7 votes

Running an IRC Network in 2019: Challenges and Opportunities

3 comments

  1. [2]
    PaulBGD Link
    I love IRC, some of my best moments happened through it. However for IRC to actually gain users it has to offer at least as much as the competitors. History should be at least an option and...

    I love IRC, some of my best moments happened through it. However for IRC to actually gain users it has to offer at least as much as the competitors. History should be at least an option and systems for integrating stuff like logins need to be easy to understand and preferably built into the client instead of a series of commands and channels.

    3 votes
    1. MacDolanFarms Link Parent
      History, to me, is the single most important thing that IRC lacks. Sure bouncers exist, but that's not really a good solution for casual users, or anyone who doesn't have the dedicated hardware...

      History, to me, is the single most important thing that IRC lacks. Sure bouncers exist, but that's not really a good solution for casual users, or anyone who doesn't have the dedicated hardware and reliable connection to host one, or the money to host it on a VPS, and the technical know-how.

      Fortunately, the IRCv3 Working Group has been working on adding server-side history support through the work-in-progress CHATHISTORY where the client can request that the server send logs from certain times, which could potentially function client-side exactly like it does in "modern" chat services. Oragono v1.0.0 added support for the CHATHISTORY draft, though I don't know that there is any client implementation yet.

      The account situation is improving too, with SASL (a standardized mechanism of authenticating to the server) has pretty wide client support and is supported by a lot of networks. IRCv3's account-notify, account-tag, and extended-join extensions are standard ways for the client to know the account people are logged into and actually present that information to the user in a meaningful way (not a message from NickServ!), and a standard account registration mechanism is being worked on.

      The problem, to me, is that I think most of IRC's existing userbase, including server operators, are fine with the way IRC is right now and are largely uninterested in non-trivial changes to the way it works. Some have left for Matrix, Discord, Slack, and others, and those who haven't I think you will have an increasingly hard time convincing that these features are needed (after all, they've stuck with IRC over these shiny new chat solutions for all these years).

      It makes me a little sad, because I really like IRC. It's not about to die (I think it will probably outlive a lot of these shiny alternatives), but I think it is losing relevancy.

      1 vote