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Last active Jun 1, 2021
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freenode-resign.txt
Dear freenode users and projects,
I joined freenode staff a bit more than 10 years ago, after having used
the network for already roughly 5 years by that time.
During this time, I enjoyed supporting our communities in various roles;
I met some of you through first level support,
through my work for the groups team or due infra work.
I still think that freenode as a network is a great idea,
and offers projects and groups of any size a possibility to collaborate,
coordinate or just chat freely and for free.
Since these early times, freenode changed form a couple of times.
The whole work was, however, always done by unpaid volunteers
that grew into close friends over time.
All the servers we have and all the paid services we use
were sponsored by either companies or friends and allies.
We never wanted to be, never were and never will be a business.
A couple of years ago, christel, now former head of freenode staff
sold `freenode ltd` (a holding company) to a third party,
Andrew Lee[1], under terms that have not been disclosed to the staff body.
This was done, from what we were informed, to organize our freenode
#live conferences, that required a legal body.
We were repeatedly promised, by both christel and Andrew Lee,
that neither the holding nor Andrew Lee would have any operational impact
on freenode the IRC network. We gladly forwarded this to our users,
who were understandably concerned as well.
In the past few weeks, this has changed[2], and the existance of a legal threat
to freenode has become apparent. We cannot know the substance of this legal
threat as it contains some kind of gag order
preventing its broader discussion within staff.
The democratically elected heads of their respective teams,
development, infrastructure, projects and communities
were removed by force[3] and have been informed that they are not
entitled to act in their respective capacity.
As a result, Mr Lee wants and partially has operational control
over the freenode IRC network now.
This goes against my personal values, beliefs and rules,
this goes against what we have been doing for the past 10 years,
this goes against our promises to our users and communities.
Due to a leak of a personal resignation letter draft,
Andrew Lee learned of the situation and asked democratically elected
freenode volunteers to step down from their position, as seen in the
logs linked on [4] [5] [6]
Included in these logs are also logs from third party users that show
that associates from Mr Lee, namely the user rdv, contacted
various people and offered them oper access on the new network
for money or revenge. It sickens me to the stomach to see our community
that we built in the last 20 years to be lost to this kind of management.
As you can imagine, the community was unhappy as well and we got loads
of feedback. Thank you very much, this means a lot to us. We've also seen
channel ops standing up to the potential new management, see e.g. [7]
This really means a lot to us, but unfortunately reality sometimes looks
different, especially when lawyers and potential lawsuits were involved.
A contract in which christel, former head of staff, allegedly sold freenode, surfaced.
And while I personally think that this would have neither included any servers
or code or user data, since that did not belong to christel to sell, I am not a lawyer
and apparently some of our volunteers got pressured very hard and their personal life
could have been ruined easily should we have fought against this apparent contract.
As you can imagine, this kind of proceeding makes me even less want
to spend any of my volunteering time for the potential new management,
and I wouldn't want to be responsible for sensitive user data under that management, either.
Therefore I, along with my colleagues, resigned from my volunteer position
as a freenode staffer. I had all my access removed, so that I could not hand
it or any data over to a third party, even if I wanted or if I were forced to.
--
Where will we be going from here?
We are founding a new network with the same goals and ambitions: libera.chat.
It is backed by a swedish non-profit which lets us hold the name,
domain and various other assets to avoid a hostile corporate takeover.
It allows us to continue to operate the network as unpaid, neutral volunteers.
It allows us to ensure that your personal data does not end up as an
asset to some company that could consider monetizing it.
You can connect to the new network at `irc.libera.chat`,
ssl port 6697 (and the usual clearnet port).
We're really sorry that it had to come to this.
When we told you that freenode ltd. and Andrew Lee / PIA / LTM / ...
won't have any impact on freenode,
we always communicated based on what we knew and what we were promised.
I'm aware that such a move is hard, especially for established communities.
We will do our very best to support you if you plan to join us on libera.
I hope to see the lot of you on the other side,
feel free to contact me on the new network if you have any questions.
A big thank you to my former freenode colleagues, all our users,
projects and communities that acompanied us for more than a decade.
Thank you very much, keep rocking and making the
free / open source software and peer directed communities great.
Christian (Commonly known as Fuchs)
Footnotes
[1]: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/10308021/officers
[2]: A blogpost has been removed without explanation: (via the wayback machine)
https://web.archive.org/web/20210423231439/https://freenode.net/news/freenode-reorg
[3]: The teams and their democratically elected heads got removed without explanation:
https://web.archive.org/web/20210423231451/https://freenode.net/people
[4]: https://gist.github.com/joepie91/df80d8d36cd9d1bde46ba018af497409
[5]: https://paste.sr.ht/blob/4f5c7a6b3f6adb4697572f8cd77582fa16a123de
[6]: https://paste.sr.ht/~ircwright/7e751d2162e4eb27cba25f6f8893c1f38930f7c4
[7]: https://gist.github.com/shadowcat-mst/998cea12794768bdb3da2daeff31baad#file-on-freenode-s-independence
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