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Good evening freenode.
This is not a draft.
I have been a user of freenode for about a decade now. In a way, freenode
introduced me to the free and open source software community, and I've been an
active contributor for most of that decade. In 2016 I volunteered to help with
some development work for freenode, and consequently to help with general staff
duties. I love helping people, be it directly, or indirectly by maintaining a
platform that enables others to help more people. To me, volunteering for
freenode has always been about that.
Historically, freenode has always been loosely organized: a group of friends
(all unpaid volunteers!) who share a common vision and who collaborate on
common goals. Even our servers were provided to us via personal connections
with friendly people at hosting companies.
In 2017 freenode has been incorporated as Freenode Ltd[1] by our
then-head-of-staff christel, who proceeded to sell it to Andrew Lee's Private
Internet Access. Other staff were not aware of the full implications of this at
the time, and were reassured that:
- that this is only a technicality necessary for organizing our conferences, which will be sponsored in large part by
Private Internet Access/Andrew Lee.
- that Private Internet Access/Andrew Lee will not intervene with us
staff managing the IRC network We forwarded this promise to our
users[2]. To say that christel was not exactly honest with us (and in
turn our users) would be an understatement.
The promise has generally been kept for 4 years, and Andrew Lee never had any
access to any freenode servers, or any privileged features of our IRC network.
freenode staff, barring christel, were not paid, and there was never any
expectation that we would be. As far as operating freenode is concerned, we do
not have any legally binding contracts with anyone or anything. The sponsors
that provided freenode with servers also never had any contracts with any
people or companies.
In Februrary 2021, christel rushed a sponsorship with, whose logo
appeared on the top of our website, and who were promising to sponsor Freenode
Ltd. Due to the change being rushed and due to poor internal communications,
there were more questions than there were answers -- from users and from staff
members alike. This created a lot of controversy and in March christel decided
to resign from her position as head of freenode staff. On the same day she was
removed from the board of Freenode Ltd[3], which was now completely owned by
Andrew Lee.
With christel gone, we unanimously elected tomaw as new head of staff. In the
meantime, it became increasingly obvious that Andrew Lee did a 180 on his
earlier promise, and that he now wants full operational control of the freenode
IRC network. While it was all up in the air, staff prepared for the worst, and
unfortunately a draft of one resignation letter was found by search engine
Andrew Lee's public response to that on IRC[4][5] clarified that he had no
intention of honoring our long established staff team structure. Some users
reported[6][7] that Andrew Lee had already started assembling a replacement
team, and that people were bribed to join with the prospect of money, power,
vanity, and even revenge on former staff[8]. I am grateful for the feedback we
have received from our people and projects, a lot of whom are sympathetic with
us and are questioning the new management[4][9][10].
Only some time later staff really became aware of what had happened 4 years
prior. It seems like there's no way around it: the IRC network and all things
to do with it, together with our users' data has been sold to Andrew Lee by
christel. Worth noting that this is not the first IRC network that Andrew Lee
has bought[11].
The data that has been sold, data that freenode has been keeping and
processing -- consists of:
- Any current metadata that's associated with any registrations with
NickServ and ChanServ. This includes your email address, and last
hostname with which you logged into your account.
- MemoServ memos and current ProjectServ metadata -- if you're
participating in a registered project on freenode.
- Logs of *Serv usage and logs of connections/disconnections for the
past 30 days.
- Any and all correspondence you've had with,, or similar.
To this day, freenode has not been logging your messages. As long as freenode
is still running the same software stack, you can erase your NickServ
registration with:
/msg NickServ DROP <nick> <password>
In light of the above, I don't want to be anywhere in the vicinity of freenode
in the future, let alone to continue volunteering for the network. I lay down
my privileges and I will no longer be contributing to freenode. It has been a
pleasure to work during all these years side by side with fellow volunteers, as
well as the projects and the people that inhabited the network. I express my
deepeest apologies to our users and projects who were relying on us and who may
now feel betrayed.
The group of volunteers who used to be freenode staff stands united on this
issue. [12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]
We will be building a new network for Free and Open Source Software
collaboration: +6697
Learning from our own mistakes, it is backed by a democratically governed
Swedish non-profit. If you'd like to get in touch with us, there would be best.
Some of you might similarly be reconsidering participating in freenode. If you
have a community, you might be considering alternative platforms. Moving
communities is hard, and I will encourage you to make your own educated
decisions on that matter. But if you or your project decide to follow us to our
new place, do get in touch with us and we will do our best to assist with the
Good night.
-- mniip, May 19 2021
[2] -- "the freenode project will continue to
operate with much the same structure and volunteer base as it does now"
-- 26 Apr 2021
-- Andrew Lee is rasengan on IRC
[12] amdj:
[13] edk:
[14] emilsp:
[15] Fuchs:
[16] jess:
[17] JonathanD:
[18] kline:
[19] Md:
[20] mniip:
[21] niko:
[22] Swant:
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