03.21.21

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So-called ‘Coup’ Attempts and Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

Posted in Site News at 9:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: In order to keep our Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channels on topic and reasonably troll-free we’re temporarily changing the channel mods somewhat; this video explains how and why

THE connection or the link between Free software and free speech is very strong. But free speech maximalism can also be leveraged or exploited against Free software advocacy, mostly by interjecting stuff into it to falsely associate it with dangerous cults, such as those who think that all women should be presumed spies and provocateurs. Several sites connected to Microsoft recently attempted to publicly shame Free software by associating it with radical, racist people. We’ve decided to omit links to that.

“We never delete (censor) anything, we didn’t kickban anyone, but to keep focused on our goals we need to change the way the channels work.”Techrights has used Freenode for its community for a very long time (since 2008) and the FSF uses it too. So does the GNU Project. It’s not really a threat to Freedom as long as the protocol itself isn’t proprietary. When I first used IRC I was about 13 or 14 and back then DALNet was ‘all the rage’. For Free software projects Freenode is like a de facto standard or default, even if the current owners might be somewhat dodgy (we do not exchange passwords or anything over IRC, we use SSH and PGP for critical operations). Some might ask, why use Freenode at all and not self-host? Well, given the number of people parking in channels (including unknown people), even if we did not publish IRC logs, everyone else would be able to. We’ve already seen those looking to maintain private chats (e.g. Wikileaks) having FBI moles among them, in effect leaking out internal communications. So that approach is inherently deficient, especially for open chats that welcome strangers. When anyone can just enter and spew out garbage — maybe even deliberately — there’s growing risk of discreditisation by association. We’ve seen that too in the distant past. Recently we’ve come under more and more of those attacks (assuming they’re attack vectors), so just as we limited who can speak when Freenode itself was under attack (spam and defamation attacks, network-wide) we’re temporarily back to it while we work on an important series. IRC is here to stay, but we need to be careful not to allow it to be hijacked by rogue elements. We never delete (censor) anything, we didn’t kickban anyone, but to keep focused on our goals we need to change the way the channels work. At least for now, at least temporarily.

Side note/afterthought: An hour later and 600MB of video later I came to realise that I had muted the microphone (by accident, wrong press on the keyboard) and basically ruined a very long recording. Upon having a second go, I made is a lot more concise. This happened in the past and will probably happen again some time in the future (without professional recording equipment it’s hard to have visible indicator of microphone status).

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