I have no idea how long I’ve been on Freenode. Back when I started with/on/for OpenSource projects like OpenBB and phpBB in the early 2000s, the IRC network mostly if not exclusively run by volunteers was the place where contributors and users could meetup up to exchange ideas or get help. No matter what project you were playing around with, there was a good chance its developers were also on Freenode and so you could easily get help if you were stuck somewhere.
Over the years, IRC became less and less important for me and so I dropped off the radar a couple of years ago. I still remember my time on it fondly, though, as it is probably the one communication channel that I’ll always associate with the OpenSource/FreeSoftware community.
Then, a couple of days ago, a handful of open letters from multiple long-term volunteers of the network started to appear stating they’d resign due to a “hostile takeover” of the network. I first noticed those thanks to this post on Boing Boing. Turns out that the network has been sold off to Andrew Lee (Mt. Gox Live, Private Internet Access, …) back in 2017 and the staff was pretty much left in the dark but promised that neither he nor his company would take influence on the operation of the network. Looks like that might not have been the case after all and so a two-digit number of volunteers quit. Vice has a quite detailed article. I’d like to encourage you to read it but, perhaps more importantly, also the separate resignation letters:
But this whole drama also has a bright side! There is now a new IRC network with the same goals as the good old Freenode: Libera.chat, launched by some of people mentioned above and organised as an organisation in Sweden.
As much as the decline of Freenode hurts, I wish Libera.chat all the best and have already set up my account there. Perhaps I will even use IRC more frequently again so there may or may not a bouncer be part of my setup 😅
Hyde has some additional points esp. when it comes to picking a good IRC client if you’re new to the medium 😁