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What would you like to do?

hi, and goodbye

The past few weeks has not been fun on IRC, the drama based on false information and assumptions has been insane. I've almost entirely been silent on the drama because I know the fallout that would happen if I spoke up.

A quick TLDR - I'm quitting all IRC development. KiwiIRC project lead, IRCv3 technical board, supporting the multitude of IRC networks, the lot.

Many people seem to think that I am supporting one side in everything that is going on, so just to be clear: I am not supporting any side of the current freenode drama - there is so much false information going around from everywhere that it is impossible to support anybody.

Woo freenode drama

Throughout this I will say negative things about both tomaw (ex-freenode head of staff) and rasengan. I still consider both sides friends of mine and we have worked together well in the past. This is purely what has been happening in recent weeks and I hope both understand this.

Both tomaw and rasangan messaged me for advice on a growing argument (at the time it was re. freenode DNS access). Both sides of the argument were reasonable from their respective perspectives, and at the time during this call this was cleared up and understood.

Note: While I was asked if I wanted to be part of this freenode future by rasangan, I had always declined because I don't personally want to be involved there. I had literally 0 to gain from this mediation between freenode and rasengan.

What I helped rasengan put together as a proposed idea for freenode:

  • A more structured staff and board (at the time, and confirmed by tomaw in the call, it was just a head of staff and thats all)
  • Looking into the possibilities of a decentralised IRC network (this was a very high level idea, nothing much more was planned yet)
  • Looking at the possibility of joining an established, open source foundation to help re-establish IRC over newer platforms amongst other possibilities
  • Offering freenode staff mental health support with a third party organisation because the amount of trolls and abuse that staffers get takes a real toll.

Once in place and everything settles, rasangen offered to then step down and let freenode do its thing. Tomaw was receptive to these ideas and agreed to go over a written down version of this. Everything was civil and calm again at this point.

What was very alarming, however, was the attitude from the freenode head of staff and how this was being handled. The ego, willing to have freenode destroyed because he wanted to "win" an argument over DNS access that was a silly miscommunication to start with.

After discussing the freenode structure changes with rasangan, freenode decided to make some structure changes on their own anyway. They are of course perfectly in their right to do so - but the lack of understanding the optics of this while planning a re-organisation already was surprising.

1618864289886|prawnsalad|like, im not on either side and purely just trying to keep things civil, but thats not gonng go so well lol
1618864382773|tomaw|Then he can take it up with me. I'm trying to make this better, he wants to make this better if he wants to fight me on that we'll have it out.
1618864468771|tomaw|If he wants to hurt freenode then that's a different thing
1618864510179|prawnsalad|alright. im gonna bow out of this and leave you both to it. i hope for the best but i really think this been handled pretty badly for the record. ill let andrew know the same thing
1618864535362|tomaw|you don't think I can win this, do you?
1618864537088|prawnsalad|this isnt my fight, and ive nothing against either side for so you know
1618864583729|prawnsalad|its not about winning. and its that that makes me realise i should have no part in this
1618864618389|tomaw|what do you mean?
1618864721766|prawnsalad|you want to "win" at any cost it seems. you mentioned this before too. things were calm and settled and the way this reorg has just come about and blogged yesterday underhanded the whole thing
1618865531365|tomaw|he doesn't want to hurt freenode
1618865560003|tomaw|and anything he does that hurt me hurts freenode.
[..]
1618865590396|prawnsalad|tomaw != freenode
1618865607523|prawnsalad|im stopping here now. im not getting involved any further
1618865648739|tomaw|thank you for getting involved as much as you did, I appreciate it

It was this point I stepped out entirely - knowing how this was going to turn out. Both sides had valid points, both sides extremely bad at communicating, both sides unable to work together.

Fast forward probably a week or so, both sides have legal involved, both sides attempt to silence each other. There is no one side doing harm here - both are actively involved. The biggest difference is that one side has expensive lawyers, the other side has a thousand+ strong echo chamber.

I'm not saying either side was right or wrong - there was false information going around like crazy that many bought into without thinking.

I do, however, completely regret trying to help this situation. Former freenode network director had also tried to mediate but also regrets doing so because of the hatred received for getting involved.

Getting dragged into the drama

As the firestorm grew on freenode I actively tried staying out of it. Speaking as little as possible. Public channels had high emotions, discussion was not welcome - everybody had their minds made up already based on whatever they had heard. Most of which was incorrect information but once you have a 1000+ strong echo chamber that causes more people to believe anything. To repeat something I mentioned earlier - I am not picking sides here, both sides were fuelled by miscommunication and believing false information.

Several people would ask me privately what was happening, this is as far into it as I would go.

1621027169855|mst|... dafuq
1621027191242|prawnsalad|hm?
1621027337910|mst|what the flying fornication is going on?
1621027459121|prawnsalad|im not getting involved. theres lies and bs from everyone involved, from all sides. i tried to help out and mediate a middle ground a few weeks ago but that didnt go well so ive decided to not have any further input, sorry
1621027509331|prawnsalad|its sad path its all gone and it legit makes me frustrated. so, yea.

Meanwhile in public channels, people were using my messages from private channels in the past to help push false information. Even more frustrating, and causing me to physically shake as I watch this unfold as I knew I couldn't say anything without getting the mob turned against myself, but knowing what was happening was untrue, and now my name being dragged into it.

(Tiny bit of context, The Snoonet network was sold by its founder, didn't explain to the network staff, then I had to explain to the staff (i think roughly a year later) what had happened as clear possible, I still get blamed for selling the network though). Back in #freenode:

1621011990276|rasengan|Snoonet is a perfect example of where I have not in any way attempted to affect any kind of change.  I lost my own channels on snoonet due to policy, and didn't protest or even say a word.  I adhered to policy.
[...]
1621011996798|jess|see the log andrew
[...]
1621012098975|jess|[01:09:43] <prawnsalad> let me put it clearly, Snoonet was sold to LTM. all Snoonet data was sold to LTM a while ago. way before me. there was no autonomous agreement - i have checked, multiple times. i an now explaining all this to you.
[...]
1621012218555|jess|[01:07:18] <prawnsalad> A_Dragon: again, Snoonet is not only snoonet anymore. it hasnt for some time. unfortunately people have communicated this to snoonet staff in past properly. im trying to correct that.
[...]
1621012275881|joepie91|[01:00:29] <prawnsalad> A_Dragon: then im sorry to bring the bad news, but snoonet *is* an ltm owned project. i had nothing to do with that. but thats how it is

Pastebins started appearing with the false information, stating that I was part of the takeover of networks

1621018234163|TheWhisper|Here's the real TL;DR https://litter.catbox.moe/2mfpli.txt

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Ahttps%3A%2F%2Flitter.catbox.moe%2F2mfpli.txt&sxsrf=ALeKk033U_AkKHN5oD1Tk8hmnr_WGLx5LA%3A1621862188724&ei=LKerYOe4K5LjUtLqiNAG&oq=cache%3Ahttps%3A%2F%2Flitter.catbox.moe%2F2mfpli.txt&gs_lcp=Cgdnd3Mtd2l6EAM6BwgjELACECdQiCtYzS1g7S5oAXAAeACAAYYCiAHyA5IBBTEuMS4xmAEAoAEBqgEHZ3dzLXdpesABAQ&sclient=gws-wiz&ved=0ahUKEwjn_oe9s-LwAhWSsRQKHVI1AmoQ4dUDCA4&uact=5

People start digging through my projects trying to find anything they could to cause more drama, causing project maintainers who also wanted nothing to do with the drama to step and nip it in the bud as soon as possible.

1621098499985|rbraun|prawnsalad: hey how'd kiwiirc manage to get relicensed from AGPLv3 to Apache?
[...]
1621098735107|itsonlybinary|rbraun the second link is a total rewrite of kiwiirc in vue.js, the first link is the old nodejs version
1621098817903|rbraun|itsonlybinary: would be interesting if they shared any code, because rasengan is distributing an "IRC.com mobile app" on testflight without source code provided
[...]
1621099756652|prawnsalad|rbraun, as itsonlybinary mentioned, the old agpl version of kiwi is not the same project. a rewrite happened and any code that is shared had permission from the authors. the mobile app youre talking of is also using the open source code under the github.com/kiwiirc/ repo, which i had done. nothing todo with rasengan there. feel free to ask about it in #kiwiirc though
[...continued digging but the same topic...]

Several posts were made on Hacker News, to which I would have to defend myself in the comments again. Followed by people creating accounts just to reply to me with logs from private channels again to help push the false information. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27247212 Never actually making any claims, but always pasting out of context log snippets to try support false claims.

Extra fun fact: That comment was actually made by a Libera.Chat staffer while I was actively helping them on IRC with their web based IRC client.

Spilling into IRCv3

IRCv3 is a fun workgroup, lots of interested people with heavy thoughts on how things should be which makes for lively discussion over time. I admittedly have been involved in these lively discussions.

There is an inner circle that has become (what looks like) a close friend group. Speak against one of them and you have a lot of people against you. One of these people have came up a few times above, jess, Libera.Chat staff. They were recently proposed to join the IRCv3 technical board to which I express that somebody actively involved in trying to harm other technical board member projects without merit should not be given that opportunity https://github.com/ircv3/ircv3.github.io/pull/372 (any other circumstance and I would have entirely welcomed this addition, jess contributions have grown a lot in the past year). I had purposely refrained from posting logs publicly here because it would have simply caused more drama - not that this helped.

This upsets a lot of people, and after explaining (my first comment in #ircv3 for over a week if I remember) that the issue is being handled privately and by the technical board chairman, a prominent member has already decided who should be silenced and who should be welcomed based on... I don't know what.

(A different log format than previous due to using a different IRC client at this moment)

[13:03:52]  prawnsalad: dan-, everyone is trying to keep that thread clear, please do the same. as you said yourself - its being handled already. ive passed the info to jwheare so now it can be handled. 
[13:04:26]  dan-: shut up, I've made my comment

Nice.

--

IRC has always had mob mentality and large echo chambers depending on the groups of people you are with. What all this drama has shown me though is that there are more illogical, emotionally run, people hiding facts and trying to be sneaky than I thought at the same time. So many assumptions built upon assumptions and then run with it.

The trolls, the people falsifying logs, the people so angry that they don't want to believe anything else, over time this wears you down and eventually you wonder why you are even involved any more.

The anxiety of even touching IRC development over the past ~12 months has been increasing, now after years of IRC development, supporting many prominent and smaller networks, sponsoring financially, helping projects get sponsorship if they were interested, it's not something I want to be involved with anymore. Getting dragged into all this drama and the aftermath that comes of it will not do my mental health any good. It's not a good place. I will be resigning from the IRCv3 working group, standing down from the KiwiIRC project lead, and ending my IRC involvement with any network or project.

kiwiirc.com has roughly 4 million monthly active IRC users on thousands of general social websites and networks. I have not yet decided what will happen here. It will always offer the IRC client and it will not be sold, but it has been expensive to run (trolls, spam, floods, ddos, maintenance, etc) so it may be scaled down in some form. Or it may be passed on to somebody trusted that wants the financial, support, and maintenance burden. This is yet to be thought about.

~prawnsalad

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