RIOT IRC channel and the freenode turmoil

Missing pros for dropping IRC altogether:

  • eases use of Matrix features that cannot be simply bridged to IRC
    • this includes potential future features, as Matrix is still actively developed and growing
    • likely we can still use Matrix-only features, but will just leave IRC users out of the game without them ever noticing
    • for Matrix users it might not be obvious what features are not bridged. (E.g. are reactions bridged to IRC users? And even if this could be enabled, this would likely be more annoying than helpful.)

Sure, I just wanted to point out that ‘less spam’ and ‘no account’ are mutually exclusive, and that Matrix doesn’t require an account for everything.

It’s probably useful to separate the short-term and long-term usage. In the short term, using a webclient to IRC is definitely easier. However, because Matrix makes it really easy to create an account, I wouldn’t consider a much higher barrier to entry.

If one wants to have a persistent IRC connection you need something that is always connected (bouncer or always-on client on a server). It’s also probably preferred to have a registration with NickServ (with an email address). I would consider this a much higher barrier to entry, and I haven’t even begun about backlogs on multiple clients.

I had several channels on Freenode go registered-only because of the spam, and had to unbridge several rooms on IRCnet (which doesn’t have registrations). Not sure if this affected #riot-os, but spam from IRC to Matrix is an issue.

A mailing list requires an account (an email address), and while this isn’t the case for #riot-os, many channels require a registered IRC account. This means that (often) it isn’t really the case that people go from no account to an account. This also regards why users switch from a mailing lists/IRC to forum/Matrix: the lack of registration doesn’t mean much when the service is (imho) hardly usable.

If this is about quick questions, we are talking purely short term usage here. Also lets not forget, this is the user electing to do all that. Adding an IRC option to jump in is in my experience very low maintainance (I don’t even remember when I changed some config on the IRC channels I run).

But not with RIOT or a specific service bound to the discussion platform and that is what I was talking about.

This is comparing apples with oranges: There is no connection between usability and the need for registration.

Even if this is about quick questions (which I don’t think it is) we’re not talking about short-term usage: people who answer the quick questions are (probably) long-term users.

Sure, and when the user elects not to do that you have just lost someone that could have been part of the community on IRC.

No, I’m comparing mailing lists to Discourse, and IRC to Matrix. Both Discourse and Matrix 1) require registrations and 2) are (imho) more user-friendly. I would also argue that there is a connection for these platforms: The reason for the registration is so the services can store data linked to a user instead of requiring the user to manage the data. One of the reasons that Discourse and Matrix are more user-friendly is because they do so.

Not quite sure, how the user gets lost when he had done all of that…

I think the argument about user friendliness misses the point in the case of this discussion… If we have the ability to allow users of a technically less restrictive, but more free (as in liberty not beer) environment to join the discussion in a more user-friendly environment without decreasing said usability (which IMHO an IRC bridge does), why not use that to provide less restricted access for those who like to join the discussion that way. Otherwise we likewise risk to lose community members.

Anyway, I think we came to the conclusion that, yes, having an IRC bridge poses the risk of spam spilling over to Matrix, but in the same vain also allows for non-community members to still participate in discussions. As such, my opinion still stands that we should keep the IRC bridge but maybe switch over to a different network in light of the developments lined out in OP.

No, you have moved the discussion to be about registration while it was about a barrier to entry. User friendliness is definitely a barrier to entry. The point I’m trying to make is that while IRC may have a lower barrier to entry in the short-term, it is the opposite in the long term (i.e. quick-question IRC users stay quick-question IRC users).

If the intention is to have IRC mainly for the quick questions and Matrix for the long-term users, that’s fine. But let’s not pretend that IRC is a good alternative to Matrix for new users who want to hang around long-term just because it doesn’t have registrations.

As such, I don’t think it makes sense to consider having IRC only on the basis of having no registrations. The upside for quick questions has to be weighed against the downsides, which mainly are 1) spam, 2) permission meddling and 3) IRC-users complaining about formatting :wink: .

I think that is a matter of personal taste and preferences. Nobody says that new users must use IRC. But I think its a matter of liberty that the can use IRC if they prefer given its (granted not that many) advantages over Matrix. This is why I think the user friendliness argument does not fit this discussion. If people want to be, for whatever reason, data-minimizing with what they put on other people’s computers, I think they should be provided with that option.

(And yes, I am aware that I also might be conflating two things: FOSS enthusiasts and people who like to jump through every hoop for their privacy, both to the point of masochism… :wink: )

In that case: why not bridge the IRC/Matrix room to Discord/Telegram/Slack/etc?

We do not have a presence on any of those platforms and contrary to both Matrix and IRC you actually do need to register with your e-mail address at least for Discord and Slack (I do not use telegram so don’t know). There also isn’t that much of a preference for those platforms either within the RIOT community. See Survey: How will we communicate in the future (Mailing lists, forum, ...)?

Let me try to draw some conclusion from the poll and the discussion while also reading a bit between the lines here:

  1. There seems to be quite a consensus that Matrix should be considered the recommended communication channel for RIOT.
  2. There are still valid use cases for IRC and there are users (currently 5 IRC users among the 72 users in the room)
  3. As long as the IRC bridge doesn’t annoy Matrix users (too much) and there are actually people interested in the IRC bridge, even users who voted for dropping the IRC channel are OK with keeping a bridge
    • I only know this for sure in case of @Silke (see first post) and @Kaspar (who told me out of band), but I just assume this to be the case for everyone else as well.
    • If someone is indeed opposing an IRC channel bridged into the Matrix room, now would be good time to get oneself heard.
  4. Nobody is interested in sticking with freenode.

Anyone disagreeing with that conclusion? Anything I missed?

Note: I intentionally focused on the IRC question in the conclusion here, as I believe that the discussion on whether we need/want additional communication technologies is IMO better discussed in a separate thread.

OK, everybody seems fine with moving. Next question to discuss: Were to move. In an out of band discussion I suggested the following list of criteria:

  1. Well maintained and following the IRC best practices. This includes providing features like NickServ/ChanServ
  2. IRC Bridge to Matrix is well maintained
  3. The policies and rules of the network are well aligned with RIOT. (Obviously, we could still have our own channel rules, but those can only be within the policies of the network. So if the policies and rules are really badly aligned, the network is not suitable.)
  4. The network is community driven and not controlled by a single party
  5. The network is suitable for open source and free software projects

IMO, suitable networks are:

Also: The guys at Gentoo are using irc.gentoo.org as an alias to irc.libera.chat:

Non-authoritative answer:
irc.gentoo.org	canonical name = irc.libera.chat

I think this is a good idea, just in case we need to change the IRC network later again. Any reason why we shouldn’t use irc.riot-os.org as an alias via an DNS CNAME record to the IRC network that we agree on?

libera.chat is currently the second largest (known) IRC network in terms of users and channels, and still growing rapidly.

I think this could cause some confusion over who is responsible for the IRC network. I would not want to give the impression that we manage the IRC network in any way whatsoever.

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The problem with using irc.riot-os.org is an alias, that I don’t know what network I’m connecting to, so I don’t know which NickServ password to use, etc. In order to be agile as to which network to use, then I have to setup a new IRC server, which might confuse the network that I’m connecting twice. Maybe this is an expert IRC problem to have. So I guess I won’t use that. I don’t care oftc vs libera.

A very good point. But (correct me if I’m wrong, I haven’t used IRC natively for ages) isn’t the IRC server sending some message of the day prior to being able to authenticate with nickserv that usually includes the network name?

In any case, an authentication failure with NickServ is a very noticable error mode. Ending up logged in into a zombie network with half of the user base moved to a new location and any mentioning of the new location being banned is IMO a worse failure mode.

I really like the idea of the alias. That way if there is any turmoil in the future, we can switch the network much more seamlessly.

Agreed. Took me a minute to figure out what was going on with irc.gentoo.org. But that was in part caused by the lack of documentation. I think with proper documentation this wouldn’t be that much of an issue. Maybe something like this:

The official RIOT IRC channel #riot-os on irc.libera.chat. We also provide irc.riot-os.org as an alias for irc.libera.chat for your convenience. If you use this alias, you won’t miss future relocations - which we hope is never needed.

On the other hand, e.g. Libera seems to have put a pretty sane and solid legal body with the non-profit organization registered in Sweden. I think chances are good that a similar disaster is not going to happen to it. So maybe we don’t need to over-engineer a fallback for something that is extremely unlikely to happen, if this comes at the cost of potentially confusing users.

I agree that it is probably unlikely that we have to switch networks, at least in the near future.

Last call for additional IRC network suggestion! I plan to just open a poll here with all suggestions from here (currently only two) tomorrow.

I’d like to put some weight to move to libera.chat.

freenode served us well for a long time. The maintainers served us well, for a long time. Now they’ve been messed with by someone trying to take control of the open and free service. They took action, came up with libera.chat, created the non-profit, and are moving their expertise and maintenance power, and heart, there.

I think it is fair to assume that these people know how to run an IRC network, so choosing libera or any other established IRC network should be comparable regarding the amount of unknown unknowns.

IMO though, it would show support to the former freenode and now libera maintainers if we’d stick with them, in a time that they’ve been dealt some bad cards.

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The long promised poll is here. It seems, no additional IRC networks made it.

In the first poll, you may tick multiple options. In the second, only what you consider the best option for RIOT should be selected.

Which of the following IRC networks are suitable for RIOT?

0 voters

Which IRC network is the best option for RIOT?

0 voters