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Freenode.net Becomes a ‘Reddit Clone’ and Freenode IRC is Back to Old Configurations After Flushing Down Decades’ Worth of User/Channel Data and Locking/Shutting Out Longtime Users

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 8:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 8c867b7e71ba4c385076f14ad8a10079

Video errata: At least a couple of times I said “last year” when referring to earlier this year; that’s what happens when there’s a lack of preparation and no scripting/editing.

Summary: Freenode is having another go; after “chits” and “jobs” (among many other ideas) have clearly failed, and following the change of daemon (resulting in massive loss of data and even security issues associated with impersonation) as well as pointless rebrand as “Joseon”, the domain Freenode.net becomes something completely different and the IRC network reopens to all

THE year 2021 has been craaaaaaazy for IRC. What a wild ride! IRC used to be uneventful; for decades it was “just there” with barely anything changing…

Recently, as we noted here 10 days ago, IRC grew in terms of the number of known (to netsplit.de) networks, based on some threshold/criterion (apparently about 50 simultaneous users). Based on this page, things have improved since then (89 or 90 new networks, not 88 as before), but Freenode remains unlisted because it shut out anonymous connections/sessions.

Freenode at netsplit.deSee the image on the right. Andreas of netsplit.de seems to have gotten fed up with Andrew Lee and cut off the network (writing it off as “legacy”) some time around August or earlier.

Well, not many have noticed it, but last week Freenode became accessible to everyone again. Also, aside from some server names here and there, the “Joseon” branding got abandoned. For many like myself who forgot to change IRC configurations it became apparent that Freenode had sprung back to life and that connections could be made again unconditionally (except for limits like connections per IP address). Many like myself left it in the background, perhaps unaware, and therefore reconnected silently some time after 4:25PM on some arbitrary day last week. Within half an hour CrystalMath announced this in our IRC networks and over in my IRC client (XChat) I saw:

* VLIST=b WATCH=32 WHOX :are supported by this server
* There are 7 users and 2478 invisible on 16 servers
* 6 :operator(s) online
* 47 :unknown connections
* 6029 :channels formed
* I have 1023 clients and 1 servers
* Current local users: 1023  Max: 1023
* Current global users: 2485  Max: 2485
* *.freenode.net message of the day
*   Hello, World!
*   Welcome to the

So it had about 2,000 registered users (before opening up Freenode to everyone, once again). Then there was an influx or returning IRC clients, such as mine, perhaps oblivious to what had actually happened.

CrystalMath, who has long maintained contacts at/within the new Freenode, told us that someone called “epony” had left. Apparently this person was advising Andrew Lee to limit network access; once that influence was gone the network reopened. I show some of the scrollback in the video above.

Within a few days there were already 6,000 users online and now it’s over 10,000:

[11:36] [Users] There are 11 users and 10098 invisible on 16 servers
[11:36] [Users] 6 operator(s) online
[11:36] [Users] 33 unknown connections
[11:36] [Users] 13053 channels formed
[11:36] [Users] I have 4008 clients and 1 servers
[11:36] [Users] Current users on sunshine.freenode.net: 4008  Max: 4015.
[11:36] [Users] Current users on the network: 10109  Max: 10137

[11:37] [MOTD] Message of the day:
[11:37] [MOTD]   Hello, World!
[11:37] [MOTD]  
[11:37] [MOTD]   Welcome to the
[11:37] [MOTD]           __                               _
[11:37] [MOTD]          / _|_ __ ___  ___ _ __   ___   __| | ___
[11:37] [MOTD]         | |_| '__/ _ \/ _ \ '_ \ / _ \ / _` |/ _ \
[11:37] [MOTD]         |  _| | |  __/  __/ | | | (_) | (_| |  __/
[11:37] [MOTD]         |_| |_|  \___|\___|_| |_|\___/ \__,_|\___|
[11:37] [MOTD]                                    AUTONOMOUS ZONE
[11:37] [MOTD]  
[11:37] [MOTD]   Connect to us on:
[11:37] [MOTD]  
[11:37] [MOTD]   Hostname: irc.freenode.net / chat.freenode.net
[11:37] [MOTD]   Plaintext: 6660-6669
[11:37] [MOTD]   TLS/SSL: 6697,7000,7070
[11:37] [MOTD]   Webchat: https://webchat.freenode.net
[11:37] [MOTD]  
[11:37] [MOTD]   By connecting to freenode you indicate that you have read and accept our
[11:37] [MOTD]   policies and guidelines as set out on https://freenode.net and agree to
[11:37] [MOTD]   be scanned for an open proxy.
[11:37] [MOTD]  
[11:37] [MOTD]   If you are looking for assistance, please try:
[11:37] [MOTD]  
[11:37] [MOTD]   #help                    - Help with general IRC and Services.
[11:37] [MOTD]   #chanhelp                - Help with channels and channel services.
[11:37] [MOTD]   #IRC                     - Help with the IRC.com by freenode app.
[11:37] [MOTD]  
[11:37] [MOTD]   Checkout some of our communities and services:
[11:37] [MOTD]  
[11:37] [MOTD]   #freenode-bbs            - BBS [https://bbs.freenode.net/]
[11:37] [MOTD]   #freenode-bbs-discussion - BBS Discussion
[11:37] [MOTD]   #freenode-jobs           - Jobs [https://jobs.freenode.net/]
[11:37] [MOTD]   #freenode                - Chat about freenode.
[11:37] [MOTD]   #anonchan                - Chat anonymously.
[11:37] [MOTD]  
[11:37] [MOTD]   Type /join #<channel>
[11:37] [MOTD]  
[11:37] [MOTD]   Thank you for using freenode!
[11:37] [MOTD] End of message of the day

Freenode: We think we're RedditBut this is where it gets really weird. About 10 minutes before recording the video someone brought up (in IRC) the bizarre turn taken by the Freenode.net domain (for World Wide Web or HTTPS). I spontaneously show the changes in the video above; it seems to be in an experimental state, Lee is clearly involved in this (posting as “root”, as usual), and it’s already going in a direction that’s guaranteed to alienate most of the ordinary (traditional, old timers) tenants of the network. It’s not about software, it’s already kind of edgy, and it’s not too clear what target audience they have in mind.

Perhaps there’s a new “business plan”. Freenode becomes just a social control network, which happens to have an IRC network ‘on the side’… with integration to come.

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