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.
Mark me highly skeptical of this undertaking.
EDIT: Seems I misunderstood some points, see also neatnosleep's response to this comment.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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 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.
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.
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.
he's also brought on board the disgraced mt. gox CEO as CTO -- what on earth is he up to?
 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"
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.
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)
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).
If that’s not normal then I don’t want to ever be normal.
I’ve gotten an "offer" once, too, inofficially, but I assume it was just a joke from them.
As said, I assume they didn’t mean it seriously.
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.
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.
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.
I suspect downvotes are from people who aren't comfortable with the idea of what's new... Is actually old and improving.
It's kind of laid out like some irc clients, have you used an irc client before?
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.
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?
Znc+mirc did work for me but things like scrollback and access from multiple devices are much nicer now with just my Weechat instance.
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.
I'm sorry. Even in 2018 I cannot take seriously any claim that "support for emoji" is being used to make business case decisions.
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.
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.
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.
Slack just happens to express reactions using emoji.
Just like you don't hear me wishing that PHP or Fortran had certain features.
It's not very good evidence.
IRC is fine.
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 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."
Sounds like a great choice.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
"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."
This is skeevy.
I'm sure you enjoyed what you were doing ;)
>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.
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.
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.
I believe other clients are starting to integrate this type of thing too - it's greatly needed
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.
So far, I've refused to try it because the only client Gentoo has is a binary blob.
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.
I'd like to know more about Andrew Lee (especially if he is reachable on IRC).
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.
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.
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 :)
Saves me the trouble of writing it out myself I guess
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.)
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.
QuakeNet != Rest of IRC.
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.
The key is in the clients, not the protocol.
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.
Then why argue for IRC to be updated with features? Why not go somewhere else and leave the cabal alone?
P.S. You only need one IRCCloud sub for _all_ the channels + servers you want to lurk in.
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.
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).
There's a neat app for Android called Quasseldroid!
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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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 :)
This is how an empty room looks like:
Code can be found in https://github.com/madprops/Hue
Been working on it since 2016
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).
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!
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
- 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spoiler alert: now everybody just uses Telegram
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.
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
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.
I continue to use IRC regularly. The Python community is thriving on Freenode and Rust community on Mozilla
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.
- 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.
They could do even better by requiring everyone to register.
In my experience, trolling on IRC is mostly a thing of the past.
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.
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.
P.S. I been registered on rizon since 2002 - who else is a an oldschool IRC user in here?
I've been using IRC for about a decade, and almost all networks I have seen have such a bot.
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!
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.
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.
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
Email, IRC, HTML, FTP
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 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 use IRC. But I'd never use Slack either in a project I maintain/lead. We need a better alternative.
+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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
IRC on the other hand allows ephemeral usernames, you have the option to use e2e encryption if you choose, etc.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Freenode decloak trick still works, though.
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.
Some networks only let people connect via SSL.
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.
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 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.
This sounds vaguely familiar and I'm not talking about IRC.
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.
> Email, IRC, HTML, FTP
FTP sucked back in the day and it still sucks. Otherwise, yeah.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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'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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
But hey, XMPP is passé so everyone prefers a vendor lock-in.
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.
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.
> 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 sense a contradiction in this statement...
This delusion is what stops such people from understanding why Slack/Viber/WhatsApp/iMessage/WeChat etc. won and XMPP and IRC lost.
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.)
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
It definitely can be both in transit and when stored.
> There will always be new platforms like slack, discord, gitter, and whatever. IRC was and still is great.
Here is XKCD for this ;-)
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.
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.
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.
Newer is not necessarily better.
"this service is only usable on your phone if you also sign up for another service" pretty much makes it a non-starter.
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.
And doesn't require 8 GB of RAM to run a client.
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.