05.21.21

The Freenode Users Exodus as Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Boosted by Those Looking to Gain

Posted in Deception at 3:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Take a moment to study what actually begets the current split; the grievances don’t merit a fragmentation, which the communities around Free software aren’t likely to benefit from

THIS is the latest status report. It won’t be the last. Many Free software projects and communities are still sitting on the fence, unable to decide (just yet) what to do. We too are among those and we’re assessing the situation. I have seen and read Lee’s side of the tale (complete with screenshots and photos). I have already read many resignation letters (since more than a week ago). On balance, I think neither side is “perfectly right”; I think that the scandal or alleged scandal is overinflated by those looking to fully control the platform while leaving Lee with scraps. If there are legitimate concerns (e.g. Oracle and OpenOffice.org), then branching or forking away is fine (LibreOffice). If that boils down to superficial nonsense (e.g. GIMP being a supposedly ‘offensive’ acronym), the forkers and disruptors (Glimpse) won’t have a leg to stand on, at least in the long run…

“If people read Lee’s side of the tale, they will see that there are allusions there to the FSF situation. Apparently there was concern about coups and takeovers.”This post is mainly a rebuttal to false narratives, akin to headlines spelling the end of the FSF and telling us that everybody hates Richard Stallman (based on tweetstorms that are algorithmically curated).

If people read Lee’s side of the tale, they will see that there are allusions there to the FSF situation. Apparently there was concern about coups and takeovers.

But here’s the thing: many conveniently forget that the company which owns Freenode is a privacy company, not a surveillance outfit. At one point they rescued Linux Journal and they also donate to a bunch of Free (as in freedom) causes. For those who claim that Freenode’s owner violates privacy there’s this rebuttal showing that the supposed ‘evidence’ was in fact fabricated:

PIA snooping evidence fabricated
PIA snooping ‘evidence’ was allegedly fabricated

A lot of VPNs are faked privacy, but I never saw evidence of PIA itself lying about privacy. I saw the opposite of that. They’ve repeatedly proven, even in court, that they don’t log. So their competitors are eager to find some ‘dirt’ and, failing that, manufacture some ‘evidence’…

Since weeks ago (yes, we’ve been writing about the situation in Freenode for weeks!) we’ve been monitoring the situation and speaking privately to a number of people. Last week we felt morally compelled to shed light on some things, seeing that a boil-over was likely imminent and irreversible. Resignation letters were already being prepared and circulated privately for consultation.

“Last week we felt morally compelled to shed light on some things, seeing that a boil-over was likely imminent and irreversible.”This is not what the Free software community needs and if the nature of the supposed scandal is too shallow, then let’s try to reconcile rather than cause chaos to a lot of people (or projects that would rather code than coordinate migrations, change code that’s hardlinked to Freenode and so on).

There are already problems associated with impersonation due to this whole chaos. This poses seriously severe security risks. As Gentoo has put it, “it has came to our attention that certain individuals have been using the situation to impersonate Gentoo developers on other IRC networks.”

It’s worth noting that Gentoo has not left Freenode. Alpine is leaving (because of its connection to longtime Freenode staff), Haiku is leaving, Xen is currently discussing the matter, and several other projects are in a sort of limbo, trying to get the facts right before (or to avoid) jumping the gun. So let’s actually examine the facts.

“It’s worth noting that Gentoo has not left Freenode.”Hackaday wrote about this yesterday, alluding to a “Staff Exodus” (this is correct, but the users aren't following).

We still see some insulting letters if not borderline (and veiled) racist ones. This new one plays along with the “us versus them” (classism and racism) narrative, alluding to Lee as “narcissistic Trumpian wannabe Korean royalty bitcoin millionaire” (he’s an American and we lack evidence that he bears any resemblance to Trump). We keep seeing this framing in the same media that attacked Richard Stallman by distorting what he had written and then bragging that it caused him to resign.

As someone put it yesterday: “I am hopeful for this to be an end to gender and sexual orientation based harassment on the network while promotice a productive working environment for the open-source development (including libre and even “ethical”) and job offerings!”

“For the time being, very few projects left Freenode entirely.”Based on our understanding, some staff received abuse. This wasn’t Lee’s fault and, if anything, there were attempts to correct this. Rectifying such situations is hard because there’s no resolution that can please everybody.

For the time being, very few projects left Freenode entirely. Many users stay where they are. Yesterday in IRC we peaked at around 90 online users (almost an all-time high). “The channel on Freenode is still active,” PHP star “Remi” (or “Remi Repo”) wrote, “but may be closed in the near future.”

They are studying the situation. Totally understandable.

We’ve noticed that the very same people who worked super-hard to cancel both Stallman and Torvalds campaign against Lee. “I have been on IRC since at least 1993,” said this person. “Currently my main public networks are OFTC and Freenode.”

His project/product is associated directly with the Linux Foundation, whose position on this one can imagine (albeit it’s not a monolith).

“We deserve better fact-finding, not a frantic rush to weapons like pitchforks.”The media has been extremely unhelpful so far, egging people on and falling back on click-bait instead of bothering to listen to both sides. It’s so comfortable to judge from a distance and ruin things, but what if this ruin is based largely on misunderstanding and groupthink. Consensus isn’t the same as truth or justice. 2 months ago an angry, hateful mob offered us predictions of doom and gloom for the FSF. And where is the FSF now? Bigger Board than before, more pro-Stallman (RMS) than before, RMS giving public talks again, and many people (individuals) donating to the FSF. The petition in support of RMS exceeded 6,700 signatures, today it’s at 6,702, and the defamatory hate letter didn’t age well. At all! “VHS is dead – long live BETAMAX!” Yeah, how about that in the 1990s?

Market Research Telecast chose the headline “Freenode is dead – long live Libera Chat!”

In effect they’re lying to people, hoping to bring about a particular outcome. Freenode is still here and much of the controversy is still misunderstood. We deserve better fact-finding, not a frantic rush to weapons like pitchforks.

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