Techrights Statement on IRC

Posted in Site News at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC further
In its official capacity (or Web site), Freenode has said nothing since a week ago

Summary: Freenode needs to explain what the hell happened this week and why communities that make up the network weren’t informed or consulted

YESTERDAY was the most turbulent day in IRC since we started using IRC in early 2008. There are many of us who are involved in running Techrights (IRC, hosting, Daily Links, research and so on), and no doubt yesterday’s events in Freenode had a profound effect on our ability to communicate, to produce articles, and to code (we had to change a lot in code in many machines, then do extensive testing).

“Freenode needs to get together and formulate a statement about yesterday’s events. Otherwise, we cannot be sure such impulsive and erratic decisions will be made again (with zero prior consultation with communities that actually made Freenode what it is).”IRC is a universal protocol that is very old and widely supported by a large number of software clients. It’s nowhere near its peak of 2003 (about 10 million online users, according to Wikipedia), but many geeks still use it. Freenode says (in IRC.com* and in Freenode.net) that it wants to take IRC to the next level, but what was done yesterday without prior warning and with barely a coherent explanation is inexcusable. Those of us who still had some trust in Freenode, including the FSF, lost most or all of that trust. Freenode needs to get together and formulate a statement about yesterday’s events. Otherwise, we cannot be sure such impulsive and erratic decisions will be made again (with zero prior consultation with communities that actually made Freenode what it is).

Freenode isn’t the enemy. It really isn’t. But “unfortunately,” as an associate of ours put it yesterday, “sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.” Our channels are all available at irc.techrights.org (default port numbers). The “Techrights” (#techrights) channel in Freenode dropped from about 85 users (before Tuesday’s chaos) to just 54 at this moment. We are not leaving Freenode (we have been there for a very long time and have a bridge set up), but we certainly deserve an explanation from Freenode management and we certainly anticipate one. In the future we plan to do some in-depth articles about Freenode, but they’re not a priority at this time (we have fallen way behind our publication plan/schedule) and right now would not be an appropriate time to contribute to infighting, seeing the existing disarray (aftermath of a de facto D-R exercise on a live/production environment). We have almost a thousand lines of notes, which would take a long time to digest and organise, fact-check etc.

“However, the inherent value of Freenode isn’t something that can be measured in terms of money (like how much it can be sold for) because it’s not a product to be sold and passed like a corporation or a commodity.”Andrew Lee is not a malicious person; but he put himself in a situation where he can only attract (to work with him) rather irresponsible people, whose actions tens of thousands of people now pay a high price for. Instead of coding and producing the Free/libre software that runs the world they’re busy trying to put out fires.

IRC.comWe’re still trying to reassemble all the pieces (some things still aren’t working properly) and make up for a lost week, maybe catching up with missing time and backlog some time in the coming weekend. The past month in general has been hectic. We wrote about Freenode woes a long time before it became public. That was almost 6 weeks ago (we actually learned about it back in April). We foresaw this and tried hard to prevent/mitigate disaster. The intention was to avoid destruction and to keep people focused on what they were doing. The productivity loss, put on a financial scale, is unbelievably high (tens is not hundreds of millions). However, the inherent value of Freenode isn’t something that can be measured in terms of money (like how much it can be sold for) because it’s not a product to be sold and passed like a corporation or a commodity**.
* We’ve included a screenshot of IRC.com on the right.
** The same is true for Techrights; we could cause enormous financial damage to corporations like Novell, but that does not mean any gain for us.

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