back to article Will the real IRC please stand up? Freenode’s forest fire leaves ashes – and fresh growth

IRC is the open secret of open software. IRC - internet Relay Chat - started in Finland in 1988 and quickly became the Internet’s first widespread real-time chat system. It’s an old-school text-based system with the sort of commands and structure that 1980s infosec nerds preferred, so in the early 2000s most users moved off to …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "everything of worth was saved"

    And that is good news.

    Then again, this is the very spirit of the Internet : route around obstruction. The Internet was built on openness and trust, and that is why a moron with money will never be able to nail down any particular part that is not in the IP folders of some company.

    IRC is Open Source at its finest. Lee just took over one organization, apparently thinking that he could bend it to his will.

    Kudos to all those people who did not accept some petulant man child's idea of management and left him in his playpen to rot.

    A smashing article. I enjoyed every line.

    1. oiseau Silver badge

      Re: "everything of worth was saved"

      A smashing article. I enjoyed every line.

      My exact words.

      Have one on me. --->

  2. Ordinary Donkey

    Kinda the opposite of Cancel Culture, no?

    Cancel Culture is when the people in charge of social networks force people out, either for saying something they or their backers don't like, or for drawing in bad publicity.

    IRC being decentralised makes it easy to make your own alternative, then all you need to do is get people to actually want to go there.

    Here's hoping it lasts longer than Parler.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Kinda the opposite of Cancel Culture, no?

      Here's hoping it lasts longer than Parler.
      Well, Libera isn't pitched at fascists and psychopaths so I don't think it's going to have the same problems.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Kinda the opposite of Cancel Culture, no?

      Cancel Culture is when the people in charge of social networks force people out

      not entirely but you're at least 'warm'.

      It's more like the clique groups in high school [the ones run by "the jocks" or "the queen B" specifically], or an "exclusive" country club that doesn't want to let the "riff raff" in...

      very ironic, and even HYPOCRITICAL, in a world that is supposed to be "more inclusive".

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Kinda the opposite of Cancel Culture, no?

        Someone will probably bring up the so-called "paradox of tolerance" in reply to Bob. Allow me to head their justification off at the pass by pointing out that it is still hypocrisy, regardless of the highfalutin name you place on it.

        One quite simply cannot become inclusive by labeling people you don't like and excluding them.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          Re: Excluding people

          If you do not like what I say you can exclude me from your property so I can only say the things I want from my own soap box. Zuckerberg can exclude anything he does not like from his own website. If you do not like that please cancel the hypocrisy and let me preach the paradox of tolerance from your bedroom window.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Excluding people


            Also note that I am in no way preaching tolerance. I happily exclude assholes from my property/space, according to my definition of asshole (which can change with the individual and/or situation), and I don't care who knows it. My wife's barn, my wife's rules. We even reserve the right to exclude anybody who makes the dawgs or horses uneasy ... it's a safety thing.

            Claiming so-called "tolerance" is for the idiot hand-wringers and namby-pambys who think society can be wrapped up in a big cotton ball smelling strongly of weed and singing Kumbaya.

        2. martyn.hare

          Inclusivity is about catering for interested demographics, not speech

          One can naturally be more inclusive through implementing appropriate and reasonable restrictions on speech. I say appropriate and reasonable because no first world country permits absolute, unabated freedom of speech. It also means defining very accurately what the purpose of your service is, so that one can measure demographics on a spectrum ranging from typical to completely atypical and catering for as many atypical demographics as possible without alienating typical demographics (as to do so would be failing at ones mission).

          The beauty of how Libera (and old Freenode) handles inclusivity is in keeping responsibilities balanced in a way which allows individual channels to layer additional rules on top of the very basic/simple acceptable use policies of the network. This means that there will be channels available to cater for anyone with an interest in free and open source software, whether they want to talk about projects, get help/support or just find people to have a joke and a laugh with.

          Staff even assist folks in making/maintaining i10n channels for their communities (e.g. #ubuntu-de) to allow non-native speakers to find a place to chat about the projects they use or work on. Talk about going above and beyond.

        3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: Kinda the opposite of Cancel Culture, no?

          Being intolerant of intolerance is not hypocrisy

          1. FeepingCreature

            Re: Kinda the opposite of Cancel Culture, no?

            It depends on whether you're operating under a consequentialist or virtue framing. Being intolerant of intolerance is hypocrisy under a virtue framework, and pragmatism under a consequentialist framework. Similarly, the "paradox" of tolerance is only a paradox under a consequentialist view. A virtue ethicist would just say: "Huh, apparently being very tolerant allows people to get away with intolerance. Oh well..." It's not a contradiction unless you're optimizing for outcomes.

            Ironically, I hold with the virtue view largely because I think it has better outcomes.

          2. Trigun Bronze badge

            Re: Kinda the opposite of Cancel Culture, no?

            It depends on what you define as being tolerant and not being tolerarant. The past 5 years, but especially the last 2, has tought me that some of the more radicalised/sensitised people in the world think that any questioning of something that they strongly believe in is intolerance - even if someone is just asking a question, trying to understand or having issues with certain bits and would like to discuss.

            Not saying intolerance doesn't exist (it does), but the above is definitely something I've seen and experienced.

          3. martyn.hare
            Thumb Up

            It is hypocrisy if you preach universal tolerance... but...

            You do not have to associate with anyone if you do not want to. That means common sense says you should be associating with people you want to be around and disassociating yourself with those you don’t. Do that and you won’t need to preach tolerance to anybody in the first place and thus there will be no risk of becoming a hypocrite and there will be no “being intolerant of intolerance paradox” to address in the first place. Problem sorted. Besides, intolerance (when not on arbitrary grounds) is often a good thing, which is why we have phrases like “Don’t suffer fools lightly.”

            1. jtaylor Bronze badge

              Re: It is hypocrisy if you preach universal tolerance... but...

              "You do not have to associate with anyone if you do not want to. That means common sense says you should be associating with people you want to be around and disassociating yourself with those you don’t."

              My career doesn't permit me to choose who I "associate" with. Coworkers and customers act independently of my wishes. Even a rabid racist and dedicated conspiracy freak learns how to avoid disciplinary action while expressing "personal beliefs" in a loud "personal conversation."

  3. ShadowSystems

    I miss IRC...

    I used to hang out there a lot & enjoyed being a mod in many a channel, even running my own for a while. But the constant "ASL?", "Wanna cyber?", & requests to share dirty pics drove all the nice folks away to other communication platforms, leaving not much more than the sex-pandering-pissheads.

    I tried to revisit IRC once I'd gone blind, but my screen reader shits itself trying to keep up. The flood of posts is such that, by the time my reader has read the current screen's worth to me, the "newest" post from that batch may be half an hour or more old. I can't keep up with the flow because my reader can't read it aloud as fast as a sighted person can visually scan the text. *Sigh*

    I miss the IRC of old, but if the current incarnation is anything like the sex-troll-fest it was last time I was there, it's no wonder the popularity is next to zero. =-/

    1. FeepingCreature

      Re: I miss IRC...

      For what it's worth, I have never encountered stuff like this on Freenode. Stick to technical/firmly topical/closed group channels?

      1. ShadowSystems

        At FeepingCreature...

        I mostly used DalNet, partially because I was just a lowly noob, but also because I was one of the few folks that actually paid money to register my copy of mIRC. I know this because the guy that coded it sent me a physical, hand written, postal letter thanking me for having done so. "It sickens me all the cheap assholes out there that have pirated my stuff & used a crack to pseudo-register it. If you ever want to visit my channel it's on DalNet at..."

        I participated in a few tech-geared channels, but usually only when I needed info I couldn't find easily elsewhere. An example being the manual for a stupid printer that refused to acknowledge it could talk to my computer, even though doing a command line echo to the device worked just fine.

        Anyway, I mostly hung out on DalNet & the aforementioned pissheads were like the fleas of a trillion camels. By the time I was about ready to just throw in the towel & call it quits, I lost my sight & it became moot. *Sigh*

        *Hands you a pint*

        Here's to The Good Old Days when men were real men, women were real women, and small fuzzy green aliens were real fuzzy green aliens. =-)p

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At FeepingCreature...

          I totally agree.

          Though It's probably not your screen reader oranges oranges oranges shitting itself.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At FeepingCreature...

          I too paid for my copy of multiplayer notepad at one stage...but it got to a point where the new versions came so thick and fast that a license wouldn't actually last very long. Or at least it didn't seem to.

          It's currently at version 7, which is astounding because the last time I used it (a lifetime ago), it was version 5.x and the time it took to go from version 2 to 5 was breakneck.

          I use IRSSI these days.

    2. Sitaram Chamarty


      no idea what you're on about man. I've never seen anything remotely like this in various channels. All tech channels though.

      The non-tech stuff I suppose is another story, but even then I suspect there are gradations.

      1. ShadowSystems

        At Sitaram Chamarty...

        Yes, lots of gradations... At least 50 shades of grey. *Cough* =-)p

        On a slightly more serious note, I was mostly on a different server that was more social than technical. Such sex-trolling-pissheads were getting to displace the normal non-pissheads in every channel I might browse. It got to the point where I couldn't even police my own channel using multiple bot-scripts set to auto-boot+ban anyone that used most of the common phrases in the main section. Worse were the script kiddies that would enter, nuke-flood the channel to kick me/everyone out, then do some trick to De-Op me from my own damned channel. *Sigh*

        I'll take your word that the tech-geared networks/channels probably weren't as bad, but it was all too common otherwise.

        *Hands you a pint*

        Drink up. Now we've got ElReg in which to banter! =-D

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: sex-pandering-pissheads

      Aren't they on the Web/App based SM mostly owned by Zuckerberg, though there is Twitter, Tumblr, Google's Youtube and MS Linkdin?

    4. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: I miss IRC...

      > I used to hang out there a lot & enjoyed being a mod in many a channel, even running my own for a while. But the constant "ASL?", "Wanna cyber?", & requests to share dirty pics drove all the nice folks away to other communication platforms, leaving not much more than the sex-pandering-pissheads.

      hi, ASL ?

    5. jake Silver badge

      Re: I miss IRC...

      Everybody talks about AOL and the endless September with regard to Usenet. People forget that when AOL enabled the use of Winsock software it also unleashed the great unwashed masses of 14 year old boys dying of testosterone poisoning onto IRC and damned near managed to kill that, too.

      With that said, there have always been islands of sanity on IRC. They have been, and still are, well worth searching out.

    6. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: I miss IRC...

      I started out on dalnet too.. gaming clan used it...... then I did a channel list..... WRONG! rather eye opening.

      used to chat while trying to figure out what a thread was and why it was so important to a CPU until we got sick of the constant pervs wandering by

      Then moved to quakenet.... wheres its reasonably sane'ish.

      Still with all this upheaval in the freenode stuff.. time to update the channels for helping with linux.

      PS I'm 19/F/Derby, England/Student Nurse .. oh and $3/min for private chat ;)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I miss IRC...

        Quakenet was cool, but the netsplits though, crappy Q bot and also...

        Brb...just got to switch over to madasafish, it's not off peak anymore and my dad will go apeshit if I run the bill up again.

        Anonymous left the chat. ( []).

        1. Raithmir

          Re: I miss IRC...

          Holy crap that takes me back, I'd forgotten about madasafish and switching between dial-ups!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I miss IRC...

            Yeah man. Juggling dialups was the only way to keep your internet cheap.

            Also the endless quest for 0800 dial up.

            The cheapest I found was madasafish but there were other ones out there were cheap but not as cheap. Like BT Lineone, Freeserve...even Barrysworld had a dial up service at one stage which was awesome.

            Also tuning your connection with TweakDUN was a must, I had ISDN at the time and if not for TweakDUN then I would never have got the most out of my Fritz! PCI ISDN adapters.

   one point I was multilinking 4 channels at home through a Home Highway setup. The engineers that installed it ran 4 ISDN lines and connected them all up, but only terminated the usual two at my end. I found the extra 2 and went mad with power once I'd crimped on some connectors and found they were live. 256k internet in the 90s baby.

            I never got billed for the two extra lines. I feel sorry for the poor bastard that did though. Whoever they were.

    7. ergegr

      Re: I miss IRC...

      You sure you’re not mixing up IRC with ICQ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I miss IRC...

        Eh oh!


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lee = Cersei?

  5. LDS Silver badge

    IF every business was built on something simple like IRC....

    ... actually, that's not the case.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IRC was the CB of the '90s

    with the difference that you could actually make and moderate your own channel, so claims that IRC is full of pervs are either down to bad/absent moderation or joining the wrong chats. Yes there have always been trolls looking for attention but my experience of IRCin the '90 was only on M$ comic chat was IRC used for "cyber"

    Whilst CB had government moderation enforcement IRC was self moderated and my experience was that videophone was much worse for pervs, I tried out video chat purely for technical reasons with a product called Internet phone (shortened to Iphone in the app and so predating apple's copywrite on the title).It proved to be surprisingly good video and audio throughput for a max 33.6kbs bandwidth but no one would chat until I change my nick to a female one. Then I was bombarded by connections of framed cock that was quickly covered up once they saw my feed. Clearly there were a lot of would be flashers out there that were using the system to avoid prosecution for doing it in public and being branded a perv in the real world.

    Since then the perving has moved to mobile comms and taken the flashing genitalia and "cyber" with it, given recent laws being added to protect the right to expose yourself and talk/type "dirty" in comms then clearly the law is on the side of the pervs. Certainly there used to be lots of news articles about authority figures being caught titalating themselves inappropriately

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: IRC was the CB of the '90s

      and Microsoft had 'Comic Chat', which worked well as a regular IRC client when you turned the comic stuff off [leaving it on polluted the channel with various comic-related noise, though there WERE some IRC channels devoted to it for a long time]

      In some ways I miss 'Comic Chat'. You could do funny things with the panels. But yeah for serious tech-related things, text-only works way better...

      /me done migrating IRC settings to use Libera as official channels like #freebsd have moved there

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: IRC was the CB of the '90s

      "Whilst CB had government moderation enforcement"

      In theory. Reality was quite a bit different once CB's popularity exploded in the late 1970s. Many people bought used radios, and ignored (or weren't told of) the need for a license. Likewise chain-stores (Sears, Montgomery Ward, et alia) sold the gear without forcing the new owner to fill out the paperwork. By the early 1980s, the government had given up entirely, and the FCC got rid of the licensing requirements by mid-'83. CB has been a free-for-all in the US ever since.

  7. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge


    Xkcd of course.

  8. FuzzyTheBear

    A crime of ego.

    Noone likes people that barge in on old habits , on their old comforts and be told that from now on it's his way of the highway.

    That's what he done and now he's alone picking up the pieces. Sucks to be a dictator.

    People's ego is what keeps people from being happy.

    People's ego is the basis for the greatest human tragedies and wars.

  9. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Lee sounds like a prick

    One of those wideboys you keep at arms length in case they try and pickpocket you

  10. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Poetry Competition

    An empty castle

    For an utter ...

    1. Ordinary Donkey

      Re: Poetry Competition


    2. Aussie Doc Bronze badge

      Re: Poetry Competition

      Damn. Drunk me thought that said "an otter"

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