10.13.21

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No, JWZ, Discord is Not “IRC With Pictures”

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 7:36 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Guest post by Ryan, reprinted with permission from the original

Jamie Zawinski made a comment about Discord basically being “IRC with pictures” somewhere along the way, but it’s actually not.

What Discord does is way worse. It pretends to be IRC plus all of these neat features, so that it can rope people in and centralize their communications, and log everything they do.

They have this thing that they call “running a Discord Server”, which is bogus, because you don’t run the server. They do.

This means that anything anyone ever does on Discord is subject to failure if the company goes out of business or has downtime.

According to Wikipedia, once Discord got enough people used to the free version, they started imposing artificial limits on what you could do, and then selling you subscriptions to get the things you were doing before. This is pretty typical of proprietary software, especially “web apps” like Microsoft 365.

When users got together as a community to make robot programs (like you could always do on IRC) to play Youtube music, ad-free, Google sent DMCA attacks and Discord removed the bots.

When people who had various political beliefs that were not popular among the fascist woke “left” started gathering on Discord, Discord promised to Cancel them.

(Did they, eventually do that? I don’t know, but the fact is that they can.)

We may disagree with other people’s opinions, but having opinions isn’t illegal in a civilized society. Woke trolls use Big Tech to silence their opposition and then again to whine and destroy them professionally.

Discord stepped in and disrupted Wall Street Bets, for making rich people look stupid and causing them to lose some money.

This is just a small list of things they can do.

With IRC, we’ll still have it in 20 years and know how it works. Governments won’t be able to tell the “IRC company” (there isn’t one) to ban end-to-end encryption, which government officials themselves use to prevent leaks, or to shut down servers that they don’t like. If they tried it, it could be hosted somewhere else. If you get banned on one server, you can go somewhere else. If your ISP or government tries to blockade it, you can use an obfuscated VPN or Tor tunnel and use it anyway.

Most tech companies just end up doing whatever the government tells them to in order to not have any of their own business activities suspended. In some cases, this includes being unmasked in order to be executed.

The first step in avoiding a trap, is knowing of its existence.

Discord is not “IRC with pictures”. It’s a trap.

Zawinski seems to be more of a hipster who made good on the dotcom hysteria and then went on to rest on his laurels, occasionally amusing himself by buying a bar, and some Macs, which he swears up and down work fine even though they lock him out of his computer.

(In a recent post, it wouldn’t even let him program software and compile it because Apple didn’t sign those make and python binaries.)

The Macs are (still) more buggy than any GNU/Linux distro I’ve ever seen, according to Zawinski himself. (Who goes on to quote problems in GNU/Linux that were solved 13 _years_ ago as reasons for hating GNU/Linux.)

I think he shouldn’t be listened to for advice about software and using it.

IRC can do all of the important things you need it to do, and it hasn’t gotten much fatter than it was in the 1990s, despite having a new version on the way.

How many things on your computer can you say that about? Remember how slow Windows 98 was on the internet, on dial up? Remember progress bars taking forever, and pulling down menus being painfully slow?

Why is it, today, that your laptop is thousands of times faster than your desktop PC was then, and yet it feels like we’ve made no progress at all?

Windows has gotten morbidly obese to the point even a new computer feels slow right out of the box, which is alarming, and something they use to drive hardware sales, even though they’re like a shittier Apple now. Your PC is three years old! Throw it away! Windows 11!

They throw parties for themselves. They pull a string and OMG MSFT! Joey, Michael Larabel, and SJVN dance for them. It’s sad.

But a few things certainly don’t need to get much fatter and more horrible as time goes on because they’re controlled by a community process (like some GNU/Linux operating systems), and IRC is definitely one of those things. Leave IRC alone! 😉

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