back to article After staff revolt, Freenode management takes over hundreds of IRC channels for 'policy violations'

Following the Freenode schism last week that saw most of the IRC network's volunteer staff leave to form rival network Libera Chat, Freenode on Tuesday commandeered hundreds of channels used by various open source software projects and fiddled with their permissions. "Today (2021-05-26) a large number of Gentoo channels have …

  1. Len

    The Django Project has moved too

    "At approximately 3 am UTC on May 26, 2021, the operators of the Freenode IRC network assumed control of the #django* channels on that network. This means that representatives of the Django community no longer retain the ability to enforce Django's Code of Conduct on the Freenode IRC network. Additionally, we do not have the ability to set a topic on Django-related IRC channels on this network."


    Django IRC Channels migration to Libera.Chat

    They're coming in thick and fast. Makes you wonder what will be the point of being in control of a deserted FreeNode. The more they keep digging the more value it loses.

    1. Tom 7

      Re: The Django Project has moved too

      <Sgt Major Voice>Present chips to groin.

      Micturate.</Sgt Major Voice>

      My local lug is probably going to jump ship - I'm hoping we're going to look into setting up a redundant array of servers on our home DMZs and DDNS and then publish the shit out of our findings.

      And then extend it to Jitsi etc....

  2. b0llchit Silver badge

    The policy euphemism

    ...forbidding "inappropriate advertising"...

    Hm. lets see...

    Smartass@#chx> We moved to network XYZ

    Bzzzt... disconnect. Ok, this is wrong.

    Smartass@#chy> We have a secret. You know what we did? We did the same thing as many others and got smart. You know, that smart thing you can do. We all can do it. We can all be smart.

    Pling! you see, advertising done appropriately.

    Telling someone not to say A makes them say B with the meaning of A and we all know it. Only idiots try to use bad policies to limit expression. When you need such rules, you have already lost control.

    1. Danny 14

      Re: The policy euphemism

      First rule of Libera Chat is that you dont talk about Libera Chat

      1. Zarno

        Re: The policy euphemism

        Tyler, is that you? Marla is on the blower, talking about her new squeeze Mr. Lee...

  3. Mishak Silver badge

    "decisions on what and how their brand is being represented on IRC"

    And there in lies the problem. Most people are using it to hold discussions, not "represent a brand".

  4. Ian Mason


    So, Andrew Lee finds himself on a boat with a smoking gun in his hand, blood pouring out of his foot, and water welling up underneath it where the new hole is, and it's everybody else's fault that the boat is now sinking? Yes, Andrew; good luck with getting anyone over the age of two to believe you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sinking

      Those younger wouldn't buy it either but have no other means to express themselves than the evacuation of bodily fluids which apart from the odd emoji doesn't transmit well online.

      It seems we have a simultaneous explosion of a viral pandemic as well as one of generic douchebaggery, and we only came up with a vaccine for one.

      In this case, the solution appears to present as full amputation. I have no idea what Andrew Lee was thinking, but I get the impression there will be a boatload of BS instead of the mea culpa it needs.

    2. Halfmad

      Re: Sinking

      Almost feels like an attempted to force closure of Freenode to be honest. It's digital self harm.

      1. dlc.usa

        Re: Sinking

        Which leads to musings about who might want that outcome and why...

      2. foxyshadis

        Re: Sinking

        Eh, seems more like the all-too-common ego of a big siterunner getting in front of good sense, let alone the concept of cooperation and consent. I mean, just read his own statement: Lee _truly believes_ that he and he alone is the last bastion of the FOSS movement and only he knows how best to run each of these huge projects.

  5. cornetman Silver badge

    So, does anyone actually know what kicked this whole situation off?

    I have followed a lot of the discussion about this online. Other than the affiliate link allegation, which seems a bit weak, I can only find this from which appears to try to summarise the situation without providing much of any substance:

    "Because of this, I believe Andrew’s intention is to preserve IRC as it was formative in his transition from childhood to adulthood. He finds IRC to be comforting, in the same way that I find the bunny plushie I sleep with to be comforting. This is understandable to me, as many people strongly desire to preserve the environment they proverbially grew up in.

    However, in implementing his desire to preserve the IRC network he grew up on, he has effectively destroyed it: projects are leaving or planning to leave en masse, which is sad."

    So Lee loves IRC and wants to preserve it. That's hardly a shocking indictment in of itself. I really do feel that there is something weird going on here, but no-one seems to be interested to actually talk about it.

    1. Anonymice

      Re: What kicked this off?

      "prawnsalad", an apparent well known community member & IRC developer, who was seemingly involved in the initial attempts at mediation between "rasengan" (the new emperor) & "tomaw" (ex-head of staff), posted what seems to be the least drama-filled & likely most impartial take on events, whilst announcing his own departure from the IRC community.

      To quote:

      Both sides had valid points, both sides extremely bad at communicating, both sides unable to work together.

      Fast forward probably a week or so, both sides have legal involved, both sides attempt to silence each other. There is no one side doing harm here - both are actively involved. The biggest difference is that one side has expensive lawyers, the other side has a thousand+ strong echo chamber.

      TLDR; Stubborn nerds on a power trip, more interested in "winning" a the cost of the community, than finding compromise for the good of the community.

      But now the damage has been done, I'd put more trust in those who have been maintaining the community for the past 20 years than the new emperor insistent on imposing his "best intentions" on everyone else.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: What kicked this off?

        Summary: When IRC pissing contests go horribly wrong

        (I haven't used IRC in a while; I should check out the new place just to see what's up, and maybe the old one too...)

        One advantage of IRC is being able to create your own channel whenever you want, and moderate it (or not) as you see fit. You just learn how to deal with trolls and bots.

        What 'rasengan' apparently did does NOT sound like the "comforting" version of IRC that I remember since the 1990's. It more closely reminds me of what happens when a channel op decides to act like a tyrant. People leave the channel and go elsewhere because they can. And THAT is freedom!

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: What kicked this off?

          Exactly, Bob.

          IRC's still where you left it, only the names have changed ... mostly to protect the guilty.

      2. martyn.hare

        Occam’s Razor

        Freenode (now staff believed that the corporate folks had no rights or control over any of the (previously donated) Freenode infrastructure. The corporates decided otherwise, therefore the staff resigned and created a brand new service. Folks on all sides still feel upset.

        The End.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Occam’s Razor

          It's not the end. It's a new beginning. Most folks involved in the saga are moving on, lesson learned.

  6. zb42

    Here is an interview where Andrew Lee talks about some blockchain authentication thing called "handshake".

    The plan is said to be to "airdrop" tokens on to open source communities, starting with some web-of-trust thing, Freenode and github users who contribute to open source.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Ugh, "blockchain". Reason enough to abandon ship right there.

      1. Halfmad

        Don't worry we can shoehorn in "cyber" and "AI" so we get the best buzz words.

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          "AI-trained and supervised cyber blockchain".

          Do I get any prizes for the trifecta?

          1. jake Silver badge

            "Do I get any prizes for the trifecta?"

            No. You forgot "in the cloud". C- Must Try Harder.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Elledan

    Routing around damage

    As a product of the original internet, IRC easily routes around damage, whether it's a server instance going offline, or some dystopian tin-pot dictator taking over a network. What's happening to Freenode isn't the first time, nor will it be the last time that a network keels over and dies for such a reason.

    Over the past days I have seen a number of Freenode channels I'm in pack up and leave, and even large off-topic on-topic channels like ##electronics are slowly bleeding users, even as the new channel on Libera is growing steadily. I'm currently on Freenode, OFTC and Libera, waiting for when Freenode offers me no reason to hang around on it any more.

    I hope this Andrew Lee jerk loves having a minuscule IRC network with almost no users to act out his dystopian fantasies, and that this Christel person who 'sold' Freenode never gets let near another IRC network again. She should be k-lined out of sheer principle.

  9. GroundSnipe

    Sealing of Fate

    <rasengan> I apologize for the poor communication and few erroneous channels that were caught up, freenode. This was my mistake alone.

    The guy says it was an error and despite that, certainly no automated followup of undo was performed. Just reversing what he professes to "takes ownership for" would have gained some degree of trust and established himself as a leader. His golden moment slipped passed. There will be no second chance.

    Yet, a plan to revert was never executed

    A plan for "what if" was clearly never part of the plan.

    A plan for "undo" wasn't set aside .. for if needed.

    The error was the omitting the potential for error when the choice was made to execute.

    The former staff acted wisely and correctly by walking away as the ship sped full steam ahead with no one capable left to man the wheel. Moments like this could were the trial that could have "made' the tyrant into an owner, but rather showed him to be a simple fool.

    A million examples can be given for folks who should not have power.

    A million more can be found where money does not equate to brains/skill.

    ^^ Add rasengan to both those sets

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Biting the hand

    I'm not an IRC user, merely an amused observer, but I have to say, this Andrew Lee character seems to have all the judgement and poise of a 3-year-old throwing their toy cars around mid-tantrum.

  11. jake Silver badge

    Goodbye, Andrew Lee.

    Hopefully you'll enjoy talking to yourself on "your" IRC network. Perhaps your first conversation can be all about the meaning of the psychological term "projection".

  12. Apprentice Human

    Entitled douchebag, much?

    Quote: Lee lamented the “cancel culture mob who has actively infiltrated major FOSS projects"

    Soon as I read the term "cancel culture" I take Lee to be an entitled, right-wing, USA based, Donald Trump supporter. So it's not surprising people left, or that his actions would make others, like me, consider him a fool.

    Not that I've used FreeNode but I can see it now disappearing, not unlike the Titanic.

    1. FeepingCreature Bronze badge

      Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

      Note that there is no such thing as a monopoly on terms. As a person skeptical of and worried about cancel culture, not only does Lee not speak for me, but his actions are antithetical to liberalism and actively hostile to free speech. Unfortunately, one cannot police who uses the term "cancel culture." But don't make this an "us vs them" political thing, please, and don't let Lee make it one either.

      Also, a person actively taking over other people's spaces and forbidding them certain topics on threat of expulsion is maybe not being entirely honest when they decry cancel culture.

      1. J27

        Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

        The main issue with railing against cancel culture is that most people actually support it, as long as it doesn't go against their own values. I hate to see pundits railing against cancel culture in one breath and then cancelling someone in the next.

        The hypocracy is palpable.

        1. martyn.hare

          This was the opposite of cancel culture

          Andrew Lee tried to cancel the governance model of Freenode by taking direct control, so the staff democratically voted to create a new option for people who wanted the old governance model.

          People now have the freedom to choose between three relevant options:

          Freenode - now under new management with corporate ambitions. It will likely gain new features and possibly more direct, hands-on, server-wide maintenance by their new team. Likely going to have a more hung-ho approach to freedom of speech but uses UK hate speech laws as a basis for zero-tolerance policing of abuse.

          OFTC - old and trusted, using rock-solid old-school technology with staffers also known to be very trustworthy. They once did a staff-share/staff-swap with old Freenode and Debian chose them as the location to run their official support. However, they have historically been stricter on off-topic channels.

          Libera.Chat - what Freenode was prior to the corporate takeover, ran by the same staff people trusted for decades. It will likely also gain nice and innovative new features as staff consider what long-standing fixes they can make anew. They have services and ircd developers backing them. IRCOPs will likely use intuition and experience to decide who to ban, rather than just a bunch of codified rules.

          There is also the option of projects self-hosting given how cheap bandwidth is today, however, IRC really does want 24/7 babysitting ideally...

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

        "not being entirely honest when they decry cancel culture"

        yes, the _IRONY_ of it all! IRC can have such "drama"...

    2. The Axe

      Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

      When I read that bit I thought the opposite to you. He comes across as a entitled left-wing Biden supporter who is lamenting that the cancel culture that his side uses is being used against him. He think people should know that he is special and they are not entitled to cancel him. He is another one of the Go Woke Go Broke examples.

      1. wheelbearing

        Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

        I know nothing about this particular bust-up, but in my experience "douchebags", "ass-wipes" and all their fellow travellers are pretty well represented by bodies in every politcal party / race / creed / color.

        In the age of Googleness and Facebooking etc., you don't have to look hard for evidence of this (though of course there's gonna be a whole lot of of fakery in your search results).

      2. TheWeetabix

        Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

        Banning people from discussing or talking about certain topics is much more of a Republican activity, but you already knew that.

    3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

      Whatever he is, and I'd be very surprised if you're right about him, using the term "cancel culture" in this context simply shows he doesn't know what it means.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

        He means "cancel me".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

        I think he knows exactly what "cancel culture" means, it's just that in his crusade to "save Freenode and FOSS" he's rather lost touch with reality.

        In his mind, he's convinced that what he's doing is helpful and righteous and will make IRC a world-leading superpower of messaging and collaboration. So it only makes sense that any project which rejects his plans is trying to destroy ("cancel") IRC, FOSS, and - because he's apparently a raging egotist - himself, either through intentional maliciousness, or because they've been "infiltrated" or brainwashed or something.

        He could be playing eight-dimensional chess and everything's going according to his plan, but Occam's Razor suggests he's rather just delusional.

      3. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

        Anyone using term cancel culture at this point about themselves has almost certainly done something heinous. Personal recent favourite is this one: Disqualified for using performance enhancing drugs? Cancel culture!

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

      Soon as I read the term "cancel culture" I take Lee to be an entitled, right-wing, USA based, Donald Trump supporter

      Actually, according to the previous Reg article on this topic, he's the Crown Prince of South Korea. Seriously.

      But yes, crying "cancel culture" is strong evidence of delusion, if not mendacity. In an era with an enormous increase in the availability of information and access to publication, thanks to the public Internet and its many, many forums, there is no such thing as cancel culture. It's a hobgoblin invented by a handful of self-promoting demagogues to attempt to squelch counterspeech.

      There is speech, and counterspeech, and control over the means of publication. The first is very widely available to most people in the developed world, albeit with some qualifications around privacy and safety. The second is quite widely available but regularly demonized by malcontents and idiot politicians. The third is often fairly tightly controlled for a specific vehicle or forum, but in the broad sense is completely unregulated for many people – they can always get published somewhere online, and their audience can find them – and achievable for most other people who have access to the Internet.

      1. Trigun

        Re: Entitled douchebag, much?

        I disagree with you: There is such a thing as cancel culture, although I don't think it applies here as everyone is voting with their feet from what I see - as you say: Democracy. I think part of the issue is that what you're describing isn't what many think of as cancel culture.

        My interpretation of cancel culture is when a group of people actively go out to attack a company, another group or an individual, attempting to deplatform and destroy the target in the digital and real world. You can argue the merits of going after the first two, but that last one is what makes me loathe cancel culture. Trying to ruin someone's life by getting them fired from their job, kicked out of their home or out of college just because you disagree about politics or whatever is malignant beyond words.

    5. chuBb.

      Im Confused

      Is andrew lee the evolved form of DomCum or is it the other way around?

      Either way both a complete shit weasels

  13. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Time for a rebrand

    DoucheNode? UnderSurveillanceNode? CancelNode?

    Make your suggestions, competition is open!

    1. marcellothearcane

      Re: Time for a rebrand

      How about Freenode, as in free of users?

      1. Marcelo Rodrigues

        Re: Time for a rebrand

        "How about Freenode, as in free of users?"

        How about DevoidNode?

        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: Time for a rebrand

          Can't use AvoidTheNode, a certain pizza brand would resurrect a long-dead advertising icon just to claim copyright on it. :)

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Time for a rebrand

            You may or may not be aware, but a certain so-called "pizza" chain has, in fact resurrected said long-dead advertising mascot. Saw the commercial on DearOldTelly about three weeks ago. Something about self-driving delivery vehicles.

            It's not just television and movies ... seems even the advertising writers can't come up with anything new and have resorted to resurrecting the old shit.

            But who cares? It's cheaper, faster and much tastier making pizza yourself.

            1. Zarno

              Re: Time for a rebrand

              I saw that too, apparently it's now a mobile game???!!!

              They're really digging back into the bowels of the archives.

              Makes me feel old when I know of the originals that are "Brand New and Never Before Used (this way) Before!" after someone looks for more cash down the boardroom black leather sofa.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time for a rebrand




  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Keep those doggies moving ... rawhide!

    Somebody needs to setup a AWOL list. Took me a bit to find "Freenode #perl IRC has moved to Libera.Chat"

    Ahh, Wikimedia too.

    This is the Streisand effect broadcast in 700 channel 200db surround-sound!

    1. Jan 0 Silver badge

      Re: Keep those doggies moving ... rawhide!

      Ahem, "dogies".

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Keep those doggies moving ... rawhide!

        "What is called a "dogie" is a scrub Texas yearling. Dogies are the tailings of a mixed herd of cattle which have failed of a ready sale while on the market. They are picked up finally by purchasers in search of cheap cattle; but investments in such stock are risky and have proven to be disastrous this winter." —The Breeder's Gazette, March 5, 1885

        Grandad told me it is a mutation of the Spanish word dogal, meaning "lariat." His source was from the time he spent on a ranch in the Red River Valley on the Texas/Oklahoma border, in the place now known as Lake Texoma.

  15. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Game of Thrones?

    Or is it Game of IRC Servers?

  16. Razgrizian

    Freenode is sinking

    Judging from Lee's and Freenode management recent actions of channel hijacking, it would be hard for them to regain community trust.

    1. J27

      Re: Freenode is sinking

      I'd say it's impossible. Lee seems to have forgotten that he's operating a volunteer-run service and that he only has volunteers and users if they want to use the service. Without the people, all you have is an IRC server.

  17. Antonius_Prime

    Oooh! Reminds me!

    Articles about IRC always remind me to do my semi-annual check of


  18. CookieMonster999

    Just wondering

    I haven't used IRC for over a decade.

    Just wondering, is USENET news still a thing ?

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Just wondering

      Usenet is still around. Because NNTP is distributed, Usenet will exist as long as there's at least one NNTP server carrying any group from the Big 7 hierarchies. In fact, it would even exist if there were two nodes exchanging messages for such a group over dial-up UUCP.

      I haven't used public NNTP in years myself, though, since I stopped paying for my Newsguy account. But I'm sure there are plenty who are still using it.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Just wondering

        As I wrote back in July of 2018:

        "My eldest Niece reports that comp-sci students at her Uni implemented a "students only" UUCP network over the existing school network a couple years ago. It's mostly used for email, small file transfer, and a private Usenet hierarchy. Seems the thirty-somethings who are supposedly the administrators never learned UUCP and have no idea that what they are doing even exists. No, I'm not naming the Uni ... but apparently they are connected to other schools, world-wide, and the PTB are none the wiser. To get around draconian filters, they even have a couple links that are dial-up, over POTS, if you can believe it. Good for them! :-)"

  19. Blackjack Silver badge

    I hope Libera doesn't just die due to.lack of funds or something. Puppy Linux users are heavily dependent on IRC to get tech support and "How I do X" and while yes there is a forum, it doesn't get even a fourth of people IRC does.

    1. elaar

      I cry BS with that statement. Almost all linux issues can be solved by searching online. Do you really think everyone that installs linux is then forced to install IRC?

      Have you got any stats to back up that strange argument or is it just the usual pointless factless personal opinion?

      1. jake Silver badge

        A bit harsh there, elaar.

        Blackjack didn't say "all Linux users", he specifically mentioned the Puppy subset. Have you installed, used, tried to get help with Puppy? I rather suspect not ... their IRC channel really is a useful tool. Go check it out for yourself, you might be pleasantly surprised.

        As a side-note, who said anything about being "forced" to install IRC? I'm fairly certain that all modern Linux distros come with an IRC client.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    What he's doing might work quite well

    I'm now a sporadic IRC user and I live in basically one channel (on freenode). I sort-of recognise the nicks of some of the other people there but not really & I certainly don't recognise who the ops are. So, let's say I didn't notice all of this saga which I easily could not have. In a few weeks from now I connect to freenode and the channel is there and there are some people there and it all looks ... normal. And no-one is mentioning Libera.Chat and the ropic does mot mention it because either of those things is now disallowed, although I have no way of knowing this. So I'll just never find out that I'm now living in a ghost town.

    Well: 'quite well' is relative: obviously all the active people will already have moved, so what's left will indeed be a ghost town. And it will never be more than that because anyone who is actively involved will soon discover by other channels that they need to move to libera. So I guess he's succeeded in building a zombie freenode, really.

  21. dlc.usa

    The Suicide

    So are yesterday's actions discussed here or has a new article, like been published for commentary? This is so bizarre.

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