07.22.21

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The Tragedy of Freenode

Posted in Site News at 11:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Freenode shrinking
Freenode is still shrinking (soon going below 20,000 online users)

Summary: IRC.com/Freenode said an influx of “millions” of users was impending, but it doesn’t look like it; judging by how poorly the network has been run, it will be hard to undo the damage

EARLIER this year Freenode reached almost 92,000 simultaneous online users (according to this chart; almost 100,000 is the all-time high) but after the tragic catastrophe of mismanagement and mishandling of a crisis Freenode is left with barely 22,000. So in less than 6 months they managed to lose about three quarters of all their users.

We previously mentioned what an enormous amount of our time was lost due to this year’s IRC turbulence (maybe 50+ hours in total) and that turbulence isn’t even over. At the moment I’m unable to access Freenode from any of my machines or IRC clients. It says I’m banned (Z-lined) for too many access attempts; this wouldn’t be the first such bouncer ‘false positive’ as it keeps happening once in several weeks. And to overcome this it can take some effort. It was never happening before — never before the takeover and flippant software change.

“Our self-hosted network isn’t invulnerable to downtime, so we still keep Freenode around.”We have, by now, moved all our operational reliance over to our self-hosted network. That includes bots and logging. We weren’t in a rush to do this until Freenode kept failing again and again. It’s just simply not reliable anymore. Our self-hosted network isn’t invulnerable to downtime, so we still keep Freenode around. The community lives on and is as active as ever; bridges between the networks enable slow transition and duality. Co-existence for the sake of legacy and redundancy. It’s not an endorsement.

We said several times last month that we’d refrain from bringing up the subject again until some time in July. Well, with one single week remaining for this month (and IRC wars mostly a thing of the past by now) it seems safe to post frank thoughts on the matter without inflaming hostilities.

“There was a major breach of trust along the way.”We did our best to defuse tensions, hoping to avoid or prevent major IRC splits. This required better understanding of the situation, mostly by communication. We never received the apology we were expecting (and probably deserved, too). There was a growing progression in a ‘cull’ of online communities which have long relied on and trusted Freenode.

There was a major breach of trust along the way. And it led to regrets about the benefit of the doubt we gave ‘LeeNode’ in the early stages (back in May). The more oppressive they became, the more of a reputational liability they became to us too (for trying to convince people Freenode was still safe).

Today, from a purely technical perspective (no matter one’s views on politics, free speech etc.) Freenode isn’t a good network to be on. I leave below a portion of what I’ve been getting for nearly half an hour on 4 laptops.

z-lines in freenode

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