The Freenode split: I side with Libera

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The last week has been rough. I've been on Freenode since 2001, 20 years, and I've had a registered nick since 2004. I consider it my home. Perhaps even more than I consider my current appartment my home. The people, the culture, the *help*, and the community were amazing. It was a refuge from the constant turmoil of life elsewhere in physicality and, eventually, over the rest of the internet. So it was really upsetting when I first heard that Freenode was splitting on the 16th. I spent almost *all* of my free time from then to now talking to Andrew Lee and various staff 1-to-1 getting their sides, reading the press releases each put out, and watching what happened on Freenode and Libera. It was, and is, painful. I kept hoping for reconsilliation but at this point I don't think it's possible anymore.

As far as I can tell it started when the holding company Freenode LLC was set up. IRC nerds aren't the best at legal bullshit so help from rasengan was brought in and he ended up on the board. Later christel wanted out for undetermined reasons and sold the freenode llc holding company to rasengan. At that time there was a lot of anxiety on freenode (I was there) over the new corporate ownership; rasengan/Andrew Lee has a lot of other for-profit businesses. But we, and staff, were assured that he was just doing this because he loved IRC (which I still believe) and that he'd stay out of server operations.

At this point rasengan owned the holding company that owned the domain name. Everything else, the servers, the DNS control accounts, etc were owned and operated by staff. That includes setting up the relationships for third parties to donate servers to freenode. With christel's departure the staff got together and decided to vote tomaw as the new freenode leader to handle server operations. Things were okay for a while.

Then there was a hiccup with rasengan putting a little ad/link for one of his for-profit companies on the freenode website. That acted as the catalyst for tension and tomaw asked for full control of the domain name. Things became more tense when, after some time of freenode staff contributing to the dev of an updated IRCd they made a post about it on the blog about switching to it. This was a problem for rasengan since his overarching goal with and ownership of IRC networks (like snoonet running on resources) is to set up a truly distributed IRC where any server can peer to any other and easily switch networks. He'd put in a significant amount of money into developing this IRCd, I've heard. And this provided his motivation to opposing the staff's switch to their modified IRCd for future operations.

This was now rasengan interering directly in the operations of the freenode network. And the heated debates this caused eventually lead to litigation by rasengan against tomaw. At this point it was obvious that christel/rasengan's statements about the sale were just words and that now legal means were going to be used to take control of the operation of the servers.

They drafted their various resignation letters, some got leaked early on the 16th. At this point I got involved as a regular user on #freenode and talked to rasengan there and on Hackernews forums. I also talked to the staff. Even then I personally hoped for reconciliation. But apparently it wasn't possible. Legally, Freenode LLC (if not actual freenode, the people and servers) was owned by rasengan. So the staff decided to resign in mass.

Based on rasengan's behavior, and the type of new staff he appointed, I think that libera represents the ideals and people that make up Freenode far more than Freenode itself does anymore. I'm trying to move but it's going to take a long time to let everyone know what's going on. Most, reasonably, don't care about network drama.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing you all on going forwards.

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