On "Freenode is FOSS" post, there's a paragraph about decentralization. This essentially seems to be another Lee's project, "Tower of Chats", 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 ?
(edited to fix links)
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).
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.
Or, in the words of Marsellus Wallace: there is no "me and you".
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.
Address not found
Your message wasn't delivered to email@example.com because the address couldn't be found, or is unable to receive mail.
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?
The FOSS community loves these events to be clear.
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.
Check yourself. You're not in the right, here.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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've been reading more into it and it seems that wasn't the case , but that just leaves me with more questions.
(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)
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  and question who I'm actually volunteering for.
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.
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.
I think both sides in this are acting bizarre. You’re talking like it’s an oath of allegiance rather than an irc server.
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.
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.
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 ;)
The issues with services I speak about wasn't related at all to mail either.
They were recruited by management.
Let’s not rewrite history any further, please.
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.
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?
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?
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)
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?
* 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.
[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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
In terms of the ownership, it was on the main blog and website for the past 4 years .
Also checkout http://techrights.org/2021/05/21/freenode-facts/
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?
This is false . 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!
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."
I was able to follow it pretty easily. What did you have trouble with?
* 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.
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.
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.
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.
1. Rob Levin/Lilo, personally
2. Open Projects Network
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.
If not, why?
I don’t wish to be on irc 24/7 contrary to what people might or might not think.
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 ?
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.
"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.
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?
Here's a log; search for "kevinp":
This is all super weird.
then why acquire freenode?
Will you consider disclosing the terms under which you purchased freenode? PDFs of executed documents, ideally?
I really apologize for the inconvenience.
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
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.
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
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.
Throwing your toys out of the ring because business is business is why open source has a funding problem.
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 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.
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.
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.
Keep IRC 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.
Matrix has problems, but as the ecosystem grows we'll start to see improvements.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With IRC freenode has a control structure that can enforce their rules/guidelines, this breaks with matrix.
* 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.
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
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).
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.
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.
How can you expect to gain any sympathy posting something that is phrased like that?
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.
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,
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.
"since the start."
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.
And that's how we ended up here.
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?
Did you read the PDF with the screenshots?
That sounds like a specific change was requested which was controversial.
You were approached by christel.
Because that's what I heard.
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 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!
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 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.
Libera.Chat does have a non-profit, however, according to the announcement.
A thought occurs -- this is probably the last big IRC network drama
Interesting doesn't imply good
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.
Where's that monologue? Why cut it out?
It’s clear from later messages that Thomas had other things going on and I’m sure that conversation was not helping.
Was Christel ever the owner of Freenode? I thought Freenode was anarchically-organised.
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
Are the staff leaving due to issue dating back four years, because the owner have been so hands off that nobody noticed before now?
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.
Let's get concrete:
What assets does Freenode have, and who legally owns them?
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?
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.
Once that part of your question is clear, you can ask which part owns which assets.
which has conveniently been omitted
without that this looks like gaslighting
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.)
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.
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
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.
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
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. 
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. 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 is that it's a partnership, and later downplayed to a sponsorship, including in public by christel. 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 . 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.
> 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.
>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.
I have no reason to suggest that prawnsalad has acted improperly, but he's not necessarily a disinterested party here.
 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.
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 ;)
which as your employee/patreon: he isn't
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.
fortunately no-one has suggested such a thing
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.)
> 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
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.
Back in the days :-)
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.)
The original link:
curl -v https://raw.githubusercontent.com/freenode/web-7.0/main/static/files/on-freenode.pdf 2>&1 | less
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.
Otherwise, the browser is perfectly ok to attempt to render it if it understands how to
With all data gathering practices, you can bet some people see an opportunity to make money with any human data.