Libera Chat vs. Freenode: Who won?
Let me start by saying this is a space I am not at all familiar with. I didn't grow up with IRC, my first text editor was Sublime (I'm not from the "EMACS vs. VIM" generation,) so I feel kinda outta touch with what all is going on.
Is there a winner? I feel invested in this topic after seeing a whole slew of posts, blogs, and medium articles posted all over Reddit and HN breaking down how these folks have personally been impacted over the past month or so. It seems to have died down which leaves me with the question of what the outcome was. An even 50/50 split? Libera destroying Freenode? Or Freenode able to hold onto users by successfully preventing efforts to organize a transition?
Without being in the Freenode community, I don't have a feeling for whether Freenode is dead, Libera Chat is "winning" and I don't think there's a good way to get metrics either.
Anyone in this world who can help the uneducated out on the outcome of all of this?
The big reset was crazy. For a good portion of the night I was on a server with no admins or services. Compared to the old and new #freenode channels, it was relatively tame.
If anybody was a founder of a channel, join #ChanHelp and you can get it on the new one.
What a mess. The IRCCloud debacle was the final straw for my remaining channels.
These statements remained true for a surprisingly shorter time than I expected.
This situation seems increasingly like a depressing or cautionary tale of someone who has severe delusions (apparently drug-related), but enough money to have those delusions do real damage, and not enough strong friends to protect him from himself. The ongoing court cases against Lee suggest this, and nothing that has happened in the past few days makes any sense from the standpoint of him acting rationally, whether reputably or otherwise. The logs and notices coming out now (eg, here) seem completely delusional and erratic.
I, sadly, had a situation years ago dealing with an increasingly unhinged programmer friend of mine in a community I was involved in governing, though they didn't have the money to do as much damage. They started making increasingly erratic and grandiose pronouncements in online and offline spaces, reflecting a worldview that made no sense even though I agreed with the core of the complaints they had, and started being increasingly aggressive and hostile toward anyone who disagreed with the smallest portion of what they were doing, or tried to convince them to be more reasonable. I ended up being pushed into supporting a restraining order against them that, because they brought that same worldview and behaviour to court, ended up all but imprisoning them in their small apartment, destroying much of their life and livelihood, and severely damaging our community, as the people they had legitimate complaints about were able to use the legal victory to intimidate everyone else. It is one of the things I most regret having done, but at the same time, I simply don't know how to deal with these sorts of situations where someone, who might even be a friend and might have good intentions, starts falling into severe delusions and mental health problems that affect other people.
Jeez... that seems like the worst case scenario
Don't take this the wrong way, but who is using Freenode or IRC in 2021 and for what purpose? I'd assume older FOSS devs whose projects predate most of the modern web and those in the more extreme free software / privacy camps, who seem like the most likely candidates for immediately jumping ship over something like this. Why would they stay with Freenode, and whatever for? I've never used IRC because I've never known anyone else on an IRC network. I've used Slack, GitHub, Discord, and Signal pretty much exclusively for the types of things it sounds like IRC is being used for.
Part of me wonders what exactly I've been missing out over the past several years... unfortunate that my introduction to this world is its dissolution.
I can't speak for anyone but myself, but, for me, my primary use case is to get (and occasionally give) tech support for the various FLOSS projects I use. For that purpose, they have been largely very helpful and useful. I have gotten some great help that has "unstuck" me with various problems, or helped me understand things. The projects that come to mind for me are: PostgreSQL, Gentoo, Ardour, kdenlive. If I need help with some new FLOSS software that I found somewhere, the first place I go to look for help is (well, was) Freenode. Sometimes I found a project didn't have a presence there, but usually I would find that they would.
Of the four projects I listed above, 3 have moved to Libera, and [I was told] kdenlive has not moved yet because they are waiting to see what the KDE project as a whole decides. They care a little bit less because they use some other service primarily, and just bridge to and from the IRC channel.
For me, IRC is (very) far from dead. I would still go to IRC for help with ardour, kdenlive and Gentoo.
I don't use IRC, and only use Discord to track the goings-on in communities I'm a part of, so I'm something of an outsider here, but here's my take from watching as a user of many projects affected by it:
Everybody loses. Lee lost what made Freenode great, and so lost his reason for ownership: The userbase and the benefits of having it. Libera lost because it became a refugee hub, which means a bunch of people are using it fleeing something, rather than entering it willingly. I don't think the Libera organization is suffering for this, but they didn't win by being better, but by not being that guy. It's a minor win, but only because I don't count number of users as a point of victory alone.
The real losers are the projects, chats, and everybody stuck in the lurch on migration: They'll never be able to fully trust IRC or any sort of chat infrastructure again. What happens if Libera becomes popular and some opportunist moves in? Then the next one?
I'm calling it a net loss. The affected communities are resilient, but any situation which requires one to benefit from resilience is a bad one.
I would be surprised if there wasn't some kind of institutionalism, conscious or not, among the staff that meant they reacted to the takeover of freenode with "we have to save our network" rather than "we have to save our users". I think it's reasonable as a first reaction, honestly, and it seems like they only had time for a first reaction. Deciding to give up on their network and move people to OFTC would have taken a bit more consideration, especially since they are approaching the crisis as network administrators, not as regular users. So of course they'll be inclined to try to save their network first. I don't even see it as cynical really.
What is wrong with Matrix?
Eh Discord has pivoted to a general audience for a while now. If it is a suitable place for open source project communication is a different discussion but saying it is only for gaming is a bit outdated considering the wide array of communities that can be found on discord these days.
Indeed, most of the open source communities I'm in are on Discord. It's pretty convenient since it has so many users.
They even have an open source portal: https://discord.com/open-source. It gives paid server features for free. It's pretty nice for the communities I'm in.
That's fair. I'd agree that IRC is the more principled FOSS approach, being an open platform, open protocol with open clients. De facto discord has the user base and convenience that IRC often lacks.
I don't think it's an "old man yells at cloud" moment. You won't find Stallman in those discord communities. At the very least that makes it a "old men yell at cloud" moment. I think you'd find that many people in the FOSS community, even us young'uns agree with you but concede to the market powers anyway.
I'd actually argue that no communities should be on proprietary networks. The simple concept of ceding ownership of your conversations to a third party with a profit motive is ridiculous, and the fact that dozens of FLOSS projects have moved to Discord is frightening.
Some channels are sticking with Freenode and others have moved to Libera. I've still got three or four still on FN that are active, two of which I run.
The two channels I op, we're debating moving over since they axed IRCCloud, but we aren't in a rush. The IRCCloud folks have moved over to bouncers and a different app.
On the Freenode side, it seems a lot of the staff / helpers are still learning. I think they brought on too many new staff and helpers without properly vetting some folks. #Freenode is a mess, but not much new there.
Its unfortunate how they're taking over some channels that have anything to do with Libera in the topic. If my two channels do move over, we'll skip the topic and add an entrymsg, +m the channel, +v the bot and run a relay. As people join the old channel, we'll call them over to the new one.
The whole thing is a mess. I wish Christel had made some sort of statement, but I can also understand why they're not getting involved. It really seems like she sold out the network for a job, though.
Eventually this will all calm down and mostly be forgotten. Most projects will reside on either Libera or OFTC.
All in all, there's one more network to connect to. It isn't a big deal. IRC is eternal.
In some ways I'm kind of hedging my bets on Libera.chat - at least for FOSS projects. However, I can't Imagine some sort of mass migration taking the majority of users.