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suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services

bill-auger - 22 days ago -

WRT the recent freenode controversy, people have suggested that parabola should join a different IRC network (yes, #parabola is established on the librea network, and also several others, including matrix)

i am most interested to know, which chatting service people would prefer to be the primary "official" chat, if not freenode - would it be any IRC, or other matrix,XMPP,etc?

a related development discussion:
https://lists.parabola.nu/pipermail/dev/2021-May/008026.html


Replies (13)

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - oaken-source - 22 days ago -

I am concerned about the future of freenode. If people don't know, there has been a change of management from a volunteer-focussed group of staff to a business owner with somewhat questionable background. This might not change anything, but we can't be sure. Possible outcomes of this include a future shutdown of the network because it is not profitable, or worse, attempts at profiting from user data.

That being said, the former vounteer staff at freenode have jointly created libera.chat as a new network, with the goal as being a successor to the old freenode mission of providing a place for free software projects to discuss.

I believe in light of these events, it makes sense to migrate our main presence on IRC to libera.chat.

If we do that, there's the question of what to do with the presence on freenode. Here, I think, there are a few good arguments to maintain a presence in the original place. First and foremost, some users may come there to ask questions, because they have missed the changes to freenode. We would need to redirect these people to the new place. Additionally, If we leave completely, a malicious third party could take over the channel and misrepresent the project or mislead our users.

So my recommendation in this situation would be for active community members to open two irc windows for the time being, and for everyone else to go to libera.chat.

background reading: https://www.kline.sh/

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - takuwan - 22 days ago -

To answer bill-auger question, I would prefer an IRC-based chat. Other solutions like XMPP and Matrix are too bloated for just providing text chat. As for the channel, oaken-source rightly summarised what could be done. Switching to libera.chat while maintaining a presence on freenode as a transition sounds an appropriate course of action to me.

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - alextee - 22 days ago -

I think parabola should be on libera.chat. I'm not comfortable with a for-profit entity being in charge of the network, although I also agree that the freenode channel should be maintained for a few months.

wrt matrix, there doesn't really need to be a separate channel. you can bridge matrix channels with IRC channels. I do this with #zrythmdaw:matrix.org and #zrythm on freenode currently (waiting for libera.chat brige). other than matrix users being "annoying" by posting things that get converted to URLs on the IRC side and quoting, I haven't had any issues other than the bridge going down every now and then.

all the bridge needs is approval from an operator iirc

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - bill-auger - 21 days ago -

my personal preference is irrelevant - i will need to continue using all of freenode, OFTC, gitter, and now libera; so it is of no consequence to me - as long as i can connect to it with my same IRC client, its fine by me

the concern for parabola, is that this sort of situation does not need to happen at all; yet it probably will happen again - this situation exists entirely because parabola relies on, and directs users to a third party service - it is irrelevant, which service that is: freenode, OFTC, gitter, libera, or any other - it is the same precarious (and avoidable) situation

in every case where a project defers its infra to a third-party, that is a liability - whenever that third-party makes important changes to the service, which affect the project adversely (and it will happen someday), the first question to ask yourself, is: "why do i rely on this third party service, allowing the whims of its admins to interrupt my ability to provide an important service for my project?"

reliance on freenode was justified, due to its historical presence and large user-base; but that value is unfortunately in question now - as long as all three of freenode, libera, and OFTC exist, then the most likely result of this split, is that none of them will have a large user-base - the same user-base will be split across three unconnected networks - so the historical value of a large libre software chat network will no longer exist, leaving only the precarious reliance on a third-party, now unjustified

rather than hastily migrating to libera, we should seriously consider this as an opportunity for improvement, such as:

  • self-hosting a chat service (IRC, XMPP, matrix, whatever)
  • or alternatively, eliminating chat as an essential service,
    and allowing the community to manage all community relations

BTW, parabola.nu has always had a XMPP service - i turned it off only a few months ago; because no one was using it - matrix annoys me too; but we could self-host it - we could even modify it to remove the annoying features, such as the quote-me button

ideally, if the chat service was operated (or monitored) by the community; then it makes no difference which service is the "official" one - the value of chat to the distro, is entirely as community relations - as such, it is best to have more than one point-of-contact, reaching people on the networks which they are already using - there could be a presence on multiple networks (even some that parabola is not establish on yet) (facebook,twitter,mastodon,ssb,etc), limited only by the number of people willing to monitor them - as long as the community liaisons escalate important issue to the dev team, then it makes no difference from which third-party service the information originated; and parabola does not need to recommend any specific one

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - bill-auger - 21 days ago -

just to illuminate some history/background and precedent/rationale:

WRT freenode:

as i understand, the reason why OFTC exists, is because there was a management disagreement among freenode admins, and some felt so strongly to quit and start a new network for the same target audience and purpose (IRC for libre software projects); but somehow retaining "the original freenode" philosophy, which some believed was lost

this recent split looks like an exact repeat of history - there was a management disagreement among freenode admins, and some felt so strongly to quit and start a new IRC network for the same target audience, retaining "the original freenode" philosophy, which some believed was lost

so now there are three - how long would it be, before the libera admins have another disagreement about "the original freenode" philosophy, and splinter-off once again a fourth IRC network - ironically, all of them exist under the same exclusive pretense: "this is the one, which is most like the original freenode" - its pretty silly - i consider it as an embarrassment, that parabola needs to spend a moment dealing with this

FWIW, at least OFTC decided to operate it as a charity, with some clear obligations to the public (like SPI, debian, purism) - freenode and libera have no such obligations - if it were possible to connect to the proprietary discordapp network, using a libre IRC client, then that service would be as justifiable as freenode and libera - any of those would be the same tenuous reliance on a third-party, who has no obligations to continue providing their freebie service to anyone

WRT parabola:

parabola has something of an un-written policy, to avoid relying on, or directing users to, third-parties for any purpose - for some purposes, the FSDG prohibits it - the uncertainty of continued support (especially for freebie services), is only one reason to avoid third-party reliance

just for example, arch has recently decided to direct users to github to get ABS PKGBUILDs, instead of from their own infrastructure - that is something which parabola would never do (at least not as the primary recommendation), if only because the FSDG prohibits it - we do have abslibre on pagure.io; but that is an added convenience for those who prefer it - it is not the primary or recommended service; and no parabola user must use that third-party service - git.parabola.nu will always be the primary host of parabola's build recipes; and parabola will always accept patches via email - if pagure.io shuts-down, it is of no consequence to parabola, because it is non-essential

if a web forge becomes to be seen as more essential, then naturally, we would setup a pagure instance on forge.parabola.nu, even if pagure.io is still operating - the argument: "...but github/gitlab is more popular" would carry no weight in the decision - i dont see why the "freenode/libera is more popular" argument is exceptional, especially now, that the popularity of both has diminished significantly (necessarily so, because the the same user-base has divided into two, just as happened before with the freenode OFTC split) - not only is the appeal to popularity unpersuasive; but it simply does not exist anymore for freenode/libera

so, migrating to libera is an exercise in damage-control, at best - it can not possibly be an improvement; but maybe this could be an opportunity to do something else, which is an improvement

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - gap - 21 days ago -

unrealircd appears to be a self-hosted solution which could be installed on the not (yet?) existent irc.parabola.nu

I concur with bill-auger; to have control over our own network, we must have our own copy of our own libre software running in our own server. Situations like these will continue if people keep entrusting activities to third parties because no matter how good the intentions of the third party may be, you can never trust them more than you can trust yourself.

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - eschwartz - 21 days ago -

I'm not fully aware of the history behind OFTC, but in the freenode/libera split it's less of "there was a management disagreement among freenode admins" and more "hostile takeover of the domain name by an outside party that never had any kind of access".

The current owner of the freenode.net domain and possessor of the services databases obtained it by legal force / corporate takeover despite never once being an admin.

I don't believe I have (or will shortly have) any channels still tying me to freenode. Some (minority) did move over to OFTC.
I guess everyone's list of important channels is different though.

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - avalos - 21 days ago -

To answer bill-auger question, I would prefer an IRC-based chat. Other solutions like XMPP and Matrix are too bloated for just providing text chat. As for the channel, oaken-source rightly summarised what could be done. Switching to libera.chat while maintaining a presence on freenode as a transition sounds an appropriate course of action to me.

Compared to Matrix, XMPP is a feather. But still, it doesn't add a lot of value compared to IRC besides server-side conversation store, federation and some other stuff. I'm personally fine with IRC. I think that bridging Libera and Freenode would probably be a better idea.

and more "hostile takeover of the domain name by an outside party that never had any kind of access".

AFAIK, that “outside party”, according to himself, already had access to everything, but he was cut access from the infrastructure without advice. It doesn't really seem like a takeover to me. But anyway, I'm okay if Parabola stays in Freenode or moves to Libera. There hasn't been any important change to Freenode policies or public mission, it's all the same as it has been for the past couple of years.

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - eschwartz - 21 days ago -

Andrew Lee's claim:

A few days later, I learn that my access to freenode’s DNS has been terminated as 2FA has been enabled. I attempt to get it back to no avail.

and

The topic in their letters is that a 'hostile takeover' is taking place. This is the opposite of what happened, as I am the owner and custodian of freenode, and I was simply attempting to secure freenode.

I'm unaware of anywhere that he claims he ever had access to something other than the DNS, or legal control of Freenode Ltd. Are you claiming that the freenode network users used for communicating for FOSS, was accessible to Andrew Lee? The servers, the services databases, oper control over the network, an @freenode/staff/* cloak, shell accounts on the servers, etc.?

This is what got taken over by Andrew Lee. Not the corporate letterhead.

There hasn't been any important change to Freenode policies or public mission, it's all the same as it has been for the past couple of years.

Really? Among the first things the new management did was this: https://github.com/freenode/web-7.0/pull/513#discussion_r637536464

In one go:

- permit immediate takeover by interested third parties of any channel that declares "moved to libera.chat" in the channel topic
- remove "various forms of antisocial behaviour, including (but not limited to) political, racial, ethnic, religious or gender-related invective" from the definition of things that Freenode considered offtopic for the network and eligible for being politely but firmly shown the door

It's as close as Freenode had to an anti-harassment policy, and you've removed the part of it that mentioned political, racial, ethnic, religious and gender-related invective.

Please reiterate how there haven't been any important changes to Freenode policies. Whether you agree with the policy changes or not, these are incredibly important and filled with meaning!

Have you by any chance read this ongoing record of events? https://gist.github.com/joepie91/df80d8d36cd9d1bde46ba018af497409

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - freemor - 21 days ago -

I think bill-auger 's Idea of bridging the two freenode -> libera.chat is a good Idea for the time being.. But I agree that Parabola should probably run their own IRC server. I've recently set up ngircd here at home for communications on the LAN without the need to send data all over the internet to get it to a computer 20 feet away. It's small and trivial to configure. So might be another option to consider.

Once that is up I suppose we could bridge parabola's irc channel to the one on libera.chat and at some point drop the Freenode bridge/channel

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - oaken-source - 21 days ago -

I would caution that self-hosting our external communication systems comes with a certain set of drawbacks. For one, we lose the benefit of competent management to rely on. Consider that there was a lot of spam on libera on day one, that got immediately and effectively suppressed by the staff who have many years of experience running an irc network. If we were to host our own network, we would need to become competent enough at managing it, that we could solve similar situations on our own. Additionally, managing and properly securing such a network takes time out of our hands that we already are short on.

Also, I fear that setting up our own irc network would somewhat isolate us, because it raises the barrier for participation. People are already active on other, larger networks and may be reluctant to join / register on a tiny third party network just to chat about parabola or get support.

In short, I believe that for ease of access / reliable infrastructure / reduced management overhead I think it makes sense to rely on a trustworthy third party for external communication such as IRC.

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - freemor - 20 days ago -

Good points re: Self-hosting. I was thinking, "Well, we usually have only about 20-ish people in channel, So not much of a strain on the server...". But yes there are always the asshats to consider. And also a good point about not creating yet another place people have to figure out how to connect to... register their nicks... check for messages.. etc.

Plus we are already there. (libera.chat) So maybe no need to re-invent the wheel.

RE: suggestions and opinions on parabola-recommended IRC/chat services - takuwan - 20 days ago -

I have nothing much to add to what oaken-source said. The IRC channel is not a critical infrastructure to Parabola, from what it seems, so relying on a third party would make sense. There are many tasks at hand that already require maintenance. Perhaps it is not worth the effort (and the security/spam risks involved) to self-host a chat service.

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