"Regarding FSF IRC presence"

in response to FSF's meeting agenda, I wrote an E-mail voicing my opinion on the matter:


I'll be unable to make the meeting on freenode #fsf (not necessarily due to time constraints, but due to my decision to leave freenode entirely), and while I am not a FSF member/sponsor, I still want to give my input on the following points:

Current state and long-term future of the [f]reenode network;

At first I was unsure how this transfer would pan out. I know Andrew Lee from outside of freenode, and I know he associates with unstable and untrustworthy personalities such as Shane Allen (aka rdv and nirvana, co-founder of Snoonet). Most other information I can give about Lee is already public information, and I assume FSF is familiar with such literature, so I will not expand on it unless prompted.

After seeing an array of events pan out -- takeover of ##hntop, promotion of known abusers such as eskimo to staff, promotion of other staff (such as bagira) who are too personally invested against Libera staff and thus may have conflicts of interest for the larger freenode community, and finally the recent mass takeovers of on-topic project channels who so much as mention Libera in their topic -- I am now sure of the collateral here. I can safely say that it is not a political decision, but rather a practical one, to relocate away from freenode.

Assessing alternate IRC networks (Libera, OFTC); and

Personal conflicts aside, both seem equally capable to host project communities such as FSF. But, leading into the next point, it may be better to leave IRC entirely for several reasons, or at least open up the community to alternate platforms in conjunction with IRC.

Viability and freedom status of alternate communication networks (Matrix, XMPP).

Personally I see a lot of promise in XMPP, despite not a lot of focus being placed in it as of recent years, due to Matrix offsetting development efforts. Matrix gave hope to a lot of people, including myself, for being a promising federated platform, but it ended up suffering more from decisions influenced by venture capital and misaligned priorities. The software ecosystem is still very immature compared to more-established platforms, and I believe the split between developer groups working on many servers and clients will not be beneficial in the long term.

XMPP is great for one-on-one chat these days; clients, servers, and standards are more mature (not perfect, but overall I believe there is less effort spent in cleaning the ecosystem up compared to Matrix). Multi-user chats are XMPP's shortcoming still, and while there are extention proposals to "decentralise" MUCs, so far those standards take after IRC's spanning-tree protocol and don't scale as well as Matrix's mobile room identities.

In general, federated platforms such as XMPP and Matrix allow for more agency than IRC networks do. Several organisations (Mozilla comes immediately to mind) host or have sponsorship for their own homeservers, which allows them to create their own policies for their spaces, while also allowing users to participate with remotely-managed homeservers that may have differing rules and standards.

Matrix has seen wider adoption for group chats than XMPP in recent years, primarily due to the hype and some of the features it promises over IRC (message history, media attachments, mobile-friendly clients, et cetera). So, that's definitely a point to weigh into consideration for platform choice. Just as well, I know there is a group of people who do not wish to leave IRC for these other platforms.

I believe it would also be worth to bridge protocols and allow people to make the choice for what platform they want to use in order to participate in the FSF community discussions. This way, even if an IRC channel has issues down the line, the community can still remain at least partially active on other platforms with less effort.