Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
[flagged] “Setting the record straight on Freenode” [pdf] (techrights.org)
119 points by rasengan 32 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 290 comments

Besides discussing what happened, I wonder what IS going to happen. Right now every staffer introduced by rasengan isn't known by much, seems to be very new to freenode (and even at some times, struggling with managing the services). Some of the new staffers seems to be previous operators of Rizon[1], also known as the 4chan of IRC, which is a dubious move. One of them also seems to have been fired from it[2].

On "Freenode is FOSS"[3] post, there's a paragraph about decentralization. This essentially seems to be another Lee's project, "Tower of Chats"[4][5], which is like a sort of super-network with multiple more-or-less independent servers.

Is Lee's plan to merge Freenode and ToC ? Or merge Snoonet/IRC.com with Freenode ? Or merge them all together onto ToC ?

[1]: https://twitter.com/ariadneconill/status/1395347865271246853

[2]: https://twitter.com/ariadneconill/status/1395667119778500611

[3]: https://freenode.net/news/freenode-is-foss

[4]: https://letstoc.com

[5]: irc.imperialfamily.com

(edited to fix links)

There's the further detail of Handshake, which Lee appears to be deeply involved in, which is a cryptocurrency that in essence claims the DNS roots as its own (part of the marketing strategy of Handshake appears to have been some sort of "airdrop" --- I'm not a cryptocurrency person and may be using that term wrong --- of coins to open source projects; I don't know if that's connected to the FOSS donations Lee keeps referencing).

I've seen more than one person on HN express confusion about what "decentralizing" means in the context of Freenode's DNS, which seems to be the core of the controversy here, and do wonder myself whether this has something do with Handshake.

(Handshake is a deeply silly project, but it's not at all clear to me whether it is or isn't implicated in this drama).

Oh. Interesting too. I read that Lee was involved in Handshake but handshake looks so silly to me that I didn't even envisage this.

I've also raised the IRCd thing in another sub-thread, and I think that freenode adopting/developing a new IRCd (and publicly) could impair Lee's idea of merging Irc.com/Snoonet/Freenode onto ToC, since ToC seems to be running Unreal.

The usage of that term is correct. It's interchangeable with "giveaway".


I daresay your patronizing tone is hardly helping your case.


Please stop writing things like this. The guidelines ask you not to. I don't know anything about you except that you're an advocate for Handshake; you're promoting a DNSSEC-related cryptocurrency that attempts to replace the DNS roots, so of course you and I are going to intersect on HN.

Or, in the words of Marsellus Wallace: there is no "me and you".

A personal message that can be read and responded to by everybody.

If you want to send tptacek a personal message, their email is plainly listed in their profile. You don't need to air out your beef in the public, and all it does is lower your credibility to do so.

In any of your travels have you ever heard of email?? Thomas' email address is clearly listed in his profile. Airing this beef like this has killed any credibility you have. Be better?

As the CEO do you happen to know where I can send a GDPR request? I tried policy@freenode.net which was mentioned on the website but it is not working.

Address not found Your message wasn't delivered to policy@freenode.net because the address couldn't be found, or is unable to receive mail.

Sounds like the server sponsor for the server which the mail server was running on pulled their server.

You mention you've donated millions. Presumably this is distributed across multiple projects. How much has freenode received from you?

Freenode > 1m

How was this money directed towards freenode? Certainly the accounts published by freenode ltd do not mention anywhere near this sum (though it is currently behind on publishing accounts).

freenode didn't use 1m in the whole 20 years it existed.

Infrastructure: all sponsored Staffers: all volunteers Development: all FOSS Third party services like GitHub: all sponsored

so what exactly would it have used > 1m on, please?

This is not true. As a single example, conferences cost money to throw - significant money. We did two.

The FOSS community loves these events to be clear.

Most people on freenode don't give a shit about these conferences. To me it seems like someone wanted to try to help freenode do something cool and used that as a way to cheat everybody and steal the network. Not cool.

The freenode live conference was another thing not supposed to be "part" of the network. Freenode Ltd was created for the conference purpose, not the network (according to what christel said at the time).

Yes and no? As I understand it, they weren't supposed to be involved in the day to day operation of the network in general, but back in 2016 Private Internet Access' logo (then Andrew Lee's current company) was added to the corner of the main Freenode website and as I recall it was widely discussed at the time that this was part of the deal which funded Freenode Live. Most people didn't care and it remained there until 2021. The Shells logo which was supposedly such an outrageous, unprecedented corporate intrusion into areas of the site sponsors never were never allowed before that everyone needed to jump ship was a direct replacement of that PIA logo. Same location, same overall prominence.

While the details are still a bit fuzzy, a far as I can tell from the outside someone on the Freenode staff seems to have used that logo switch as a pretext to try and upset the status quo and seize more power through a bogus narrative about unprecedented corporate intrusion and a logo suddenly appearing in 2021 where one would never be allowed before, likely including kicking out the then head of staff of the actual IRC network, whilst insisting that it was the other side that was trying to seize more control by obstructing them.

> While the details are still a bit fuzzy, a far as I can tell from the outside someone on the Freenode staff seems to have used that logo switch as a pretext to try and upset the status quo and seize more power through a bogus narrative about unprecedented corporate intrusion and a logo suddenly appearing in 2021 where one would never be allowed before, likely including kicking out the then head of staff of the actual IRC network, whilst insisting that it was the other side that was trying to seize more control by obstructing them.

This is one possible interpretation. After reading a lot of these self-testimony documents I think that Freenode staffers really never knew how the organization was legally run. They only understood the internal politics of Freenode. When these two authority complexes clashed, it's predictable how disasterous the outcome would be.

That said, I'm still not buying rasengan claims about money spent. Maybe he thinks this money was spent on bettering Freenode, but unless it's money that's spent literally on keeping Freenode online, then it's hard to claim that and get the audience to agree. I think if rasengan really wants to shepherd some FOSS monolith then he need to start producing transparency documents that show exactly how he's funding things and to which organizations that money goes.

Literally nobody in the FOSS community cares about these events, wakeup.

The attendance was what, like 50 people?

On what ? Servers were given by third parties. Staffers were volunteers. Do you mean that you brought Freenode >1m to christel?

Attacking Freenode sent a chilling effect through many communities that would gladly not deal with your infantile rampage backed by what I'll assume is ill-gotten gains.

Check yourself. You're not in the right, here.

Worth noting that the Rizon-related tweet that you cited is most definitely false and zero opers have moved or been added that match that criterion recently.

As someone who is actually an operator on Rizon, I agree.

yeah some of them seemed to be previous ops.

Probably would not be wise to guess or speculate and instead go by what I have actually said.

The issue with services was because the previous team pulled our mail server and all its contents.

We had to abruptly get everything in place.

As for the decentralizing - that’s what I’m into and the way to do it on irc is by ending reliance on a central domain name for the connection.

It’s not decided yet but is something I have put out and requested for comments.

As an ex-freenode staffer, this is simply untrue.

You took over with zero transition plan, and no engagement with staff - none. You had had no involvement in the running of freenode until this week and had no relationship with any of the team.

You marched in, announced that you were saving freenode from the "hostile takeover" of their own consensus-based, transparent, self-organisation, and SURPRISE they decided that they didn't want to work with a mystery absentee landlord who rocked up, proclaimed themselves, and demanded their land back with a team of lawyers.

You have no track record on freenode, of working with the ex-staff team, and clearly don't understand the community.

Why else would volunteers who have been working on a project for ACTUAL DECADES FOR FREE ALL WALK OUT OVERNIGHT? This is not what people do with things they love unless something very odd is happening.

As far as I'm aware no-one damaged everything - and went to pains to leave in an orderly line. They just didn't want to work for you when you swooped in.

You even had the head of staff working with you to let you figure out how your new toys work. Any damage to data or infrastructure is, I think, the responsibility of the management.

Which if you are to be believed has been you for years anyway.

Is it true that they pulled freenode’s mail server?

I see lots of emotion here, and emotion is fine. But yanking someone’s existing infrastructure isn’t very nice.

If that part isn’t true, though, then someone here is lying.

The mail server was working when the whole staff team resigned.

What happened after then will have entirely been within the control of the freenode management, their administration, and their sponsors.

Every ex-freenode staffer I have talked to has been exceptionally cautious about damaging the data and systems they tended for literal decades, and to my knowledge none were disrupted.

I think here, you have to look to Andrew, ask what his transition plan was, and what he thought would happen when he started throwing lawyer's letters at the head of a functioning and healthy team of sysadmins and staff members who were happy to continue the job they'd been doing for years, for the community, indefinitely..

I'm having a hard time following anything.

Andrew claims they brought a lawyer in after their access to the DNS was revoked and their request for that to be undone was denied. They supposedly have had access for 5 years without issues, and according to Tomaw it's something they'd "probably never do anything with."

Why should Andrew accept that, even if the only thing Freenode Ltd. owned was the domain and name? If they didn't do anything nefarious for 5 years, what changed that made the domain takeover now necessary? Especially since the person taking over the domain apparently admits Andrew wouldn't do anything to it... or was that exchange fabricated?

I don't think tomaw was aware that freenode ltd owned anything apart from the freenode live conference, until the legal discussions happened. So from his point of view it would have been a case of "Why should the people we ran a conference with in 2017/2018 have access to our domain?"

That implies christel was the only staff with access to DNS until now and was hiding that fact, since the domain's been registered to Freenode Limited since at least 2018 and they'd have noticed the change had they been accessing it.

I've been reading more into it and it seems that wasn't the case [1], but that just leaves me with more questions.

[1]: https://gist.github.com/realrasengan/f569c5e4727d21eb939fff9...

Understanding that:

(a) Freenode ltd had access to the domain

(b) Freenode ltd should have access to the domain

(c) Freenode ltd is the rightful owner of the domain

are three very different matters. How often do you whois your employer's domain?

Otherwise, if you've just been appointed leader of an operational staff and believe your organisation owns everything involved, it doesn't seem unreasonable to start introducing basic infosec practices around limiting access (or if it was caused by mandating security measures like 2fa, as mentioned elsewhere in thread)

Not often, but maybe when its parent company goes through a merger and the head of staff makes a public announcement saying "the freenode project will continue being part of and having access to support from the Imperial Family Companies (formerly London Trust Media Holdings (LTMH))." [1]

Since I believe freenode to be completely community-owned apart from some holding company that's supposed to host a conference, at that point I might check our WHOIS records and maybe our own policies [2] and question who I'm actually volunteering for.

[1]: https://freenode.net/news/freenode-pia-changes

[2]: https://web.archive.org/web/20180606130945/https://freenode....

Why the anonymous account?

That's his name on Freenode too. I don't think that's anonymous. He very clearly reads HN, as his "Freenode is FOSS" post links PGs fierce nerds post.

I'm talking about whomever ex-fnstaffer is. That's this person's name on Freenode?

Fair enough, my fault.

They value anonymity?

And for all I know, ex-fnstaffer is a tomaw alt. Do you not see the problem with all these anon new accounts that were apparently created for the express purpose of saying they don't like Andrew Lee? This reeks of astro-turfing, and for all I know it could be one person behind like 5 different accounts.

As someone who has participated on 4chan in the past, I personally have learned to take comments at face value and not place much weight in the names. It's true that anyone can claim anything, and I don't think there is much benefit to seeing an identity tied to the user's posts.

I've seen mobbing in general against both sides of this ordeal, and I would be unsurprised to see astroturfing efforts as well. It upsets me that people tend to stoop that low, but I'm attempting to gather all info I can from both sides in order to come to my own conclusion.

I see that you are spreading your falsehoods here, too.

The issue with services was not due to the "previous team", but rather due to the sponsor pulling their box. The "previous team" had no access to them by that point.

As you might have guessed, the sponsors had a gentlemen's agreement with previous staff and not with Freenode ltd. Now most of them obviously don't like sponsoring their boxes for your company, so they are pulling them.

Stop lying, Andrew. If you would have approached this in a sane and respectful manner and not sent your bloodhounds out, you maybe wouldn't have inherited smoke and ashes.


Personal attacks / name-calling are not welcome on HN, as per the guidelines.


Leaving a project when you know that it will cause their infrastructure to collapse isn’t too professional. It seems pretty fair to characterize this as partly your fault, since, y’know, you caused it by leaving.

I think both sides in this are acting bizarre. You’re talking like it’s an oath of allegiance rather than an irc server.

OP stated the sponsor pulled the box after they no longer wanted to support freenode. How would the former staff have handled that more professionally? Begging the sponsor not revoke access?

If I were a sponsor who found out a project I was donating resources to was taken over under questionable circumstances by someone with deep pockets I'd have done the same.

Yeah, you're right. I guess it wasn't up to the volunteers; sorry.

It wasn't a very nice move by the sponsor to yank support without giving any notice – usually you'd get a week, or 30 days, or something – but it sounds like no one had any obligations to.

I recall just a few months ago when Amazon yanked the plug on hosting a company's infra with little more than 24hrs notice.

So I guess that's precedence for something like that, and yet, that company held a contract with Amazon to host their infra.... no such scenario in this case ;)

There was substantially more than 24 hrs ... amzn sent several communications to Parler explaining their issues with what Parler was (or was not doing). The final communication had a 24hr deadline.

It would not have collapsed at all. It simply disappeared because the sponsor of it was a sponsor of freenode, and didn't want to be a sponsor of Andrew Lee. This is entirely up to them and their decision, it is their box, their money.

If you're being paid, sure. But volunteers are allowed to withdraw their support at any point in time for any reason under the sun. They have exactly zero obligation to anyone but themselves.

It sounds to me like you killed a network but you're not mature enough to admit it so now you're grasping at straws in a futile attempt to look like a victim.

Then explain your motives more clearly. Freenode used to be managed by a college of trusted people, and now?

The issues with services I speak about wasn't related at all to mail either.

Freenode was staffed by volunteers but it was never managed by them.

They were recruited by management.

Let’s not rewrite history any further, please.

Obviously bullshit, freenode is older than your company, and when it was founded you were not even known. The IRC network freenode was ran by, managed by, developed by and loved by volunteers. You came in like a wrecking ball and destroyed it.

Thank you, self-proclaimed saviour of IRC, for your continuing efforts in destroying it. Fortunately money doesn't buy you communities and doesn't buy you people, so compared to some proprietary solutions and companies, we can and will survive. Your freshly acquired toy, on the other hand, probably won't.

Who, exactly, is "management" here? And in what, exact specific, ways are they involved in freenode operations?

As I said in another comment, the core of freenode is its servers and operators, both of whom have no real ties to freenode limited as they consist of sponsored servers and volunteers, respectively. By that nature alone, freenode limited doesn't seem to have any influence over either aside from owning the name and trademarks.

So who exactly is "management" and what role do they have in the freenode network?

So, how many servers loaned to you by other parties have revoked those loans.... besides the email server you're whining about?

How much of your network is actually left standing and operational after what? two days?

Over ten thousand channels have been recreated on the network that is the successor to yours... in one day.

How does that leave you feeling?

Really? Can you prove that? I've been on freenode since almost 18 years and there was no management, every head of staff after Lilo (so, Christel) was appointed by the staff, just like tomaw was.

This is also simply untrue.

So huh, not to speculate again, but:

irc.porn -> tower.freenode.net

irc.shells.net -> passion.freenode.net

irc.bitcoin.com -> tildes.freenode.net

irc.imperialfamily.com -> no change

irc.blockexplorer.com -> dead

irc.merryjane.com -> happytree.freenode.net

irc.namebase.io -> gotham.freenode.net

irc.marijane.org -> no change

irc.letstoc.com -> niveus.freenode.net

irc.lfa.com -> ace.freenode.net

irc.voat.co -> redondo.freenode.net

If you don't want to turn freenode onto ToC, then why all the servers of ToC are now freenode servers?

(edit: formatting, added irc.voat.co which I forgot)

As an outsider who hasn't used IRC or Freenode in over a decade, this situation is impenetrable. Neither the posts by the Freenode volunteers nor this post by Andrew paint a coherent narrative I can follow (maybe I'm just old).

Best I can gather, the flashpoint that triggered this series of events is a dispute over the control of the freenode domain name and DNS servers?

The best I can piece together so far:

* freenode was run by elected volunteers.

* Lee stepped in to sponsor/fund the Freenode Live events

* Some assets were sold/transferred to Lee in the process of this

* Former staff admin leaves, new staff admin is elected

* New staff admin attempts to take control of assets they (reasonably) assume they should have control of

* Lee (reasonably) perceives this as control of assets being taken away from him - it's at this point we discover more about which assets were sold/transferred.

* Recent events driven by elected leadership discovering they're not actually leadership.

Essentially freenode has had a leadership vacuum for some time, and has been perfectly comfortable with that. But nature abhors a vacuum ..

You might note I have two groups marked as (reasonably) in opposite directions. As far as I can tell this is an information gap - what was sold/transferred was kept very, very quiet, so I do believe each side was behaving reasonably with the information available to them. So I believe what we're seeing this week, is what we would have seen during the actual sale, if these details were made remotely public at the time.

Here is a continuous quote (nothing omitted except the start/end of conversation) from a discussion between Andrew Lee and me from 2017:

[2017-08-03 11:48:56.616000] <rasengan_> justJanne: I like the way you think about a lot of things and doubly appreciate the fact that you share these thoughts so that others can know and understand the realities of them as well. But, I do want to emphasize that while I am in fact listed on some piece of paper for a couple of IRC networks, I am not in control of any. That's not only a promise made, and my word means so much, but it's a reality: I don't have an O.

[Editor's note: O, or +O, means that the person is operator and has administrative control over the network]

[2017-08-03 11:48:56.789000] <rasengan_> Whenever something comes up I don't get involved or don't even know. (ps: plz excuse my space bar i think there is something wrong wiht my driver)

[2017-08-03 11:49:37.530000] <rasengan_> But the thing is IRC has alwasy been a glorious thing. The infra has always been sposnored by companies or people. But the great thing about IRC i s you can always vote and let the networks and world know which you choose - by using /server.

[Editor's note: /server is a command used to switch from one network to another]

[2017-08-04 21:48:37.553000] <rasengan_> I'm fully confident though if PIA were to show any kind of negative intentions, people would /quit fast.

[Editor's note: /quit is a command to disconnect from a network]

His statements that he had no control and would never have it were believed by staff all those years, but due to experience interacting with him I never did and have warned against this very scenario ever since the sale (which prompted above interaction).

It always comes down to money or power.

Hi this is Andrew from the post and freenode.

Long story short, former staff were upset about a logo but the logos were there since the start. I wanted to share that.

Secondly, staff claim there was a hostile takeover. I have owned freenode for years and was a great custodian as far as I can tell (only compliments from former staff some of which even flew into defcon and came to my house on my dime, internationally) - I intervened when a hostile takeover from the inside began taking place - my dns was cut and the internal structure was changing to a non democratic one. All of this is detailed in the post and screenshots for proof since there’s been a lot of falsehoods spread.

I had to step in and did just in time.

Hostile takeover by and from whom?

It was ran by the very staff that all left. No exceptions, all of them. So who exactly where they taking it away from?

The appointed heads were appointed by all of staff, democratically, as your very PDF proves from the meeting notes. It is you who tried to force in people in a leading position that staff were disagreeing with, so if there was a hostile takeover, it was yours.

You also never owned freenode, you owned Freenode Limited. You had zero involvement with the network, that was ran by volunteers in their spare time.

Also you have not been locked out from DNS either. One of your employees insisted on enabling 2FA, and you simply haven't had a key. For ages, mind, not just for the past few weeks.

But sure, blame your mismanagement of your own company on volunteers that had nothing to do with you or your ltd.

Why do you think nearly the entire staff was against this? If it was a hostile takeover by a small 'non democratic' group, would you not expect that only that group would quit? Also, if you were the owner of freenode for so long, why does almost no-one in the chat logs which have been made public seem to be aware of you?

Maybe that's exactly the problem: Lee was being a custodian in the background. Tomaw or whomever decides they want control, so starts spreading falsehoods about interactions with Lee / Lee's intentions. Because Lee is so hands off, these falsehoods gain a lot of traction before Lee is aware of them / can do anything about them and now we're here.

Not saying this is the reality, but it doesn't seem far-fetched given the IRC drama I've seen in the past. Certainly not any more far-fetched than the "Lee wants to takeover freenode" (the entity he already owned for years) angle.

> "Lee wants to takeover freenode" (the entity he already owned for years)

This is a thing that is confusing, because I've seen some claims that there are in fact two entities operating under the name "freenode": the IRC network itself, which is a federated collective owned by nobody, and Freenode Ltd, a company that basically just exists to register the domains and hold the trademarks, which passed from Chris to Lee in 2017.

It sounds like in March, Tom, the new head of staff for the IRC network, wanted to get more control over the limited company, and at the same time Lee, the owner of the limited company, wanted to get more control over the network.

I don't think tomaw had any interest in control over the limited company, but did want to exclude the limited company from control of the network.

Why are you acting like a mediator between two conversations you were never part of, it's like you are trying to play devils advocate. You aren't helping the discussion, if you know you know, if you don't you don't.

I'm not trying to mediate a conversation I was never a part of, I am trying to mediate this conversation, right now. There are a lot of people in this thread who also don't have intimate knowledge of these goings on and yet are automatically taking one side's word for it with zero evidence. You don't see that as a problem?

Did you read the PDF? It’s actually really clear there. Lots of defamatory and false comments were made by the former staff - which are proven to be false in the document.

In terms of the ownership, it was on the main blog and website for the past 4 years [1].

Also checkout http://techrights.org/2021/05/21/freenode-facts/


[1] https://freenode.net/news/pia-fn

I read the whole PDF and I think I speak for a lot of people when I say it doesn't really make anything clear at all.

Your claim of ownership over Freenode isn't news; it's one detail that both sides of this controversy seem ready to agree on: someone named christel somehow sold you an IRC network 5 years ago, unbeknownst (until recently) to the people operating the IRC network on their own servers.

What is the PDF meant to clarify beyond that?

> someone named christel somehow sold you an IRC network 5 years ago, unbeknownst (until recently) to the people operating the IRC network on their own servers.

This is false [1]. The PDF clarifies a great many of the unanswered questions and verified that despite former staff attempt to say I was lying, all I did was spoke the truth and helped when asked.

Please review the PDF.

Lastly, I also run servers on freenode and have for years preceding the acquisition.

The PDF puts to rest all the falsehoods and uncertainties in my opinion but please let me know if there is something I missed!

[1] https://freenode.net/news/pia-fn

You keep saying this, and people keep telling you they have read the PDF. Perhaps it's helpful for you to hear this stated plainly: the PDF is inscrutable, and does not say clearly what you seem to believe it does.

The announcement you link to here is itself clear as mud and has been quoted by your opponents. It says Freenode and PIA are "joining forces", "in the same family", but "continue to operate as a not-for-profit entity with the same management". That could mean anything. In particular, the first sentence after the subhed "what's next" reads "There will be few noticeable changes in terms of day-to-day operations, the freenode project will continue to operate with much the same structure and volunteer base as it does now."

> the PDF is inscrutable

I was able to follow it pretty easily. What did you have trouble with?

Sure, if it's helpful:

* Its central claim, that PIA or Lee or whoever directed a bunch of money to Freenode or people involved with freenode, isn't contested by anyone. There's no record to set straight there.

* It spends the bulk of its time talking about a problem Lee seems to have with Thomas Welsey ("tomaw", I think?) --- but the logs with "tomaw" seem relatively civil? It's not really even clear what the problem here is.

* The public announcement from Christel and the IRC logs make it pretty clear that the Freenode operator community believed Lee was to have no operational role managing Freenode. What seems to have upset Lee here is a reorganization of Freenode's operational management, and something about who has the login for Freenode's DNS. Why does this matter? It seems to be obvious to Lee why this is problematic, but it's not at all obvious to me.

Subtextually: there's the additional problem of "what the hell does it mean to own an IRC network?" Neither Lee nor his company appear to run all the Freenode servers. Those servers are the actual IRC network. It's not that IRC's nature makes it impossible to own a network, but rather just that whatever it is Lee means by "owning" it, the onus is on him to explain it.

This PDF would be better if it stated clearly up top what the problem was, what the competing claim was, and why Lee's claim is right. Then, all these random chat logs should just be supporting appendices.

I'm not saying Lee is wrong about any of this. I'm saying that I do not understand what he is claiming in the first place.

> Why does this matter? It seems to be obvious to Lee why this is problematic, but it's not at all obvious to me.

There's "freenode" -- the network, the volunteers, and there's 'Freenode Limited' the company, which owns the Freenode domain and trademark. The latter were being held by christel, and she seemed to have sneakily sold them to Lee because she needed money (she seems to have lied to the rest of team about the details of transfer, the rest of the team only learned later about all that was handed over to Lee when lawyers got involved). By virtue of controlling the domain and having access to the website, Lee seems to have put ads on the site... this rubbed some folks the wrong way. They all had a foreboding feeling of things to come and tried to get the domain firmly under their control... to which Lee resisted. Lee does own the domain, he paid for it fair and square after all, so he's got that going for him...

But at this point that's the only thing he's got going for him.... because Freenode is an IRC network with community roots that wants to remain community-oriented and away from commercialization and pesky shell ads, so Freenode is no longer what it used to be, Libera is, and Lee is now left holding a dud.

This is the only explanation I've read so far that makes any sense, thanks!

> PIA or Lee or whoever directed a bunch of money to Freenode or people involved with freenode, isn't contested by anyone.

Because many of the things presented by Andrew Lee (rasengan) seem to be distortions and half-truths, the statement above deserves some scrutiny.

Andrew Lee claims to have donated an amount greater than 1 million (assuming US dollars) to Freenode.

As far as I can tell, this was not to Freenode the IRC network, it was for the FreeNode Live conferences. This conference took place in 2017 and 2018, and had approximately 250 attendees in 2017 and 150-200 attendees in 2018.

The relevant parts as far as I can tell:

• the exact amount donated (1 million) has only been mentioned by Andrew Lee, and has not been verified by anyone else

• the amount donated is only for the two FreeNode Live conferences

• the FreeNode Live conferences seemingly have nothing to do with the freenode IRC network

• none of the money was every given to the people who donate the servers that run the freenode IRC network, or the operators that volunteer their time to run it

A lot of people seems to conflate the two. Andrew Lee's comments seem to encourage that ambiguity (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27236734), presumably because it seems to legitimize his hostile takeover of freenode IRC.

His contribution to the Freenode Live conferences (whatever monetary amount that was) should not entitle him to freenode IRC, he has not given a penny towards that.

> There will be few noticeable changes in terms of day-to-day operations, the freenode project will continue to operate with much the same structure and volunteer base as it does now."

And it absolutely did until it didn’t (as per the meeting agenda notes) as you can see.

Thanks for helping to make that part clear.

Again: it's not clear from anything you've said why those meeting notes were problematic for you, since the one thing announced terms of the arrangement between PIA and Freenode do seem to make clear is that you were not to be operationally involved in Freenode.

I'm also not great at following this whole thing. When did you acquire Freenode or how?

The ownership chain of Freenode was

1. Rob Levin/Lilo, personally

2. Open Projects Network

3. ???


5. Christel, personally

6. freenode ltd.

7. Andrew Lee (via freenode ltd)

After PDPC, what christel personally owned to transfer to freenode ltd to sell to Andrew Lee is... hard to define. A domain and a website, sure. But christel didn't own the servers, did not employ people, and does not have any agreement with the users, something which continued into freenode ltd. And apart from the users, operators, servers, and domain, it's not clear what an IRC network is to own.

It seems to have been 2017 (hopefully I recall the year correctly), by transfer of legally owned/registered assets (all that comes to mind immediately that was under non-volunteer ownership is a couple of servers and a domain name or two, but maybe I'm mistaken about that). Of course, I'm not on any side of this, especially not the "inside" (wherever that may be), and I've just read some of the stuff being published by both sides.

In my estimation, the biggest potential problem for Freenode policy that I see is based on the the statements by some departing staffers that indicate the parent company may collect and monetize user data. That would be a pretty shitty outcome. I asked a current (post-split) Freenode staffer about improving privacy measures on the network, and got very encouraging responses, though. Of course, a single staffer is not exactly an ironclad indication of policy. Perhaps the only way to really know how it'll hash out is to wait and see. I plan to keep an eye on the Freenode privacy policy.

Do you plan to waive your attorney-client privilege for your lawyers' communications and release them to the community? This would be a really lovely piece of transparency by you.

If not, why?

>There will be few noticeable changes in terms of day-to-day operations, the freenode project will continue to operate with much the same structure and volunteer base as it does now

It did until I was locked out of the dns and an internal reorganization and structure was put in place. The screenshots from former staff agenda is on the PDF.

I don’t wish to be on irc 24/7 contrary to what people might or might not think.

The screenshots seems incomplete, which makes me doubtful to trust them. If you are able to show the full conversations it could enlighten me further, but truncated pictures and screenshots won't do.

The internal reorganization and structure seems a sensible thing to do (as an outsider it even looks like an improvement) and was agreed by all the staff. You weren't supposed to interfere so why a new structure and reorg would affect you ?

You also seemed to be annoyed by them improving the current IRCd. Why that would matter to you ?

There's nothing about DNS in the meeting notes that I can see.

Check the messages about the DNS in the pdf. Thanks Thomas for caring! You seldom seem to miss replying to my comments, and I appreciate it.

Again: there's nothing about DNS in the meeting minutes that you just cited upthread.

I'm also a little confused. The PIA/Freenode announcement says "There will be few noticeable changes in terms of day-to-day operations, the freenode project will continue to operate with much the same structure and volunteer base as it does now." Why would you be involved operationally in any way with Freenode's administration? What would any reorganization have mattered to you? Wasn't the point of the structure you claim you had that Freenode's operators had self-determination?

These are still more instances of this PDF you've produced not really clarifying your position here.

He asked you that the head of staff, a.k.a the only person really responsible and managing the network, to own the domain. This is a sensible request.

"announcing a new ircd and a partnership with OFTC" ? Dude. Solanum is an evolution of Seven, which needed to evolve; based on Charybdis. It's not _new_, it's just an _evolution_, and one that is badly needed (to support ircv3 features and much more).

OFTC is also working on that IRCd. This is not a mad partnership either. Two networks joining forces to develop and improve a proven IRC platform (Charybdis/Atheme) is not something insane at all.

Hang on. If I'm following all this correctly, at that point the current head of staff had only held that role for less than a month. So the big demand here was that control over the domain name was transferred not to the community, or to some non-profit, but to some individual who'd seemingly been manoeuvred into place for the purpose of transferring that control to them. That certainly smells like a shady takeover attempt of some kind, even if the details are opaque.

The previous holder of that job, Christel, had access to the DNS account, why couldn't Tom?

Like, yeah, Tom was maneuovered into place to take control of the DNS account, because thats what a head of staff does. Do you think that each new US president shouldn't get the nuclear codes either?

He wasn't just asking for access to the DNS account - which it seems like, in fact, he already had and used to try and lock Andrew Lee and others involved in Freenode out - but for ownership of the domains to be transferred to him personally. Which would mean that in effect he would be the one who decided what Freenode was and who controlled it from then on, and if any other staff or users disagreed they could just pound sand. In particular, he appears to have rejected the idea of any kind of community ownership or control over the domain ownership.

It looks like he asked about the domain transfer, and from the transcript Lee didn't say "no", and then later --- it looks like a month later, from the transcripts the other Freenode ops posted --- Lee asked for an employee of Freenode Ltd to be given access to Freenode's DNS and IRCop status.

Here's a log; search for "kevinp":


This is all super weird.

> I don’t wish to be on irc 24/7 contrary to what people might or might not think.

then why acquire freenode?

To be fair, volunteers on freenode also had lives outside of IRC.

Hi Andrew, thanks for participating in the comments here.

Will you consider disclosing the terms under which you purchased freenode? PDFs of executed documents, ideally?

That information is confidential in nature. That said tomaw has seen it and has handed freenode back over if that helps to understand what it’s content may have.

I really apologize for the inconvenience.

What are the terms of the confidentiality agreement? Who would need to sign off on terminating the confidentiality agreement, and would you consider doing so in order to help the public understand what's going on?

About the majority of the questions I will get back to you. In terms of the latter - I wish I could have simply posted it — so absolutely, yes.

Thanks. I'm glad to hear that -- I think the lack of transparency around the sale is making it hard for a lot of people (myself included) to make sense of this whole situation.

so you're willing to disclose it?

I'm sure the other side would also be open to it

if both sides are happy there should be no problem whatsoever

this would completely settle the debate

The other side might be christel, not the libera.chat ops.

I think it's just Christel needed money and this guy took advantage and no one or almost no one with admin/operational duties was informed. So I think the legality of this transaction was dubious.

But, I don't think it matters that much anymore. People just need to get the word out that the network has a new name.

so... she told Andrew that he now is the owner of freenode, whilst simultaneously telling the staff that he wasn't?

whilst Andrew paid her (seemingly in exchange for ownership)

not a bad deal for her... if that's a correct assessment then it certainly looks like that could be considered to be fraud

Yeah I've come to the same conclusion but idk why the staff didn't say this in the first place. They only said that they didn't know he was the owner.


Confidentiality, NDA's, and other business tools like it are at complete odds with open source, free software, transparency, and honesty.

It's comments like this that cement the idea of getting off of Freenode to Libera.chat is the best thing we could do.

To say business tools and confidentiality are at odds with open source is comical at best. Some of us work on FOSS as a career. We still have to sign NDAs with customers, we still upstream patches to core components.

Throwing your toys out of the ring because business is business is why open source has a funding problem.

Why the heck would a IRC network, run by volunteer, with infra graciously provided by sponsors, have to sign NDAs with anyone? Everything about Freenode should have been transparent.

> To say business tools and confidentiality are at odds with open source is comical at best. Some of us work on FOSS as a career. We still have to sign NDAs with customers, we still upstream patches to core components.

It makes sense that credentials to services are confidential. But aside that, the whole point behind a bulk of free software and open source is that everything's done out in the open. You get to watch the meat grinder - and you can even operate it as well! The head butcher may have exacting quality controls, but again - its viewable.

And yes, many of us have NDA's. I have a few myself, only on the specific implementations of systems I build and/or maintain, and internal business things. I reviewed it with an attorney, and believed their limited scope was acceptable and reasonable.

> Throwing your toys out of the ring because business is business is why open source has a funding problem.

There's a few assumptions there.

1. I helped *migrate* people away from (un)Freenode to Libera.chat . I didn't throw them away - i helped move people over for a mostly seamless experience.

2. That open source/free software has a funding problem... That's just a troll statement - you're assuming business needs are the same as FOSS. They're not. And unlike closed source proprietary, once FOSS code has been written, everyone can share. But you knew that; and that's why I call it a troll statement. It's disingenuous at its core.

I do commercial FOSS work without an NDA just fine. Seems it might just be a problem on your side...

One of the companies I worked for tried to avoid NDAs whenever it could. They were apparently full of retarded requirements like giving the customer full access to all of our systems for security review on demand, which of course is at odds with every other NDA requiring us not to share the information on those systems.

I am not sure how lawyers can write these requirements without noticing how impossible they are. Then again I had to can a project that was signed of by the lawyers of at least three different companies, the software licenses involved made it impossible to build a commercial or open source project from it (GPL, AGPL and at least two conflicting commercial ones). So it might just be that they have as much understanding of technology as I have of Chinese.

The way you choose to handle business doesn’t invalidate what he said, and you shouldn’t take that as a dig.

It is a double edged sword - he's also bound (and may not have been the initiator).

Is it really a hostile takeover when it's supported by 100% of the staff who had been running freenode for decades, and the only person who didn't like it was you?

From what I've read it seems like you generally seem to have Freenode's interests at heart, but this seems like a complete communication failure. Most channels I've been a part of have moved to Libera Chat, so I don't think Freenode in its current form can recover from this.

Maybe you should consider incorporating it as a nonprofit and potentially a technology switch to Matrix? It would be nice to have a homeserver that people can rely on and isn't Matrix.org.

> * Maybe you should consider incorporating it as a nonprofit and potentially a technology switch to Matrix? *

Please don't. I like Matrix, I use it, but it's not IRC, and it's far, far more resource heavy (both in homeserver and in clients) than IRC is. You can run IRC on ancient gutless wonders, and it uses almost no resources. Matrix, especially the flagship Element client, is a resource hog. Start throwing rooms with thousands of users in, and it requires an awful lot of resources.


One (or some) of freenode staff did make it clear that freenode was a platform rather than exclusively an IRC network, which suggested that they may have had plans to look into alternative platforms in the future. And the Matrix-IRC bridge went to prove that Matrix usage is increasing, although I understand that there are a lot of people who still insist on IRC.

I'm not a huge fan of Matrix's current design or implementation, but I use it and I can understand why others do.

IRC stays IRC, but how else does a network like freenode survive a giant schism? They need to differentiate from libera chat.

Matrix has problems, but as the ecosystem grows we'll start to see improvements.

I’ve been using Matrix with Riot, now Element, for 5 years and it’s only ever gotten worse. You really shouldn’t expect to see improvements.

My main problem with Matrix (which I'm willing to work around because of the benefits of a federated, self hosted, encrypted chat system) is that it seems to assume everyone has a lot of high end, modern hardware, at all ends of the system.

Synapse is fine until someone on the homeserver starts joining a bunch of rooms, then you'd better have a lot of RAM for it.

And Element, while a perfectly good client, is the standard "bloated electron app" option that chews 700MB of RAM and lags, entering text, on a Raspberry Pi 4.

There are alternatives, but they tend to have weird issues, at least last time I messed with them, in how they handle some of the corner cases of encryption.

I've used Matrix for the past couple of years for work chat system, and I personally think that the thing is a fad at best.

Synapse is simply awful as a server implementation, and the clients are just simply bloated.

But if you are looking for a good federated, self hosted, and encrypted chat solution, for my own private chat system; I've gone back to XMPP - I've settled on:

* ejabberd (which is in Erlang so just by definition is going to perform leagues better than Python) - prosody also works fine (especially for "lower end" servers) - though both need a bit of configuration at first install

* conversations.im on my Android phone

* dino.im on my desktop (which recently added calling capabilities back to phones: https://fosstodon.org/@dino/106228549009869402 )

* (if you're on a Windows desktop): gajim.org is still making releases and works (including E2EE)

I do not know of a good iOS client for XMPP right now, but these three fully support OMEMO for E2EE and I've had no issues talking to others on them.

I used Riot/Element since back when it was still called "Vector" (these guys love their name changes)

It's ok but it's really aiming at the whatsapp/telegram crowd. Open a few hundred channels and it's overwhelmed, especially visually. You can set the channels to a higher-density view but not the channel list itself. You're scrolling forever.

Unfortunately Matrix is very tightly coupled with Element, it's the only client that really implements everything.

I'd love something like Quassel (which is what I use for IRC now) for Matrix. Native app, excellent performance and features.

fwiw Synapse has got progressively better, especially in the last 6 months. Element performance has certainly got worse over time though and we are working on that now.

If Libera.chat gets 60% of the users, freenode would still be the second largest IRC network. I think there will be a enough inertia among people/projects who don't follow hacker news or internet trends for the remainder of freenode to retain an audience.

The bigger question is if they retain enough server sponsors, who may be paying more attention. They might defect to libera.chat or OFTC, or just decide the whole business is not worth their while.

Why wouldn’t freenode survive? The people that want to go can go. The people that stay, stay.

Or please do. It would kill freenode dead and then there would be no debate about whether channels should stay on freenode or move to libera.

One of the main points of matrix is that every server should be compatible and form a federation with others. What is the point of moving people onto a specific server?

With IRC freenode has a control structure that can enforce their rules/guidelines, this breaks with matrix.

I think the big concerns with matrix.org centralisation are:

* If matrix.org went away tomorrow, is there enough capacity in the rest of matrix for users to migrate to.

* Federation only exists when a channel has users from multiple homeservers on it - how many small/medium channels only exist on matrix.org?

* People's identities are tied to their home server. You would be userfoo:matrix.org - if matrix.org went away, how would you find all your contacts again?

Points 1 and 2 would be addressed by more capacity and more independent homeservers, point 3 would require some sort of multi-homing.

1. About 30% of the visible users on Matrix are on Matrix.org. So, yes.

2. Almost all public rooms seem to have users from other servers.

3. Account portability/multihoming is in the works at https://github.com/matrix-org/matrix-doc/pull/2787

One thing which is unambiguous, both from your timeline and Thomas's: you were the first to contact a lawyer and send a gag order. He then responded with his own lawyer and his own gag order. And frankly, it doesn't seem at all reasonable that confidentiality would be necessary if the dispute is really just about a domain name account and a logo. Overall, it's hard to parse a coherent narrative from anything here, but a bare reading of the few unambiguous facts doesn't look good for you, from where I'm sitting.

I have no association with freenode or any major IRC channels, unless you count the GT Linux Users' Group (which is exactly what it sounds like).

That's fine. We've already switched quite a few rooms to Libera.chat due to this debacle. More are moving as we speak.

I don't know who's right or who's wrong. What I do know is that a LOT of volunteer IRC OPs left en masse for "reasons". I know a few of them, and am inclined to trust them. I'll talk with them after the dust settles.

I know how to read the room, even though I don't have all the information. I helped migrate the rooms I'm frequent in. So far, it's been pretty smooth over on Libera.

Technology has almost never been about the tech - it's about the people. Always has been.

The logs posted over at


Seem to indicate that the staff were unitedly and firmly against this. It's suspicious having the entire team against one person. I still don't get the whole picture but claims when made by an entire staff usually have merit.

It is ritual defamation [1]. This has been apparently going on for quite some time [2].

[1] http://techrights.org/2021/04/29/ritual-defamation/

[2] https://phanes.silogroup.org/vae-victis/

It's pretty funny that your one-two punch here consists of accusing the Freenode operator community of defaming you, and then following up with a post that does little more than accuse them of assisting stalkers and abusers.

Link #2 is a low-level, disrespectful and rude document - filled with personal attacks and insults.

How can you expect to gain any sympathy posting something that is phrased like that?


Hey <scrutinizer80>,

I'm the author at that blog. I was made aware of this thread in another medium and thought I'd chime in.

I completely get why it would be advantageous to try to discredit people who disagree with you on the internet, but it's not always the most fruitful approach.

Without rehashing old wounds by diving too far into specifics, this is a situation that has been brewing since at least 2008 when I was targeted for cyber-lynching after a very damaging encounter with someone later diagnosed with NPD and their resulting smear campaign and it's tangent offshoots.

I would encourage you to read about these types of campaigns, their dynamics, and how it affects people who are targeted by them. There are others who were targeted by the same people. In my case it was a revolving door for a bit as one campaign provides fuel for another and it kind of follows you for a bit. Someone sees a smear another made, and uses that to rehash it or make their own in a new context. Others not aware of what's going on (and sometimes they _are_ aware of what's going on) join in. Some do it because they think it's funny, some do it because their naivety is being exploited, or feel obligated to out of social ties to primary and secondary actors.

Those types of situations become messy and ambiguous as it unfolds; to the target it seems like it's coming from everywhere. Some of the staff at Freenode at one point or another became involved -- along with several members of other communities that maintain a presence on Freenode and are socially connected to many of the staff. While only some participated directly, there were others who engaged in victim-blaming, gaslighting, and generally enabled the abuse while punishing the target.

I did something a little different than most people who are targeted by these campaigns -- I found a way to fight back and I never stopped trying to have it addressed. I refused to see myself as a victim and I fought, and I fought hard, and I fought for a very long time. There was absolutely some "cloak and dagger" on my part, and over the years I've had to let alot of all of this go for my own sanity, but I still want to see justice for authority figures who not just allowed it, but facilitated it and in some cases participated in it. I don't want any of them in authority positions in /any/ community, particularly freenode.

For a while I didn't realize how some of the dynamics worked in these. The targets are baited to an extraordinary extent, and then what are normal reactions to being baited like that are then used to justify the initial baiting in an endless cycle. So, before I adapted to it I inadvertently fed into it a bit. I fed too much into it, and I did that too many times.

Some years ago, I eventually settled on a "sanctions-focused" adversarial model, and this allowed me to work out an agreement with Freenode and OFTC after I found a way to build something they really did not want me to build, called (humorously) "IRCThulu". A staffer approached me and worked out an agreement that worked for both networks that basically consisted of me being left alone to develop my projects of interest (hobby which later became career) with access to both networks and me not escalating the issue any further to sweep it under the rug.

I shouldn't have taken the compromise because I knew how these people would act when there was no visibility on them; when that staff member was recently fired they immediately took to trying to shut down all of my work and ability to engage again under false pretenses. Tom Wesley and Doug Freed at OFTC, Fuchs and Jess at Freenode participated directly in this and it was immediate. I initially thought this might be related to my participation in the counter-campaign to defend Richard Stallman. I currently believe it is more closely related to or compounded by a power struggle in the network where my story coming out would be problematic.

I don't think alot of people can do what I did; at the time I didn't have as many legal resources or funding necessary to fight something like that as I do now. By the time I did it was too late to pursue justice in a courtroom.

So, I used the tools I did have available.

In any case, yes, there is animus on my part towards these people. I believe that they deserve justice, and I believe that I am entitled to it as well -- and I see them leaving Freenode as the closest thing I can get to that. The exclusionist gatekeeper mentality that comes with their culture has been the most poisonous and unharmonious element of the F/OSS community since its inception. Not just in my case, but in most cases. I've found others who were in similar situations. Not all of them fared as well. I ended up in a pretty good spot, but there are others out there who need help and aren't getting it. There is one in particuarly that I am thinking of as I write this, and it pains me that I don't know how to help him. I tried to a little, but when I point out what's being done to him, people just find a way to shut it down. I can't help him yet because I don't know how.

I am genuine, and I believe this, so much so that I am willing to identify myself in a conversation with someone who is using an anonymous user on a posting board, which exposes me to further retaliation and smearing by not just yourself but any random person who thinks it's funny to stir up drama who will read this response or has a political interest or takes offense who was directly or indirectly involved and wants to reshape reality to their interests.


Thanks for your elaborate reply. I don’t know the details of your personal dispute with the (ex)Freenode staff individuals and I don’t think it matters right now. These things happen in practically all large communities on/off-line. It’s human nature. My issue was with Mr. Lee using your post as a means to redeem himself with the community. That blog post as genuine as it may be for you is phrased in a derogatory, childish way and shouldn’t be presented to people who are not involved with the social inner-workings of IRC. It’s bad strategy on Mr. Lee’s part and indicates a lack of judgement and dubious conduct.

I do believe you’re genuinely hurt, and quite possibly some of the staff have indeed wronged you. Yet the way your words were used by another who is not you, to publically defame people does you a disservice. Your reply to me has made it more than clear that you’re perfectly capable of explaining your position in a civil manner. Having that blog post online puts you in a bad light, however right you may be.

You’ve expressed your support of Richard Stallman which is basically supporting his right to be an a-hole and not to publically destroy his life. Now put your money where your mouth is and stand for those individuals’ right to be a-holes in your eyes and still have a life free of public personal humiliation.

All the best & No hard feelings, Scrutinizer.

The disappearance of this blog post makes me think there's been a realization of some sort, perhaps that the post closely resembled accounts of "gang stalking", posted by individuals suffering from paranoid schizophrenia? I wonder if you realize in turn, how close you are to organized stalking yourself.

Thank you for taking the time, Andrew.

I have noticed this pattern in many online communities which are controlled by one or small group of people, I think it's straight from the playbook.

I agree and you’re very welcome!

> Long story short, former staff were upset about a logo but the logos were there since the start. I wanted to share that.


"since the start."

That commit is replacing the logo and link of the previous sponsor Private Internet Access with one for Shells instead, and looking at the Wayback Machine that previous logo and link has been there since about April 2016[1] in the same location with the same level of prominence. (The one in the top-right corner underneath the Wayback Machine's toolbar, not the "Private Internet Access" entry in the footer which seems to have disappeared with the switch to Shells.) So in reality, this isn't some shocking new intrusion of corporate logos that began in 2021 despite ex-Freenode staff succesfully spinning it that way, it's something that's been going on pretty much since he purchased Freenode Inc half a decade ago. (Actually, maybe even before he did. Not 100% sure of the exact timeline.) The only thing that's changed is which sponsor and logo exactly is featured. Apparently somehow no-one thought to check if this key, easily-verified claim is actually true until I ended up stumbling on the old PIA logo by accident when looking for the new sponsor's one.

In fact, thinking about it I seem to remember some discussion of the fact that the PIA logo had been added at the time and that it was something to do with their funding of Freenode Live, and that no-one much seemed to care back then aside from a few trolls of the sort Freenode has always attracted under all its owners.

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20160413123025/https://freenode....

There were actually plenty of concerns about the PIA involvement and logo at the time, but they were largely dismissed by others with the usual "what are you complaining about, it's just business" rhetoric.

And that's how we ended up here.

I think you left out a few important things in that paragraph.

There was at least one significant dispute. Something about a DNS change that would cause many people to leave. What exactly was that?

Also, that Christel person or whatever their name, the fact that they apparently were kind of desperate for money at some point and so supposedly sold you something seems like you were taking advantage of them and the situation rather than getting involved from the goodness of your heart.

How can you own something like Freenode which is a completely volunteer effort that doesn't make money?

And what would be the point of "buying" it if you were not trying to monetize it? And if you were then how would that be in the spirit of "Free"node?

How is it "just in time" if the majority of the projects already left?

The DNS dispute is when I, who owned the domains, was cut off from the domains and simply asked for it back. As you can see I was approached by freenode to buy freenode please don’t twist it.

Did you read the PDF with the screenshots?

"If you make me do this I'll lose half the staff" "for a pointless dns change you'll probably never do anything with"

That sounds like a specific change was requested which was controversial.

> As you can see I was approached by freenode

You were approached by christel.

Ok..so were you cut off from access or did your own employee decide to enable two-factor authentication, and since you had neglected to set that up for quite some time, you were locked out?

Because that's what I heard.


I am not twisting anything. If I had not read the PDF then how would I know christel was desperate?

Why is it so important for the Freenode community that you own the domain? Because as far as I can tell, the Freenode community moved to Libera.chat and made a much nicer website that doesn't have an ad on it for some kind of unrelated VM service prominently featured on the home page. And they have moved the chat rooms also.

Thanks Andrew, and very good that you prepared enough evidences to counter those issues raised by drama queens. All the free software is protected by copyrights, foundations, and so is the infrastructure. Somebody has to pay for it. Somebody does have assets, be it foundation or private individual or a group of individuals, but somebody is always considered owner of the assets and those assets have to be protected.

Thanks for doing the work, and I kind of feel it unfair and totally unjust to you as a protector and supporter of the IRC network. It is free because of people like you and others.

IMHO, all that drama was staged, planned.

The reason why such networks have to be held under legal entities is funding number one, as to keep networks financed by sponsors, and protection number two. Legal entities are formed under country's laws and in case of trouble it is legitimate to use laws to protect assets. You have not done nothing wrong in doing so.

Keep doing well!

it's free because the actual sponsors (the ISPs) paid for the servers and the staff volunteered their time to support the network

Mr Lee coming along and secretly giving christel a salary on the side would likely have had no effect on the operations of the IRC network had it not happened (bar maybe christel spending less time on IRC...)

I think the flashpoint was the nasty lawyerese received by the newly-instated head of staff (tomaw) after he had been elected. The story is impenetrable because, from what I gather, the lawyerese contained a gag order not to discuss the contents of the letter.

These letters were sent both ways. That’s why I was unable to speak until now.

Who sent them first, and why?

I couldn't unravel it in a 10-minute skim, over lunch just now.

I speculate that one of the causes of this confusion (which is eerily familiar, from countless other disputes in community projects) is that people involved in community project disputes tend not enlist professional communicators to represent their perspective, and the disputes don't tend to be covered by investigative journalists. And outsiders just aren't interested to unravel it. Many individuals invest much of their lives into community projects, sometimes with little else left, and aren't prepared for suddenly being subject to the court of public opinion. And the public generally isn't invested enough in the matter, to work long to understand it.

Anyway, it sounds unfortunate that Freenode appears to be going through a rough time, and I hope good comes out of this period of its history.

FWIW, before Freenode started, lilo was on other networks, and I recall him asking how to create a nonprofit organization, which I assumed that was what became Freenode. I think the intent was to have a legal structure that would permit an IRC network to sustainably represent particular community interests.

Freenode doesn't have any sort of non-profit. Freenode Ltd was created much later and only for organising Freenode Live.

Libera.Chat does have a non-profit, however, according to the announcement.

Looks like this PDPC charity might've been what lilo ended up doing to try to make Freenode sustainable (though my guess is that it didn't "own" Freenode)? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freenode#Peer-Directed_Project...

Christel only legally owned anything of Freenode to sell to Andrew Lee because she took it over in the dissolution of PDPC. If PDPC never legally owned Freenode, it would be owned by... Rob Levin's estate? So I think PDPC did own Freenode in some form.

It sounds like rasengan/Andrew Lee wanted a specific DNS change made which was objectionable to the staff, and that triggered the whole mess. I hadn’t seen it mentioned before but one of the chats from Thomas includes something about backing off from a DNS change.

I was cut off from the domains 2 days after tomaw asked me to give him ownership. So I was asking to revert a change not make a new one.

In a weird way I sort of like the drama, reminds me of the old wild westy IRC days haha

A thought occurs -- this is probably the last big IRC network drama

The drama is "interesting" but it becomes disgusting when I realise that this affects people who just want a stable communication platform and don't care about the politics.

Yeah interesting in the same sense as watching a nature documentary and seeing the natural lifestyle of animals including being eaten by other animals

Interesting doesn't imply good

The posts by the volunteers were quite coherent. This one by Lee is not.

Interestingly, I don't really see any 'other side' of the story here. It's the same story:

1. Christel sells 'something' to Andrew while under apparent financial distress.

2. Tomaw somehow learns that Andrew is willing to take over operational matters and tries to act against it.

3. Andrew keeps pushing his authority using titles such as 'Board of Freenode' and 'Chairman of Freenode'.

4. Volunteers actually running Freenode don't feel like working for free for a for-profit company and leave to found Libera.chat.

#2 is very false

If you had no plans to take over operations, then what was your argument about decentralization, and what was your "plan forward" that you spent "considerable time preparing"?

And another thing, why did you believe that you had the right to "appoint" a head of staff?

He is a prince.

From Freenode's own website in 2017: "Following discussion and deliberation we have decided to formally (and legally) ally ourselves with PIA. Freenode will continue to operate as a not-for-profit entity under the same management, with the same principles, but PIA's involvement going forwards will provide us with opportunities and resources that we could previously only dream of. PIA will provide an operating budget, mentorship and support that will allow freenode to implement some of the projects and ideas that have previously been on the backburner due to constraints in terms of volunteer time and resources." [1]

[1] https://freenode.net/news/pia-fn

Classic Faustian bargain. Offer people money, obtain control in exchange.

Once again showing that the hardest problems in tech are not actually technical problems - they're social problems.

What technology problem is not a social problem :)

The one you work on by yourself.

Nobody works entirely by themselves. They always rely on a village, family, spouse, etc.

Thankfully my village, family, spouse, etc. have nothing to do with my side projects. :)

"The conversation ends up a monologue with me explaining decentralization to Thomas, who abruptly ends the conversation letting me know he’d like to speak later."

Where's that monologue? Why cut it out?

Agreed. Also not sure why he chose to point out someone putting a pause on a conversation. People aren’t obligated to talk with you when you want them to.

It’s clear from later messages that Thomas had other things going on and I’m sure that conversation was not helping.

> In 2017, Christel, the former owner of freenode, asked me for assistance with funding and asked me to acquire it. I oblige.

Was Christel ever the owner of Freenode? I thought Freenode was anarchically-organised.

Christel was the head of staff and created a limited corporation in the UK to manage freenode’s name and trademarks. What’s unclear is how much “freenode limited” owns in terms of the network itself.

the formation of Christel's corporation did effectively make her* the owner. any court would see a service she is involved in operating by his company's trademark, as belonging to that company. sad.

As I said, the part that is unclear is how much “freenode limited” owns.

The core of freenode- the servers themselves- are sponsored and owned by third parties. The volunteers maintaining the infrastructure are not affiliated with the corporation either.

So really what this whole mess has boiled down to is what is the delineation between freenode limited and freenode-the-volunteer-run-sponsored-network. Andrew believes he owns everything, and the former staff believe he only owns the name, trademark, and potentially the website/domain.

> the former staff believe he only owns the name, trademark, and potentially the website/domain

That's my reading too but apparently the staff did hand over the network on their way out. So now freenode is apparently actually consolidated into the Freenode Limited company with both the name/DNS/trademark and the network itself. The legal situation behind those moves is not public and is probably the only thing left to be known.

It just goes back to my point, though, what is "the network" and what can any one person or group of people hand over?

The ssh keys to the servers? Sure, but that doesn't mean freenode ltd now owns the servers or the software running on them. They've just been given operational control over them (which I guess is exactly what Andrew wanted at the end of the day) but who exactly owns "the network" if that's even possible is still incredibly murky, at least to me.

A "network" is a very nebulous thing when everything is informal and run by volunteers and sponsors.

I'd say that if you control both the DNS and own the network data (chanserv/nickserv/etc) you own the network. You can at any point stand up an entirely different infrastructure, staffed by entirely different people, switch over to it and the users just migrate over as they reconnect. It would look like a really bad net split that doesn't resolve without reconnecting. The splintering network can just advertise a new DNS and fork the network although legally they may not have a claim on the data.

In this case it seems the DNS might have been sold in rather murky circumstances a while ago although the technical control of the DNS was not handed over. That seems to be the DNS change that was the focal point for the current crisis, when, presumably under legal threat, the staff handed that over.

The network data doesn't seem to have been explicitly owned by anyone. The volunteers managed the servers donated by other entities. In a court it would probably be really hard to figure out who owned that data given the lack of an entity the users where agreeing to a ToS with. But now the Freenod Limited company does control everything at least technically. If there was a hostile takeover it was that one. The staff apparently didn't think they could just take a backup of the data and move it over to the new network either. Maybe they've conceded they didn't have a claim on that data or they were cautious for legal reasons.

Very good points. I had read your other comment saying the same and it makes a lot of sense; the service databases likely are the "true" network since everything else can be changed around it.

> The staff apparently didn't think they could just take a backup of the data and move it over to the new network.

I doubt we'll ever find out if it's because they believed freenode ltd owned the data or just didn't want to deal with the inevitable legal battle that would certainly ensue. Sad that often times it's just the person with the stronger legal team that wins in these situations.


It’s a mess. I’d gotten the impression that Freenode just recently been bought.

Are the staff leaving due to issue dating back four years, because the owner have been so hands off that nobody noticed before now?

There is such as thing as letting the dust settle before you make your move. Look at what Facebook has done with whatsapp, a few years after the acquisition; clearly it was planned from the start but they had to wait a bit.

That is kinda the problem; anarchically-organised community can not own a domain name, it falls always to some singular entity. And that is where the anarchy broke down when the community realized that they did not own the domain

Now this throws the ball to thomaw, who is, according to this pdf, “not capable with working with people in a suitable way”.

Also, while Andrew claims he supports decentralization, he also says he is “the owner” of freenode, which still smells really bad. It’s possible that Andrew himself also sent out bad signals to other staffs, which led to this drama.

I still want to know what the decentralization plan is

When we are not happy with a situation, it is easier to pack your shit and leave quietly than to make a stink about it. Many years ago, I was not happy with my bonus after an acquisition so instead of raising a stink I made my own bonus by leaving for a higher paying job. Do yourself a favor: always leave on good terms and be helpful when your old company calls with questions.

This just muddies the waters further.

Let's get concrete: What assets does Freenode have, and who legally owns them?

As far as I can tell "freenode" is a fairly blurry mix of:

The brand, including the DNS: that was passed on between people and then sold within the Freenode Limited company. If you have this you can point the blog and the network to whatever you want but you don't actually have an IRC network to point it to.

The servers: these are donated by various organizations and thus owned by each one. They could join any other IRC network tomorrow or just be turned off by any of those organizations.

The staff: all volunteers that apparently left in mass as they didn't like what was happening. As far as we know they don't have any employment contract with Freenode Limited.

The actual channel/nick data: this is what actually makes the network recognizable to anyone and it's quite unclear where that is and who owns it. Are the Nickserv/Chanserv servers separate and owned by a particular entity or just sharded/replicated across the donated servers?

That last bit seems to be the crucial one. The data is supposedly stored on those donated servers and was operated by that volunteer staff, so owning the DNS wouldn't give you too strong of a claim to it. But apparently the staff was indeed forced to hand the keys over on their way out and start from scratch instead of just standing up the same data on another DNS and doing a blockchain style split. Why this happened seems to be IRC drama. Exactly who has legal rights seems extremely muddy, both because we lack a lot of information, and because it's possibly a thorny issue even for a judge to adjudicate with full briefs. If you buy a DNS that points to a volunteer run network on donated servers do you now own the network that exists there and evolves over time?

> But apparently the staff was indeed forced to hand the keys over on their way out and start from scratch instead of just standing up the same data on another DNS and doing a blockchain style split. Why this happened seems to be IRC drama.

Well, no, not really. More likely the reason for this is that taking the database with them would have given Lee a reason to continue legally harassing and essentially bankrupting them.

I was unclear, sorry. I meant the reason the whole thing as it happened was IRC drama, not the specific point about not using the data. I agree that specifically most likely happened because a group of volunteers don't want to expose themselves to a bunch of litigation from a hostile party.

That question will not help you get clear answers. First ask: what constitutes the entity "Freenode"? Its trademark? Its domain name? Its servers? Its server-side management code? Its operational processes? Its bylaws? Its staff?

Once that part of your question is clear, you can ask which part owns which assets.

The servers are owned by various sponsors. The domain name was apparently owned by Freenode Ltd? Other than that there isn't really anything to own.

the only relevant information is what's in the contract that "sold" freenode to Lee

which has conveniently been omitted

without that this looks like gaslighting

Lee is claiming that this is due to some confidentiality agreement, which makes is more inconvenient than convenient.

"I own you, and I have this contract here that proves it, but unfortunately it's secret so I can't show it to you." Seems utterly convenient for him, and inconvenient only for anyone who isn't him. So, no, that can't really be how it works in the real world, can it? If it were -- hey, did you know that I now own the municipality where you live? Bought it a couple years ago, so all your local tax payments for the last year are now due to me. I've implemented a flat-rate income tax of 60 percent. Naah, sorry, the sales contract is a secret, so you'll just have to take my word for it...

If he wants to claim ownership of this utterly nebulously-defined entity "Freenode", he has to show:

1) That he's bought it, i.e. at least the paragraphs of the contract that directly concern the sale -- or, alternatively (not sure how this works in Britain) the registration of transfer of ownership at the relevant regulatory authority; and

2) What he's bought, exactly, i.e. the paragraphs of the contract that specify what exactly was included in the sale -- or alternatively, the registration, including a listing of the assets that went into it, of the company's founding at the relevant regulatory authority. (In the latter case, if those assets are now claimed to include stuff that wasn't there to begin with, those also need to be explicitly specified.)

What most fascinates me about this whole kerfuffle is your adamant refusal to take responsibility for anything. All I've seen from you is continued insistence that nothing is your fault, accompanied by pages of nigh incomprehensible "evidence" that doesn't seem relevant to anything that's actually happened.

The facts of note seem to be: (1) you are, for whatever reason, in charge of freenode; (2) the very first moment you attempted to make use of that position, you destroyed freenode.

That is a *catastrophic* management failure on your part, and the fact that I haven't seen so much as a "my bad" from you is appalling beyond words. Despite how much you claim to care about freenode, you are clearly more concerned with your own image.

The Ardour project has used Freenode for more than 16 years as our primary coordinating and realtime support platform.

I (the project lead) also used IRC back in the 80s and early 90s.

Here's what IRC is to me (I'm not speaking for everyone involved in Ardour):

  * a protocol
  * an accessible server
  * a channel (or two), with a founder and at least one operator
If those things are all functioning, then I really don't care at all about anything going on "behind the scenes". I don't care who does what on the server, I don't care who owns the server, I don't care what the plan is for the ownership of the server. I don't care if there are controversial channels somewhere. I don't care if the server admins are fighting. I don't care where the servers are (*). I don't care about channel creation policies. I don't care about ANY of this, as long as those three things continue to function normally.

The only exception to this is when there is (as there was last year or the year before) a coordinate DDOS attack on the servers. In the situation, I do care that the server admins are competent and have the tools to do what needs to be done. In the case of that attack (which IIRC also somehow centered on Christel in some way), the Freenode admins did what needed to be done, and I thank them for it.

The service that Freenode offered the FOSS community was to make those 3 things available at no charge for our projects. This was (and remains) enormously valuable. But nothing else about Freenode is of importance to me. It could be owned by Google as long as those 3 things work in the right way. I prefer to be using an infrastructure maintained by people with some ideological preference that supports the work we do, but realistically speaking, on a day to day basis, it makes no difference. I'm the operator in #ardour, and as long as the network ops stay out, allow me to set channel modes and other policies, their existence is something I can remain almost entirely blissfully ignorant of.

I don't want to have to care about what is happening at Freenode at all. What we get from IRC is completely orthogonal to the beliefs and behaviors of anyone behind the scenes. I'd prefer that it remains that way, but it seems as if everyone behind the scenes is telling me that I'm supposed to care.

(*) anyone imagining that IRC has any degree of privacy doesn't understand IRC. Ergo, whether the servers are in the US, or the EU, or southern Africa makes no difference to the content that I'm willing to read or write on an IRC channel.

I think this right here reflects the reality of many or most of the channels on Freenode. I am one of the few operators of one of the larger channels on Freenode and it cost me otherwise productive work time (with no warning whatsoever) just to have to prevent the inevitable trolls from squatting on related channels and nicknames (for anyone wondering, we were helped with the channels, but not with nicknames, despite having logs to demonstrate these were registered by squatters). Now we are being "encouraged" to put more work into this matter which is, as far as I can work out, just some interpersonal drama and power politics. We have taken a "wait and see what happens" stance, which seems to be what most are doing, not only because it is unclear what is actually going on here, but because I otherwise have a lot of work to do (despite the time I spend on HN, I promise!).

I love IRC drama! It reminds me of the internet in the early 2000s.

In the end, it seems what happened is that christel sparked a huge misunderstanding between freenode staff and Andrew Lee by making misleading statements to both parties and lying to hide the fact that she had sold freenode to get herself out of financial troubles.

yes, this seems to be the summary of the entire affair

Lee thinks that he legitimately purchased Freenode, and is understandably going after his asset

and the staff have a difference of opinion

meanwhile christel seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth

It's worth noting that, unlike the integral chatlogs published earlier displaying Andrew's questionable views on Freenode, this PDF is full of heavily-snipped logs without context.

The only thing that's clear to me, after this, is that the whole governance structure was never properly defined and codified. It all seems to have been based on gentlemens agreements.

So my understanding of the situation (not an insider, just following the drama):

1. Way back when, Freenode was started by Rob Levin/Lilo. At some stage a legal entity needed to exist, which was Open Projects Network initially.

2. After some drama about misappropriation of funds, Freenode staff seperated themselves (all involved then having moved on by the time of the current drama) from OPN. [1]

3. Still realising the need for a legal entity, they formed PDPC . This had a structure and eventually christel was the leader of said structure.

4. Many years pass

5. The decision is made that PDPC is not providing enough value, when the cost of maintaining the non-profit is Freenode's primary expense. So it's dissolved[2][3]. At this stage, Freenode ceases to exist as a legal entity, but the network still exists. The domains etc. were likely under the personal control of christel at this point.

6. Many more years pass.

7. Due to reasons not definitively answered as christel has made no statements to this point, PIA steps in. They set up freenode ltd as a legal body for this. freenode ltd acquire freenode from christel as part of this, but what's publicly communicated[4] is that it's a partnership, and later downplayed to a sponsorship, including in public by christel[5]. This appears to have been what the staff was informed also. christel also becomes a PIA or LTM employee.

8. A few more years pass. During this time, PIA seperates from LTM via the Kape acquisition [6]. It's LTM which keeps the freenode stake, and Shells is the new LTM company that is the public facing sponsor.

9. Christel puts up a Shells sponsorship on the homepage which is unknown to the rest of the team as to why. When questioned, she leaves. Andrew Lee portrays this questioning as harassment, the libera.chat team portray it as asking "Hey, why is this sponsor there?"

10. Christel resigns. The staff, figuring that Freenode is still a volunteer run group, appoint a new leader, tomaw, who begins taking control and limiting access to Freenode resources to the staff.

11. Andrew Lee claims to own Freenode. After some legal back and forth between tomaw and Andrew Lee, the libera.chat team accept that Christel sold what she owned to Andrew Lee legally, though what she owned is unclear due to the dissolution of PDPC years prior.

12. The staff and Andrew Lee try to negotiate. The staff point out that Freenode is a volunteer run network running on volunteer provided servers, none of which are owned by a freenode entity, and also that it breaks previous public statements and promises to assert control. Andrew Lee points out he is the legal owner and it is inappropriate to remove his access.

13. The staff split off to form libera.chat

So, the points of conflict:

1. Both sides at this point accept that christel sold what she legally owned to Andrew Lee. What did she legally own to sell? The domain and the website for sure, but what is Freenode? The IRC servers are provided on a volunteer basis by server owners with no commitment, the channels are "owned" by the communities in them. So what does it mean to own Freenode?

2. Was Christel in the right to sell things to Andrew Lee? Again, legally, the answer appears to be yes - without PDPC, she did own the assets personally, so could sell them, but morally she was the owner because she was representing the freenode volunteers and in this she didn't appear to have their participation, knowledge, or agreement.

3. Should freenode have a corporate owner? The idea is that it's a volunteer run group, so it feels weird to have a corporate owner. This is a big point of confusion for people who are going "So the owner took control, I don't see why there's a problem here". The issue was there should never have been an individual owner, but because of the costs involved in PDPC and its shutdown, there effectively was. The legal structure became divorced from the community structure at this point. This is considered to be a "So what?" by some people, while it's inherently a problem for others.

[1]: https://www.theregister.com/2003/01/29/buy_a_piece_of_net/

[2]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5403441

[3]: https://freenode.net/news/bye-bye-pdpc

[4]: https://freenode.net/news/pia-fn

[5]: https://freenode.net/news/freenode-pia-changes

[6]: https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/ng5pzj/freenode_now_...

Very good summary (commenting as another outsider).

> So what does it mean to own Freenode?

I think this is the very crux of the issue. Andrew claims to own Freenode in its entirety, even though its not very clear what that means. And that claim apparently rubbed the staff, tomaw in the forefront, in a very wrong way. As far as I can tell, the staff thought that Freenode the network was collectively "owned" if at all, so Andrew waltzing in and claiming singular ownership naturally resulted conflict.

This raised my eyebrow a little:

>At this point, I reach out to prawnsalad, a known person in the IRC space who has relationships with many people.

What Lee neglects to say here is that prawnsalad's work has been sponsored by Lee (via PIA) as far back as 2017.[0]

I have no reason to suggest that prawnsalad has acted improperly,[1] but he's not necessarily a disinterested party here.

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

[1] In fact I've worked with him in the past, and have met him many times in a social context IRL. I was involved with KiwiIRC until shortly before PIA sponsored his work.

KiwiIRC has not been sponsored by PIA since 2019. This point is often brought up to drag me into this drama but it has had no bearing for some time.

He didn’t improperly act as you said and was not interested in this situation other than for the benefit of irc.

To be clear, I have sponsored so many FOSS projects in the past and it’s pretty common knowledge within FOSS — for example even freenode ;)

he didn't act improperly, you did by implying that he is a neutral party

which as your employee/patreon: he isn't

I haven't been employed or sponsored by any of rasengan projects or companies for some time. I have no plans to be involved with any despite offers since then (and not related to this or any other drama related issues). I consider myself equal friends with ex-freenode staff and rasengan. I have also ties with freenode(now libera staff) in closely supporting them with webchat related projects and closely with their former director, Christel.

I had attempted to mediate between both sides because I respected and could see both points of view and thought I could try to help bring both view points inline which almost happened.. until it didn't.

Any attempts in suggesting that I would favour one side over the other is entirely false.

> Any attempts in suggesting that I would favour one side over the other is entirely false.

fortunately no-one has suggested such a thing

Apologies for coming across angry, it's been an interesting few days on this topic :)

He’s not my employee and I said he’s friends with both sides. I would say that makes him neutral.

That is not how neutrality works.

Due to history, and the possibility of being paid again in future, there may be what is called a potential conflict of interest.

But most important is perception. This is what's called a perceived conflict of interest, and it's the sort of thing you have to manage if you want a community based on trust to function well. Even if it seems silly, or like why can't we all just get along.

One way to manage them is to be up front about the relevant working history. Not doing so will be picked up as a sign that something relevant is being hidden deliberately to paint a different picture of interests, and therefore a different picture of likely future actions.

I found this article helpful:


And Wikipedia's intro:

> Typically, a conflict of interest arises when an individual finds himself or herself occupying two social roles simultaneously which generate opposing benefits or loyalties.

> The existence of such conflicts is an objective fact, not a state of mind, and does not in itself indicate any lapse or moral error. However, especially where a decision is being taken in a fiduciary context, it is important that the contending interests be clearly identified and the process for separating them is rigorously established.

(Fiduciary means in the broader sense of being responsible for something managed in trust for others' benefit, such as Freenode for example, not just financial responsibility.)

from prawnsalad, in his own words: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17377232

> Kiwi IRC developer here that was sponsored and hired by LTM back in November

he states he was hired by LTM (London Trust Media): your company

he is not neutral in any way, shape or form

arguing over these sort of semantics is not a good way to build up your (desperately needed) credibility

hmmm, the crown prince of korea owning freenode is just as believable as the queen of england contributing to the linux kernel.

He's just a pretender to the throne. His claim to an extinct house is barely better than mine.

Maybe it will surprise you to learn that monarchies (and their supporting monarchists) are a weird bunch, and will fight for generations over a throne that hasn't existed for generations. They will even have generations of supporters with no claim to power. It really seems hardwired into our nature.

I wouldn't be surprised if he sets up Linux Limited then started claiming he (the "Linux board") owns the kernel

No it isn't. It would be surprising if Elizabeth II bothered to personally write kernel code, but it's hardly unbelievable.

Unless you're being absurdly pedantic about England-the-kingdom technically not existing because it's actually part of Great Britain/the UK now, but if so, you should probably say that.

>Unless you're being absurdly pedantic


oh my god, it's just a joke.

He's also not really the crown prince. It's been disputed, as the previous crown prince was disputed as well.

more like Franz of Bavaria, who claims to be rightful King of England of the line of Stuart but is in fact just a guy with a bunch of inherited wealth, just like Andrew Lee.

Anyone still old enough to remember this [1] and this [2] ?

[1] https://www.theregister.com/2003/01/29/buy_a_piece_of_net/

[2] https://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=189470&cid=15603568

Back in the days :-)

The fact that this statement was delivered as a PDF tells us all we need to know.

Which is what, exactly?

This is a self-post by the author of the document in question.

This site, HN, draws a line at personal insults, no matter how atrocious someone’s actions seem.

Please remain civil, no matter what others are saying.

(I don’t use Freenode or IRC at all, I don’t know any of the characters in this play, I have no horse in this race.)

This link initiates a download.

It's a PDF. Firefox just displays it in the browser with no download prompt.

I did some troubleshooting to see why the original link did not behave as expected.

The original link:

redirects to here:

and this command:

    curl -v https://raw.githubusercontent.com/freenode/web-7.0/main/static/files/on-freenode.pdf 2>&1 | less

    content-type: application/octet-stream
The application/octet-stream is for "Any kind of binary data," suggesting the correct browser behavior would be to download. To inform the browser that the document is a viewable PDF, a web server normally sends an application/pdf MIME type. [1] The "raw" in the original link is why GitHub thinks the file should be treated as a generic binary.

While this may all seem much ado about nothing and pedantic, I often see this kind of behavior exploited in the wild to deliver malicious payloads. In this case I would say Firefox behaves "safer" than Chrome, but not not necessarily more correctly.

[1] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTTP/Basics_of_...

If you want something to be downloaded, you need to declare

Content-Disposition: attachment


Otherwise, the browser is perfectly ok to attempt to render it if it understands how to

I guess it varies by browser since on Chrome there's a download (and a "file:///" URL in the tab).

This has all the intrigue of a middle school slap fight. I cannot wait until all these folks get over themselves and stop screaming in public.

No idea what this is going to change. Maybe this is an attempt to monitor and index all conversations since it's difficult to do with decentralized IRC servers?

With all data gathering practices, you can bet some people see an opportunity to make money with any human data.

I am fairly confident that neither side is intent on harvesting user data.

The basis of the whole debacle is that Andrew believes someone can own freenode. Reality is that the domain can be on someone's name, but that doesn't make them the owner - communities have no owners.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact