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GNU and FSF move official IRC channels to Libera.Chat network

From: Amin Bandali
Subject: GNU and FSF move official IRC channels to Libera.Chat network
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2021 17:01:51 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/28.0.50 (gnu/linux)

This announcement also on the Free Software Foundation's website:

                                 * * *

On May 27th, we held a [community meeting][1] to discuss the future of
the GNU Project and FSF's official presence on Internet Relay Chat
(IRC).  Although this meeting was called as a response to recent
changes in the Freenode IRC network's governance structure, it also
gave us the opportunity to assess the viability of chat protocols that
had not been developed at the time of GNU and the FSF's [2002
announcement][2] to choose Freenode as our official IRC network.


**As a result of this meeting and our review, GNU and the FSF have
decided to relocate our IRC channels to [Libera.Chat][3].  Effective
immediately, Libera is the official home of our channels, which
include but are not limited to all those in the #gnu, #fsf, and
#libreplanet namespaces.**


**On June 25th, at 10:00 AM EDT (UTC 14:00), we plan to forward any
channels remaining in the #gnu, #fsf, and #libreplanet namespaces
on the Freenode network to their corresponding ##gnu, ##fsf, and
##libreplanet counterparts.  As per Freenode policy, channels with the
`##` prefix are unofficial "topical" channels, and accordingly, they
will not be moderated by GNU or FSF staff.**

Please note that the address, which has historically
pointed to the Freenode network, will be disabled on June 25th, to
give any users still connecting with this address sufficient notice.

It is important to emphasize that this decision is **not** binding on
GNU package maintainers.  However, we invite GNU maintainers to join
us and many other free software projects by migrating to the Libera
network.  Maintainers are encouraged to email <>
with their questions or concerns.

* Rationale

Our decision-making process was twofold, and involved weighing the
community feedback we received against a set of criteria our working
group developed to gauge a chat network's acceptability to software
freedom activists.  This working group was drawn from both GNU and
FSF, with Greg Farough of the FSF staff joining Amin Bandali and Jason
Self, two long-time GNU webmasters and volunteers appointed by Chief
GNUisance Richard Stallman, to investigate the issue.

We made our decision based on the following criteria:

. Is it possible to connect to the network using exclusively free
  software?  Is it easy to do so?
. How does the network staff approach their duties?  Do they apply
  their policies consistently and reliably?
. Is the wider community able to provide meaningful input on the
  network's governance and decision-making?
. Are a large number of free software projects and communities on the
. What steps does the network take to preserve user anonymity?

Being software freedom activists, the first of these points was by far
the most crucial, and had the most involvement in our selecting IRC
over an alternate protocol.  Having made this decision, and once we
had weighed the community feedback we received along our criteria and
personal experiences as Freenode channel operators, our choice of
Libera.Chat became clear.

Despite its age, IRC remains a strong favorite of the free software
community.  Although we are optimistic about the Matrix protocol and
remain committed to following its development closely, we were not
able to justify a full relocation of GNU and the FSF's official
channels to a Matrix server.  Doing so would create the unacceptable
situation of encouraging a large number of users to run nonfree
software in the form of nonfree JavaScript, which is used by the
flagship server to authenticate users.

At the same time, we could not commit to moving fully over to XMPP,
which would impose certain technical limitations on both users and FSF
staff, and which does not offer many compelling advantages over IRC.
We've also definitely heard from many of FSF members showing renewed
interest in the XMPP server the FSF provides as an [associate membership
benefit][4], and we are looking at the possibility of devoting more
resources to it.  To reiterate, though IRC remains a key venue for
communication in and around GNU and FSF, we are keeping an open mind
and eye towards other existing or new communication protocols and
software, including Matrix and XMPP, that enable users to communicate
in freedom.


As we have had nearly twenty years of positive experiences with the
Freenode staff, most of whom now comprise the staff of the Libera
network, we are confident in their technical and interpersonal
expertise, as well as their ability to make the network as
long-lasting and integral to the free software community as they made
Freenode.  We look forward to joining the large number of free
software and free culture projects who have already made Libera.Chat
their home, and hope to stay there for many years to come.

The FSF and GNU deeply appreciate Freenode's current operators for
their participation in the community meeting, and their patience while
we make our transition.  We wish them the best of luck in their
endeavors to support free software.

Whether or not you're already an active user of IRC, we hope that
you'll take the time to join us in the #gnu and #fsf channels on
Libera.Chat, including for the weekly [Free Software Directory][5]
meetings.  We're looking forward to seeing both our channel regulars
and fresh faces alike at our new home.


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