qutebrowser moving to Libera Chat

This blog has been lying dormant for almost a year now, but rest assured it's still alive. I usually don't bother posting minor release announcements here (they can be found on the announcement mailinglist as well as the subreddit), on top of that I totally forgot writing a blog post about the v2.0.0 release...

With that out of the way, I want to announce that qutebrowser, like many other projects, has moved its IRC chat from Freenode to Libera Chat, after a rather hostile and sudden takeover of Freenode by Andrew Lee / rasengan (founder of the VPN provider Private Internet Access, and apparently crown prince of South Korea, or something).

I spent literally more than half my life on Freenode:

-- NickServ: Information on The-Compiler (account The-Compiler): -- NickServ: Registered : Dec 30 02:21:14 2006 (14y 21w 4d ago)

and thus was quite surprised when a (now former) Freenode staffer I trust messaged me two weeks ago. He asked me what I'd do in the hypothetical case Freenode was being taken over, and I wasn't sure what to think. It all sounded very far away, and I was hoping it wouldn't turn out that way.

A week later, unfortunately, the takeover happened. All the draft resignation letters suddenly weren't drafts anymore, with the Freenode staff quitting. The staff started to a new network Libera Chat, and at that point, I joined the #qutebrowser channels there to make sure they weren't taken over. Thankfully, another community member (arza) had already taken care of that, all that was left for me is to officially register the qutebrowser project there. Despite Libera being run over by new users, project registrations and other user requests, the registration went through quickly and smoothly. There were a couple of initial server hiccups, but it was clear those people knew how to run a community. The same can't be said about the new Freenode admins, unfortunately...

I didn't move yet, as I still wanted to see how this whole thing pans out. In case people wanted to move before the channel did, I made sure to point out "#qutebrowser on libera.chat exists" in the channel topic on Freenode.

I was planning to do the full move tomorrow. While Andrew Lee and the new Freenode admins continue to claim that they're doing the right thing for FOSS, their behavior speaks for itself: After taking over a single channel, then retroactively adjusting their policy accordingly, tonight this happened:

05:02 -> freenodecom (~com@freenode/staff) has joined #qutebrowser

05:02 -- freenodecom has changed topic for #qutebrowser from "Current: v2.2.2 - #qutebrowser on irc.libera.chat exists, full move ~soon - [...]" to "This channel has moved to ##qutebrowser. The topic is in violation of freenode policy: https://freenode.net/policies"

05:02 <@freenodecom> This channel has been reopened with respect to the communities and new users. The topic is in violation of freenode policy: https://freenode.net/policies

05:02 <@freenodecom> The new channel is ##qutebrowser

05:02 <- freenodecom (~com@freenode/staff) has left #qutebrowser

The same thing happened to many other channels, including e.g. the channel for the FOSDEM conference, the third-largest channel on Freenode.

Of course, after the backlash they claim this was by mistake:

06:15 -- rasengan (~rasengan@freenode/staff/rasengan): [Global Notice] In the recent policy enforcement, some channels were erroneously included. We greatly apologize for the inconvenience. Please contact us in #freenode-services or contact-us@freenode.net. Thanks for your patience and choosing freenode!

My take on this: It really doesn't matter whether some additional channels were included by mistake. Automatically closing channels (after being active communities for years!) based on some kind of match on the topic mentioning Libera Chat is malicious power abuse no matter how you twist it. Not only that, it's grossly incompetent on top of that.

I originally planned to set up something like Matterbridge to bridge the Freenode and Libera channels, so that people can move over at their own pace. With the #qutebrowser channel now forcibly removed by Freenode out of the blue, I'm not going to bother reinstantiating it. Effective immediately, the IRC chat for qutebrowser has moved to irc.libera.chat, with a webchat by KiwiIRC.

I urge other projects to do the same sooner rather than later. From what it looks like, Freenode can't be salvaged, and it's probably only going to get worse.

I'm also planning to play with Matterbridge regardless, and see if I can maybe bridge the IRC channel to more modern platforms like Matrix, Discord or a Telegram groupchat. It'd be an interesting experiment to see if that'd attract more/different people than an (arguably somewhat dated) IRC channel. But let's take things one step at a time.

The sudden loss of a community I joined when I was 13 years old is saddening, and it's crazy how quickly this all went downhill. Let's move on, to Libera Chat!