Happy holidays!

It’s been just over a year since freenode saw it’s biggest shake-up yet, the passing of founder Rob ‘lilo’ Levin. It has been a challenging and interesting year both for freenode and Peer-Directed Projects Center, the not-for-profit organisation which owns and operates the network. There have been changes within the staff, there have been technical changes and soon we will see the change-over of both our Services package and our IRC daemon.

freenode is doing well — we’ve more sponsors than ever, and we’ve gained around 18,000 users. We’ve had interesting projects choose to use our services and we’ve had a lot of input from users on what changes they would like to see. This past year has truly shown freenode for what it is — a service provided by the community for the community. We’ve been joined by new staff, all of whom we’re pleased to have onboard. We’re making progress on the development side, both internally and externally.

PDPC has been more of a challenge. The NFP was fairly inactive previously and the change to having a active board who share a passion for the community we serve has been great, but it has also meant that we’ve had a lot to tidy up. While we are finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel, we haven’t quite gotten to where we want to be yet. However, I am confident that all the hard work put in by the board members, project specific volunteers and of course, our lawyers, CPA and accountant (without whom we’d be hairless by now), we will be able to do some truly spectacular things for the community in the coming years.

It has been a interesting and exciting year — I am proud and happy to have had the chance to work with such an amazing group of people: freenode staff, the PDPC board, past and present code contributors, projects using our services and of course the diverse and incredible user group freenode has.

I’d like to thank the PDPC board for sticking in there and for having the energy and drive to push on with what at times looked bleak and depressing, each and every one of the freenode staff members for the time and effort they have put in to keep the network running, our developers and code contributors for new services and IRCd (and of course, to the original Atheme and Charybdis developers for allowing us to continue work on already amazing services in order to make it fit our needs!), every project which uses our facilities, every single PDPC donor for helping us help the community, and of course our sponsors, without whom none of this would be possible.

I’d also like to thank the OFTC staffers for this year’s collaboration. It has been an interesting journey and one which I hope we will continue together.

And finally, I’d like to wish everyone happy holidays and a great new year!

More blogging about logging…

I promised you all that I would write an update when we’d had a chance to review things and speak with the IRseeK people. After a bit of discussion, both amongst freenode staff and with the management of the company which provides the IRseeK service, we are happy to announce that there will be a few changes.

  1. The IRseeK service will be on a opt-in basis only.
  2. The IRseeK bots will (on freenode) be cloaked and easy to identify.
  3. Logs obtained prior to the service becoming opt-in will not be published on the IRseeK website without the explicit permission of the channel owners.

It is our belief that IRseeK and similar services can provide a useful service not only to the IRC community but to other interested users as well, and we (freenode staff) are very happy to see that IRseeK are happy to change their approach to one which is clear and concise rather than covert. I hope that the service can be of benefit to the projects which use freenode, and should you have any queries — or if you’d like to get in touch with the IRseeK people — don’t hesitate to talk to us and we’ll do our best to put channel owners in touch with the IRseeK project.

Again, we encourage projects which do publicly log their channels to make this clear to all users of the channel, by placing a note in the topic or with an on-join message.

I hope this solution is one which our users find satisfactory.

CIA Bots – ‘The Instant Version Control Informants’ — an annoyance?

While most FOSS contributors will be familiar with CIA and likely to utilize it for tracking commits for their project(s) and contributors, we occasionally have concerns raised from projects who find that CIA-* joined their channel unexpectedly and not on their request, this may be because someone typoed a channel name when setting things up over at the CIA page, or because someone decided to be helpful and share the joys of CIA with a new project/channel but forgot to ask the project admins/channel owners whether this would be a-ok.. and occasionally we find ourselves getting a bunch of notices alerting us to a CIA-* bot as a potential spambot as it tries rejoin a channel from which it has been banned, or when its been misconfigured and cycle a channel which has a forward set (this tends to confuse most bots!).

 While freenode encourage and welcome the use of CIA-* bots on our servers, finding it to be a great tool for the wider FOSS communities, tracking thousands of concurrent projects and contributors at any given time we also acknowledge that it may be annoying to have a uninvited CIA-* bot join your channel.

 We would like to ask that those of you who find yourself having a surprise CIA-* bot visiting your channel alert a staffer to the annoyance rather than ban it from your channel as this causes the bot to repeatedly attempt to rejoin, not only causing spambot alerts for staff but also lag to the bot which again affects other projects who rely on that particular bot for alerts. If the CIA-* bot is being too loud for your liking, consider muting it (/mode #yourchan +q nick) and alerting a staffer who will ensure that the bot is parted from the channel without anymore disruption to either side.  

Thank you for your co-operation on this matter and thank you for using freenode!

Group registration with freenode

Hi all. I’d like to talk about a unique feature that freenode has that many are not aware of for my first post to this blog. Sitting quietly in a small corner of our website, the concept of group registration is one of the things that makes freenode unique amongst IRC networks and it is something that I think highlights our commitment to open projects. The process is simple: after submitting a group contact form, a representative of freenode will contact you, usually by telephone, to verify your identity and to help get things set up.

The concept of registering your project and the availability of this service has been around for some time. Rob Levin, the late founder of PDPC and freenode, placed particularly emphasis on the importance of real world-backed relationships between projects and the network, and there are many benefits to the projects for going through the process: they have rights over the channels they register, and to this end can request transfer of ownership of any channels that they lay claim to as part of their group – assuming, of course, they are able to prove that they are involved in the group to a sufficient level of authority to authorise this. Additionally, project cloaks can be requested. These replace the default unaffiliated cloaks given out; for example, I wear a Wikimedia cloak to show my involvement. Group registration is also possible for about, reference or topical groups, such as those found at ##cooking, ##philosophy and ##security on freenode, to name but a few. They too can request cloaks and gain an official relationship with the network and its staff.

Now, for a bit of honesty: we’re rather backlogged in processing requests for group registration. This is no secret; those of you who have already submitted forms will have probably noticed that you have not been contacted. Recently however, several staff have got involved in the verification process and we are starting to process forms more quickly. We operate on a squeaky wheel system: poke a staff member listed on /stats p to process your form if you have not heard back from us after a week or so, and they will try and find someone. We’re also making improvements to the systems and infrastructure we’re using to record the forms and verifications to make things smoother for everyone.

So, if you like freenode and are using it for your open project, why not register your group today?