Mike Stone

Mostly The Lonely Howls Of Mike Baying His Ideological Purity At The Moon

Return To IRC

30 May 2021

I was on IRC a bunch my first few years in college. Day and night and everywhere in between. I started getting busier and busier when I got a full time job before I’d even completed my studies, and I spent less and less time on IRC. Eventually I found that I couldn’t even remember when I stopped doing it. It was never a conscious choice to leave, it just kind of faded away.

Recently there’s been a pretty noisy debacle regarding the leadership of Freenode. I didn’t have any personal investment since virtually all of my personal IRC time was spend on the Undernet, but it did inspire me to give IRC a little bit more of my time.

When I started college back in the early 90s, I’d never been on the Internet before. The closest thing I had was a BBS that I used that was part of a network of other, similar BBSs. They exchanged posts between them, allowing communication between people of different networks. I’d never seen the World Wide Web, and honestly had very little experience with computers in general.

I was majoring in Computer Science, and quite a lot of our class material was discussed on the university’s NNTP server. Talking to other students, I found out that sometimes teachers and students would discuss class related stuff on something called Internet Relay Chat, or IRC. I copied the application directory a friend of mine had on our Digital Unix server, and updated it to my preferences and connected.

It was pretty eye opening to me. I’d spent years and years talking to people on other networks, but there were specific times during the day that the BBSs synced up. You’d get dozens of posts at a time, and then nothing for hours. IRC was a whole new experience. I know it’s no big deal looking at it today with all the services we have, but typing something in and getting a live response back from someone virtually anywhere in the world was crazy to me. It was weird to think that as I was sitting at my computer typing, there was someone else sitting at their computer at the exact same time typing back to me. Not hours separated, real time.

I spent an uncomfortable amount of time on IRC my first few years in college. I met many people I still consider friends. There were other students, doctors, dentists, authors. People from all walks of life all over the world. I’ve kept in touch with many of them. One of them I eventually got the courage to ask out on a date, and then another, and then another, and eventually married.

Needless to say, IRC holds a fond place in my heart. I’ve never FULLY left IRC. I’ve popped in here and there over the years. Some of my old friends are still there in the old places, but it’s not like it was before.

Recently IRC has been in the tech news because of an “event” with the Freenode server. Freenode is the IRC network that many open source projects call home. After a really public breakup between the owner of Freenode and a fair number of the people working for the network, a new IRC network was created call Libera Chat. I thought that maybe now was a good time to try some new channels on a new IRC network.

Honestly, I haven’t decided if I’m going to try to create a new Fosstodon IRC channel for the Mastodon instance, but it’s really crossed my mind. If I heard that there was enough interest in a Fosstodon channel, I could probably be convinced to create an “official” channel over on Libera Chat.

What do you think? Is now the time to really make an “official” return to IRC?

Day 24 of the #100DaysToOffload 2021 Series.

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