24 votes

Absence of certain features in IRC considered a feature

41 comments

  1. [35]
    zaarn
    Link
    I would disagree with that conclusion; the lack of features in IRC is a lack of features. A bug. People like some of these features, they depend on them. Telling them they shouldn't be using them...

    I would disagree with that conclusion; the lack of features in IRC is a lack of features. A bug.

    People like some of these features, they depend on them. Telling them they shouldn't be using them and instead use a protocol that requires running a 24/7 to even get absolutely basic features like "search what people said yesterday" (and even then, if the connection drops you still loose messages) is absolutely unacceptable.

    IRC is an outdated protocol. Period.

    19 votes
    1. [3]
      MacDolanFarms
      Link Parent
      Note that there are people who do think IRC needs to improve (myself included), and many of these issues are being worked on by the IRCv3 folks. Scrollback is being added with the CHATHISTORY...

      Telling them they shouldn't be using them and instead use a protocol that requires running a 24/7 to even get absolutely basic features like "search what people said yesterday" (and even then, if the connection drops you still loose messages) is absolutely unacceptable.

      Note that there are people who do think IRC needs to improve (myself included), and many of these issues are being worked on by the IRCv3 folks.

      • Scrollback is being added with the CHATHISTORY extension. I think there's already a server (Oragono) supporting the draft.
      • "if the connection drops you still loose messages": The resume extension adds a graceful way for clients to recover a dropped connection and fill in any missing history.

      From the "What We're Working On" section of their site:

      • Standardised account registration and verification, allowing clients to provide better interfaces for end users.
      • Giving clients a standardised way to recognise, access and view chat history (provided by bouncers or servers).
      • Providing a mechanism to allow clients to automatically detect, move to, and keep using secure connections.
      • Allowing Unicode nicknames and channel names, improving the chat experience for international users.
      • Client avatars for display in graphical clients.

      They have buy-in from a lot of different networks, servers, and clients, so I have high hopes.

      I don't 100% agree with his conclusion here either. On one hand I do really like the impermanence of everything, but there are definitely cases where scrollback is a pretty important feature to have.

      14 votes
      1. [2]
        zaarn
        Link Parent
        IRCv3 has been in the works so long, it predates most alternative chat clients in widespread use today. Tbh, I don't have any hope this is going to work out.

        IRCv3 has been in the works so long, it predates most alternative chat clients in widespread use today. Tbh, I don't have any hope this is going to work out.

        6 votes
        1. ubergeek
          Link Parent
          ircv3 is pretty well supported in many popular clients in use. Weechat and I believe Pidgin both support it.

          ircv3 is pretty well supported in many popular clients in use. Weechat and I believe Pidgin both support it.

          1 vote
    2. [19]
      edenist
      Link Parent
      The author isn't saying those features don't have a use case. If you need those features, then go ahead and use them. That said, they do raise the point [which I agree with], that chat is...

      The author isn't saying those features don't have a use case. If you need those features, then go ahead and use them.

      That said, they do raise the point [which I agree with], that chat is ephemeral. If you need something logged and searchable, or you need to 'catch up' on what people said yesterday, I'd argue that chat probably isn't the optimal communication medium for that task.

      IRC should improve, it's not perfect. But I don't think the new technologies necessarily change the underlying function of a "chat" system.

      14 votes
      1. [16]
        papasquat
        Link Parent
        Why? There are plenty of chat protocols that allow you to search and catch up.

        If you need something logged and searchable, or you need to 'catch up' on what people said yesterday, I'd argue that chat probably isn't the optimal communication medium for that task.

        Why? There are plenty of chat protocols that allow you to search and catch up.

        7 votes
        1. [9]
          blitz
          Link Parent
          I think I kind of actually agree with @edenist. And just because you can do it, doesn't mean that it's a good experience. For some of the bigger slack rooms I've been in, there's absolutely no...

          I think I kind of actually agree with @edenist. And just because you can do it, doesn't mean that it's a good experience. For some of the bigger slack rooms I've been in, there's absolutely no point in trying to read back what you missed because there's thousands of new messages that are not organized in any way. The search feature in Slack is there, but it's not very useful for me, because again, the messages aren't organized in a way that makes it easy to find anything meaningful.

          Chat is great to exchange ideas quickly and ephemerally. For asynchronous communication something like a message board or a mailing list is better because by design the messages are organized in a way that makes finding information actually practical.

          7 votes
          1. [7]
            apoctr
            Link Parent
            Aren't those separate problems, with the implementation and not the principle? Solvable by chat protocols allowing for better search, better organisation etc. And while it may not scale well, that...

            And just because you can do it, doesn't mean that it's a good experience. For some of the bigger slack rooms I've been in, there's absolutely no point in trying to read back what you missed because there's thousands of new messages that are not organized in any way. The search feature in Slack is there, but it's not very useful for me, because again, the messages aren't organized in a way that makes it easy to find anything meaningful.

            Aren't those separate problems, with the implementation and not the principle? Solvable by chat protocols allowing for better search, better organisation etc. And while it may not scale well, that doesn't mean it isn't useful on the smaller scale.

            For asynchronous communication something like a message board or a mailing list is better because by design the messages are organized in a way that makes finding information actually practical.

            Mailing lists and message boards are much more formal and much more public respectively than chat protocols like Discord. This means they aren't a viable alternative for many usecases for services like Discord - sharing private information, sending gifs and videos, easy interaction from mobile devices.

            1. [5]
              unknown user
              Link Parent
              You can easily have a private mailing list, either by running a mailman like server, or just a CC list, i.e. putting relevant people on the CC and using the reply all feature of your email client.

              You can easily have a private mailing list, either by running a mailman like server, or just a CC list, i.e. putting relevant people on the CC and using the reply all feature of your email client.

              1 vote
              1. [4]
                apoctr
                Link Parent
                I'm not sure running your own (mailman) server would be seen as easy by non-technical users. Email lists don't play nicely with mobile devices, inline gifs, or easily keeping up with new messages...

                I'm not sure running your own (mailman) server would be seen as easy by non-technical users. Email lists don't play nicely with mobile devices, inline gifs, or easily keeping up with new messages (having to select new emails for each message rather than having everything in one view). They meet some usecases for chat services, but not all.

                1 vote
                1. [3]
                  unknown user
                  Link Parent
                  I use K9 mail on android which is quite good with mailing lists. Inline gifs, well... it is not impossible to communicate without them. The server is harder to get right, sure. But it is a viable...

                  I use K9 mail on android which is quite good with mailing lists. Inline gifs, well... it is not impossible to communicate without them. The server is harder to get right, sure. But it is a viable alternative, even preferable for some.

                  1 vote
                  1. [2]
                    apoctr
                    Link Parent
                    Agreed. But it's changing how you interact and communicate in order to suit a different method of communication, rather than being a drop-in replacement.

                    Inline gifs, well... it is not impossible to communicate without them.

                    Agreed. But it's changing how you interact and communicate in order to suit a different method of communication, rather than being a drop-in replacement.

                    1 vote
                    1. unknown user
                      Link Parent
                      Sure. My point was that you can have private communications with multiple parties with email. The mode of comnunication is different, but it can get the job done.

                      Sure. My point was that you can have private communications with multiple parties with email. The mode of comnunication is different, but it can get the job done.

                      1 vote
            2. Death
              Link Parent
              I think one of the takeaways from the OP is that one of the downsides of current chat platforms like Slack is that the lines between formal and informal, important or unimportant, and ephemeral or...

              I think one of the takeaways from the OP is that one of the downsides of current chat platforms like Slack is that the lines between formal and informal, important or unimportant, and ephemeral or lasting, start to blur. Sure a private chat with four friends is just that but the huge Discord communities where people routinely share private information are a complete departure from that.

              Similarly Slack was clearly meant as a replacement for internal IRC/Skype, email and/or other telecom protocols in company settings but now you run up against the problem that your critical files or code snippets are sandwiched in-between posts about the pot luck on Tuesday, and searching for them is harder because they're in a big lake of ephemeral pointless data which your code still needs to parse in case a relevant snippet is in there somewhere.

              I don't agree with Drew that IRC is better or just as good as Discord or Slack in any circumstance, I'm not fond of Discord but I won't deny that they have a much better UX, are easier to use via their own app, and in general have much better comfort features for their average user. But I do get where's he's coming from and I don't think he's wrong outright.

              1 vote
          2. papasquat
            Link Parent
            That depends entirely on how active or big the room is. Seems a little weird to write off the use case of reading up solely because of extremely large chat rooms. Most chat rooms I'm in for...

            For some of the bigger slack rooms I've been in, there's absolutely no point in trying to read back what you missed because there's thousands of new messages that are not organized in any way.

            That depends entirely on how active or big the room is. Seems a little weird to write off the use case of reading up solely because of extremely large chat rooms. Most chat rooms I'm in for instance only have 20ish people in them, and I can easily read conversations spanning weeks in a few minutes, which I've been doing for over 20 years without much of an issue.
            I don't think there's a collaborative tool out there that would let you catch up on days of thousands of people all talking constantly though.

        2. alyaza
          Link Parent
          ...in fact, isn't the ability to search and catch up a feature of nearly every chat protocol, client, or service of the past 20 years, no matter how rudimentary or advanced? i would say the...

          ...in fact, isn't the ability to search and catch up a feature of nearly every chat protocol, client, or service of the past 20 years, no matter how rudimentary or advanced? i would say the ability to do those things is basically a ubiquitous part of modern chatting and has been since at least when i started using the internet (2007).

          5 votes
        3. [5]
          ubergeek
          Link Parent
          Yeah. They are called "forums". Like tildes.net, for example.

          Yeah. They are called "forums". Like tildes.net, for example.

          1. [2]
            apoctr
            Link Parent
            That kind of works for more formal and slower conversation, but not personal, private or more frequent posting (what forums give live updates?) that more public forums make difficult.

            That kind of works for more formal and slower conversation, but not personal, private or more frequent posting (what forums give live updates?) that more public forums make difficult.

            1. ubergeek
              Link Parent
              Forums don't have to be "formal"... And, many active forums I'm in have some posters who are quite frequent posters. Many forums do live updates, as well. vBulletin, for example.

              Forums don't have to be "formal"... And, many active forums I'm in have some posters who are quite frequent posters. Many forums do live updates, as well. vBulletin, for example.

          2. [2]
            papasquat
            Link Parent
            Slack, discord, matrix, and virtually every other popular chat protocol of the last 20 years offers scrollback and search also.

            Slack, discord, matrix, and virtually every other popular chat protocol of the last 20 years offers scrollback and search also.

            1. ubergeek
              Link Parent
              Are those really the best option for non-ephemeral conversations, though? My biggest complaint about slack? Threading, and memory hogging due to infinite scrollback...

              Are those really the best option for non-ephemeral conversations, though?

              My biggest complaint about slack? Threading, and memory hogging due to infinite scrollback...

      2. zaarn
        Link Parent
        Maybe for some bigger chat rooms search is pointless but there are plenty of small scale chats that can benefit from search and logging. All of the other dismissed features are plenty of useful...

        Maybe for some bigger chat rooms search is pointless but there are plenty of small scale chats that can benefit from search and logging. All of the other dismissed features are plenty of useful themselves in a variety of situations.

        Most importantly; you don't have to use them. Discord lets you switch off almost all of them or ignore them entirely, you can make it look almost like IRC. Nobody is forcing you to use those features in other clients but for those people that need it, it's there.

        On the flipside, IRC offers none of them, not even if you need them.

        2 votes
      3. GoingMerry
        Link Parent
        People often complain to me that Slack is too distracting, and I often tell them they can mute their notifications or unsubscribe from channels, but this advice usually falls on deaf ears. Part of...

        People often complain to me that Slack is too distracting, and I often tell them they can mute their notifications or unsubscribe from channels, but this advice usually falls on deaf ears. Part of me wonders if the media that's incredibly easy to embed in Slack creates this compulsion to constantly check it (or at least makes it worse than IRC).

        I get what you're saying about ephemeral chat. I think most people expect to be able to read history nowadays. All of these features usually cause people to use Slack for a use case outside of what its really good at - this might not happen with something more fundamental like IRC.

        1 vote
    3. welly
      Link Parent
      I'm not sure if I'm reading you incorrectly but a lack of features isn't a bug. It's simply a lack of features. That is fine for what IRC is, much in the same way that a spoon isn't buggy because...

      I'm not sure if I'm reading you incorrectly but a lack of features isn't a bug. It's simply a lack of features.

      That is fine for what IRC is, much in the same way that a spoon isn't buggy because it doesn't also have an integrated fork. Sometimes you only need a spoon, sometimes what you need is a spork.

      IRC is perfectly adequate for what it is, however it is no Slack. To me, it's a different tool.

      6 votes
    4. [3]
      emdash
      Link Parent
      I've recently changed my opinion on this to one of agreement. I no longer use IRC, after spending the better part of a decade on the platform. Dwindling users, a poor outlook, and an aging...

      I've recently changed my opinion on this to one of agreement. I no longer use IRC, after spending the better part of a decade on the platform. Dwindling users, a poor outlook, and an aging userbase is only going to further ensure its downfall.

      As much as I dislike it, I've migrated to Discord and am not looking back. There's just more people.

      5 votes
      1. edenist
        Link Parent
        Proprietary, closed communication platforms just don't sit well with me for many reasons which I'm sure everyone has heard a million times, lol. But at the end of the day, in my time with it...

        Proprietary, closed communication platforms just don't sit well with me for many reasons which I'm sure everyone has heard a million times, lol.

        But at the end of the day, in my time with it discord didn't seem to provide me with anything I really needed. If I go down with the IRC ship, so be it ;-)

        5 votes
      2. Kirisame
        Link Parent
        My experience is identical to yours. I still hold out hope, though; maybe Matrix will catch on. It offers, after all, the majority of what I come to Discord for -- everything except, well, the...

        My experience is identical to yours.

        I still hold out hope, though; maybe Matrix will catch on. It offers, after all, the majority of what I come to Discord for -- everything except, well, the people. Chicken and egg problem, I suppose, but I've had lots of trouble convincing people to migrate to another chat platform when Discord is already so fully-featured. My friends don't care as much about FOSS ideals as I do.

        4 votes
    5. [3]
      Anwyl
      Link Parent
      Is feature creep not considered bad anymore? I feel like "more features" is being considered a good thing everywhere now.

      lack of features. A bug.

      Is feature creep not considered bad anymore? I feel like "more features" is being considered a good thing everywhere now.

      3 votes
      1. zaarn
        Link Parent
        Feature creep and More Features aren't synonymous, I don't think wanting some essentials to be present is feature creep.

        Feature creep and More Features aren't synonymous, I don't think wanting some essentials to be present is feature creep.

        6 votes
      2. apoctr
        Link Parent
        If those features are both useful and used, without being detrimental to the program/service, there should be no reason to oppose them. Adding features for the sake of adding features, with no...

        I feel like "more features" is being considered a good thing everywhere now.

        If those features are both useful and used, without being detrimental to the program/service, there should be no reason to oppose them. Adding features for the sake of adding features, with no realistic usecase, is what should be avoided

        2 votes
    6. [5]
      banned
      Link Parent
      I personally actually like the fact that the history is not back searchable.

      Telling them they shouldn't be using them and instead use a protocol that requires running a 24/7 to even get absolutely basic features like "search what people said yesterday" (and even then, if the connection drops you still loose messages) is absolutely unacceptable.

      I personally actually like the fact that the history is not back searchable.

      1. [4]
        zaarn
        Link Parent
        But not everyone does, some people want a searchable history. That feature should be there, if you don't want it, you can ignore it.

        But not everyone does, some people want a searchable history. That feature should be there, if you don't want it, you can ignore it.

        1. [3]
          banned
          Link Parent
          I meant it as in: Them not being able to see the history allows me to say stuff I don't want certain people to read.

          I meant it as in: Them not being able to see the history allows me to say stuff I don't want certain people to read.

          1. [2]
            zaarn
            Link Parent
            Then why use IRC? people can effortlessly run a bouncer that will allow those certain people to read it.

            Then why use IRC? people can effortlessly run a bouncer that will allow those certain people to read it.

            1 vote
            1. banned
              Link Parent
              I can still see who is connected.

              I can still see who is connected.

  2. Octofox
    Link
    I have been using IRC for about 7 years now and I think its severely lacking but somehow nothing has been able to properly replace it. There are so many major flaws in IRC like requiring a...

    I have been using IRC for about 7 years now and I think its severely lacking but somehow nothing has been able to properly replace it. There are so many major flaws in IRC like requiring a constant connection for it to work properly. I once came back to my pc to find I had been auto banned from every irc network because my internet was being fucky causing me to spam join/quit messages. The lack of any way to see what was sent to you when you were offline is a serious problem as well. The inability to send code snippets or files without using a 3rd party or that weird irc transfer protocol that has never worked for me is just a serious let down for irc.

    And yet IRC still exists and its still widely used because for some reason no one has been able to create anything better that is just as light, fast and open as IRC. Matrix has been the most exciting attempt in this space but the clients are no where near as fast as my irc client. They have got so much better in the last 2 years but still have a way to go.

    9 votes
  3. tomf
    Link
    I love IRC and have been fairly consistent in using it since the mid 90s. Basically, I am for anything that will bring the corporate world back to IRC... within reason. I love weechat and can't...

    I love IRC and have been fairly consistent in using it since the mid 90s.

    Basically, I am for anything that will bring the corporate world back to IRC... within reason. I love weechat and can't imagine life without it. Most of the roadmap features either aren't interesting to me or are preexisting through ZNC.

    That being said, for the normal, not-very-technical user, features like scrollback will be great -- just so long as the nicks time out after a certain length of inactivity.

    All in all, IRC is great and I want everybody to be on it like the old days. There are plenty of excellent communities covering nearly every topic.

    Almost every corporate job I've worked has had either XMPP or IRC for the technical folks. I can't imagine getting anything done without these channels to quickly resolve issues.

    4 votes
  4. GoingMerry
    Link
    IRC has use cases in which it's the best tool for the job, and some where it isn't. The universe of use cases in which IRC "wins" is getting smaller and smaller, and I'm hoping we don't lose the...

    IRC has use cases in which it's the best tool for the job, and some where it isn't. The universe of use cases in which IRC "wins" is getting smaller and smaller, and I'm hoping we don't lose the decentralized, open nature of IRC as behemoths like Slack take over.

    4 votes
  5. Hypersapien
    Link
    I used to use the various programming channels at work, but the job I've had for the past five years blocks IRC in their network :(

    I used to use the various programming channels at work, but the job I've had for the past five years blocks IRC in their network :(

    2 votes
  6. Eabryt
    Link
    My early internet days were spent with IRC, and I still use it occasionally for some of my private trackers, but in general it doesn't get any use from me anymore. Unfortunately all the people I...

    My early internet days were spent with IRC, and I still use it occasionally for some of my private trackers, but in general it doesn't get any use from me anymore. Unfortunately all the people I talk to have moved to Slack or Discord, so I just sit there talking to myself.

    1 vote
  7. mrbig
    (edited )
    Link
    IRC is useful to me because I do not want nor require any of the extra resources available in other group chat platforms. My laptop is not that strong, and IRC clients use very little resources....

    IRC is useful to me because I do not want nor require any of the extra resources available in other group chat platforms. My laptop is not that strong, and IRC clients use very little resources. It’s a text chat, and that is what I need. If I wanted to exchange gifs, videos, etc I’d use WhatsApp, which I won’t because it’s a complete mess. If IRC clients had friendlier UIs so regular users never had to type commands (or understand what is a server, NickServ, etc) it would probably be more popular.

    IMHO, and for my use case, what those modern chats bring to the table is not enough to compensate for their bloat and numerous annoyances.

    Furthermore, I still get quality answers on IRC on a daily basis.