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Freenode ops take control of 700 channels (sdf.org)
604 points by LambdaComplex 25 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 944 comments

All: there was a thwack of threads about this, including several on the front page (yikes). I've merged them hither. That means there are 800+ comments and to read them all you need (stamina, and) to click More at the bottom of the page, or like this:



(Sorry for the interruption. Comments like this will go away when we turn off pagination. Yes, you're right and we know.)

There is also the following thread from the other side, which I've unflagged, but not merged:

Freenode Exists for FOSS - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27283964 - May 2021 (20 comments)

Actually, it's somewhat worse than the headline mentions. It seems that the script targets channels that merely mention Libera in the topic. The topic of an affected channel I was in said: "See also #foo on irc.libera.chat" (as we hadn't decided whether or not to move). And everyone in the channel was banned from both the #foo and the ##foo channels on Freenode.

Needless to say, Freenode kindly decided for us whether or not we should move to Libera for good.

That’s both a hilarious way to sabotage the IRC server you just paid money for, and a good way to help others sabotage other channels.

They've learned nothing from classic films.

The would-be empire is tightening its grip, and more & more channels are slipping through their fingers.

It seems to be the act of a loner. RIP freenode.

More like LEEnode now. The network is dead and will never recover, even if Andrew steps down.

The founder of Private Internet Access and also… the Crown Prince of South Korea it seems. XD

> the Crown Prince of South Korea it seems

Alleged crown prince of the Joseon Empire. Which hasn't existed for ~110 years, and is based on an ennoblement by one of several contenders for the current head of the former imperial family, so it's an even weaker claim than most pretenders of former monarchies have.

Fake it till you make it

I believe his 'official' title is now Fresh Prince of Korea.

you have been banned from /r/pyongyang

...the OC just doesn't understand...

freenode is the communities, it just renamed itself and moved hosting

And this should be a sign to every founder-wannabe and capitalist:

You can buy hardware, trademarks, and DNS, and stuff.




How much did they try paying people? I haven't received any offers, but I will happily idle in some freenode channels for a monthly fee.

feel free to come into irc.libera.chat #reprap and offer to pay us to go back.

I'll tell you where to put your money.

You seem clearly passionate, but also confused.

First off, I am not affiliated with freenode or libera. I am just an unrelated guy who happens to use IRC. I am not offering any money to anyone for any IRC related things.

Secondly, you claimed that it is not possible to buy communities or goodwill. This does not match what I have witnessed in life. Communities get bought all the time, e.g. Facebook buying Instagram. Goodwill also gets bought all the time, often by making a giant donation and then running a giant PR campaign to let everyone know about the good deed. Distributed organic communities like freenode aren't immune to this, as I showed by pointing out that I, a long time freenode user, would be willing to accept payment.

Seems it's just a troll account. Spoonerise their username.


This is false. Communities get sold successfully all the time (thing of tech giants buying up unicorns or whatever). But doing that with a (predominantly) FOSS community was definitely doomed from the start.

It's less that the communities were FOSS than that it was built on a widely-implemented, stable, open protocol. Moving to a new server means everyone takes 30 seconds to add the new server and join the new channel, but keeps using the same client. Maybe you have to change a line of config on some bots and restart them. Done.

We see fewer of those developed now precisely because it forces providers (free or paid) to behave well or else be easily abandoned. Facebook, Twitter, Google, et c., do not want that, for obvious reasons.

<sinister tone> It could also be a genius way to prune out the radical, agitator segment of the userbase in one fell swoop

Perhaps they have; you're just thinking of the wrong films. I keep wondering if this is a The Producers situation, with the caveat that I can't imagine this being as wildly successful as Springtime for Hitler. Frankly, they are running service so badly that I can't think of any reason other than purposeful sabotage.

Speaking from my own experience during my stint as a network admin on a national IRC network 2 decades ago, this fits the psychological profile of certain people I encountered quite well. No intent to sabotage is needed, various things about IRC just bring out the worst in some people, and my guess is that this mostly begins with the channel modes; socially acceptible privilege and power over fellow humans which can be had by networking with the channel owner. At the network operator level, concurrent user numbers become an issue of pride, total registered user counts, total active accounts likewise... The more people view the network as a worthy entity for itself instead of just a tool for communication, the worse it gets.

In this whole thing, one thing in particular is interesting to me since freenode was not just an IRC network, but an IRC network with a focus on FOSS projects: Freenode / rasengan seems to insinuate by his actions that a project does not have the right to choose an official realtime communication forum for itself; that it is freenode which brings the users to the project channel instead of the other way around.

i too remember the k3wl d00d5 and the chanops takeover mobs

I'm disappointed it seems nobody thought of the "Don't go to irc.libera.chat, freenode.net is much better!"-Topic joke yet.

Honestly, there's an pretty solid rule you don't crap on your channel owners by using chanserv. That's the number one way to be clear that having your channel on their server is fundamentally unsafe.

I was unaware not putting all your eggs in one basket was "crapping" on the first basket...

I think you misunderstood the comment you're replying to. They're saying Andrew Lee is the one crapping on the channel owners by hijacking their channels.

Good on your for clarifying and not being another useless downvote!

HN should remove the downvote button, but the hivemind might lose its cohesion then

What exactly does "hijack" mean though? I don't speak IRC so it's not clear what they're actually doing to the channels.

IRC has a concept of "ops" or operator privileges, which are per-channel moderation priveleges. The exact privileges depend on the IRC software running, but it usually means that you can change the advertised topic message, mute / un-mute users, and kick users out of the channel.

Hijack means removing those privileges from someone else and assigning them to yourself.

> What exactly does "hijack" mean though? I don't speak IRC so it's not clear what they're actually doing to the channels.

In Reddit terms, imagine the Reddit administrators coming to your subreddit, deleting the moderators and then installing their own.

Administrators always had this power. Sometimes, this power was used out of necessity. But given how much this power was used in FreeNode in the past week, a lot of the community has lost faith in the administrators.

But yeah, if you control the server (the nature of being an administrator), you can do these things rather easily.

> Administrators always had this power. Sometimes, this power was used out of necessity. But given how much this power was used in FreeNode in the past week, a lot of the community has lost faith in the administrators.

To be slightly more exact, the admins suing those powers properly for the past couple decades have been pushed out by the new guy, and said new guy has already abused those powers so much in a single week that nobody will ever have any faith in him

I guess I always assumed that IRC was decentralized; one server could drop, or go rogue, with no ill effects.

But that's probably an anachronism, given the age of IRC.

It's not one server, he's obtained control over the whole Freenode network.

It's decentralized to a degree. Running an IRC server isn't much more complex than running a HTTP server so just about anyone can do that. Of course when a server (or in this case a whole network of servers) gets hijacked all the people using that server need to find a new server, or decide to be okay with the new government.

Looks like they’re replacing the channel mods with Lee’s people the moment Libera is mentioned.

Removed all existing ops (channel admins), set the channel to invite-only, set the channel to ops-only. Basically removed all the existing mod team then made the channel mod-only, which kicked all users.

For people actually moving, the last thing could be quite helpful. One of the challenges for a lot of communities will be making sure everyone knows the move is happening. If the new guys are kicking everyone off the old channels and making it impossible to join, that will prompt everyone lurking on there (and somehow unaware of all the drama going on) to seek the new channel.

Wow, that seems incredibly hostile to everyone involved.

It is incredibly hostile.

Imagine that someone takes over your domain name, puts up their own website that says it's now the support venue for YourThing, but locks you out of it.

Now you've moved to another place but have no way to leave a signpost or redirect. And anyone who doesn't get that memo through some other means, will land in a confusingly-named place that looks official but is precisely the opposite.

Basically removing the current ops (controlling users) and replacing them with their own people (who will stifle conversations the new top dog doesn't like).

I'll not go into more detail as existing threads here cover it far better than I could.

To quote a #freenode op "users were being forced to another IRC network because the channel was +m".

So, instead, the various community groups are being forced to stay on freenode?

And the post-structural turn was like 50 years ago.. they have jumped (off) the clue train.

> To quote a #freenode op "users were being forced to another IRC network because the channel was +m".

And the channel I was in wasn't +m until freenodecom decided to hijack it and make it +m.

I wonder what happens if you want to talk about Liberace.

We also got a number of channels totalling a few hundred names hijacked from chanserv, because of 'libera.chat' in the topic. No contact, nothing. We aren't even a F/OSS project, but a hackerspace. 10 years of a chanserv registration, gone, just like that.

The irony is that we were planning on a progressive transition to Libera via bridging to make sure everything went smoothly for everyone and that we didn't split the community. Now, well, there's nothing to do but just move cold turkey.

Great job, Andrew Lee.

This is exactly the situation DiscFerret has found itself in. We were bridging to guarantee a smooth transition... within hours of changing the topic to point to the new chat, they took over our channels.

This scorched earth policy is only going to make them look petty and childish, and cost them in the long run.

I'm sure all of HN feels for the hassle you and others are going through. Please consider thoroughly documenting your experience publicly, permanently, so we have a record of these harms.

This is certainly an historical situation.

There's not really much more to say - I posted the logs (not much) on Twitter. They're pretty similar to everyone else's.


I fail to see a reason why freenode would prefer that you transition away smoothly? Going cold turkey means a chance of leaving someone behind on freenode.

Edit: I see that I have not expressed my point clearly. Freenode knows that it is dying already. Allowing a smooth transition wouldn't stop that or heal that. A downwards trajectory. Like a dictator usurping the throne, the new management wants to gulag everyone who even slightly disagrees to not leave any dissenting voices on the network. This way those who stay might stay for good, instead of only for the smooth transition.

> I fail to see a reason why freenode would prefer that you transition away smoothly?

Because that transition window (which was planned for O(weeks)) could've been enough time to win back our trust and make us decide to stay on Freenode. I was honestly starting to think maybe we had too much of a knee-jerk reaction with the decision move and was willing to reconsider, but now, well.

I'm not up to speed, could you expand on what happened?

Freenode was “acquired” a while back, people were looking on it dubiously.

Then last week (or the week before) volunteer staff resigned en masse saying that the new owners were planning on taking control of the project’s direction. A number of projects using freenode for chat started looking at alternative just in case.

As GP notes, this looking around was done in the heat of all the resignation, but was not necessarily a done deal for all projects, after all nothing has changed yet.

Today, freenode highjacked / locked hundreds of channels mentioning libera (the alternative network set up by some of the resigning staff) out of nowhere, proving that the network most definitely could not be trusted anymore.

Here's a summary of the situation up until about 8 hours ago


8 hours ago, around 700+ single-hash channels were assigned to a placeholder account, redirected to double-hash "offtopic" channels, and their topics locked. Ops were removed too. The trigger for this seems to have been the string "libera" in their topics.

Global Liberation Army will never recover from the Scunthorpe attack.

>I fail to see a reason why freenode would prefer that you transition away smoothly?

The actions here are of an abuser seeing their partner is considering leaving, beating them harder as a result, locking them out of the house, then using their victim's devices to contact the victim's friends and tell them that everything is actually alright and the victim has decided to stay.

Consider the argument, "I fail to see why a domestic abuser would prefer that their victim leave smoothly?"

One reason could be to not destroy any goodwill that was left by some members. Hijacking channels sends a clear signal that Freenode can't be trusted to provide a stable and secure network.

To keep any form of goodwill. I personally did not care for this IRC drama (since I have not done enough research to take any side) but now I do. Now I will never join a community at Freenode. I do not want to use a server ran by immature jerks who hijack communities as retaliation. They are under no obligations to keep running it but then just shut down the server instead of acting like dicks.

Gulag is a poor analogy. Freenode can't imprison people or force them to stay on their service. Nor can it control the spread of information and opinions. Lee might own Freenode, but he doesn't own the front page of Hacker News.

In terms of effectiveness, this is perhaps more analogous to the boss screaming, "You can't quit, because I just fired you!" It doesn't keep anyone from leaving, but it does create unnecessary drama and make them look bad.

On the other hand, if Freenode had done nothing, it wouldn't have stopped some communities from leaving, but the flow might have abated all by itself. Like my mom used to say, "It won't heal if you don't stop picking at it."

> I fail to see a reason why freenode would prefer that you transition away smoothly?

Retaining any user at all on the network?

I haven't used Freenode in a long time, but I would absolutely under no circumstances establish a channel there now. Not for some grand principled moral standpoint, but simply for not knowing if I'd get to keep it.

Ah, but you retain more users if you prevent the users from seeing that anything is going wrong!

And they'd have gotten away with it too if it weren't for that pesky internet!

But the bet people to share knowledge will be gone. The channels will not be of nearly the same quality. People may stick around not realizing that, but when the usefulness goes down they will leave.

What if this is a sneaky way to recruit non IRC users to a new network? I'm saying this because I want to try it out.

This is a key point.

People forget that IRC works like any other product: at the end of the day, someone "owns" the customer (in the sense of having the strongest relationship with them).

In this case, it's pretty clear it isn't freenode.

The actual relationship is owned by the OSS projects and their teams. If they kill the freenode link as an official channel, people shrug and use the new link.

The entire calculus on freenode's side seems to be stuck in the 1990s.

> The entire calculus on freenode's side seems to be stuck in the 1990s.

I'd say their calculus feels stuck in the 2010/2020s, while IRC is (fortunately, it seems) "stuck" in the 1990s.

All of this is actually pretty good publicity for irc.

Towards what goal? Most already useful stuff is going to libera but that may not be useful to you. What type of new community do you envision being born there?

How’s that working out for them?

> Freenode knows that it is dying already.

This is a highly charitable reading of the situation, and in fact, Lee has put out a post claiming (more or less) that he's trying to do all this for the FOSS community.

From where I sit, it's abundantly clear that Lee thought he'd be able to come in and "own" the IRC network that hosts the plurality of FOSS projects' chat communities, and when they all started leaving, he lashed out and tried to stop them in the classic way an ego-driven control freak does: by imposing draconian restrictions, punishing those who dare to defy him.

Realistically, most channels are moving to Libera and the people are remaining are people who haven't noticed yet. Going cold turkey will just give those people a WTF feeling without being able to do anything about it, and eventually they'll also leave since everyone else left.

Not to mention that the stuff is on top of hackernewes - anyone idling / currently on vacation / in coma can quickly figure out what is going on.


What? No. Our hackerspace decided that we should probably maybe move our IRC channels to libera.chat but have a grace period, generally do things carefully and slowly. We had 'moving to libera.chat soon' in our /topic, set by myself in haste just to let people know that we are aware of the Freenode kerfuffle and that yes, we will likely move over.

Then we lost control of our IRC channels on Freenode, because someone from Freenode took it from us. No-one member of the hackerspace has control over it anymore. That's a hijacking.

I meant I had assumed the libera.chat staff still had admin status in freenode, and had been behind this move, but apparently they all got removed a week ago.

This has been officially addressed by the new Freenode owners as expected and intended [1], so of course it's not the old staff's doing.

[1] - https://archive.is/LGsY2

I might be misreading the screenshot, but it says that a channel admin changed the topic and then also banned everyone from the channel?

No, that was done by the #rsync admin, because they opted to do a "hard" move. What the freenode guys are doing is using this fact as an excuse to subsequently and indiscriminately hijack every channel which mentions Libera in the topic, in any way.

I myself did a hard move of my project's channels to OFTC (#asahi and friends) - I didn't kick everyone out but I did leave the channels +m and with an explanatory topic, as I figured going cold turkey would be the best option, especially given the relative youth of my project (it started in JJanuary). We were spared the takeovers because we moved to OFTC, so our topic didn't include the "Libera" trigger word.

In retrospect, this hard move was evidently the right choice, given subsequent actions by freenode admins, and after this latest action I decided that even the moderated state was too unstable, and did what #rsync did (kick everyone out), except I changed the topic to something that doesn't mention any moves and locked it with +l 1. I hope perhaps this will allow the channels to fly under the radar of freenode staff, so they don't take them over - especially since they've been redirecting project channels to identically-named topic channels with no regard to who owns them, and ##asahi is some older channel owned by an unrelated person.

It is ridiculous for freenode to claim authority to override project owners' choice to migrate to another network. The entire point of (old) freenode, and what set it apart from other networks, is that its official namespace was verified. That means it is officially controlled by a given project's leaders. For example, our project owns #asahi and the #asahi-* namespace on freenode. That also means that we project leaders should be free to choose not to use freenode for our project, and direct users elsewhere.

Yes, #rsync apparently force migrated everyone off Freenode that way.

We didn't. We still got hijacked. Many others did, too.

It says that the leaders of a community that existed outside of Freenode chose to switch to a different communications provider.

Maybe you should’ve checked that assumption first?

Just a thought.

The whole world still runs on IRC and not everyone realizes how fickle IRC users can be.

FreeNode is big, but Discord / Facebook / Twitter are far larger, by orders of magnitude.

The main issue with FreeNode users is that they're "elites" so to speak. They're the old guard, the ancients. Pissing off 1000-children is different from pissing off 1000-grandparents: the grandparents have connections and powerful friends so to speak.

Given the "age" of these FreeNode communities and users, I bet that the typical FreeNode user has more internet-influence than the typical Twitter user.

I've used IRC for thirty years (edit: typo 20) and been part of immeasurable communities. The whole world runs on ideas I typed on IRC.

On the one hand, I'm being facetious but on the other hand I'm telling the truth and I prefer there is no record of it. I helped boot strap fake internet money when there was no market, too many projects to name, too many technologies from IRC DCC bots, to running an ebook ftp personal fileserver ad for years...

IRC is the protocol I love most and how I talk to _my_ friends, they live around the world. This is not the first time and makes my 5th IRC move DALnet-EFnet-Chatchannel-Freenode-Libera

I don't use twitter I think it's stupid. I've said this before and been downvoted into oblivion.

IDK ya'll HN is weird like it forgot how the internet really works. It's disappointing really.

The internet growing on IRC doesn't mean that the internet runs on IRC – those are two very different things.

Forgot? Or are too young to have ever known? ;)

Quantity vs quality.

Discord/Facebook/Twitter users are discussing gaming and pop culture. IRC users were discussing how to build OSS software and communities.

Obviously its not as absolute as that, and Slack and Discord are both making inroads into what was once IRCs territory of coordinating small groups of remote thought-leaders, but looking at the raw numbers doesn't tell the whole picture of IRC's influence and importantce.

Yeah no. IRC was often jokingly referred to as “I Repeat Class” because it was an unproductive distraction from study.

Freenode, OFTC, and probably others that I can’t think of off–hand are a bit different from general–purpose IRC networks. They are geared strictly towards providing a place for users and developers of open source and free software to talk about the software. I’m sure you could distract yourself from your studies by going to #nethack or #erlang or #emacs, but most of the conversations being had there are much more productive than any discussion of pop culture.

First, discussion of pop culture is not inherently unproductive, especially if you are in a creative industry. Being productive about over-engineering an automated deployment cluster isn’t inherently more valuable than learning about the rise and fall of trends or the animation style of popular shows and games.

One of the biggest channels on freenode/open projects back in the earlier lilo days was #bay-oh, which, while populated with a bunch of proto-devops people, was almost wholly social.

Even purely social interaction is productive and valuable, the career success of many people after the first dot com crash relied on being friends with everyone they knew from Ironport or whatever.

Adapted from a comment I made in the wrong thread:

It's hilarious that rasengan is complaining about Libera "fracturing the FOSS community".[0]

For example, #newsboat members decided to move by June 5th, and we've been deciding between OFTC and Libera. Then this happened:

    20:05 --> freenodecom [freenode-placehol] (www.freenode.net) (~com@freenode/staff) has joined #newsboat
    20:05 -- freenodecom has changed topic for #newsboat from "We intend to migrate off Freenode. What do you prefer: OFTC or Libera.chat? Details here: https://github.com/newsboat/newsboat/issues/1643" to "This channel has moved to ##newsboat. The topic is in violation of freenode policy: https://freenode.net/policies"
    20:05 <@freenodecom> This channel has been reopened with respect to the communities and new users. The topic is in violation of freenode policy: https://freenode.net/policies
    20:05 -- Mode #newsboat [+o freenodecom] by OperServ
    20:05 -- Mode #newsboat [+impsf ##newsboat] by ChanServ
    20:05 <@freenodecom> The new channel is ##newsboat
    20:05 <-- freenodecom (~com@freenode/staff) has left #newsboat
Great. Now none of us can speak on #newsboat, making coordination to switch much harder. New users might get confused and join the wrong channel operated by a hostile party. The community is more fractured now.

To everyone with a freenode channel: whatever you do, do not mention "libera" in your channel topic. That's the trigger for this action.

[0]: https://web.archive.org/web/20210525231635/https://freenode....

Self-censorship is the wrong response. Libera is the real Freenode community, just under a different name now.

Libera is run by the same staff as ran freenode for years, until Andrew evicted them last week. We care about foss and if foss projects want to move from freenode, we will support them.

Anyone wanting to move their community/project can read how to do so here: https://libera.chat/chanreg#how-to-register-as-a-project

Some background to the story: https://kline.sh/

What's to stop, in 10 years, what happened to Freenode happening to Libera? Is there something concrete in place, or is it on trust? On trust is what happened with freenode.

Who runs Freenode and how it was managed was never really 100% clear, until now. On the other side, this is Libera:

> Libera Chat is a Swedish nonprofit organisation, feel free to read our bylaws. The organisation is run entirely by volunteer staff who are the members of, and have equal voting power in, the organisation. Libera Chat’s purpose is to provide services such as a community platform for free open-source software and peer directed projects on a volunteer basis.

You can see the bylaws here: https://libera.chat/bylaws

So, as a common FOSS organization, Libera is governed by a non-profit instead of owned by a corporation. That step feels like a pretty good stopgap from enabling the same thing to happen again.

In my opinion, the takeover happened for three reasons:

1. unclear ownership

2. the only official structure being a for-profit, with over 50% owned by a single person

3. lack of transparency

The first two are solved by being a non-profit with equal stakes from all staffers. The latter is a work in progress: https://github.com/Libera-Chat/libera-chat.github.io/issues/...

I'm glad to see the Libera folks _finally_ holding themselves accountable to some form of documented agreement (the Bylaws), though sadly it took a major, harrowing event like this. One of my major gripes with the old Freenode staff has always been how capricious their judgements were and how insular they were with each other (e.g. measurably treating the requests of admins in the "in-group" differently than the "out-group"), and having no definition of what it means to be a "member of the community". I'm still a bit dismayed that there seems to be no set of guarantees of due process offered to non-member network users, but I guess this is a start. I've thought about commenting on their Github repo but I'm afraid of the retaliation as the staff seem like an extremely passionate bunch.

And perhaps this is just an argument for a truly federated system, like Matrix. Rather than submitting to an operator, run your own infrastructure and federate with everyone else.

Well then the community moves somewhere else. Networks are cheap and interchangeable.

At least the answer what to do should be clear now.

Just mention base64 encoding lol.


Or, better still, pick one but create channels on both - the other one just to tell people where the primary channel is. Or even to carry discussion on both simultaneously, until you reach the decision.

Do that to prevent a hostile party from doing it before you.

That's what happened during the decision-making process, but then one got shut down. Now new users joining #newsboat will be directed to ##newsboat, which is completely out of control of the #newsboat ops. They won't be directed to libera.chat.

Agreed. It will be easier to see which one people prefers as well.

(I mean, it's an IRC channel, the servers might diverge in features and reliability but there's usually not much difference)

> (I mean, it's an IRC channel, the servers might diverge in features and reliability but there's usually not much difference)

You'd be surprised. This actually strengthens the point you're making elsewhere: people can, and will, debate such choices endlessly. It's because they care about the community, about making things better for themselves and for everyone. This is textbook bikeshedding - there's no ill intent, just scope insensitivity. Debating important issues and debating trivialities takes the same amount of effort, and expands to fill available time of participants.

I'm not sure what the best solution is, but the one I know works is to put a time limit on such issues, to prevent them from consuming more attention and resources than they deserve. That is, if consensus can't be reached in a short time, a preset choice must be made by default. If you reach that point and get strong pushback, you take the other option.

Thanks for the constructive comment and for explaining my point better!

You're right, snap decisions are the best... don't bother to get input or even really consider your options. Just flip a coin and yolo it, right?

FWIW, there is some merit to raverbashing's argument. I know first-hand that maintaining a community of enthusiastic techies is just like trying to herd cats. They can, and will, debate the pros and cons until heat death of the universe. I know because in communities I've been part of, we could and did debate options endlessly - until someone with enough time on their hands just unilaterally implemented one and then everyone begrudgingly accepted it.

Some degree of "do-ocracy" may be necessary - when you can't get the people to decide, sometimes the best option is just to announce a choice and see if people follow you. If they put up resistance, you can revert the choice and pick the other option. But it usually turns out that the ones most eager to continue debating are the ones who actually care the least, and will accept whatever decision was made.

You're picking an IRC server, not your favourite kid.

Bike shedding is real.

It's not bike shedding to make sure interested parties all get heard. My community didn't switch before this cluster fuck because we were waiting for someone who's important but only online for a weekend every few weeks or so. Just because you don't care, doesn't make it unimportant.

Because leaving X% of the channel that relies on Matrix bridges behind, rushing admins of bots etc, and making people feel like you didn't even give them a chance to say something about it are all great things for a community.

This has been the major reason why #haskell didn't try to move more forcefully.

We'd like to get some of the old logging bots moved over, etc.

We have some number of users who connect from tor, from matrix, or from webchat that simply can't move right now. These are things being looked at from the libera.chat side, but that work isn't done.

I very much value those users being able to continue to ask and get their questions answered.

That said, we used to have like 3-4 server ops lurking in the channel, and 15-16 channel ops that were active on the server. We just don't any more. This makes me rather concerned from a spam perspective.

On the other hand, there are < 80 people in the channel now, so perhaps spam is less of an issue now that we're a much smaller target.

Because staying on a network where nobody has control of their own channels is great for a community.

because you clearly knew that waiting for 2 weeks wouldn't be ok?

> Now none of us can speak on #newsboat

But now #newsboat has a pointer to ##newsboat, can you talk there?

How to destroy your reputation in a few easy steps!

It's over for Freenode. The biggest channels have already moved to Libera. The Arch Wiki for example doesn't even mention Freenode anymore. Hopefully it won't take long for everyone else to move as well.

I genuinely wonder how stupid one has to be to think that this was a good strategy.

Has the person who came up with this idea ever met people? This kind of thing regularly blows up private platforms, on an open protocol like IRC this was guaranteed to trigger a swift mass migration.

After ~15 years on Freenode, I was taking a wait-and-see approach. Despite reading like four explainers, I didn't really understand what the drama was or why the new owner was such a disaster. I kind of expected the drama to die after a few weeks/months, and then Freenode would go back to being just another IRC server. Then I woke up this morning and saw this. Bye, Freenode.

So much this. Yesterday I did a walk through the ~44 channels I frequent on FreeNode and came up with about 20ish that where moving to either OFTC or Libera. I left those channels, keeping ~24 channels that were not likely to move off of FreeNode.

Fast-forward today. All those channels are moving now, none left! Yesterday this could be considered a 55/45% split and had new FreeNode staff taken a win-trust-dont-rock-boat approach, I'm sure the network would've been fine.

Yesterday I was staying on FreeNode, because I don't really know the thinking behind all parties involved and could see the possible reasoning on both sides. Today I'm disconnected from FreeNode and on OFTC + Libera.

Same here. I expected some channels to move and some to stay and that I would just have to connect to one more server once the dust had settled.

I mean the guy has had a cartoonish life based on his wikipedia page. So yeah, I can totally see him not "getting it" at all.


How disappointing. I halfway expected to see a mustache twirling picture.

He could make an appearance on the "Minnesota State High School All Hockey Hair Team".[0][1]

[0] https://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/korean-prince-andrew-lee...

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuDeBAYhKO0

That's some strong salad ...

Wait. He’s the crown prince of South Korea it seems. XD

> He’s the crown prince of South Korea it seems.

No, he’s not. South Korea is a democratic republic, not a monarchy (not even a Constitutional one.)

Lee is the adopted “heir” to a fictional and aspirational crown invented by a Korean monarchist who claims it for himself and wants to Korea to be a monarchy based on his (disputed; he is not the person recognized in that role by the association that has been the main custodian of the ex-royal house; he was one of two alternate claimants at the time the former head of the house passed, the other of which has since died without, AFAIK, any successor making a claim to inherit from her) claim to be the legitimate heir to the last emporer deposed in 1910.

He’s a pretender to a defunct throne. There are a few of these types running around, such as for the Hapsburg and French thrones, but generally everyone thinks they’re a bunch of weirdo has-beens.

The Bourbon pretender is hilarious though, because he inherited his ancestor’s complete inability to read the room.

> He’s a pretended to a defunct throne.

The designated heir to the pretender, etc. And not even the most accepted pretender among those who think the lineage of that throne means something, but he is the only one actively seeking restoration after 110 years of the throne being defunct.

"The Bourbons have learned nothing and forgotten nothing" - Talleyrand.

My favorite tit-bit from 19th century French history is that the Count of Chambord had a legit shot at becoming Henry V of France but blew it because he insisted (among other things) that the white flag of Bourbon France replace the tricolor.

Honestly, one has to wonder if there’s a Bourbon tradition of concussing every child in the moments after birth. It’s practically the only thing that would explain why they’ve been so consistently tone deaf and incompetent since Louis XIV.

That's not what happened, but that's what the Republican news media at the time pretended had happen.

Well, that's kind of the point, isn't it? Louis Philippe realized that the way forward for the monarchy was to restyle himself as King of the French (implicitly including the nation itself into the monarchy). Napoleon III was a monarch who appealed to the populace for his support. To try to turn back time to a absolute monarchy as of 1815, even in as small a matter as the flag, was indicative of being utterly out of touch.

Of course, it's important to note that Empire of Korea (and the imperial family) has been defunct for over sixty years. My understanding is at this point they're basically a fashion brand. Andrew Lee isn't even remotely related to any of them, as far as I can tell, although I'm curious if someone with more knowledge happens to be around.

Which is kind of hilarious when you compare it to this spectacle :b

> Of course, it's important to note that Empire of Korea (and the imperial family) has been defunct for over sixty years

The Empire of Korea has be defunct for 110 years (which is, sure, over 60, but it is weird to describe it that way.)

> My understanding is at this point they're basically a fashion brand.

The Royal Family Association seems to be something somewhat more substantial than that (but not an actual monarchy, nor does it seek restoration), but its worth noting that the person who named Lee heir and crown prince is not the person recognized as the current head by that association, but a competing claimant, who is also a monarchist seeking restoration.

> The Empire of Korea has be defunct for 110 years (which is, sure, over 60, but it is weird to describe it that way.)

I figured it was extra defunct after Korea was liberated in 1945 and Korea's first president made sure the monarchy wasn't going to come back by seizing their assets. Before then I figure there was a vague possibility that things would bounce back in their direction, although I'm probably wrong about that since my knowledge comes mostly from interpretive signs and Wikipedia :)

presumably this is an example of a rich person (used to deference) having to interact with a community that doesn't care at all that he has money

meanwhile the sycophants on his payroll are no doubt telling him he's doing a grand job

Can you give a bit more background on this? Who is the new owner, how did the takeover even happen? Wasn't Freenode a non-profit org?

Andrew Lee is the co-founder of one of the biggest VPNs, which he sold for $95 Million. After that he was involved in the mobile app of Mt Gox (the now defunct bitcoin exchange)

He was also declared crown prince of Korea by a member of royalty (no, Korea doesn't have Emperors anymore, it's meaningless for practical purposes).

lmao, read up on this "member of royalty" Lee Seok, he's kind of a prick. Basically goes around and swinging his "heritage" and generally being unpleasant to everyone around him.

This article also has some interesting background info on Lee and his motivations: https://hackaday.com/2021/05/20/freenode-debacle-prompts-sta...

Thanks, that helped a lot.

TL;DR: A while ago some dude with questionable motives and ethics gained control over Freenode and recently he started to actively destroy it.

This could be a good starting point for further reading: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=pastMonth&page=0&prefix=tr...

Thank you.

You’re welcome :)

this has been extensively covered over the last week or so

I mean OK, but I don't live in HN (or any news outlet for that matter) so it's not such an unfair question.

This looks like Culture War.

From "The Freenode Resignation FAQ" at https://gist.github.com/joepie91/df80d8d36cd9d1bde46ba018af4...

> [The new Freenode owner] Andrew was repeatedly asked in the "policy discussion channel" whether slurs, racism and transphobia are now permitted on Freenode. No answer has been forthcoming.

The new owner either will not answer, or will not take a side, in the Culture War. In response, a number of users have taken his non-answers as an answer, and are leaving.

Those questions came after people started leaving, and after Lee made changes to freenode policy removing mentions of racism and such.

Not at all

This is about ownership and control. Andrew is trying to seize legal control over an organization run by volunteers. The volunteers (and everyone else) aren't happy with the way this was handled or the way Andrew is using his power to silence dissent.

Andrew Lee has had legal control over Freenode since 2017. He gave assurances to the volunteers that he would not try to assume operational control. He affirmed that commitment as late as a few months ago. Now he has gone against that.

AFAIK, the only thing Andrew unambiguously had legal ownership over was the domain names.

I doubt this strategy means taking over Freenode. No one can be this stupid. At this point it seems like he's deliberately trying to destroy what's left of Freenode, for some reason. There can't be much profit to be made for IRC and the little he can make he obviously destroyed.

Don't underestimate how tone deaf or out-of-touch some people can be. You see this kind of stuff all the time, and it really is people who are making unbelievably hare-brained decisions.

if he wanted to destroy freenode he would turn off the servers

Right. There must be some more nefarious scheme going on. Let me get my tin-foil hat. Or maybe he's just really that naive to except to generate revenue out of IRC network.

> Has the person who came up with this idea ever met people?

For sure he has absolutely no idea about what people uses IRC regularly. I can picture him thinking about "users" in a general way, like "Facebook/Instagram/Whatsapp ad-clicking users", so he's now struggling to keep them tied to the platform at any cost. Well, no. Thanks to his ignorance that is second only to his greed he's now going to rapidly lose everything. I'd bet a pizza that he'll likely sell at a loss in less than one year.

I mean, what do you expect of someone who posts a social-media-style PR article as a PDF.

Someone in another thread posited that purging existing users is the intended outcome, perhaps leading to some kind of business move, re-branding of Freenode, VC funding, etc.

An IRC network without its users is worth nothing though. Anyone can trivially spin up a new IRC network for the cost of a domain name and a VM to host it on. The hard part is getting anyone to care (and thus to use it).

If you run FreeNode into the ground and cause all the users to flee, there's nothing left, just a name with negative brand value (like Enron).

It does not make any sense. What will Lee actually own and how would he make money from it?

I doubt that they are stupid, so one must conclude that the purpose was to silence speach, not profit from it.

I think it's much simpler than that, they just panicked and handled the situation poorly, and then they keep doubling down and digging a deeper hole.

Seeing the situation from the outside, it's obvious that what they're doing is self-defeating, but I suppose that they saw that they were hemorrhaging channels and users and saw the writing on the wall and decided to enact desperate measures in order to save the network.

Given the health of IRC in general there's probably not enough room for both Freenode and Libera to strive. One of them was bound to become irrelevant, and the momentum favored Libra even before this desperate move.

I'm afraid that we're just witnessing the death throes of freenode.

> Given the health of IRC in general there's probably not enough room for both Freenode and Libera to strive. One of them was bound to become irrelevant, and the momentum favored Libra even before this desperate move.

I agree that one will end up on top, and also that Freenode will likely die completely - but even when it comes to large FOSS-related networks, there were two active ones before this: Freenode and OFTC.

Eh, to be honest the most obvious answer to this is just that Lee is an idiot.

Never underestimate how dumb people can be.

Maybe everything goes according to Lee's plan, who knows.

If his plan is

1) kick all users out and destroy reputation

2) ???

3) profit!

then probably yes.

is 3) necessary? maybe he needs to show a loss for tax purposes?

Are there articles available that sums up "this Freenode drama"? I've just seen the headlines, and haven't really bothered before now that I see they are acting up as (even bigger?) assholes.

All quotes below are from that Ars article.

> Contract or no contract, staff and developers of Freenode maintain that it wasn't actually possible to sell the network—the staff is all volunteers, and the infrastructure itself wasn't owned by Dahlskjaer in the first place.

So who did own the infrastructure, and where did they stand on all of this?

> Freenode has been the world's largest IRC network since 2013, with roughly three times as many users as its closest competitor, IRCnet.


> A week after Lee's effectively public announcement of ownership and de facto dictatorial operation of Freenode, the staffers who resigned from Freenode created Libera.chat as a replacement.

Is there something wrong with IRCnet? Usually when the largest X does something that gets a lot of users to leave they go to X's largest competitors since those are already up and running and experienced. In this case, though, it seems like the brand new Libera.chat is where most are going.

> So who did own the infrastructure, and where did they stand on all of this?

All hardware was owned by various organizations acting as "sponsors". But at this point most of it might have been replaced by servers owned by Lee.

One of the sponsors, whose server hosted freenode's email server, pulled out shortly after the volunteers left.

The reason they're going to Libera.chat is because the former Freenode staff set it up—moving to another existing IRC network would mean, essentially, abandoning your own house and coming to someone else's and asking to be allowed to set up in there, while what they're doing is trying to build their own new house.

> while what they're doing is trying to build their own new house.

I'd say they're just trying to rebuild their old house. Once all the dust settles in a few months, I expect Libera Chat will be pretty much the same as FreeNode was, with all the same channels being run by the same people, with the exception that I'll have to register a new account with NickServ.

That latter aspect, registering your account with NickServ does seem to sucks somewhat.. Apparently there have been some bots active which have registered a whole bunch of nicks which previously existed on FreeNode. #libera is full of people (including myself) who are asking if staff can do something about this nick squatting. Understandably that will take time and I've simply registered another nick, but man, you get attached to a 15+ year old nick you've been using on OFTC, FreeNode and a bunch of other ye olde IRC networks..

> I'd say they're just trying to rebuild their old house.

I guess that gets into a semantic (or even existential) question: if it's in a different place, and the original house is still there (if damaged and usurped), even if it is built identically, is it the old house, or a new one?

But yes, that's also a perfectly reasonable way of analogizing Libera.chat, as I understand the situation.

A house is the wrong analogy. We're talking about communities of people here, not a building. (This is another good example of why analogies rarely clarify, and usually just end up in a discussion over how accurate the analogy is.)

A better analogy would be: Let's say you've been going to the same book club for 15 years now, but the cafe you've been meeting at has closed. So the group picks a new cafe and the book club continues. Not much has really changed; it's still the same people, meeting up regularly for the same person.

I think part of the difficulty here is that there's two separate rebuildings going on: There's the various communities that used Freenode as their IRC location—which I would say are analogous to the book club—and there's the staff of Freenode itself, who are (by and large) migrating together to found Libera.chat. That definitely does not fit, because aside from the raw infrastructure, they're not relying on anyone else's support for this—they're not in someone else's café, they're the café staff.

So just to continue extending the analogy chain, it's closer to there being a café where lots of book clubs hang out, with a hands-off owner or some kind of employee cooperative actually owning the business itself, but through legal shenanigans, someone else gains control of the café business, and wants to drastically change how it's run. The staff all walk out and work on starting a new café down the street, and several of the book clubs follow because they like the atmosphere.

Freenode's largest competitor is likely OFTC, not IRCNet. IRCNet is a general purpose IRC network, Freenode is more open source and surrounding topics, as is OFTC. OFTC however is more strictly on-topic (off topic channels must be +s, which means they don't show up in channel listings).

Some untrustworthy entrepreneur bought Freenode. Network staff quit in response and started Libera. The new Freenode staff then proceeded to give users every reason to migrate to Libera.

I’d characterize more as an entity was created ex-post-facto in 2017 and then sold to an asshat.

> Some untrustworthy entrepeneur bought Freenode.

In 2017

> Network staff quit in response and started Libera.

In 2021

The recent resignation letters indicate they have become aware of how much technical control the owner has and intends to exercise.

Edit: that said, I was unaware of the statements from Lee that are linked to by an arstechnica article linked elsewhere in the comments. Honestly really not sure who to believe. For all I know (which is nothing first hand) this could be another group sabotaging things to boost their own new network over personal disagreement. Which I'm not suggesting is the case, but as someone not personally involved, all I see is conflicting hearsay.

Totally agree with that. But that "other group" needs about the highest level of ops you can get (i.e., staff level). When your new Andrew-approved staff then starts de-opping ops in ~700 channels, sets up a new #freenode-services channel where you can beg to get your ops back, where they first tell you NO because the channel that was previously yours violates some new instated FreeNode policy which prohibits referencing via topic (and including talking about?) other networks like Libera..

That's when people on all sides pack up shop and leave.

Well I don't even know what "de-opping ops" means, so I'll err on the side of believing commenters on Hacker News (and I know that sounds sarcastic but that really is the better source to tip the scales here, IMO). Especially comments in this thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27287750.

removal of per-channel staff/per-channel owners and replacement with network owners.

like removing a subreddit's creator/moderators and taking over it.

In 2017 said entrepeneur and then freenode head of staff downplayed what happened to the public and the rest of the staff. Otherwise this drama would have occured in 2017.

The legal entity purchased in 2017 isn't the Freenode network and wasn't intended to be able to assert control over the network. In 2021, it started to do so.

And indeed it appears the thing they wanted ownership of wasn't a thing you can own, which is doubtless very disappointing but too bad.

Communities consist of people, and you aren't allowed to own people, so you cannot own a community.

As far as I can tell he bought it in 2017 and promised not to change the operating model or interfere with the staff. In 2021 he started doing just that.

As far as the community is concerned in 2017 he bought something called "freenode limited" which doesn't own the network, doesn't own the servers, and had no operational control beyond owning domain names.

This would be like if you found out the local little league basball had been sold. It's a community resource that only exists through the continued donation of time by the members. It's not something that should ever be "owned".

More like if Little League Baseball, the umbrella organisation, changed hands. Let's say the new owner intends to officially keep the charitable structure, but to monetize it by partnering with his own media company and televising the games.

If he didn't change anything for the users (kids and parents across the US), but cleaned house in head office and installed his own management team, the local teams would continue running as they always had. The owner really would benefit from the goodwill of the community and really would "own" it in a meaningful way. Some grumbling idealists would start a new "really truly non-profit" competitor, but for most people the friction of switching would be too great. But if he interfered too much and made the players' experience worse, people and teams would find it attractive to move to the new competitor.

Dude bought an NFT in 2017, and has now decided the NFT was a proof of ownership.

Wow arch is bleeding edge even for wiki URLs.

The Arch Wiki still has 48 pages that mention freenode, though most of them are about other software's servers or non-English articles.

Yeah, I should have been more specific. I meant the Arch Linux IRC channels article.


I figured, I wasn't assuming you were trying to be deceptive just the comment made me curious if someone had completely wiped reference to freenode from the wiki.

We should stop implicitly legitimizing Andrew Lee's power grab by referring to his dominion as "Freenode". Freenode is a quarter-century-old community that has changed its name to libera.chat; the thing being referred to here as "Freenode" is something else that has illegitimately acquired control of Freenode's old servers and user database, causing enormous inconvenience to the real Freenode.

cheapie has coined the name "Leenode" for this abomination. Let's start using it!

I complained vigorously about the acquisition to freenode staff at the time, due to rumors that Lee and Falkvinge had acquired freenode in order to attempt to surveil private security issue discussions between Bitcoin developers in order to further the high profile cryptocurrency scams they were participating in.

I was consistently gaslit by freenode staff. The current story that this sale is all a surprise is a direct lie. At the time I got nothing but platitudes about how PIA just had freenode's best interest at heart, etc.

I'm sure not every staff member was in on it but the claim that it was Christel is just not true. I don't see how anyone regards freenode staff as trustworthy at this point.

The time for long time freenoders to defend freenode was in 2017.

The admins knew this was going to happen, people need to stop spreading misinformation pretending that they were caught off guard.

I would expect anyone knowledgeable enough to work on bitcoin that wanted to keep a secret wouldn't be talking about private things over IRC of all places.

You were gaslit through heavily controlled communication? Say it ain't so, that must have been awful.

I can't believe someone would use money to take over a productive communication forum to manipulate the information there for their own gain. What kind of awful dishonest person would participate in something like that?

To further reinforce the fact that he intends for it to be his dominion... the incident the submission refers to?

<rasengan> I apologize for the poor communication and few erroneous channels that were caught up, freenode. This was my mistake alone.

He admits fault for the targeted dissolution of 700+ channels that, coincidentally, contained "libera" in the topic.

Maybe go with UK news' terminology for ISIS: "so called Islamic State (as the group called themselves that, but we're far from university accepted by Islamic communities and were not officially recognised as a state).

So we now have the "so called freenode". Freenode in name only.

"Leenode IRC network"?

What I don't understand is what is Lee's motivation for doing this? He'll just end up in charge of a bunch of dead channels with all the staff and communities gone. I don't see a profit motive - is it pure vandalism?

I was curious about that myself. It doesn't make sense.

I like how you think if you should want to register leenode.net and forward it to freenode its available.

So I mellowed out on if it was a hostile takeover and feel it was a communication breakdown between the original staff and Andrew largely egged on by the original downplaying of the acquisition by Christel and Andrew.

However, actions like this show that it doesn't really matter who was at fault in the original drama. By his actions, Andrew has proven his new staff team are not suitable stewards of an irc network. Regardless of the ownership conflict being largely based on misunderstanding and feeling Christel may have been the person to do the most wrong, it's clear that libera.chat or unrelated parties like OFTC or Matrix are the more trustworthy choices going forward.

You are mostly right. It was all born on misunderstanding, Lee's escalated it too much, then went to interfere and create this situation.

But the actions he's been doing on it after that ? It speaks by himself, and he's the only one responsible.

What does he get out of all of this. I can't understand his motive?

I try to, but it's really hard. The initial "take-over" was because he felt entitled to do so (feeling an agression (that mostly didn't happen and was a misunderstanding) on his property). But what he's been doing ever since is weird, and could also make think of another motive for the original actions as well...

I followed a dude on Twitter. He was semi famous and a big proponent of free speech. One day he posted some steaks he cooked. Some people started responding with steak cooking tips. He responded by banning everyone of of them. This has the same feel but on a larger scale.

I had a boss that used to get really angry at people when they wished him happy birthday. Same feeling.

I hate puzzles like this, they get stuck in my head. I'll be thinking about this for weeks.

this one at least seems fairly traceable (this is from the perspective of an outsider, correct me if any of this is wrong):

-christel sells something that wasn't really hers to sell, which she technically had some degree of ownership over, due to a former non profit being dissolved to save costs.

-the guy now thinks he owns it, everyone else thinks he just sponsored some conferences in exchange for a logo placement

-years later, the guy asks for a logo to be swapped out for another

-this causes confusion and christel just resigns and disappears, the situation now no longer able to be kept under wraps by her (I'm ascribing motivations here)

-the new leadership takes over with christel being gone, and doesn't understand why the guy who ran a few conferences has control over the freenode domain, so seeks to remove him from it (without hostile intent, just as part of regular governance)

-the guy thinks he's being usurped, potentially unaware that no one really knows that he bought this domain and "freenode" from christel (freenode servers etc were not supplied by him but rather donated by other third parties)

-he seeks to reinforce his ownership of freenode

-fallout ensues

This is mostly what happened, yeah. Gathered a lot of information on this since a week or so (I am an outsider too).

Logic and emotions are almost diametrically opposed, as far as our intellectual understanding of them can be concerned.

My read of the situation is that Ariadne was more or less correct; running Freenode was a childhood dream for Andrew, he mistakenly believed he could get there with money and strongarming, the community rejected him and refused to provide validation, and now he's increasingly trying to keep the community from leaving him by force.

This could explain the overall situation pretty well. Could be more or less some shortcuts, but in the end, it matches.

Ah that makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

I mean, stupidity, I assume. I think he’s rather out of his depth.

I was quite relaxed about the whole thing and was willing to give Lee a chance, but mass purging channels and forwarding them to ## namespace, and deleting their topics...

#go-nuts had libera.chat mentioned in the topic... saying that they were on libera.chat as well "if freenode dies". Suddenly every user was forwarded to ##go-nuts, the topic empty, #go-nuts invite only ; that certainly is a classy way. This was the official golang support channel, no warning, nothing. Can you understand what kind of breach of trust that is? How can you host a support channel on Freenode for any kind of official project, if that's what they're doing?

I was k-lined on Freenode for repeatedly pointing out in one of the hijacked channels what had happened. This is _not_ something I ever considered doing, but it was so unfair. People being forwarded to an unofficial support channel not realizing what had happened.

Freenode staff are very aggressive about taking over channels in order to limit exposure to this whole fiasco. And they go way overboard. From the beginning my impression was "this is ops fighting, and who knows what's true, hopefully things will calm down", but the way Lee handles this? Like a privileged, rich, socially inapt teenager. Every new ounce of information released on freenode.net reads like what I would have written with 16. https://freenode.net/news/for-foss is this the person you would entrust your official support channel for an OSS project with?

I still don't know what's true and what's not. And I can see both sides of this. Libera will first have to prove itself, and so I hope channels will also consider switching to OFTC (which promises far less trouble, and more stability at this point), but Freenode definitely is not trustworthy anymore. It's pretty much as simple as that.

The stupid hijackers of Freenode are pushing themselves for a huge streisand effect.

If they did nothing for some times, probably a lot of persons and projects would not even have noticed and liberachat could have been slow to gain the critical mass of users.

But now, it is like if all the users and projects have a big incentive to move and completely exit freenode as fast as possible.

Why are people still using IRC? Aren't there better, more private/secure channels?

I understand that many of these channels are intentionally private, but IRC is still unencrypted in transit, so everything is exposed and users have no anonymity.

Because it's one of the rare still used open protocol supported by multiple servers and clients implementations and not backed by single corporate entity.

In short there are other new technologies, but most of them are corporate walled gardens, or small open source projects that only have one server/client implementation, and few servers under control of single entity.

The Matrix ecosystem is the only thing I can think of, that could eventually replace IRC. (There might be others, I am just not familiar with them)

End even if they are somehow similar, discussions on Discord and Slack and other similar platforms are different than on IRC, at least in my experience.

One defining future of IRC at least channels I frequent and Discords/Slacks/Matrix is less memes and animated things grabbing your attention.

Another big thing is, that new stuff like Discord/Slack/Matrix are combination of messenger and discussion forum, while IRC is discussion only.

I almost never bother reading chat history in IRC, but in Slacks/... you are expected to keep up with @mentions and on "important channels" etc.

IRC is more of a tavern room, you come in have discussion with people currently in, some people come some people go during that and then you leave and that is that.

While on newer apps you are expected to keep up. I don't know how to describe it better, but fore me that's the biggest difference.

> The Matrix ecosystem is the only thing I can think of, that could eventually replace IRC.

This seems like it should have been the logical conclusion. While IRC is a free protocol, this whole controversy has shown that you aren't ultimately in control of your channels. With Matrix/<other-federated>, it simply wouldn't be possible for a hostile actor to claim ownership of their channels (unless Gentoo itself were somehow the victim of a hostile takeover).

Libera certainly has a good few decades of trustworthy service, as Freenode once did, but the protocol is itself built on vulnerable assumptions. There's no way to guarantee that Libera won't have a dramawave of its own 15 years down the line.

> While on newer apps you are expected to keep up.

I completely agree with this. I've been auto-kicked from Matrix channels for inactivity/lurking, which is ridiculous. This could be solved with more client and server diversity - it wouldn't be hard to create an IRC-like experience on Matrix at all.

> With Matrix/<other-federated>, it simply wouldn't be possible for a hostile actor to claim ownership of their channels

Can't matrix.org staff hijack rooms hosted on the matrix.org homeserver?

Yes, my argument is for running your own server. The matrix.org wouldn't be able to do anything to the gentoo.org server. If you choose to use the matrix.org homeserver, then the risks are identical to IRC.

You can also run your own IRC server. Risks are the same either way.

IRC networks are a closed federation. The servers have to trust each other and all servers of a network are usually administered by the same staff. Matrix is an open federation like email. The servers just speak the same protocol to each other and messages flow even if the server admins never have any interaction.

Matrix’s rooms are decentralised and we have decentralised access control to stop this from happening in the general case. Only a malicious server admin on your own server can hijack like this (or the one running a bridge in the case of a bridged room). And with P2P Matrix, every client gets its own server, so at that point hijacks will be entirely impossible.

I don't understand how that's possible. When clicking a matrix.to link, there is a room name and a homeserver hostname, right? How does that homeserver not have complete control over what information about the room is sent to the client?

Users/rooms on the gentoo.org server can interact just fine with users/rooms on the matrix.org server. That's basically the whole point of Matrix.

You may be suggesting that matrix.org could, for example, block access to the gentoo.org server (or a subset of its rooms). In that scenario users could choose a new homeserver (and not necessarily the same one) in order to regain access, instead of the entire channel having to migrate.

In the incredibly unlikely event where every homeserver on the internet is blocking gentoo.org, gentoo.org could simply allow user registration.

With IRC you are forced to trust the network operator with both your account and channel. Matrix gives you the option to trust someone else with both, neither, or either.

The room name + hostname is just one of potentially many aliases for a room that can be resolved by any server that has a member in the room

That's good to know! Thanks

Autokicks for idling were mandated by freenode on their bridge (which makes sense otherwise you end up with loads of zombie connections from folks who have forgotten about their Matrix accounts).

> I almost never bother reading chat history in IRC, but in Slacks/... you are expected to keep up with @mentions and on "important channels" etc.

Isn't that more of a feature of the kinds of environments that run Slack vs IRC?

If my office used IRC for communication, I'd still be expected to keep up on all important channels and pings.

My office uses IRC for communication. Actual realtime communication. Announcements and any communication that you need to read at any time other than "now" comes over email lists.


Sigh, none of that is true.

Dendrite is another homeserver that is good enough to run as a daily driver, and there's a community developed Rust one, Conduit, that's making steady progress.

There are plenty of alternative clients - FluffyChat, NeoChat, Fractal, etc. Making a basic client is pretty easy (I've written several), and my friends and I have been making a more fully-featured one in our spare time.

Federation is not fake, I was there on my own homeserver when matrix.org went down and had fun happily continuing to chat through the biggest test of matrix's federation resiliency.

Every time I've seen Arathorn interact in threads, he has been very professional and patient, even when others spread FUD (cough, cough). He certainly doesn't spread lies or FUD about anyone else.

Modern XMPP is not better in every way - Matrix is an eventually-consistent distributed event graph, which makes it better at handling big federation testing events like the matrix.org downtime.

Also, considering the dismissive tone of your post and your choice of handle/username, it seems you are here (just?) to grind your axe, and not for genuine and honest discussion.

There are at least 10 different clients, and I'm only referring to those that are listed on the Matrix website.

> federation is fake (stops working when matrix.org goes down)

Can you elaborate on this, or link to some relevant resources?

Matrix requires registration with some server. These servers are federated, but the biggest and most commonly used one is matrix.org. So if that's down, most users lose access.

But that's not fake federation, that's just federation and the reality that most people that can't be bothered to set up their own federated server? You can say that a fully distributed chat system would be better at this (like SSB [1]), but that's a totally different beast from a federated system.

Matrix's federation is no worse than any other popular federated system I've used (eg. email and xmpp). I'm not saying it shouldn't be better (I dislike the matrix.org centralization, too), but that's not something inherent to Matrix, and I think it's not honest to bring it up as 'fake federation' in this context.

Additionally, Matrix is significantly better at this in one way than the alternatives: even if matrix.org goes down, all rooms can continue working, even ones with a :matrix.org label. The same can't be said about XMPP MUC, IIUC.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Scuttlebutt

I don't disagree with that, I'm not the OP who called it fake federation.

I do think that federated systems tend to become centralized, because the federating links tend to be unreliable. I think people confuse federation and decentralization, when they're very different things.

Less than a third loose access through their current server. They can sign up on a different server and have access again.

There are multiple Matrix clients in common use. It is odd that you think Element is the only client.

It's a brand-new user named "lolmatrixx". Don't waste your time.

To pile on, Google uses internally for incident response [0]

> Google has found IRC to be a huge boon in incident response. IRC is very reliable and can be used as a log of communications about this event, and such a record is invaluable in keeping detailed state changes in mind. We’ve also written bots that log incident-related traffic (which is helpful for postmortem analysis), and other bots that log events such as alerts to the channel. IRC is also a convenient medium over which geographically distributed teams can coordinate.

Also, irc can still be up when Chat, Hangouts or other tools are down. It's simple tech that is easy to interact with.

[0] https://sre.google/sre-book/managing-incidents/

Worth pointing out that IRC isn't necessarily the first choice for coordinating a response, but it is a great low-dependency, independent fallback. IRC runs on a stack that is completely independent from the rest of Google prod (it's just a Linux machine running an IRC daemon). So when almost everything else goes down, so long as basic network routing is still working, IRC is still up.

Point taken. For smaller incidents, Chat or Meet are regularly used. But larger (cross-team or maybe infra related) are handled in IRC.

Apple hosted and used its own IRC for decades and sadly I saw the last of it die off ~ 2010 for any support uses.

iChat internally at a site was not a replacement.

IRC is inherently non-private because anybody can join and then do whatever with what they saw.

IRC isn't really unencrypted in transit though, you can connect via SSL (most people do so, probably) and there are channel modes on some networks that prevent people from joining if they aren't using SSL to connect.

You can also encrypt messages yourself and then send those on top of the IRC protocol.

As for anonymity, most IRC networks allow you to use a cloak to hide your IP (requires user registration, which would require one email interaction), some IRC networks hide your IP (or parts of the reverse DNS) and some IRC networks allow you to join using Tor.

> IRC is inherently non-private because anybody can join

Servers and channels can have passwords. Channels can also be invite-only.

I also encourage the use of proxy servers and/or vpns(preferably not as a service!) when using irc on the wild world of the web. In addition to cloaking, and everything else you mentioned.

Efficient, supports terminal mode natively, open, and frankly for exactly this reason.

If whatsapp, or apple, or google, or facebook does anything like this then all you can do is shrug and accept it.

But if you have $5 a month then you can run an IRC network with a VM.

> IRC is still unencrypted in transit

Sometimes. But there's also a lot of TLS, and it's trending upwards.

> users have no anonymity

Less anonyminity against each other, but more against the central powerful provider.

And while you may have my IP on IRC (depends on the network), what are you as a private individual supposed to do with that information?

Whereas when centralized it becomes monetizable.

That is not necessarily true for Freenode or Libera. Client connections over TLS are encouraged, and I'm pretty sure that server-to-server links are all over TLS also.

Plus, there are some controls for users and channel admins to make sure they are talking over TLS only, such as +S channel mode, which only lets in TLS-using client connections to join.

> Why are people still using IRC? Aren't there better, more private/secure channels?


An old essay "A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy" explains this idea in an enlightening way: https://www.gwern.net/docs/technology/2005-shirky-agroupisit...

> Some pieces of social software, like IRC channels and mailing lists,are self-moderating with scale, because as the signal-to-noise ratio gets worse, people start to drop off, until it gets better, so people join, and so it gets worse. You get these sorts of oscillating patterns, but the overall system is self-correcting

Daemon and client implementations have effectively supported SSL/TLS for many years now. You can't control whether server links are encrypted (that's up to the owners; in a competently run network they will be) but all major networks have one or more encrypted connection ports. 6697 is a typical choice. On mIRC, prefix the port number with a + to use SSL.

Newer protocols are more feature rich and don't have some of the legacy drawbacks of IRC, of course.

Nothing is better than IRC.

Stupid, light, fast

I got used.to discord but it's not the same

There is a Discord plugin for bitlbee, that way you can use an IRC client to chat on Discord. https://github.com/sm00th/bitlbee-discord

For me it's the simplicity and the availability of good Emacs based clients. For other services there are some Emacs clients but none of them are as good as the IRC clients. There are also some proxy tools that let me use Emacs IRC clients to connect to other chat services, I use those when possible. This way I can do all my chatting from the comfort of my Emacs session.

Most modern servers use TLS so it isn't any worse than imessage.

This is incorrect. iMessage is E2EE, which IRC is not.

Even if iMessage is E2EE (I don't think it is) the backups mean the messages end up on Apple's servers unencrypted. Either way Apple is able to access them when subpeonaed.

It is E2EE, and the backups on Apple's servers are encrypted. However, if you also have iCloud Backup turned on, the encryption key is backed up plain-text [1][2], so the effect ("Apple is able to access them when subpeonaed" sic.) remains the same in those cases, but it can be configured/avoided.

[1]: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202303 [2]: https://www.reddit.com/r/apple/comments/8nbgyu/messages_in_i...

Do you use imessage in any groups were there isn't at least one member that has iCloud Backup turned off? I don't know a single person with it off.

Yes, several, they mostly all work in security and actually read the Platform Security Guide and made a decision the inconveniences were outweighed by the strengths of not storing that key.

Remember also that subpoenas rarely permit “fishing expeditions”, so if they want your iMessages, can convince the judiciary you have potentially committed a crime, your key not being stored and the E2EE nature doesn’t always mean a judge is going to let LE go after Bob, Joe, Bill and everyone you have messaged with and demand Apple hand over all their iMessages (if they have backups enabled).

> but IRC is still unencrypted in transit

TLS is an option, not ideal but better than no TLS at all.

Seen a few people pushing it.

That said I keep having the good old plain data link

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