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    I object to the historical tag. I use IRC on a daily basis. (In fact, it’s how I keep in touch with most of my social circle)

    I do think that the most important thing IRC could do is implement server side history, which solves the main issue: catching up on history after joining a channel or going offline.

    Everything else feels like fluff.

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      On the other hand, I consider lack of history a feature, a highly desirable feature.

      I don’t need to be notified of everything that happens, I don’t need to know all of the history.

      IRC is like walking into a bar. If there’s an interesting conversation, you jump in. And when you’re away, if something important happened, someone else will fill you in. Otherwise, it wasn’t important.

      Just miss out without fear. It’s okay. Do other things.

      If you need persistent and slow communication, use a different protocol, but leave chat protocols as ephemeral and forgettable.

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        This is not usually how IRC is used in practise. In practise people use bouncers or “irssi in screen forever” to get the history client side. Better to let the protocol solve the problem most people seem to want, and if you don’t want history configure your client not to fetch or show it.

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          I don’t know how usual this is. Lots of people don’t use bouncers. Some use bouncers. The way we use #octave in Freenode is memoryless; #emacs in Freenode has a no public-logging policy (just a politeness convention) and #mercurial in Freenode also has people coming and going all the time. If something happened and people are talking about it, I ask in #mercurial and people will give me the context. Nobody has ever said to me, “get a bouncer, ya n00b!”

          I don’t know if most people want persistent history but I certainly don’t.

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            Sure it is. Source: JordiGH and I hang out in several of the same bars^Wchannels. (Sup.)

            I currently use “weechat in tmux forever” (formerly “ERC in screen forever”). However, I never actually bother to scroll back except to search for my own name to see if anybody was looking for me.

            Once in the past decade, I reviewed my entire buffer for a specific channel because there was “drama” going on when I got back and I wanted to know what happened. The privilege to do so is what the chanops and opers there grant me when they allow my client to idle.

            Honestly, after you join a few big channels and a lot of small ones, “keeping up” is neither possible nor worth it. Do you “keep up” with newly uploaded youtube videos? :)

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              I do irssi in screen forever (call me old-fashioned ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), and that’s not really my experience. I don’t ‘keep up’, but – well, there are a couple of things. #1 is that when I join I’d like to have some context for what’s going on, and drama that causes me to want to scroll up quite a bit happens a lot more often than once in 10 years. Another thing is that sometimes, when it’s been a quiet day, I’ll go on and see that it’s not more than a screenful of text since last time I joined, which provides a nice sense of continuity. Additionally, just being already connected makes for a generally nicer experience. It makes communication asynchronous because there’s not an expectation that if you’re connected, you’re available; so, you can ignore people (or, to put it more generously, wait till later to talk to them). If you join a channel and immediately ask for help with something, it seems a lot stickier and you’re a lot less likely to get a response, than if you’ve been there for a while.

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                Ah, yes. I agree with your description; I have experienced those things you describe. Which makes me wonder, why did I describe my experience differently?

                I think I figured it out… Social channels are different than technical channels. I do in fact review the full buffer of technical channels (if they are low-volume enough). I just hadn’t thought about it when posting my previous comment! Thanks.

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                  Huh. Generally I don’t look at what happened in technical channels. Generally I come, ask/answer a question, but when I’m not there, I’m not there. Only exception is when there’s some bickering in the c channel (it happens a lot), I read backscroll so I can get an informed opinion and join in. Social channels, I know the people there so I care about what they said while I wasn’t there.

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            What do you do to chat with friends? Coordinating an event over email with 7-8 people is painful.

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              I coordinate an event over email with 7-8 people; I don’t know, it works for me. I just did that last week.

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                Hm, to each their own I guess. For us, someone will usually just ask who’s free tonight and whose house is free, where we’re eating etc etc and within a few hours we’ve sorted it out and whoever comes comes.

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                  Yep, email works great for that.

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            I’ve always been saying that if you want a paper trail, you want email. There’s nothing wrong with it, it works. Chats are for real-time conversations, and those don’t mix well with having a paper trail. Whenever I’m forced to use Slack in companies where it’s the main way of communication, it’s obvious how inconvenient it is to hold a conversation over a few days (or time zones) buried in a constant stream of messages not separated into topics.

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              Wow - your post made me remember something I haven’t ‘felt’ about the web since back when Facebook’s instant messages feature was separate from it’s ‘mail’ feature, probably 2008. I remember reading that they planned on combining the two. At the time, I thought “How can they possibly do that? My IMs and my Mails are completely different ways to communicate, because one is real-time and the other asynchronous.

              Facebook and Slack messaging work the same now. Real-time, with the paper trail. Both real-time and asynchronous. Stopped starting at your phone or your desktop client? Too bad, you’re now behind.

              I miss being able to differentiate between a message I was expected to read instantly vs a message I could read on my own time.

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              That’s certainly one of the biggest drivers that’s forced my scrum team to transition to AWS Chime.

              Being able to have persistent messages regardless of client connection state is an absolute deal breaker for us. Coordination becomes much MUCH more difficult otherwise. We used to use IRC, and it got to the point where I was the only one with ZNC working in the whole team :\

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                I’m always a bit surprised by the staying power of IRC. This kind of feature is the reason I have always used XMPP for my chatrooms.

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                  XMPP is an awesome protocol IMO, the issue is that there does not seem to be any decent clients.

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                    What platform and style are you looking for? I’m partial to irssi-xmpp myself – and Conversations is king on Android. There are hundreds of clients of every kind, so hard to list at once until I know what you’re after :)

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                    Pardon my ignorance, I’ve used Jabber a bit way back in its infancy so I can’t recall - does XMPP inherently record server side traffic like that?

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                      The ability for a multi user chat to play back recent history when you join has been part of the protocol basically as long as the ability to have chatrooms at all. How much history is configured by room admin (usually).

                      More recently there are extensions to make this even better, but in practise that original feature covers everything I’ve wanted.

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                      Matrix seems to have figured out how to bridge different networks well. Does XMPP have similar success in that area, and if not, do you have any theories why? Is it a technical thing or just a matter of not enough critical mass?

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                        Yes, XMPP has always had bridges (we usually say “gateways” or “transports”) to different protocols. When I first started using XMPP most of my contacts were on MSN Messenger, and I talked to them seamlessly.

                        These days, there’s Spectrum as a gateway to everything in libpurple, transwhat to WhatsApp, biboumi to IRC, cheogram.com to SMS, even a few to Matrix :)

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                          So you guess it was mostly poor salesmanship kinda problem that not many people use those?

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                      Everyone I know who cares about persistent messages on IRC runs an IRC bouncer (e.g. ZNC). It’s pretty easy to set up..

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                        You’re assuming several things:

                        1. Bedrock infrastructure to run znc on. Not at all easy or guaranteed in the enterprise.
                        2. Enterprise IRC has the same lax auth strategy that Freenode or other ‘open’ IRC servers do.
                        3. That younger people give enough of a shit to go through this admittedly minimal effort when they can just use SlickCord or whatever and not think about it.
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                          Eh, I was just pointing out that there are options besides “completely change the IRC server”, that users can do to use IRC with persistent messaging.

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                          You still have to pay for, secure, and patch a server though. Unless you run ZNC at home, in which case you’d probably want to isolate that machine from your LAN.

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                      I’m surprised you didn’t talk about the logistical/legal issues involved with script kiddies swatting IRC operators. I actually shut down the IRC networks I was helping to maintain because I was tired of having to register with the police every time I moved so I didn’t get cops sent to my doors when an automated script banned a porn bot. I’ve literally almost had the cops sent to my house before over me banning a porn bot.

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                        Out of curiosity, which cops were the ones in question?

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                          USA, Seattle area.

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                          Agreed, also, for open networks, the issue of spam and moderation. I left irc.mozilla.org and freenode mostly because of that. I’d love a post addressing those issue.

                          IRC the protocol is none of my problems. Yes, it’s arcane and some of the commands are weird, but that’s nothing that a good client couldn’t fix (and there’s a couple of good we IRC clients out there).

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                            To be honest, the IRC spambot problem killed PonyChat (an IRC network I was maintaining).

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                            How did they figure out your address?

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                              I fucked up and didn’t use WhoisGuard for one minor domain…the one my client used for reverse DNS.

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                                Any IP of a broadband (w/o VPN) can be tracked by police, nothing you can do about it.

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                              I’m still an occasional user of IRC but my biggest objection to it (and XMPP also) is the statefulness of the connections. Switch between Wi-Fi or LTE — or even just between two different networks — and the TCP session needs to be reestablished and you “disappear” from the room with no scroll back. Keeping a TCP session open is also difficult on mobile devices when in the background due to platform restrictions and often isn’t very energy-efficient to do so anyway.

                              ZNC helps this somewhat but it’s not ideal that you then need a more reliable place to run ZNC from. Matrix does not suffer from connection fragility so I tend to use that more than anything now.

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                                Attracting users to an IRC network probably is hard. I usually just /join #name_of_thing in freenode and find the thing that I want to find. Sometimes it doesn’t exist and I need to try one of the other really large networks.

                                I’m actually connected to 10-15 IRC networks but those are for specific communities that decided to host their own, so aren’t really applicable.

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                                  Slightly off tangent, but does any one still use usenet news? Are there interesting communities out there? (I am not interested in binaries, but for content such as SF or languages or SE related discussions)

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                                    Check comp.text.tex – while I haven’t been around in ages, I found it the best place to get a competent answer to LaTeX questions. German de.comp.text.tex is also still active and friendly.

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                                    Question to the OP. How fast are the specifications (that should caught up with Slacks/discord hype functionality) are being developed? Is it C++ spec speed of C spec speed.

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                                      I’d say it’s definitely closer to the C++ spec, but the comparison is unfair. You can meaningfully measure a new spec coming out in less than a decade, but it’s a somewhat meaningless comparison. IRCv3 specs aren’t consolidated specs like the C++ standard; they instead specify one particular protocol element.

                                      The IRCv3 group isn’t even universally accepted; nobody accepts everything IRCv3 puts out unconditionally. Notoriously, ircu and snircd (UnderNet’s and QuakeNet’s IRCds) still seem to be behind on mostly everything in that area. Other networks’ IRCds also have partial support with everyone implementing a different subset.

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                                        Also, server-time was intended for bouncers, and I’m not sure if there are more specs like that. I guess proper ircds could use it to implement channel history? But looks like none saw reason to.

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                                          Wow, thanks for the explanation.

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                                        I use IRC on a daily basis. I learnt most of my technical skills by asking questions on IRC, and got my exercise code reviewed by experienced programmers.

                                        Right now I mostly use IRC to keep in touch with friends on IRC, and lurk on channels which have interesting discussions going on.

                                        Some channels to checkout out are:

                                        #lisp, #clasp, #sicl (all Freenode)

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                                          I wonder why they chose IRC over some other open and federating protocol, like XMPP or Matrix.

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                                            Probably because they already had IRC servers. Darenet has been around for years.

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                                              IRC is a bit over 30 years old, relatively stable, very simple protocol with lots of support.

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                                              The IRCv3 group has been working to create specifications that bring some of the more well liked features in services such as Discord and Slack to IRC. One of their newer proposals is adding reactions to messages, such as emoji.

                                              Am I the only one who likes IRC basically how it is? If you want cute shiny glittery things your chat system, then you don’t want IRC, you want Slack or one of its many open-source alternatives like Mattermost.

                                              This is like taking a work pickup truck and adding more seats, a comfy interior, and softer suspension. We already have that kind of thing, it’s called an SUV.

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                                                History-grabbing connections would be cool.

                                                At present, I idle in a number of rooms where I don’t get notifications or logs, just so if I ask a question people don’t assume I’ve probably left five minutes later. For channels where I might answer questions, I look for the join right before the ask and double check the nick still tab-completes before answering, and I assume other people do similar. I don’t think I could ask a question while directly connected from my laptop, it moves networks too often for strangers on the internet to answer my questions.