1. 27

  2. 25

    This… is not a good article. The author seems to have an axe to grind and doesn’t mind engaging in (to be charitable) low-quality reasoning to get to the axe-grinding point. The argument seems to be, basically:

    1. Mozilla (disclaimer: I am a former employee of the Mozilla Corporation, have not worked there since 2015) have said they want to replace IRC with something else for their live chat/discussion/collaboration option.
    2. Since Mozilla is not willing to commit engineering resources to building and maintaining the end-all be-all slicing, dicing best Free Software IRC replacement but instead are looking to just buy something they can stand up and start using right away, they are compromising their principles.
    3. The only possible explanation for this is Mozilla are control freaks who want to shut out community feedback in their controlling quest for control.
    4. For some reason there is a tangent about HashiCorp because they… shipped something with a glibc dependency, which is an unforgivable sin, and the author feels that if HashiCorp obtains (and the author asserts this is their goal with a recent forum move) the level of controlling control-freak control over community channels that (the author asserts) Mozilla desires and is implementing, the author would not be permitted to endlessly harangue HashiCorp employees about this, or would not be permitted to do so as much as at present.

    I don’t know where to begin picking that apart since there are several leaps of not-even-wrong going on in it.

    Anyway. Like I said, I was an employee of Mozilla once upon a time. Remote on a mostly-remote team. Good communication tools are essential to the distributed nature of Mozilla-the-organization, and during my tenure there the main communication channel was, of course, IRC. I also have long been involved in open-source projects which have used IRC as a discussion and support medium. My stance on it is that IRC isn’t particularly great for this in the modern day (it’s a bit fiddly to get started with for non-technical support-seeking users; it requires a lot of babysitting by chanops if your channels are at all popular; etc.). I don’t know what the best replacement is currently. And I don’t necessarily expect Mozilla to impose a purity test on everything it uses; I expect Mozilla to focus engineering resources where they’ll do the most good, and mostly that means Firefox, not building an IRC replacement, and if that means occasionally just writing a check to someone else for some software not related to the core of developing Firefox, then I’m OK with it. I also think it’s OK if a producer of software decides to say “I have heard your feedback but do not agree, please let us move on from this”, which the author apparently does not think is OK.

    1. 2

      I’d suggest it’s a general line towards closed source chatter about open source products, where there are perfectly fine open source tools to do the same. And seeking to make your tools so easy a moron can use them is antithetical to the tools professionals use, like IRC.

      1. 3

        Don’t look now, but Mozilla has over 2,000 repositories hosted on GitHub, and GitHub a closed-source hosting product. And they’ve been there for years; all the stuff I worked on during my time at Mozilla was on GitHub, for example.

        (also, Mozilla actually uses multiple GitHub orgs for different things, so the above is not a complete list of GitHub activity for them)

        1. 2

          And this means they can’t use an unregulated and free chat platform why?

          1. 5

            It means that any sort of principle of Mozilla refusing to use non-Free platforms for non-core functionality went out the window years ago. Mozilla could build and maintain, or find and run, a Free code-hosting platform for all those repositories. They don’t. They could build and maintain a Free discussion/chat system. They’re probably not going to. Engineering resources should, as I said originally, go to Firefox, and for ancillary things they should be writing a check to somebody else.

    2. 5

      As you may know, Mozilla has stated they are planning to sunset and ultimately de-provision irc.mozilla.org. In my opinion, this is one more step down the ladder for Mozilla to fall.

      Noooooooo, those channels were super-helpful for me last time I had to figure out something in Firefox!


      What’s gonna replace them? Please, don’t tell me it’s gonna be slack or discord or hipchat. :-(

      1. 3

        Well, hipchat is gone, so that one is out :)

        1. 2

          Zulip would be kind of interesting. I’ve heard good things about that one.

          1. 4

            It’s not super performant and the interface is…interesting.

            1. 3

              I think part of why Zulip feels a bit odd is its mix of real-time and asynchronous communication. I think if it had been created in the 90s we’d see it as occupying the midpoint on a spectrum of interactivity rather than it feeling like neither fish nor fowl.

              1. 2

                That kind of reminds me of Google Wave.

                1. 1

                  Yep, I’d agree.

                  Unfortunately, we have already seen both phpBB, HN/L/R discussion, IRC, and Slack, so Zulip feels really bizarre.

                2. 1

                  This made my day. I’ve recently reviewed several options for an official party chat and Zulip earned the “experimental” UX label. :-)

            2. 4

              It might well be one of those - as the article states, the decision-makers at Mozilla care strongly about running chat platforms that have persistent identities so that they can enforce the Mozilla Community Participation Guidelines, and don’t care much about software freedom for the anciliary tools people use to develop Mozilla’s open-source proejcts. This has been very controversial in the Rust community, and there have been several articles posted about this on Lobsters before. The last I heard about it, different teams at Mozilla were looking into different options, and at least some Rust-specific teams were exploring Discord specifically, but I don’t think there’s been a stable replacement chat platform decided upon yet.

              1. 4

                Being code second is a huge reason why I no longer consider myself part of the floss community. The other being the suicide pact for open source licenses. The OSI and FSF are not the arbiters of good licenses. They are historic curiosities that have done some good, some bad, and mostly failed at their stated purposes.

                Your feelings don’t matter. Your code and license do. Until open source or whatever you want to call it understands that and makes it so we protect ourselves from unfreedom we may as well be working as unpaid interns at Google, Facebook or Amazon.

                The codes of conduct are just reminding us of that fact.

              2. 2

                I am crossing my fingers for Matrix. That is the closest to IRC i have seen of the newer alternativ.