employees those.

That’s the fear.

The IRC protocol isn’t great, nor worthy of protection. The users, the community are.

If tomorrow freenode and snoonet went down, IRC would be forever changed.

RSS is an open standard too, but Google effectively killed it.

They really didn't. Most websites that publish articles in any form still have RSS feeds, and there are plenty of feed readers out there that work.

“This is the kind of divisiveness that has paralyzed our country.” - Richard Stallman [1]

[1] http://www.donhopkins.com/drupal/node/109

he seems to be purchasing influence/control by offering "jobs" to the people in charge of various IRC projects, publicly: freenode[1], kiwiirc[2] (and presumably snoonet) -- I've been told there are others (not public info)

he's also brought on board the disgraced mt. gox CEO as CTO -- what on earth is he up to?

[1] https://freenode.net/news/pia-fn: "Some of you might also find yourselves dealing with me in my new role as Director of Sponsorship and Events at Private Internet Access"

[2] https://kiwiirc.com/blog/Kiwi_IRC_gets_sponsored_by_PrivateI...

[3] https://www.newsbtc.com/2018/04/19/disgraced-ceo-of-mt-gox-a...

Kiwi IRC developer here that was sponsored and hired by LTM back in November, so I can give you a first hand account of how things are playing out.

Andrew is very passionate about IRC as you can see from the post. Most people developing IRC projects do it in their spare time which makes progressing them difficult. This was my personal position back in November. Since I was hired, I have been able to work on Kiwi IRC, introduce many new features and grow the project, all while the project is still open source. The biggest part - Andrew/LTM does not own kiwiirc. That is purely a separate project that he wanted to grow and he did so without taking ownership of it.

I have always been pushing for open sourcing projects - especially in the IRC community as it needs projects to flourish to compete with alternative and closed sourced messaging systems. I am now starting irc.com with funding from Andrew and London Trust Media with the exact same mindset. Hopefully we can combine and push IRC standards with the existing IRC community - that is, existing IRC server and client developers that may not have anything to do with irc.com.

For the IRC networks such as freenode, they are a vital network for open source developers and communities which I think we can all agree would be very upsetting if that was to be interrupted. London Trust Media has had no interference with the running of the network and does not plan to, other than providing sponsor support to keep the servers running.

those are nice observations you have as his patron, but you didn't really answer my question

it's not normal for a self-described businessman to give out money for free: so what's his long term plan behind all of this?

> For the IRC networks such as freenode, they are a vital network for open source developers and communities which I think we can all agree would be very upsetting if that was to be interrupted.

this statement is so disingenuous it sounds like the product of a PR department

running a large IRC network in 2018 can be done on AWS/GCP for hobby scale money, so it's not as if freenode risks disappearing without his patronage... however your/christel's income would, hence my (and others) concerns about the purchase of influence

(personally: if my "employer" hired Karpeles as their CTO I'd be out of there so fast it'd make your head spin)

His long term plan as his post mentions, is to grow and push IRC so that we can support large communities on IRC instead of them migrating to closed platforms. It's not normal for a businessman to spend so much money on this type of plan, I perfectly agree. But I've seen it happen, along with other IRC and open source projects that have nothing to do with LTM. See here for all the open source projects that a VPN supports without anything coming from it. https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/pages/companies-we-spo...

As for running a large IRC network, it's not just about the cost. It's the management, the running of the network, dealing with its users, etc. Protecting yourself from DDOS that still unfortunately happens amongst other attacks. It's not as simple as throwing it on "AWS/GCP for hobby scale money". (I say say that even though I don't run freenode).

> it's not normal for a self-described businessman to give out money for free

If that’s not normal then I don’t want to ever be normal.

You're confusing business with charity. Business should never give out money for free, it wouldn't make sense.

Not all people work for money, sir.

I don’t.

I love this statement.

I’ve heard a lot of that, too – client devs getting approached and offered jobs with PIA.

I’ve gotten an "offer" once, too, inofficially, but I assume it was just a joke from them.

What was the offer?

It never got that far. They asked if I’d be interested in a job with them, I said no, never, and it stopped there.

As said, I assume they didn’t mean it seriously.

IRC has fine support for emojis, works for me on a CLI IRC client.

it's up for your input method to allow inputting them, and up for your fonts to display them, and up for you to not force a stupid encoding.

Slack is today's version of a modern accessible IRC client.

It doesn't preclude from the issues of slack being solved by another group.

edit: For the IRC uninitiated who enjoy drive-by downvoting: Slack is IRC-inspired - the concept of channels, usernames, private messaging and bots.... in slack is almost all directly inherited from IRC.

I'm not sure why everyone is downvoting this. To repeat myself from another thread: give people generous readings. Slack isn't literally a modern accessible IRC client, no, but it's "today's version," i.e., today's equivalent. Slack is absolutely IRC-inspired, and services like IRCCloud[1] suggest that it'd be possible to build most of what Slack "adds" to IRC on top of IRC's existing protocols.

[1]: https://www.irccloud.com

In a lot of ways, I think Slack's biggest advantage has just been ease of use in modern times: you don't need to know anything about downloading a client and configuring it -- even the friendliest IRC clients I've found are still pretty fiddly compared to "enter your team name, your email address, and your password, boom, done." But this seems like it'd be a relatively easy problem to solve.

Slack wins in ease of use. Although strangely their sign up process is cumbersome in their own way.

I suspect downvotes are from people who aren't comfortable with the idea of what's new... Is actually old and improving.

Slack deprecated their IRC and XMPP gateways, so its no longer an IRC client.

And it never was an IRC client, there was just a somewhat limited bridge you could use to connect your IRC client into Slack network, but never vice-versa.

Slack is inspired by irc and uses irc's core approach of channels, usernames, messaging, bots, and more.

And how exactly does that make it an IRC client?

It doesn't, nobody said it was. Re-read the comment.

"its no longer an IRC client" definitely implies that it was an IRC client in the past.

Didn't say it was an irc client, but that it's today's (equivalent) of an irc client.

It's kind of laid out like some irc clients, have you used an irc client before?

I'm well aware they are deprecated.

Besides taking my comment literally (I now have clarified), lets look at it from a higher level:

The concept of channels, usernames, private messaging in Slack is almost all directly inherited from IRC. There is some great new functionality on top of this core, IRC inspired experience.

> server-side storage of history

You can do that with a bouncer. Slack and Discord are essentially a chat server with an integrated bouncer.

> mobile-friendly data usage

How is IRC not mobile-friendly? It only transports the raw text, not even "X is writing a message" notifications.

> first class support for emoji

Most clients support UTF-8, isn't it only a matter of fonts?

It's not mobile friendly because it requires a persistent connection and eats a lot of battery. That could be fixed with the right bouncer/client combination, but I haven't found it yet.

The Lounge works very well on a mobile: https://github.com/thelounge/thelounge

I'll check it out

Though setting up an IRC bouncer is not exactly a trivial task. (It's one of the things on my summer to-do list.)

I recommend also trying Weechat running in screen/tmux on your server, connect to it over SSH.

Znc+mirc did work for me but things like scrollback and access from multiple devices are much nicer now with just my Weechat instance.

I used znc for a bit, but I'm trying to get weechat up and running (but, of course, using Emacs' ERC as my client) on a Rpi.

znc is apt install ... And a few edits in a config file.

Aren't there services that offer bouncer hosting, with some default config?

> first class support for emoji

If you look at Twitch, as an example, I say that emoji support is absolutely fine. Though, I guess you somehow excluded that when you said: "[...]in its current form"? Nevertheless, it does show that implementing such a thing is not that much of a problem.

> first class support for emoji

I'm sorry. Even in 2018 I cannot take seriously any claim that "support for emoji" is being used to make business case decisions.

I watched as a Lack of emoji support took down a critical production database for over 100 non-profit organizations in 2015 and made ripples across the charitable giving sector.

All because someone included a smiley emoji while making a donation to a local community foundation. Lessons were learned because of poor planning admittedly but if you don't take emoji support seriously it's probably because you haven't suffered through a critical outage from poorly supporting character encodings.

We aren't a chat company. We don't even write email clients. We process transsctions. And we lost millions because of a single emoji.

Sounds more like "Unicode support" or even "input sanitization" was the missing feature there. As long as you have bytes in = bytes out and you don't crash on unexpected input, you never need to know that emoji even exist to avoid these problems.

Yep, and this sounds even more fishy because the idea that no unintended unicode characters wouldnt be copied and pasted into a form field is a joke.

There are different levels of emoji support - and I totally agree that "not crashing when emoji enter your systems" is a vital one to have these days - as is preserving those emojis unmangled.

For me the parent commenter's phrasing of "first class emoji support" goes rather beyond that, e.g. with friendly emoji pickers, maybe reaction emojis, custom emojis, different skin-tone emojis, etc.

I'd view that bigger level of support as extremely optional for a transaction processing company like yours, though less so for a chat system intended for broad appeal in 2018.

I would love to read the post-mortem on this one!

Having used slack at a business, emoji reactions to comments are an extremely valuable business feature -- they allow people to react without having to make a full-sized comment, which helps keep conversations compact.

> emoji reactions to comments are an extremely valuable business feature

How is it better than just having upvotes and downvotes like what's done on websites like HN, reddit, and Slashdot? Personally, I don't see much value when seeing 5 different reaction emojis right under a comment I post in a Slack channel.

There is nothing about emoji in this article.

I wish email had this feature. Sometimes I might ask someone to do something, and when they reply like "Done", it would be nice to just react with a thumbs up or something rather than continuing the chain of emails with a "Thank you" etc

Surprisingly, Office 365 Exchange + Outlook has this now. https://support.office.com/en-gb/article/like-an-email-messa...

The article is very relevant, it's using "reactions" instead of a full "me too" comment or email.

Slack just happens to express reactions using emoji.

Times have certainly changed drastically. I remember when Google Talk was announced and the tech crowd of the day embraced it precisely because it didn't have emoticons (or custom fonts and colors, or games, or a host of other features MSN/AIM/etc. had and were beginning to be considered tacky). Maybe it's cyclical, and in a few years we'll be back to minimalism.

:) or nothing.

I know it's not the most popular, but I'm partial to =)

I've never minded =) but have always used :) for some reason.

You'd be surprised but I work at a company who has a product that is a Slack competitor in the business space (although they've repositioned to not go head-on at it any more..) and "doesn't have emoji/custom emoji" comes up A LOT. Probably the #1 most requested feature.

So... you want to rebuild Slack? Why not just use Slack. I don't imagine the vast majority of people still using IRC want or need any of the things you listed as "common needs of today." I've been using IRC almost daily for a couple decades now and can't think of a single instance of someone saying "you know what we need? persistent logging and profile pictures and a graphical picture of poop!" Don't do this. You're making a mistake. IRC isn't a product for a market. It's a standard protocol that is so simple that it can be used via telnet. Don't ruin that.

You don't hear people saying things like "I want to be able to send/receive messages while offline on IRC" because they just use something else.

Just like you don't hear me wishing that PHP or Fortran had certain features.

It's not very good evidence.

Except the opposite is true. I know plenty of people who intentionally use IRC because it _doesn't_ do those things. It hasn't been the victim of feature creep. Hell, even networks with services (chanserv, nickserv, etc) are often looked down upon. There's no walled garden, a very low barrier to entry and everyone speaks the same protocol. Think of the mess of incompatibilities you'll end up with, when someone's using ircII and someone else is using mIRC and yet another person is using shiny-new-feature-laden-client. If you'd like to see what that looks like, go back in time six months and connect to a slack IRC gateway. It was a mess (but it was the only way to get /ignore).

IRC is fine.

>You don't hear people saying things like "I want to be able to send/receive messages while offline on IRC" because they just use something else.

Almost. They still use IRC - but they extend functionality "outside of IRC" with bots. You don't hear this because people make bots with .tell commands that supplement this functionality. The next time a user logs in the bot will /msg them something like "You have 1 message. Use .read list to see a list of unread messages" then they ".read 1" they can then .reply or send their own .tell

Anything IRC "needs" gets supplemented by a bot that takes care of the functionality.

I hope you're aware of how convoluted that sounds in 2018 :)

Maybe to extend a good open standard. Which would also be of benefit to people currently using it. Personally, I'm not keen on using some proprietary, inflexible solution like Slack. To me referring to this as 'rebuilding Slack' is sort of like talking about Thunderbird or Gmail as 'rebuilding Facebook Messenger'.

London Trust Media recently hired Mt. Gox (yes that Mt. Gox) ex-CEO Mark Karpeles as CTO. https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/22/mt-gox-chief-returns-as-...

That would seem to immediately nullify the "Trust" part.

There's no "London" at play here either.

The co-founder of LTM was head of North America operations at Mt. Gox as well, read the first quote:


And they run Private Internet Access VPN:


Yeah and it sounds like he still has to stand trial in Japan and could possibly go back to jail:

“I have no way to be sure that I’ll still be able to work in one year, two years,” Karpelès told Fortune in an interview in Tokyo in March. “So I cannot really get a normal full-time job.” In other words, he acknowledges, he may be sent back to jail. (For the full tale of how the Mt. Gox hack mystery has unfolded, see my feature story “Mt. Gox and the Surprising Redemption of Bitcoin’s Biggest Villain” from the May issue of Fortune.)

But whether it’s what he considers “normal” or not, Karpelès recently did land a new job—and a major one, as a C-level executive at a U.S. corporation. He’s the new chief technology officer of London Trust Media, a Denver-based company that boasts the world’s largest paid virtual private network (VPN) service."[1]

Sounds like a great choice.

[1] http://fortune.com/2018/04/19/bitcoin-mark-karpeles-mt-gox-c...

That's pretty tone-deaf. No matter what the guys qualities are that name is toxic.

Sure, but at the same time, someone who is unwilling to give second chances to the pioneers who took risks before them -- that's more toxic.

I want this society to work. And I refuse to let such a chilling effect of fear of failure stop our society from progressing.

We all know that you learn best from mistakes. And we, as a society, have gotten much stronger and more resilient.

People have a dislike for Mark not because he took risks but because he didn't let other people solve the problems they clearly had, which is dangerous. The reason there are so many conspiracy theories about him is because he's made the line between stupid and malicious near impossible to differentiate.

>> People have a dislike for Mark not because he took risks but because he didn't let other people solve the problems they clearly had

I met Mark at the time of mtgox's (first?) public hack in 2012. Shortly after they'd moved to Cerulean Tower in Shibuya.

He seemed to realise what mtgox were up against, but they were ill-equipped to face it. Considering the immediate problems mtgox had then, he gave me more time than I probably deserved.

In hindsight, I believe Mark was hoping for a Hail Mary. Put another way, I believe that if I'd had the skill to get on top of those problems, he'd surely have hired me. Yet I just doubt that many of the necessary talents were around at that time.

It's easy to imagine that we would know how to do things right under exceptional circumstances. Mark was then the man in the ring, and he may become so again. Bonne chance.

I'm not sure if that is the right way to interpret it.

For example, every single exchange out there is holding people's assets, in trust, and thus, are also making it difficult to distinguish the line between stupid and malicious.

Society is still learning and it's having growing pains. But, these pains, are leading to stronger, more resilient systems.

I think we'll soon start seeing non-custodial exchanges, the way it was meant to be.

> Society is still learning and it's having growing pains.

Society is fine, thanks. No growing pains.

It's the Nakamoto scheme dealers who have pains (thanks Preston Byrne for the name). It's not even growing any more.

There were some strange warning signs though leading up to the hack including people disclosing other security bugs that pointed to a broken system.

>"Sure, but at the same time, someone who is unwilling to give second chances to the pioneers who took risks before them -- that's more toxic"

Sorry but taking calculated entrepreneurial risks is not at all the same as being careless. The contempt stems from the latter type of risk not the former. Conflating the two is also toxic.

By your theory every single exchange is simply careless then right? Every intelligent computer user knows that ALL THINGS get hacked.

Practicing Defense in Depth is the only solution.

All the exchanges hold your assets in trust, usually in just a few “cold storage” wallets. This is carelessness. They saw what happened to MtGox and are still operating like that.

>"By your theory every single exchange is simply careless then right? Every intelligent computer user knows that ALL THINGS get hacked."

I wasn't positing any theory.

The "carelessness" referenced also had nothing to do with being hacked.

Carelessness is misplacing 200,000 bitcoins. Carelessness is not even knowing that 200,000 coins are unaccounted for. Carelessness is hiring quiche and pastry chefs for your cafe instead of hiring security personnel for your exchange.[2]

"Shuttered bitcoin exchange MtGox has found almost 200,000 bitcoins which it believed were lost, according to the company's CEO Mark Karpeles.

The money was sitting in a wallet which the firm thought no longer held bitcoins. However, following the application for civil rehabilitation (a Japanese legal procedure analogous to bankruptcy), "these wallets were rescanned and their balance researched," says Karpeles, and one wallet was found to hold a balance of 199,999.99 bitcoins."[1]

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/mar/21/mtgox-mis...

[2] https://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/05/02/bitcoin-cafe-...

Sometimes 2nd chances involve starting at the bottom and bilding up.

This is skeevy.

I can fairly say that it was IRC that introduced me to the coding world (where I learned to code TCL scripts for Eggdrops) when I was in high school and made me decide to switch my major to Computer Science after my first semester as a Graphic Design student (which I only chose because my brother had switched off Internet access from me for a few months which affected my judgment apparently)

I'm of a generation after you, likely, but I'm in the same boat. I learned python by maintaining an IRC bot, which started out rolling d20s. It then expanded into a 1000+ line monstrosity, which was a mess, but the features taught me many aspects of programming, and let me apply it. The bot has since been rewritten into much, much cleaner code, and is one of a few projects I'm proud of. All thanks to RFC1459.

One of my greatest achievements back then was allprotection.tcl[1] (over 2000+ lines of spaghetti) LOL but I have no doubt that TCL scripting taught me a lot and gave me a huge advantage during my studies!

I'm sure you enjoyed what you were doing ;)

[1] https://github.com/sirfz/allprotection.tcl

Hah, looks better than my original code. When it was starting to be created, I didn't even know how to write a function, and there were a grand total of I think two when it was retired. Here [1] is my updated code. Apologies for some edgy commands, my IRC server has some... interesting people in it.

[1] https://hoppy.haus/git/Failure/MIPS

IRC is what introduced me to client-server architecture. Like many back then and still today I had this vague idea of "server" meaning some kind of powerful computer with no monitor. I used to love IRC but I was only in dialup Internet and wasn't allowed to use it very often. I sorely wanted to be able to idle on IRC at all times like some people did. But then I discovered I could actually install unrealircd on my own computer! I had my own little network with eggies talking to each other. I experimented with different clients and even connecting manually with telnet. It was great!

LOL I used to go to network cafes to be able to connect before we finally had cable internet at our place (dialup was too expensive). Since you mentioned "idle on IRC at all times", me and a friend of mine (who I still work with to this day!) used to sell shell boxes for people to install PsyBNC and Eggdrops on. First brush with business, those were the days haha

I'm interested to see how they manage to convince communities to use their IRC services over competitors like Discord when so many users see Discord as easy, free, trendy, etc. Of course services liks Slack, Telegram, Skype, etc, are also potential competitors in this ecosystem.

>IRC Gaming (We're going to have literally hundreds of thousands in cash prizes!) I suppose literally paying users money is one way, but it doesn't sound very sustainable. Some of their other projects like "IRC Ventures (VC/Incubation on IRC!)" are pretty hard to imagine the specifics about, but hopefully we'll see some interesting positive actions sooner or later to show us what they really intend to do.

While it requires having a service worth staying on once you're familiarized to be successful, paying users is a valid strategy when a network effect is important.

PayPal, as an example, is the result of a merger between Confinity (Thiel's) and X (Musk's) competing services. While I believe Confinity had started earlier, X caught up through literally giving people $20 towards eBay purchases if they sign up.


Hi zajd, I want to upvote your comment but I don't think I can do that while it calls HN downvoters "bootlickers". Would you consider removing that part?

Do you think he's going to sell his ideas for an upvote?

I thought the big "idea" part of the comment was that investors are distorting markets with huge subsidies. Another idea is that parts of the HN community itself have a disturbing relationship with this practice. But someone can still get those ideas across without calling downvoters "bootlickers"!

Good point.

I'm a big fan of the federation of different IRC servers, but also like have rich media embeds and drag+drop image uploading, even if that currently means being tied into the discord servers.

(kiwiirc IRC client dev here) This type of thing is down to the clients to put into place and we actually do this now. Drag/drop files, pasting images directly into the client, 1GB files supported, right out of the box. Give it a try! https://kiwiirc.com/nextclient/

I believe other clients are starting to integrate this type of thing too - it's greatly needed

Yup, irccloud does media embeds and file uploads.

I'll take a look at this over the weekend thanks!

But I think this is only a problem from a UX standpoint. IRC has DCC, for instance, but it's a matter of building a client which e.g. inlines DCC "attachments" or displays images beneath messages with links. If IRC is truly "revived" there's a chance IRC clients grow or new ones emerge to keep up with "modern" IM systems, and IRC will still have more benefits than these (openness, ubiquity...)

Forcing content upon others is something I view as an anti-feature. Linking to content that they MAY choose to display (or pre-cache in selective instances) CAN be a feature.

For example, I might allow specific rooms that I know are moderated or specific individuals that I trust to push arbitrary data in to my storage. However I definitely do not want that to happen in a random room of strangers.

DCC has been broken in practice for decades due to NAT. If you use a bouncer and have workarounds for the NAT problem in place, your files will still end up on the wrong machine, and then there is the multi client distribution problem. That's a bunch of problems you need to solve beyond just showing an image "inline".

Matrix attempts to be a solution to this

Are there any open source Discord clients?

So far, I've refused to try it because the only client Gentoo has is a binary blob.

There is a libpurple/Pidgin plugin for Discord. As you might expect, however, it only exposes text chat and not any of the "rich" features such as voice chat or emote reactions.

I don't know of any free software full reimplementation of the Discord client, and I suspect such would be against their terms of service.

No, but there are client + server alternatives that are free. Mumble / Murmur is one. Rock solid and scales to large numbers of users even when running on a tiny VM. They are kindof slow to release new features, so you would want to try their latest snapshot of the server and client.

I haven't used Discord in a while, but when I did I just ended up logging in via a browser. (The binary blob client had some major cpu/memory issues when I tried it.)

It's essentially a browser binary.

Why convince? People use IRC because they want to. There is no need to appeal to the masses.

IRC is great and IMHO still the best chat system we have. I'm active in a IRC-based community of programmers (http://dailyprog.org/chat/).

I'd like to know more about Andrew Lee (especially if he is reachable on IRC).

Everything in this post except the personal sentiment could be about any semi-anonymous text based communication medium, be it mailing lists, web forums or any other chat system with group chats / channels.

As somebody who has been on irc for over 20 years now, and shares most of the sentiment, I still wouldn't invest into the tech. As others have written, the protocol simply isn't adequate for today's usage scenarios.

This is a problem that people have been fighting with some success on xmpp, which is far more flexible and is a superset of what irc provides, and there are the obvious web stack based solutions like Slack, Matrix and Mattermost.

Still, people rather use Facebook groups today, and we won't convert them by making irc better.

We do customer support over IRC, on Freenode and OFTC. Particularly with the availability of web clients on Freenode, casual IRC users can reach us with minimal hassle while long-time users idle and voice when they're highlighted or the discussion interests them.

My experience of Freenode is improved since PIA's involvement. Staff lurk in our channel on-hand to help if something comes up. Last month when services went down a developer put their head in to talk about the outage and share the patch developed from the experience.

I don't think there is another chat platform with that kind of robust community. The tooling for IRC makes the experience more like an auditorium than a parlor. I'm optimistic about this announcement--if IRC has a future I believe it will be due to the social scale at which it is capable of operating.

Support over IRC is historical in open source.

irc.perl.org -- perl language support and development

irc.mozilla.org -- mozila related support and development

irc.freenode.net has many support channels:









#manjaro -- manjaro linux distro

#archlinux -- arch linux distro



#vuejs -- horrible support (frontend channel)

#angularjs -- horrible support (frontend channel)






and the list goes on. many great people there :)

#vuejs is created by Evan You. As a topic on the channel, he seems abandoned the channel and suggest people go to Gitter for active support.

It's good that they want to maintain and nourish the culture that has grown up around IRC, but in the long run, shouldn't the focus be on keeping the culture but moving it toward newer federated systems like Matrix? IRC is late 80's technology with no security.

Just because a protocol is old, doesn't mean you need to replace it. And newer stuff often is just a reiteration of the old stuff anyways.

I am not sure I follow. I've run UnrealIRCD for a very long time and it has more security and privacy capabilities than any of the newer chat systems.

Slack, Discord and Telegram also have no security. IRC is pretty good for public conversations.

If I may interject.. Until 4 months ago I didn't know LTMH existed, but I knew I loved Freenode, and IRC in general. Since then I've learned much about LTMH, having been hired by them as a developer and designer. They have treated me very well so far, and I believe in my core that their interests are benevolent. They believe in protecting privacy, freedom of speech, openness of software, and connecting individuals from around the globe. In my experience, LTMH has never sacrificed these principles in the pursuit of financial gain, and I believe this endeavor (the IRC.com project) will, as all their other projects do, serve the community upon which they depend.

IRC will never get popular again. Server-based history and connections shared across devices are just too useful.

Not only that, but passionate IRC people still hold onto the belief that things like TLS are "useless"[1]

1. https://www.quakenet.org/articles/99-trust-is-not-transitive...

It's unfortunate some people don't see the benefit of trying to move their users to TLS, but Quakenet is the exception here. Most IRC users and networks I know encourage TLS usage and do their best to help users and chatrooms use it. I'd even like to see it required for any modern IRC server, just as HTTPS is required for any modern website. The issues brought up in your link are correct but the solution isn't to abandon encryption, just because it's difficult doesn't mean it shouldn't be attempted.

> Removed due to near constant misrepresentation of the presented argument.

Saves me the trouble of writing it out myself I guess

Your link went dead. I would greatly appreciate actually being able to read this article.

You can find a working version at


The argument is that there's no way to move the whole IRC ecosystem to use TLS (including with enforcement of certificate checks on the client side) and so the security benefits will be radically degraded by patchwork adoption, because if even one channel participant accepts a MITM attack, all channel participants' communications will be exposed.

This seems correct to me, but I still don't find it to be an argument against TLS on IRC, just an argument that security indications perhaps shouldn't be presented to users to confirm that their communications are secure since they do depend on behaviors of remote clients that the local user's client can't confirm easily. After all, suppose you're in a channel with only 3 or 4 people and all of them are enforcing certificate checks. Then you have gotten lucky and received a tangible security improvement. Likewise for direct messages with one other user. But indeed, in the common case of a large heterogeneous IRC channel, probably there will most often be no security gain in practice against a powerful network adversary.

(And it's also a benefit for a user who's individually concerned about a nearby network adversary more than about pervasive monitoring.)

> in the common case of a large heterogeneous IRC channel

Which does not map all cases. Queries are still far from dead. And you don't want to set up a small IRCd for shady things because that might tick off law enforcement a lot more than sticking to some established network whose security you trust.

Yes, I tried to acknowledge this by writing "Likewise for direct messages with one other user". I think the author of the original anti-TLS piece was too focused on "the common case of a large heterogeneous IRC channel" to the exclusion of other cases, which I agree are very real!

UnrealIRCD has supported TLS for a very long time.

That is QuakeNet specific.

QuakeNet != Rest of IRC.

You should try irccloud. Or one of the many clients that do this.

Now teach the other hundreds of thousands of ex-IRC users how to set up their own bouncer servers and get them to actually stick with it for any amount of time.

Exactly. "Just use a good client that's always online" doesn't change the fact that almost everyone else on IRC goes offline when they shut their laptop or into a tunnel and you can't even send them a message while they're offline.

IRC has deficiencies that ensure that only a small cabal of power users will endure it. I prefer to be part of communities that are more accessible to more walks of life than the person who was bothered to install irssi on his spare EC2 instance.

People who suggest that IRC is the pinnacle of chat really seem out of touch to me. For example, look how every Twitch streamer and subreddit have a Discord and almost never an IRC channel.

IRCCloud solves everything you just mentioned.

The key is in the clients, not the protocol.

> IRC has deficiencies that ensure that only a small cabal of power users will endure it. I prefer to be part of communities that are more accessible to more walks of life than the person who was bothered to install irssi on his spare EC2 instance.

I've been in, and now run, a channel for about twenty years that, at its peak, had about a hundred active users.

Most of those people were normal folks, from all walks of life, many of whom barely knew how to use a computer.

I would argue that it's only power users who want chat history in the first place. Normal people don't want to go back and read god-knows-how-many lines since they last logged in. They just want to chat.

Offline messaging is a valuable feature for everyone and can be improved by services, without needing a bouncer. Many networks have a "memoserv" that does this. Improve the UX of something like that (should be transparent, no different from a normal pm) and you have good offline messaging.

"I prefer to be part of communities that are more accessible to more walks of life than the person who was bothered to install irssi on his spare EC2 instance."

Then why argue for IRC to be updated with features? Why not go somewhere else and leave the cabal alone?

I'm of the pinnacle of chat crowd, and I will fully acknowledge the difficulty to someone that is not on the technical side. However, popularity does not determine quality. From a programmer (bot/client) creator, its perfect. The protocol is simple, light, and fast. For basic usage there is no confusing things, and even where I've had confusion (DCC), it turned out to be simple. From the view of just a user, I still prefer IRC. The clients are lightweight, my Hexchat client is taking up 28mb of ram right now, and its one of bulkier ones. The lack of images allows compactness and simplicity.

Why would they need to? IRCCloud does that for them (the joys of SaaS).

Why would a community group pay $5/mo/person to use private servers when they could use Discord for free?

Each member has the option to use the client of their choice (IRCCloud, their own bouncer, web client, desktop applications, etc.), each with varying cost, effort, and convenience. With Discord, everyone is locked into Discord.

P.S. You only need one IRCCloud sub for _all_ the channels + servers you want to lurk in.

For most people, having multiple clients available, all with their own quirks, is a downside. This goes double when dealing with phones.

In practice this is very easy to achieve with IRC if you just use a BNC or otherwise have a client always running, for example inside of tmux. A lot of IRC users run their client inside of tmux, then they attach to it from any device, desktop, laptop, or phone, anywhere they are. It has all the same connections, history, etc.

Of course I mean 'very easy' for someone who is used to the technical side of things. A normal user of GUI webapps likely isn't interested.

> Of course I mean 'very easy' for someone who is used to the technical side of things. A normal user of GUI webapps likely isn't interested.

Then it's not "very easy". It's "mildly complicated" at best. For IRC to succeed it needs to actually be very easy for all users, going down to very basic users who likely have never even heard of the terminal, let alone touched it.

These days I have to point new users to Quassel; there's the 'monolithic' version that behaves like old IRC clients, and there's the client/server version where the quassel "server" acts as a client and various quassel clients connect to that.

Note that it doesn't support mobile devices (in theory someone could submit a pull request to change that, but they'd probably need to write an additional QT GUI that worked correctly for them).


> doesn't support mobile device

There's a neat app for Android called Quasseldroid!


This is all possible via clients, like TheLounge or Quassel

Not enough people will ever do that to make IRC popular again.

Is there a proposal to build in IPFS auto pinning of history to each user in IRC?

That way you could have full history of the channel provided someone remains in the channel or keeps it pinned.

Maybe it's an entirely new protocol but it seems that we don't need a centralized server to fulfill your requirements now.

https://matrix.org is essentially a modern IRC, but federated and completely FOSS. I suggest people drawn to an IRC-like experience without the proprietary nature of Slack and Discord [give it a shot](https://riot.im).

You know that IRC is FOSS as well right?

Maybe the intended contrast isn't between IRC and Matrix, but between Matrix and Slack (which a lot of people like to call "modern IRC" and which isn't FOSS).

And federated too, if I may add.

Riot is the only stable client officially recommended on Matrix's website, and it's in-browser. So it's not really a viable alternative for a lot of IRC users.

And it's slow.

Freenode already has channels like ##math, ##physics etc where lot of actual lecturers and professors lurk. I've gotten all my math help past few years over there as the quality of help is considerably better than the tutors on campus. So what does "IRC University" mean? Have accredited classes? Or just the same idea ?

I don't know about trascended... But it definitely has gone backwards since.

But irc in its heyday had far higher quality and duration of connection than much that followed it. Maybe it was truly the first generation of the internet. I still have many of those teenage irc connections in my life years later.

It's not hard to imagine IRC surviving if it had a natural path to instant messaging when Icq/aim/yahoo arrived.

I welcome a return of a modern IRC.

I'm waiting on an NNTP revival.

Rss too

RSS was and is not dead.

Didn't mean to imply rss is dead. It's definitely not at the top of the pile where it should be either.

I mean, IRC is still going pretty strong. I've used IRCCloud [0] for years and swear by it. IRC is still pretty much the universal chat protocol you can expect to find discussion forums for pretty much any subject, and not encumbered by centralized commercial systems like Slack or Discord (as much as I like them).

[0] https://www.irccloud.com/

We should be pleased that someone actually wants to move irc forward and invest in it. I first discovered IRC in 1995 hanging out on #hackerzlair and later various Linux channels on EFnet. Without the countless hours on irssi inside GNU screen (yes, there was something before tmux!) I wouldn’t be where I am today in my career. That said, we need to keep it distributed as much as possible; too few owners could be poisonous.

To my last point, I could easily see a second revival of irc using IPFS as the transport layer. Same feeling of community and privacy in a text terminal, but no central nodes.

Wait, there is something after screen?

IRC should surpass the notion of just a protocol and become a real product. The UX is still not user friendly. There's no standard way of doing threads. Rolling out IRC in an organisation is extremely hard. Cloud-based IRC hosting providers are hardly credible and not endorsed by anyone as enterprise-ready. IRC Clients are offering drastically different level of experience, if even usable out-of-the-box. Authentication is hard (why do we have a hack like NICKSERV if that stuff should be in the protocol?). Offline message retention, history viewing, and seamless offline/online transitions are completely broken (Bouncer usually solves those with terrible UX).

Messaging is not easy. There are teams out there who are working on solving those hard problems full time while having the luxury of having a centralised specification with full control over implementation. IRC won't be ever be able to achieve that without transitioning into a centralised product.

There are reasons why going as centralised product is best. Twitter did the same (it was easy from the technical point of view, hard from community point of view). They managed to up their game in the user experience by doing so.

I'm not sure IRC can even do that at this point, the protocol is in the wild and making additions to it/standardising them, getting clients to adopt the changes would be hard. But it would be the only way for IRC to compete with other solutions.

I'd love to see IRCv3 take off more:


I also want to understand web clients more, do they use WebSockets? Can we spec that out to be part of every IRC server out there?

Most use a websocket library like sockjs or socket.io which uses websockets and falls back to long polling if there's an issue with that.

Some IRC servers are starting to implement native websockets but that introduces several issues, so many networks use a websocket gateway to accept websockets to their network, such as https://github.com/kiwiirc/webircgateway

Then for IRCv3, most clients these days do support their specs in some form of way, and it's growing :)

I love IRC. Use it every day. I'm developing my own chat stack though, which supports images, video, and audio changes as core features of it.

This is how an empty room looks like: https://i.imgur.com/ir3qyUp.jpg

Code can be found in https://github.com/madprops/Hue

Been working on it since 2016

I don't expect anything good to come out of this for the current IRC users. Hopefully they aren't going to play the embrace-extend-extinguish game in the long run to steal the name for their own proprietary protocol.

Why do you think this?

London Trust Media have pretty public and open positions on Net Neutrality, user privacy, and open source software.

They are a major donor to various open source projects, and are the primary sponsor of the FSF's LibrePlanet conference (to name one that I happen to be aware of).

Remove “proprietary” and that’s what IRCv3 did.

It's like the devs of Clang and GCC suddenly joined to define what "C20" means but bypassing ANSI and ISO processes.

A fair few open source projects mentioned there. If they can be keeping things open while truly helping the existing IRC projects then that would be cool.

A friend introduced me to IRC around mid 90s when internet was getting popular in Sweden. DALnet was the network and it was late hours due to the channels main participants where from overseas. My friend went to the channels IRL get together in the US. Met there his love of his life, married and moved to the US. I think it’s a great story about the impact of internet and IRC was and probably is.

Turning to today, I think IRC can be a big player in the area of IoT. Especially because internet is going into a period of decentralisation. It’s starts with the geeks, like you and I, and later the main caucas will trend on.

Long Live IRC!

This is a bit off topic, and I love IRC, but I'd love a modern IRC client.

Features I'd like:

- Inline images and media

- html preview

- people list, friends, but also an automatic highlight system, when I chat with someone I don't know for some time, I'd like to have that person on some list.

- Conversation history (a way to jump to my conversations within the channel history).

- More advanced profiles (image, bio...) Option to publish my public channel list.

- End to end encryption if in private channels

- Notifications

- Status (busy, helping...)

- Activity summary (mostly for private channels but being able to know who was active, and what was discussed).

- Reactions (on busy channels it is quite fun and a fun way to say thanks without pollution).

- Threads.

(kiwiirc.com dev here) You might want to take a look at irccloud.com and kiwiirc.com/nextclient

These 2 clients cover most of your use case while others such as end to end encryption are currently being developed. Hopefully with with irc.com support multiple IRC clients can be reaching all of these features and in a standard open way.

I like IRC but it's 2018 and even the latest drafts of ircv3 lack built in e2e encryption for private and group messages.

Using IRC is like using ftp or email. We've been there and tried that,slapping on a solution to secure it just won't work well. They've been trying to fix email for decades now and the best solutions we have(gpg and s/mime) still don't provide metadata security (I don't think their encryption can be callend end to end either)

In my opinion, a new end to end encrypted protocol that preserves the properties of IRC people like would be ideal.

Isn't IRC compatible with e2e? I could see it working at a "transport" layer, with additional commands to import, export and view keys.

If you break backwards compatibility? Maybe to an extent. How do you handle clients that don't support it? How do you secure channels and allow some of the current server op/admin (what freenoders call staffer) functionality? By the time you consider that and more you might as well make a new protocol.

Let's say someone with an older irc client or who doesn't want e2e messages you,what then? Now your irc conversations become opportunistically secure. That means only arbitrary conversations are secure. Email does this and it sucks.

Another problem,clients that don't have e2e almost always also store logs in plain text. Yet another problem - no protocol level e2e plans as of yet.

So why try to fix it? This approach does not work. The least we can do is learn from history. Unlike email or ftp, there aren't a whole lot of people that depend on irc being the current irc protocol. What people want is a distributed server architecture with a user interface that is similar to the current irc. What protocol engineers seem to get wrong is that they use the opportunity to also add other fancy features which simply ends up working against adoption.

I can perfectly see this implemented without breaking backwards compatibility, similar to how we have usermodes for "connected via SSL" and channel modes for "requires SSL".

It doesn't require breaking backwards compatibility because, as far as outdated clients are concerned, they just "can't enter a channel because they lack a required usermode" or "can't send a message to some user because they lack a required usermode".

We only need the spec to define "some way" to do it so clients can announce their support and servers know what to do with the supporting clients.

Then it's up to IRC daemons to provide some modes for it.

Most of my comment was assuming it was implemented with or without backwards compatibility. You are assuming people will slowly move to the e2e version.

People are still writing clients without tls support. Why would you think e2e support will have better adaptability? People will move away from it when they get enough number of messages that require turning it off because the other party does not support it. Nobody wants to join your channel because you need them to have one of a few clients in a very short list in order to join.

We already have OTR (for quite some time now) and matrix has libolm - things aren't and won't change because the best you can practically implement it is using opportunistic negotiation and that is bad security. Best case scenario(imo),20 years from now 95%+ of irc users will use e2e. That is unacceptable when we already have fully e2e chat today. Let's break compatibility and have a separate network for the new secure protocol. At least that way people that move over don't have to look back. When foss projects move to the new network everything else (again,pure opinion) will follow.

There are plenty of clients that can use OTR and other e2e protocols on top of IRC.

Plenty of people use gpg and s/mime too. It only works partially. Partial security is worse than insecurity. Information leaks between your otr conversations and non-otr conversations.(other issues too,but I don't want to rehash my other comment here)

I am part of a student association of GNU/Linux users in my university.

A long time ago many of the founders met on IRC, and after founding this association, they also founded a dedicated IRC channel.

This was nearly twenty years ago.

Time has passed, many new presidents and members have proposed new communication media (slack, zulip, mattermost among the many) and after some initial enthusiasm they all faded, their problems had become evident and their usage has dropped since.

Needless to say, that IRC channel remained. Despite everything.

Oh man. The description of how IRC has impacted his life really hits me. I've been using IRC since I was in middle school, I've made and lost friends there, I've learned to program, I've helped others, I've grown as a person. It pains me to watch it fade as we move to platforms like reddit or discord.


hmm... To me irc was great as a young teenager in the first half of the 90's because my friends were there. I used a lot of geographical local channels so at some point people started organizing dinners, and I ended up knowing a lot of people. I still love the concept of irc but people are gone and they are never coming back unless someone destroys fb, snapchat or whatever they are using right now.

For me the thing that IRC desperately needs is a set of features that would make it usable on mobile... While constantly switching networks (wifi, 3g etc) it's almost certain I will miss some of the messages. That is a real dealbreaker for me and the reason why we've decided to have an irc->telegram vridge so people can keep up with the conversation on the go.

Spoiler alert: now everybody just uses Telegram

Back when I used IRC for work I always ran irssi on a server in screen and ssh'd in. I had a window that picked up any highlight that happened and, of course, logged everything.

I liked this solution. After a while people would understand that you are always idling and probably afk but that you would pick up any messages as soon as you can.

Nowadays you could idle using a raspberry pi or something. It would use less power than your phone. I don't want IRC while I'm out. That's not the point of it.

Of course I can do that - and I did, with znc on my vps. But it's not a solution for beginners or less-technical people.

Lack of server-side history also makes it basically impossible for new members to read into the conversation history... Adding it to the spec would make it 1000x easier to onboard new users

> But it's not a solution for beginners or less-technical people.

I don't see a problem. You don't give beginners enough credit. We were beginners once and we managed it just fine. If anything beginners today are cleverer than us :)

> Lack of server-side history also makes it basically impossible for new members to read into the conversation history

Is this actually something people do? For one of my channels I had stats generated from the logs and ability to search the entire log. I'm sure that could be trivially setup nowadays with Elasticsearch or something. If you control the server you can guarantee you'll catch every message too and won't lose any in a netsplit.

My first experience with the internet was through IRC. I had read about IRC in a book I had gotten at a computer show in 1991. I had no idea what I was looking at but figured out how to join a channel. I chatted with someone from Indonesia! How cool was that. None of my friends could relate.

I continue to use IRC regularly. The Python community is thriving on Freenode and Rust community on Mozilla

I love the optimism. Really.

However, while IRC is a great collaboration tool, and one I also grew up using, I find that though users are anonymous and no one can see each other, there are still plenty of trolls who have many ways of getting under one's skin.

This utopia of IRC simply doesn't exist. It is still comprised of humans. Anonymous humans. And anonymity tends to bring out the worst in people.

Social Networks with real name policies can be just as anonymous as 4chan. And sometimes, an IRC channel where everyone has a pseudonym can be more intimate than anything else. What makes the difference is:

- Moderation

- Small Groups

- Regulars who get to know each other

You can achieve this anywhere online. But I think IRC lends itself to smaller, closely knit communities.

My experience with the FreeNode IRC network has been pretty troll-free.

They could do even better by requiring everyone to register.

In my experience, trolling on IRC is mostly a thing of the past.

> They could do even better by requiring everyone to register.

Many channels have this. For example, a lot of the GNU and FSF channels do this so we can keep them relatively spam and troll free.

No utopia exists. But IRC is a hell of a lot more pleasant than you make it sound.

What I'm afraid of are the centralized proprietary chat networks and the perverse incentives that creates for censorship. Censorship is the worst in people. Anonymity just means people aren't constantly playing identity and power social games.

irc is lively enough, steady and just right. Thanks but no thanks

I'm on irc still.. but i've cut down on all the channels I used to hang around in, and now I'm basically only in #motorcycles on EFNet, where IRC is alive and well. Topics range from rebuilding carburetors to the innards of Erlang.

Huh, I'll have to drop in. I didn't realize efnet had an active #motorcycles channel. I'm in one on freenode and one on snoonet, though.

Read the article, a bit skeptical, but we'll see.

P.S. I been registered on rizon since 2002 - who else is a an oldschool IRC user in here?

EFnet was my first favorite network... haven't used that network in years though... #warez950 I think was one of the channels...

I used to live on IRC, but it's been years since I was a regular user. Are channel takeovers still a thing? That was one of the things that turned me off on it after getting locked out of the channel I called home for most of a decade.

No, channel admins register their channel to a bot (ChanServ) with special privileges over the network, so the bot can never be taken over.

I've been using IRC for about a decade, and almost all networks I have seen have such a bot.

IRC revival? What do people think Slack, Hipchat, Discord, Stride, etc. are? They're IRC derivatives. I spent my formative years online in IRC rooms so for me I feel like the "revival" has been going on for years.

Long time user of IRC and I never ever heard of irc.com till now. What is it for and what does it do???

I have been saddened to see the state of IRC declining year after year. I love the fact someone is trying to do something about it!

IRC proves that having a barrier to entry can be a beautiful thing in some cases.

I hang about in an IRC channel with less than 10 active users, still more valuable than any Slack channel I lurk in with hundreds.

Who cares about the domain. Don’t need a fancy .com for a revival.

not sure it need a revival. i have been using irc since 99

Isn't london trust media the owner of freenode and privateinternetaccess?

And Linux Journal.

Revival? I did not know IRC was dead. I am still using it every day.

How can you revive something that never died? :>

Fediverse has a better shot than this.

The biggest problem, and biggest fail of IRC. It is too low level and requires people to write scripts when they need anything else beyond simple text message.

I am torn apart here, because I really do like hacking things. The issue is - most people don't. They just want to use it, and they want to use it consistently - no matter the platform, the client, the server they are connecting to. And I totally understand that. More of it, I also understand that if you fail to provide this consistency your service have failed in the design phase and will never get widespread usage.

The sooner we, tech savvy people, understand that, the sooner we'll be able to deliver a successful open services that actually stand a chance with their closed counterpart.

So obviously, give people way to hack, but you must to:

* Design a rich protocol covering needs of the biggest target possible while allowing optionally disable features. Channels history, disappearing messages, embedded media, text formatting, emoji, stickers, web hooks, API for bots, you name it. The protocol must cover most of them, so there is no need to write scripts anymore, unless you need something niche.

* Design a strict spec for the clients, so all of them must keep to the spec, or they fail to be part of the service. And this is critical - do no allow client to behave differently and have a missing features.

* Design clients so they are trivial to use. They must be usable out of box and all (most) of the features must be enabled after installation. Necessary steps to start using it (connection, channels, etc.) should be reduced to minimum and intuitive.

* Keep a community of server and client developers so they can share info and be able to build uniform solution for the users.

* And probably most important - promote the service. And do promote it heavily, unless you want to design something niche, which, I guess, is not what we are talking here.

I've used IRC for years in the past. It was great, I do admit - not anymore. Today I require at least few formatting options (bold, inline code, block code) and no 3rd party tools needed to get anything else work properly. I have no time to hack things I need to use. I would rather spend my time to hack things I like. IRC is just a tool to communicate, I want to use it, not hack it. I loathe to jump here and there to accomplish tasks that should be done within a second with one click.

The biggest problem I observe with many things in the industry is - made by devs for devs. Never for average Joe. Average Joe have no idea about keeping your session attached so you don't loose nick, logs, etc. Neither he cares about that stuff. And honestly - the older I get, the less time I have for this kind of stuff as well. Just make it work or face the failure.

Meh. I'm still waiting for the triumphant return of the pets.com puppet.

Please no ircoin.

Long live IRC

There will always be new platforms like slack, discord, gitter, and whatever. IRC was and still is great.

IRC is simple, its text, its stable. Its simple to program on and a lot can be done above it.

IRC is open.

The basis of old internet protocols are simple, open and powerful


And as the article points out, irc has no face. IRC was a time people had to ask for a picture. Different from the newer trendier platforms. Back then people used to engage a lot more before they became curios to put a face on a nickname.

The internet has been inundated with the "average" people who unfortunately are not interested in "aplications" like mIRC/irssi/bitchX. Looks like average people need apps that are simpler to use than IRC, apps that allow them to promote their profile to the next level, have followers and likes statistic. Which is alright, in the end they are just the average people that wont put effort to learn nonclickable platforms like IRC.

The web really exploded when the smartphone came and apps like facebook came also and made the average people go online and understand what internet was for. There was a time when only the nerds understood what internet really was. Nowadays the internet guy is not a "nerd" anymore. Nerd is not perjorative as it once was.

IRC is still open, IRC is still kicking.

If you are on IRC, dont let the shiny and newer take you out from IRC.

Long live IRC

I used command line IRC clients in the 1990s. I wrote IRC clients in the 1990s. I'm not interested in going back to IRC, an "open" 7-bit effectively-centralized protocol with line-length limits and lowest-common-denominator clients that can't even show an image.

I don't use Mutt to get access to my email, anymore, either.

I guess that makes me "average".

IRC, FTP, and, yes, SMTP are all bad protocols from the 1980s era of protocol design. All are on their way out, some more gradually than others. Good riddance. How sad it would be if the Internet of 2020 looked the same as it did in 1995.

I don't think people want IRC for the lack of functionality. I think they miss IRC because they see in Slack a real threat to decentralization, privacy and openness.

I don't use IRC. But I'd never use Slack either in a project I maintain/lead. We need a better alternative.

Also, slack is like a dumbed down version of IRC. As an example, on IRC you could run an auction or a 10000 person university lecture because there is a +m channel mode (moderation).

+m quiets all users in the channel and only allows you to speak if you receive the channel-user mode +v (voice) or have +o (operator status). Some ircds also have a +h etc.

You can setup bots like “RaiseYourHand” for people who want to ask questions and need temporary voice (+v).

Try that on slack, telegram, signal, etc. Its impossible.

IRC was ACTUALLY built for collaboration and communication. Slack was built to make money.

The difference in goals causes a different outcome.

While I get where you're coming at, but it is indeed possible in Telegram, not sure regarding Slack.

Actually, Discord does this pretty well. I honestly consider it a 21st century successor to IRC. The unfortunate fact is that Discord is still a closed system, with not even the ability to run your own instance, instead with the owners insisting on a cloud-run infrastructure.

Just imagine how much better Discord, Slack, et al. could be if you could host your own instances with your own rules and with your own extensions.

If it is closed (and nominally 'free' for the average user), you have to assume everything you say and do is being mined and sold to the highest bidder. How can something like that be the successor to anything?

> I don't think people want IRC for the lack of functionality.

I do, and I think it's a good constraint (better than the 140/280 char Tweet restriction). No excessive notifications by default, no impatient people (at least largely not because they don't tend to hang around anyway). The pace is more predictable and consistent, and it's easier than ever to have a 24/7 detached client/bouncer.

For some years, fancier services like Facebook robbed creativity and time from me but lately I've returned to a more simple flow that isn't affected by Eternal September.

IRC has a certain barrier of entry, so that tends to keep a lot of the low quality noise away (where it remains on other platforms such as Discord and YouTube).

I recognise that Slack and Discord have their own objectives, but IRC covers its own niche well.

IRC is centralised as well, but the protocol is documented. So it is possible to apply encryption on top of it within your client with a plugin or whatever. I'm not sure if that's possible with Slack? Look at it from this angle: would you want a for-profit entity to have access to your internal debates about development? Including the potential security implications? Things like these are a goldmine of data, and a time bomb waiting to explode.


Certainly a huge improvement over Slack in that it's federated. It's not quite there yet, but certainly usable today - it needs to mature a little yet.

You might have missed it, but in 2015, someone replied to you to explain that IRC of the 90s wasn't 7-bit: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10490691

What functional improvements are fundamentally incompatible with the "old" protocols? Longer lines could have been supported with a minor protocol revision. Giving customers the freedom to use clients that don't render images, or markup, is actually a positive.

I setup Mattermost for my company. The deciding factor between Mattermost and IRC was effort to get non-technical users a nice GUI. Functionally, IRC would have won.

it feel a bit biased when you say that IRC could have a protocol bump, but you wouldn't make the same modifications to hide pictures in Mattermost.

Additionally not being able to share images as a feature? I guess everyone will do the three step upload to imgur first.

In my world - if I could get away with less different clients I would. It makes it a nightmare to support.

The protocol itself doesn't bar you from implementing image sharing.

Imagine this:

You have a bot in your channel that accepts an "upload-image" command followed by a base64-encoded string representing an image (or a series of these commands if line-lenght is limited, I'm not sure about this part of the IRC protocol). The bot checks that the image is actually an image (to avoid weird injection tricks), saves it on the server and returns a link you can share or sends the link directly to the user/channel of your choosing.

This can be automated with a irc client, of course. Users using old clients will receive an actual link, users of this supposed new client see a clickable preview of the actual image inline.

> This can be automated with a irc client, of course.

And of course it was automated. There are any number of such clients. Slack. Facebook Messenger. WeChat. Viber. Dozens of them. Of course they don't use IRC. But they automate file delivery. And media inlining. And dozens, if not hundreds of other things.

Meanwhile the "nothing stops you from implementing" crowd implements nothing and keeps wondering why basically no one uses these wonderful open protocols.

Sounds like you're describing a new protocol.

IRC protocol is actually really simple, you just have commands and parameters. AFAIK it is not unusual for IRC servers to implement extra functionalities through bots.

For example to provide authentication many servers provide a bot called NickServ. There could also be a mechanism called ProfileServ that implements these functionalities.

The beauty of IRC is that you can open telnet, connect to an IRC server and actually be able to chat by typing raw commands.

The problem with IRC is that there is no standard specification, and there are many many edge cases. Therefore in my experience most IRC clients implement a small subset of the IRC protocol.

I've been trying to write an irc client in Go for quite some time (https://github.com/terminalcommand/irc-v2). It's been a fun experience, but there is still a lot to cover.

> standard specification

RFC 1459

Unfortunately RFC 1459 is just the shallow end. It both includes features that no-one uses anymore, and excludes widely-deployed features that everyone relies on. Lots of the de-facto IRC protocol isn't written down anywhere outside various client and server codebases.

The situation is not unlike that of terminal control sequences. The core VT10x functionality is more-or-less mostly in place, ish, in every terminal emulator, but some of the VT10x functionality is no longer implemented, and lots of subsequent useful functionality isn't well documented, so implementors are left to crib from other implementations.

I believe that https://modern.ircdocs.horse/ documents how the IRC protocol is currently used (and I'm not sure why they chose that particular tld).

Ircdocs.horse is an excellent resource but it is unfortunately not complete.

Irc also has a lot of -to me at least- obscure specifications for example involving channel modes. The functionality differs from server to server.

I have the impression that most irc servers are operated by programs with old codebases coded in C. New client implementations are continuing to get written, but I do not see a lot of server implementations around, probably because it is complicated to write.

Would you consider adding a new HTML element to be describing a new protocol instead of http? w3m still speaks http but is unable to render the IMG tag (and instead substitutes that with a descriptive text, if available), while, e.g. Firefox shows an actual picture.

I mean, this proposal is to build it on top of IRC, it doesn't need to change how the IRC protocol works. We're speaking a level above that.

I think the beauty of IRC and the previous way of thinking when we built the internet was just this - we could hack any change or additional layer into the software that we used.

IRC was, with the exception of simple clients, codable, scriptable, extensible.*

Software today is “what you get is all you get.” It’s pretty sad.

* It was a human body script that caused you to look at this “*”. Scripting is powerful.

> Additionally not being able to share images as a feature? I guess everyone will do the three step upload to imgur first.

That's a feature for me. If I wanted to be constantly barraged with images, I would have stayed using Facebook and Twitter. People on IRC posting imgur links gives me the opportunity to accept or decline (usually based on their reputation, the channel's response, or my boredom). With other social networks, images are almost always unsolicited and often only waste scroll space (good luck to those still on limited data plans and want to know the context of the latest notification).

Besides, text often can have more substance and precise meaning (even if it's not perfect all the time). After all, we're all communicating with mostly just text right here. Another example of something else that features mostly text are books, so it's certainly not deprecated.

Give me all the text please - in fact, if you give me an image with a caption, I'll read the caption first. I can happily find images through other mediums so IRC without embedded images isn't a problem at all here.

What's the problem? Just setup client to hide images unless you click the link provided - Slack have it, Discord have it. Works exactly the same way, no 3rd party involved. I'm sick when I have to go to imgur to open image and load tons of scripts and see other stuff completely unrelevant. You think imgur doesn't live for profit?

> Additionally not being able to share images as a feature? I guess everyone will do the three step upload to imgur first.

Maybe I'm missing the point here: But IRC does have a file transfer feature, so what would stop people from sharing images just the same way like plenty of "content" has been shared over IRC?

Have you ever tried it? 90% of the time I tried it didn't work, in mirc or irssi.

dcc sends and xdcc bots were pretty influential in the early internet. It definitely works.

It does require that one open a port in their firewall for it to actually work. xdcc bots usually would indicate which port one needed to open.

Having open ports directly to the internet (by default) with dial up modems (before routers and NAT) used to be such a common practice. Things have changed, haven't they?

That's a pretty good point I totally forgot about. Tho couldn't that problem "simply" be solved by updating the protocol to account for these changes?

IRC used to be a pretty popular distribution channel for Warez, tho it's been like 20 years ago I used it for anything like that.

dcc and xdcc can only be used to send an image to a single client, so sending an image to a channel is a no-go.

I use mutt. It's a big increase in security compared to the typical email client exactly because it's below the common denominator. And yet it does what a startup executive needs, except for the occasional message I forward to Other Devices to view. With one keystroke.

Then again, if you want to equate the badness of IRC and FTP, which is much earlier than IRC and much more of a security problem, you're making a poor quality argument anyway. Dumpster fires and garbage dump fires are different orders of magnitude.

I would be happy if it looked like 1995. It was actually decentralized.

IRC, FTP, and SMTP are all decentralized. That's the good part about them.

If IRC is decentralised, then so is Slack and all it's clones. Except they're not.

Cool, I look forward to connecting to your Slack server.

Self hosted and centralised are two separate concepts. IRC is very much a centralised service even if you can host your own servers. Matrix would be a better example of a decentralised protocol.

> IRC is very much a centralised service even if you can host your own servers

IRC being an open protocol and having the option to run your own servers is what makes it decentralized. The various "major" IRC networks (EFnet, Freenode etc) are decentralized too, since they are isolated networks.

Slack offer neither of these - they own all servers, the protocol and controls the API (which is not the same as an open protocol).

Not only that, but it didn't require nearly as much bandwidth. AFAIK, most "modern" web services today would not be usable over a dial-up speed connection.

A protocol existing is better than no protocol at all.

In the modern age of surveillance some protocols could be actively worse. Sad times, but IRC has no real place in the world of someone hoping to preserve their privacy.

Are you implying that discord, slack, et al have a better privacy model?

Signal, keybase, iMessage all have a better privacy model.

Signal requires a phone number. Keybase is an identity service. iMessage requires a phone number and is not verifiable.

IRC on the other hand allows ephemeral usernames, you have the option to use e2e encryption if you choose, etc.

iMessage doesn't require a phone number. You can use it with just an email address.

I mean, you do need an Apple ID to do it that way. But I don't think there's anything stopping you from creating throwaway Apple IDs.

> "... IRC has no real place in the world of someone hoping to preserve their privacy."

Why is that? IRC supports SSL, of course, and many IRC networks offer "cloaks" (to hide your IP address from other users) and/or permit connections via Tor.

The privacy story for SSL is no better than the privacy story that Slack offers. Basically, you're proposing a level of privacy that only asymptotically approaches the most popular unencrypted web chat program in the world.

Cloaks aren't reliable and there are a few tricks to uncloak a user anyway.

I think this is getting aside of the topic of what privacy really is for most people. IRC by default does not encourage endless selfies or oversharing that the modern social networks promote.

I've never seen an ircd cloak instruction page misrepresent what they can and cannot do. While protecting IP addresses is important (which the GDPR also believes in), I think it's also important to not lose perspective of the bigger dangers out there right now such as default user behaviour and conditioning. For example, IRC has never led to huge numbers of people publicly humiliating themselves by bitching about their employers, etc.

Tricks? Can you elaborate?

Like what outside of taking the scope outside of the IRC client (external link, etc)

An IRC cloak is programmed into the ircd itself ensuring that ones IP address is not exposed. I don’t think you can just hack that. If you use the external link trick, everyone is susceptible to that no matter what app/platform they use unless you use a VPN or Tor.

That depends on the ircd, but on Freenode you could decloak using the services to ban the user from channel using IP ranges and see if they trigger (I think. It has been a few years since I this trick used, and it might've not even been bans). Extremely inefficient, but if you have a bouncer with auto rejoin on...

In any case there are some really obsessed people who probably know a hundred ways to take over your channels at the very least. Seeing some of these people do their thing is one of the reasons why I steer clear of IRC these days.

Channel takeovers aren't really a thing on modern networks with good services.

The Freenode decloak trick still works, though.

Speaking as a freenode staffer:

1) There are a number of ways to decloak somebody purely via irc/ircd fuckery - though it's liable to require several minutes of dedicated effort to do so.

2) There's a non-zero likelihood that if you try any of those ways we will spot you and k-line you.

3) That likelihood is not a guarantee, so when cloaking people we always make sure to warn them first that cloaks aren't 100% reliable and if users really want to protect their IP address they want a VPS, a VPN, or tor.

4) No, I'm not going to be any less vague about 1, just because it's not actually hard doesn't mean I want to encourage it.

“Supports” is the real non starter. “Requires” is what we are looking for.

Most networks support a channel mode that only lets people connected to the server via SSL join the channel.

Some networks only let people connect via SSL.

The flaws you listed are qualities in the eyes of some. Still no better place to meet cool people where the face and name are an afterthought and at the end of the day, to me, that wins over technical merit.

Do you know of a good archive/paper/article that summarizes the bad design characteristics of the early protocol designs? Is it safe to try to get familiar with new designs and compare with the old to extract the bad lessons learned?

IRC has changed from the 90s, it's certainly not 7 bit.

I agree that IRC is an obsolete protocol, but it's still sad that open standards lost the chat wars. XMPP improves on all of the things you mentioned but it looks like its moment in the sun has passed, and was never really used to its potential in the first place.

I wish open standards, and the tools that facilitated them, were more welcoming to the 'average' crowd. I used to use IRC in the past. I still do but it's just couple of logins a month. Even many of the support channels I used to frequent from OSS have moved to other platforms. Hobby channels etc have moved elsewhere long back.

I faced the same problem with IRC that I am facing with Signal today. Though this analogy doesn't really seem that coherent but I hope you see where I am coming from. No one I would like to communicate with via such apps/platforms seems to use it. IRC is great but I would like to connect it with people I know, are part of something I like or do, or are from the place I belong to. They don't. They have moved to other platforms, long back, or never really used IRC.

I believe a lot of existing IRC users, including me, are still around just because of the nostalgia.

They're not welcoming because they're fundamentally bound by the lowest common denominator of the platform. You can't provide any feature every client doesn't offer, or the feature just generates immense confusion and frustration.

No frelling way you'll get rid of it (https://xkcd.com/1782/).

For the last 10 years, been working on open source software for a living. Been an IRC user for equally long; `mutt` for the last five years. Thank goodness I do that. Nothing comes close to its effectiveness.

Lack of images on IRC is a feature; not a bug, dammit. It keeps me productive and removes utterly distracting crap. I'd be loathe to see IRC showing images and animated poop emojis (although the unicode 'pile-of-poo' renders just alright on my command-line IRC client, `irssi`).

I can handle video chat and in-person communication equally fine. But I prefer the clarity and vigor of the text-only approach.

"Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking."

I remember the Ops, Sops, +v and all the medieval hierarchy that ensued.

I remember channel takeovers.

I remember the flooding and the script kiddies with their obnoxious scripts.

In a way, IRC let people show the worst of themselves, and I didn't stop using it because new technologies were better, I stopped using it because 90% was silly politics and power struggles.

> In a way, IRC let people show the worst of themselves, and I didn't stop using it because new technologies were better, I stopped using it because 90% was silly politics and power struggles.

This sounds vaguely familiar and I'm not talking about IRC.

> The internet has been inundated with the "average" people who unfortunately are not interested in "aplications" like mIRC/irssi/bitchX.

You know, I have a hard time blaming "average" people for not wanting to use bitchX. That's a pretty huge unforced error in terms of marketing.

One man's stumbling block is another man's competency test.

One man's competency is another man's elitism

One man's pithy saying is another man's frustrating truism.

Weird, I felt physically compelled to upvote this just because I used to use IRC a lot. I regret that I had a lot of great BBS and IRC friends with whom I lost touch over the years.

> The basis of old internet protocols are simple, open and powerful

> Email, IRC, HTML, FTP

FTP sucked back in the day and it still sucks. Otherwise, yeah.

While I agree with GP's sentiment, FTP is not what I'd call a simple protocol.

In what way I never had any problem using ftp

IRC is and always will be, the greatest social network :)

I met some of the most important people in my life through IRC. I would not have chosen my current career path without the guidance of the many friends I made over the years on various IRC networks and channels.

It was also a great place to vent anonymously when I was at the lowest points of my life, in a judgement free environment. I don’t think any social network will come close to capturing the effect of IRC. Decentralization and federation are what makes it a great protocol, IMO.

But its not really a social network...BBSs were/are great too! Plus BBs let you actually manage content versus just chat and link. IRC is great and always will be but a social network it is not...and I doubt we are gonna see any real revival.

Irc created more new social connections than many networks that came after. Same goes for bbs. We need to find the next thing that truly connects people.


BBSs were more of the than not local, with some federation in that the operator or someone he trusted would exchange data between the local BBS and some distant BBS.

Similarly IRC used to house a high number of very local channels back when i first came online (and one tried to pick a server on the network that was in one's own nation or a neighboring one to avoid finding oneself on the wrong end of a net split).

Social networks offers much the same via various means (groups on facebook, sub-reddits on reddit, etc).

Honestly IMO, what killed IRC was IM and SMS. This because now the schoolyard cliques could once more ostracize.

Locality, interesting. I'd agree on BBS'. My experience of IRC, thought on efnet was expanding past my local calling area.

IM definitely took the bite out of IRC because it was far better at creating beginners that never made it to IRC, and a lot of IRC users got pulled to IM. ICQ, Yahoo, AIM, MSN created a new type of connection.

IRC always felt to me more like a public forum, whereas IM was private conversation.

The best private conversations start by branching away from a public space. It's that juxtaposition that makes each half all the more special (think noisy club/bar vs outside). I think the biggest failing of IM is that it's easy to end up with a declining circle of people whom you communicate with. Without a public space to replenish ideas from, privacy becomes a curse. IRC allows both.

This is exactly why I loved IRC and continue to use it to this day.

What to you defines a social network?

yep, despite Zuckerberg's attempt to turn a social network(s) into an online stalking tool for your unrequited lover.

Usenet isn't that bad either :)

You so nailed it, man. Thanks for that. I really miss those old days. I'm turning 33, but I'm constantly chasing old nostalgia these days and realizing all the old things that used to make me happy, _still_ make me just as happy. (and you're damn right I still use BitchX)

IRC is dying because no one invests months and years of code into server protocol extensions and client user interface for non-engineer users.

Write an IRCv3 scrollback and search extension, and you’ll win the hearts of millions.


Kiwi IRC actually implements this and has a ZNC module being released soon for it. Hopefully soon, other bouncers.

These type of specs and actually getting them implemented in clients and servers is exactly the type of things the irc.com foundation will be supporting.

> IRC is dying because no one invests months and years of code into server protocol extensions and client user interface for non-engineer users.

I never understood this sentiment. In the '90s and the previous decade, I corresponded with many people over IRC and usenet who were definitely "non-engineer users". What changed in the last 10 years to make many people believe that one has to have a technical/engineering background to be capable of using things like IRC?

It's probably just relative. I would think the proportion on IRC is now more technical than ever before.

Twenty years ago, you would need to know where to plug a cable in to even have a computer turn on. For better or worse, the barrier for entry these days is a lot lower.

IRC has remained relatively the same while other services like Facebook or even MSN Messenger promised the world.

I don't agree that IRC is dead. It will continue to outlast many companies.

I resent that you resent "average people".

I'm an average person (with 17 years of professional programming career behind me). I wouldn't give two craps about IRC in 2018. Yes, I really enjoy having a smooth cross-platform experience with inline media, public and private chat rooms, search, file transfers etc. without having to set anything up and without having to deal with half-baked poorly implemented clients who can't even agree on a feature set between each other, and can't produce a single decent mobile client.

Same goes for XMPP.

BTW, it's extremely hard to make a decent product for the "average user". Self-proclaimed über-men should try it sometime.

Back in the day, lots of 'normal people' used irc too.

I like things with open standards, so that people can use the tools that work for them. Bob can use the Gmail web interface to send and receive email, and Sally can use gnus in Emacs to send and receive email on her own local server.

Only for Google to spam-hole anything sally sends...

It really boggles my mind that a few actors were able to essentially lock down a federated protocol.

Exactly. That actually causes me anger. Email is so decentralized as a protocol and implementation and yet Google, Yahoo, etc now control email and then made it hard to send email using SPAM as an excuse.

Back in the day, the IRC crowd had a lot more 'normal people' than Usenet, which was the other social outlet on the Internet.

> Back in the day, lots of 'normal people' used irc too.

"Back in the day" they had no choice or little other choice but.

And even then "normal people" would prefer things like AIM and ICQ for reasons obvious to anyone except the self-proclaimed not-normal above-average über-men.

But mIRC was (is?) also easy to use.

AIM, Discord etc. have the 'word-processor problem': the protocol and the interface are inexorably intertwined. You're stuck with whatever user interface they provide.

And this 'word-processor problem' is compounded by the 'normal people' issue, or, even worse than that, the 'lowest common user' problem. It's optimisation not for the best or the most powerful or even the prettiest interface, but rather optimisation for ease-of-immediate-use. (I.e. the interface for word-processors, whether LibreOffice or Word, are miserable environments for actually creating in, because they're tailored to not even 'average users' but to 'inexperienced and lazy users' - those who want to be able to sit down and use it without any training.)

With an open standard, you can have good interfaces for 'normal people' and an interface for 'lowest common users' and interfaces for other types of users, and this enables all of these types to be able to interact.

> With an open standard, you can have good interfaces for 'normal people' and an interface for 'lowest common users' and interfaces for other types of users

Please show me a cross-platform good interface for "normal people" for either IRC or XMPP: that supports all the latest standards and is on par with, say, Slack. Where cross-platform isn't Windows-Linus-Mac, but desktop-mobile.

For IRC I'm aware of none (except the ... closed-source web/electron-based irccloud, the irony). For XMPP there's just Conversations for Android, and that's it.

I also like the tech bro considers "normal users" to be bad, be cause there's "even worse than that, the lowest common user". There is a reason why people don't use the crappy half-baked barely usable crap that tech-bro non-normal above-average über men produce.

thelounge works great on both desktop and mobile.

Strange that you mention XMPP as you can have all that (including mobile - Conversations) plus end-to-end encryption (OTR, OMEMO, PGP - take your pick), message carbon copies and a server-side message archive that synchronizes all your clients.

But hey, XMPP is passé so everyone prefers a vendor lock-in.

It's not strange. Because Conversations exists only on Android (and the server you connect to has to support all the dozens of XEPs many of which are still in experimental stage).

So, with Conversations I'm locked into a single client on a single platform. Yay, XMPP :-/ (There's no desktop client I'm aware of that supports Conversations' features).

Oh, and I can have that only if I go through the trouble of setting up all the moving pieces myself. Because I really really really want to spend my time picking which flavour of end-to-end encryption to use (in which clients?) and how to make sure that a server-side searchable archive exists (accessible through which client??) or that media and files reach even offline clients (which clients???) etc.

You make it sound harder than it is.

Server-wise you want either ejabberd or prosody for the latest features. Yes, you need to set up a server once and read some docs, as with every self-hosted service. And if you don't care about encryption enough to read about it you can just enforce TLS for client-to-server and server-to-server connections. On the desktop, Gajim (win/linux/bsd/mac) supports all of the XEPs I mentioned. There are clients for iOS too but I don't know how they work as I don't own any Apple products.

Of course, if you'd rather spend money than time hoping that your provider won't have your conversations stolen, misused or disappear with them that's your prerogative too.

> Server-wise you want either

> You need to set up

> clients for iOS too [nope, no clients beyond the very basic abandoned ones — dmitriid]

So.... Why would I want any of that? To feel "not-normal" "above average", as this entire thread seems to imply?

> stolen misused yada yada

Let's leave these scary strories to the kids, shall we? We're supposed to be all grown ups here.

I don't understand why you pretend to be obtuse but it's clear you've already made your mind why.

The only ones being obtuse here are the delusional tech bros who are oh so sure that they are better than the "average" "normal" people.

> I'm an average person (with 17 years of professional programming career behind me).

I sense a contradiction in this statement...

You only sense the contradiction because you share a common HN delusion: that you are above average unique non-normal tech bro über man.

This delusion is what stops such people from understanding why Slack/Viber/WhatsApp/iMessage/WeChat etc. won and XMPP and IRC lost.

What perplexes me is that there are now even more competing messaging services than ever before. This suggests to me that none have won.

Indeed. And in the world of competing messaging services the world prefers anything but XMPP or IRC. This suggests to me that they lost.

This was literally my first comment when I installed Slack for the first time: Isn't this essentially what IRC did for many years?

Exactly. Slack is like IRC without the features.

Being blind about the actual tech involved, Slack is effectively IRC with a lot of the features that would be provided by external services bundled.

> The basis of old internet protocols are simple, open and powerful

> Email, IRC, HTML, FTP

These protocols are anything but simple. “Be liberal in what you accept” was a huge mistake we’re still paying for. E-mail effectively can’t be made private. There’s lots of room for improvement in open protocols. (Start by not making them text-based, please.)

Text has a lot of advantages - I know as I had to debug OSI binary protocols - You had to dump it out to a textual representation.

unless you had spent years and could read the protocol in its binary form


- one advantage, not “a lot”

- very slight, because the tool to convert to and from text gets made

- vastly outweighed by the disadvantages

Ever had to debug an osi stack using a printed out x.409 decode ?

> E-mail effectively can’t be made private.

It definitely can be both in transit and when stored.

If you run your own mail server and everyone who sends you mail makes a direct encrypted connection to it, sure. That’s not a solution for most people.

Have you looked at Matrix.org? It's essentially the "modern IRC" people are asking for. I strongly suggest giving it a chance.

I'm being semi facetious, but what does Matrix offer that I'm not able to get from my 24/7 tmux+irssi virtual private instance? Please don't say more notifications or addictiveness.

To me, it offered the ability of my fiancee and family (who don't have 24/7 tmux+weechat VMs) coming online. I now have them in my IRC client. It's wonderful, and I have wanted that for so long.

If only someone would pay Kanye to promote IRC

Yo XKCD Sucks, I'm really happy for you, I'm gonna let you finish but IRC did not have the best UI of all time!

> Long live IRC

> There will always be new platforms like slack, discord, gitter, and whatever. IRC was and still is great.

Here is XKCD[0] for this ;-)

[0] http://xkcd.com/1782

Do you connect with a 1200 baud acoustic coupler modem or are you average person who uses a fibre connection and off-the-shelf router?

Do you take a horse and cart to work or are you an average person who drives a car or catches the train?

Do you mill your own bread, or are you an average person who eats machine milled and produced bread?

Do you pump and sanitize your own water, or are you an average person who turns on the tap?

Calling people "average" for not using outdated and poorly designed applications that were written by 1 or 2 people in their spare time, versus applications and services designed by tens-to-hundreds of people, with the input of designers, UI and UX engineers, etc is moronic.

IRC, FTP, SMTP, Token Ring, etc are as good as they could have been at the time, but they are awful by modern standards. We should learn from them and design better successors.

Your implied comparisons are ridiculous. You're using this website via HTTP, which isn't much different in age from IRC. Age and the number of people who worked on them have nothing to do with their usefulness; some ideas last, some don't.

Usability is a big and important consideration in creating beginners.

Slack has been excellent at introducing irc inspired, and irc borrowed concepts of bots, channels, aliases to the masses.

Oddly slack had a pretty painful sign up in the beginning to keep people on different subdomains.

I'm not sure if today's modern standards are going to look much better looking back in 5 years.

Maybe the measure of old techs is how much they still dominate from what is transferable and endures, like the concept of IRC->Slack, email->messaging, and forums to social media.

There is a fair question to ask how many new things are novel, vs rebooted or reincarnated. Bittorrent maybe, blockchain for sure.

Slack is not a successor to IRC because it's not a protocol. It's just another monolithic chat application.

Mass produced cars, bread, and public water are all over 100 years old. It’s funny you only use ancient tech as counter examples for avoiding ancient tech.

Do you still use a landline or are you the "average" person that just has a mobile phone? This may differ by a few demographics, but I think there are more modern examples.

I’ve adopted the nineteen seventies tech, absolutely. Why be stuck in the 1800’s?

> Do you take a horse and cart to work or are you an average person who drives a car or catches the train?

Neither thanks. I ride a bicycle with an internal gear hub (IGHs, which are a technology that are over a century old,and put modern derailers to shame). I sometimes also walk.

Newer and more horsepower is not always better.

IRC being awful doesn't automatically make current alternatives not awful. I use IRC within my expectations, just as I do with other services.

Just because I expect a certain demographic in IRC doesn't mean I exclude myself from interacting with other ones too.

Without engaging the parent comment directly, the IRC user demographic is no longer average but that's okay. Average is also okay - there's room in this world for both.

Facebook and Twitter though, are trash as far as time sinks go.

Irc with proper roaming support and push notifications would blow discord or slack out of the water.

Newer is not necessarily better.

The lack of familiarity with irc from slack only users seems to reveal an unfamiliarity with irc being a connected universe of many slack sites being on one network.

The Lounge is a web client, so you can access it from any browser (PWA, push notification support). Since your IRC connection runs on a server, roaming and connection drops is not a problem.


Aka a bouncer?

Yes, but baked in. Bouncers are horrible UX and a huge obstacle to onboarding.

"this service is only usable on your phone if you also sign up for another service" pretty much makes it a non-starter.

And logging and services that aren’t hacky god clients and user accounts as first class and...

IRC has had literal decades to be improved and only now do people get serious about it after Slack and friends sucked all the oxygen out of the room.

Older isn’t necessarily better either. IRC has stagnated hard, about the only thing it has on the competitors is that it’s free.

> ... it’s free.

And doesn't require 8 GB of RAM to run a client.

Ha ha that's crazy talk! Eventually they threw my IRC server off of EFNet because 8 total megabytes of ram for the server+OS was too little for the working set.

>about the only thing it has on the competitors is that it’s free.

It's more than 'free'. It's an open standard. You can write a slack client in your favorite language and it will continue to work for years.

Slack does not compete with that.

^"[IRC] client and it will work for years" ?

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