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Leaving irc.perl.org (sungo.wtf)
73 points by mdom on July 8, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 42 comments

Both Perl and IRC have suffered heavily from a massive loss of popularity over the past decade, I can't say I'm too surprised that irc.perl.org is going the way of the dodo.

I really like IRC and I'm really sorry to see it go, and I still have an irssi running full time on a handful of servers. Freenode is basically the only server that manages to maintain its user base, but even for them it's not really growing anymore. I used Mozilla's IRC server pretty heavily when I was learning Rust and it was great (the community is really helpful and well moderated), but AFAIK they plan to get rid of it in the near future. Can Freenode single-handedly keep IRC afloat? For how long?

Clearly these days it seems that people want something a little more advanced than the pure text chat of IRC, and the federated architecture is not seen as a killer feature anymore.

From my point of view the centralization of the web seems to be unstoppable at this point. You can argue all you want on HN but people will still ditch IRC in favor of Discord or WhatsApp. I was talking with a bunch of geeky people in their early 20's the other week and for some reason I mentioned IRC and about half of them didn't even know what it was. All of them used Discord and WhatsApp however.

As a techy person in their mid twenties, I've used irc extensively over the years and I miss it quite a bit. It doesn't have all the fancy features of modern messaging solutions because it was focused on the thing that actually mattered: conversations with others. These days when I look at the discord servers I'm in, a lot of it is just sharing images, spamming emotes and other silly things. Actual conversations are fairly rare. We had used irc at work as well for internal chatting. But after a while we switched to a paid, proprietary solution and the experience with that was honestly a lot worse. It seemed more businessy and that had an effect on how people used the service as well. There was a lot of informal, fun talk on irc but it turned fairly serious when we switched. I kind of hope that irc will somehow see a resurrection of sorts. It's not dead, but it's slowly fading for sure.

> Actual conversations are fairly rare.

FWIW this is exactly my experience with pretty much every single IRC server and channel i've been the last 15 years or so. It used to be more... chatty before that, but over time people just join and idle.

I wonder if the ability to have IRCs running all the time actually harmed IRC since at the past (90s mainly and perhaps very early 2000s) if someone was in a channel, they'd be up for chatting too whereas now channels are full of "zombies".

Or it might just be a coincidence.

It started out as a necessity, and it isn't new. Its because of netsplits, DoS, and channel takeovers that bots existed on EFnet and IRCnet. Chanserv/Nickserv/X/W (and UnderNet/DALnet) came later on.

> I wonder if the ability to have IRCs running all the time actually harmed IRC since at the past (90s mainly and perhaps very early 2000s) if someone was in a channel, they'd be up for chatting too whereas now channels are full of "zombies".

Untrue; bots existed in past. Take a look at Eggdrop's age, for example. Whether it is much more common nowadays I don't know, but BNCs are nothing new either. If anything, it is because running a computer 24/7 is much more cheaper nowadays (although back then you could get a shell for e.g. 5-10 USD / month).

Well it isn't just nowadays, as i said it was like that from the early 2000s - at least in my experience. But then it might just be coincidence with the IRC becoming less popular in general.

There’s an irony / dilemma to point out here in the contrast between “spamming emotes” and “fairly serious”: both of these are a success, in a certain view.

The non-work Discord you describe now resembles how actual social interactions and friendship often work these days: mostly irrelevant interactions by volume, with a low incidence of significant conversation surrounded mostly by a lot of brief flashes of emotion shared haphazardly without much weight behind them.

The work Slack-ish you describe now resembles a professional environment, focused more effectively on doing work and less on watercooler chat.

I think that the chat platforms selected in each case are exaggerating how we behave in each situation, and that’s not necessarily a positive or negative.

IRC is wildly unproductive without extraordinarily high levels of effort invested in keeping it under control. Slack-ish work chats are wildly productive without a conscious effort to drag some degree of personal interaction into the workplace to replace what’s drained away when leaving IRC.

Is IRC truly the only way to return a bit of social coexistence to a workplace, or has culture changed in a more significant way that just happens to be reflected through the lens of chat systems?

20 years ago, there were less knowledge, less languages ready to do what was needed.

Perl was one of the early languages that was able to achieve a lot in terms of systems administration and web. (and other activities of course)

However years have passed, now there are tons of new languages.

A lot of front-end javascript developers that had no interest in back-end, were given the opportunity to dive in node java-script on the back-end.

Nowadays, java-script, java, c#, php, etc, many other languages can do the same as perl. So there are a lot of choices today.

One fact is, among the perl developers, a lot of them are extremely good with development and nix systems. Others can probably share experiences with other languages ? For example, in a lot of XYZ-java language* teams, there are a lot of incompetent coders ?

Another fact i notice is perl projects need smaller teams compared to that other language. Specially those other languages that hire according to how many certificates the candidate have. In the macrosoft world this is very common, each employee certificate accounts for a total. And this total will determine if the company is "Gold Partner", "Platinum Partner", "Incompetent partner".

In the end, when the client is about to sign the contract to close a project development for a company, the client will search for this piece of text: "Our company is a 'Ultra platinum macrosoft partner'. We have 40 devs and 200 certificates. So you can rest assured that the project will be in the right hands."

my first thought on that post actually was, how about moving all the channels onto freenode? there is no need for every community to maintain their own servers. and most FOSS IRC users will be on freenode anyways.

I've been trying to get back to IRC, but the clients seem dated for the most part. Do you have recommendations for something with a UI that feels reasonably modern?

Not really, I'm generally fine with "dated". I use irssi with a config file that hasn't change in a decade.

Not that I think that you're wrong for wanting a more modern experience, it's clearly one of the main reasons IRC is losing traction. Some things can be solved client-side by, for instance, auto-fetching some URLs to display image links inline (although it could cause privacy concerns) but you also have limitations caused by the IRC protocol itself.

For instance IRC has no notion of "replies", if you want to quote somebody you generally copy/paste their comment and put your reply at the end. That's clearly primitive and makes it hard to find the original context.

> That's clearly primitive and makes it hard to find the original context.

Maybe. I am positive I miss 99% of replies (in "threads") in Slack. I always felt like the feature is designed for the case where you've already decided something, but people want to show up and bikeshed it, so they get a little area that nobody can see where they do that. Maybe that's not what it's meant for. But when I want to reply to someone, I say "@whoever, regarding foo that you were talking about earlier..." I think this is the IRC way of handling that and it seems correct to me. The reality is, sometimes you've missed your window to contribute to a conversation. No tool is going to change that.

For the most part I just want it to be less than half-broken. And to have buttons for things that are IRC commands. In Thunderbird the compose window has white text on a white bg at the moment, for instance.

I use glowingbear (https://glowing-bear.org/, https://github.com/glowing-bear/glowing-bear) to connect to a weechat session running on a VPS.

The setup is not non-tech-person approachable, but its generally been untouched aside from updates in this setup since 2013.

For non-tech people https://www.irccloud.com/ seems one of the best on offer.

Quassel is very nice and achieves the level of desktop integration people expect nowadays (notifications and so on). It's nicely GUIfied and it's QT so it themes nicely. It also has a core/client split so you can put the core on an always-on server somewhere.

There's also an Android client, making it a pretty unified system. You can seamlessly switch between laptop and phone.

IRCCloud is pretty modern-feeling, but is saas paid for on a subscription basis.

Seconding IRCCloud. Great mobile app with a dedicated developer. If you subscribe you can even use it as a better Slack client.

I haven't personally tried it, but I've seen other people here recommend The Lounge on past threads: https://thelounge.chat

The Lounge (https://thelounge.chat/) would be a good choice

I think we tend to forget that running infrastructure is more than just keeping the servers working. Initially i thought 'oh maybe i could help with keeping irc.perl.org alive', but my motivation quickly went away as I kept reading the article ...

Thanks for all the work, sungo!

i'd like to thank you for years of selfless service to the community. (i am not a perl user, so this means the FOSS community as a whole)

we all benefit from work like yours, even if only indirectly. it is people like you that make the FOSS community what it is.

thank you, and all the best on your further endeavors.

I miss the chat social culture of the 90s, and all of my IRC nostalgia is really just for that. ICQ, IRC, it was all different then. After the 90s we had the blog era and that was fine until Google and Facebook indexed and monetized searches and networks. Now there’s Slack and Discord, which are still too persistent to be truly safe but have regained much of the undiscoverability that makes small communities possible. Perhaps someday we’ll regain safety, and then it will be like 90s IRC but with good UX and more wisdom about the harm tech did to us in service of feature creep. Good luck and be well, sungo.

if sungo is reading this: I'm happy to take over or help the new opers.

I've got some experience in IRC administration (Myself being in a similar position as sungo in a similar sized network).

The centralisation of IRC to places like OFTC and Freenode leads people to think that all IRC networks are similar to those, I'd rather help keep it more spread if possible.

That said, I'm sad to see another IRC operator burn out (since, it really sounds from his words that he's burned out with comments like "who cares, let it rot"), I wonder how we can support people better who are in "solo" positions like this in general.. :\

curious, why do you think separate irc networks is worthwhile?

if they are FOSS community then they should be all the same. of course, different channels, and different people, but all with the same shared ideals...

I think parent is worried about centralisation becoming a single point of failure. If IRC becomes entirely synonymous with Freenode, as soon as Freenode dies then the whole IRC dies as well. It’s a bit like Google Reader kinda killed mainstream RSS usage by centralizing it and then collapsing.

What if the people work on FOSS but do not share the same ideals?

working on FOSS is the shared ideal. granted, this argument is aiming for the lowest denominator, but i believe that the idea that code should be FOSS licensed, for whatever reason, is already a good common ground.

moreover, those differences won't split along irc network lines. you choose the irc network based on where the project hangs out. for debian that would be oftc, which ironically was created because a number of people didn't like how freenode was run at the time. but anyone who was involved with debian had to move, regardless of where they stood on that issue or on their FOSS ideals in general.

if you work on multiple projects, you may be forced to be on multiple servers. no choice in the matter and different ideals have no influence here.


> I put myself out there, worked with people I'm not really fond of, and all I got for it was to be the target of everyone's rage and bullshit. No one was willing to contribute towards change in a constructive positive fashion. There was no reason to continue putting myself out there, to continue putting effort into services that no one else was willing to improve.

Why does Perl warrant its own network?

Why not join freenode instead?

There already is a well-populated #perl channel on Freenode. Unfortunately it's a socially unwell place that in a way has been taken hostage by a small tight-knit group of regulars - users like MST, Grinnz and pinkmist, to name a few - who go about managing and policing the channel in not only unfriendly ways but also in very unwelcoming ways in relation to new and casual visitors.

(ps. I'm a regular of the channel since the late 2000s, and can confidently state that its environment is today unhealthy and degraded)

i am not sure it's appropriate to name names here. it doesn't really help the discussion. (is there a way to alert moderators (dang)) to have the names edited out, or is downvoting the only option?

These are anonymous IRC aliases, not real names. What I've mentioned isn't a secret or in any way outing or revealing; keep in mind that #perl on Freenode is a public channel, and anyone who's frequented the channel for more than a few weeks are familiar with what I described. If anything in this is sensitive it's the way newbies and "casuals" are treated there, and that it's allowed to go on without intervention from other Freenode staff.

they are identities, and it's not clear at all if they are anonymous or not. either way, the names don't really add to the story, so why take the risk?

It seems to me you're exactly the type of person that sungo was talking about -- someone who wants to complain but not actually do anything to help.

You haven't said anything constructive at all. What are people doing that you find unfriendly and unwelcoming? What would you suggest they do differently? If you were one of the regulars, what would you do differently?

I am one of the regulars, since a decade now. For starters I would under no circumstance allow myself to habitually include an insult when responding to people who ask "stupid questions" out of just not knowing Perl better. I would also refrain from kicking and even banning people from the channel based on nothing else than personal differences in opinion on whatever the fleeting off-topic happens to be - a transgression I've seen played out god knows how many times over the years - and instead save that measure solely for when someone is actually breaking a network or channel rule.

I can't speak for my fellow operators but I resent the accusation (since you did name me) that I took part in any such behavior.

As a counterpoint, I'll extend an invitation for anyone to come see for themselves how "unfriendly" the channel is, keeping in mind that it's a two way street and nobody is being paid to put up with you.

It's certainly a two-way street. I think anyone would agree that trolls deserve anything but dilly-dallying, but trolls don't belong to the newbies and casuals I'm concerned with. You putting the term unfriendly in quotes, and implying that you are subjected to having to "put up" with people, just reinforces my opinion that the problems I've described are indeed normalized.

It is in quotes because I haven't seen unwarranted unfriendly behavior in months. I am not subjected to put up with people, I do it by choice.

while elsewhere i asked the same question, this is of course the downside of a large network. on a large network such issues disappear in the noise, and people would have to make a very very good case to have the channel owners dethroned. on a small network such issues can be dealt with easier (although given the reason for leaving, and other comments about irc.perl.org it appears that that place was no better)

though there is still the option of creating a new channel with a different name, and inviting people over...

ironman perl also followed the same path:


It has been down for some months now.

Good move, thanks. A very unhealthy place where you are bombarded with hostilities by very juvenile folks, who generally have no idea what they are talking about. I left it years ago.

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