The original words of Phanes, tirelessly carved into a slab of "No'".

A Snowdrop in Cape Circeo

Things are calmer than ever.

I’m perhaps a bit too comfortable at the moment.

There’s nothing wrong with comfort in and of itself, but it can interfere with your ambitions, and it’s ultimately a temporary delusion that obfuscates struggle that you should be preparing for. It can become a stopping point, and if those future struggles are great enough, a poison that siphons future strength away.

Maybe it’s time to end my break from Dark Horse Linux. I don’t want to burn out on it before I get through an installer and get to a stable desktop and server release.

On other fronts, it’s come to my attention that the Libera network has assumed a hostile position towards anyone involved in that project. Perhaps the revival of the sanctions project intended to counter that, called IRCThulu, is in order.

Originally inspired by a project called Stalker, by Fedora contributor Khaytsus (Walter Francis), IRCThulu simply scales it up a notch by serializing IRC events and ingesting it into a log processing system that creates correlations between user identity fields and captures channels logs in the process for indexing in a public archive. The primary difference between IRCThulu and the original project mentioned previously is that IRCThulu is a distributed system, far larger in scope, and provides a public facility for researchers as opposed to hoarding data for personal use (in that user’s case, to act out their personal vendetta as they punish whistleblowers).

I had initially shut the project down quite a few years ago as before the transition of Freenode leadership a while back, the Libera staff were the Freenode staff with different owners, and had sent someone to me to negotiate shutting it down in exchange for a restored presence on the network and some mitigation of these stalkers’ behaviours. I relented. Quite some years later, shortly before the Freenode drama that most people would be reading this are familiar with, the agreed upon terms were revoked without cause, presumably because it would raise questions about their leadership capability if it were discussed during an ownership dispute, and this directly led to my participation in those events, with them of the initial belief and desire that I would not be playing a role in it. At the time I believed that the project was no longer required due to the changes in ownership of the Freenode network. I am beginning to wonder if that was an error on my part, and if instead I should have just changed which network IRCThulu was interested in, in lieu of backlogging the whole project. I also viewed the genesis of Libera and the relocation of the old Freenode staff to Libera to be a “fresh start” of sorts for them to adapt to their painful lessons learned, and improve their culture.

IRCThulu originally was created as a form of protest quite a few years ago against that original crew having ignored several persistent stalkers they harbor in their network that I had acquired and sought relief from them against. Instead, they opted to attempt to “punish” me into being quiet about it and largely ignored the criminal acts taking place under their watch while allowing retaliation for whisteblowing in related projects. I was defamed, harassed, stalked, and at one point members of my family were targets. The whole thing was rather unacceptable and it can’t be ignored. I am sure they have a wonderfully convenient and self-serving different version of events, but, it’s not difficult to see through with minimal inquiry when you look at how they handle questions about it in such a coordinated fashion or look around with the right search terms.

Ironically, my having left a paper trail in google results over the years as I navigated that issue led to them scurrying around to get years old posts removed from rank results while their cities fell to try to control the narrative all too late and this contributed to some of the issues they experienced as a course of much deserved justice. I regret nothing. In the absence of any form of apology and accountability, and some form of change of policy across several projects to prevent that from happening to others, I’d certainly do it again. And, I might.

All the same, I wonder, now that the dust has started to settle some more, if that network split was a nail in the coffin of IRC’s categorical relevance to the open source community. I’ve gotten much further ignoring its existence than I ever did pivoting back and forth to the circuit of psychotics that embody the IRC presence in F/OSS. 8 years ago it wouldn’t have been like that, it would have been a huge barrier for any project trying to get momentum behind it. I view IRC as a poisonous place full of lunatics.

That last point particularly makes me wonder if this is just… Circe …burning incense in Aeaea, a distraction at best, a trap at worst– and should be ignored, or if my sense of justice mandates the sanction it would provide.

They certainly have demonstrated some intent and effort to be detrimental to my goals in the belief that they have power to be, but I’m not of the belief that intent and effort is enough for a response: They would have to take actions that I find relevantly obstructive to my interests and aspirations. It is certainly an annoyance to not be able to establish a presence on IRC with communities interactively with a project I’ve worked that hard on (DHLP), but I don’t know that it is the obstruction or barrier it would have presented as all those years ago: They’ve got about a third of the users, and a third of the channels between Libera and OFTC (which took on the staffers from Freenode that left which did not end up at Libera, and there is still some crossover). Not only are they at a fraction of their former user base, but many many projects moved to other platforms to facilitate their community engagement. Factor in that these bans are trivial to circumvent and it’s not a huge issue even if it is annoying. They’ve simply become an unwilling platform for someone with a great deal of willpower if I choose to involve them at all in my endeavours.

I’ve got mixed feelings about all of this. I pretty much grew up on IRC and watched the technological landscape that is F/OSS grow up on it with me. I’ve been there since about 1996 evolving, learning, fighting, collaborating, failing, winnning, growing. I was just a kid the first time I signed on. I remember the Lilo days and had some fun interactions with him. But, the world has changed. It continues to change. As much as I want to hold onto IRC out of nostalgia, where I contributed to the socialized consciousness that spawned so much utility in the world, it may be time to let it die.

What I don’t like about the divestiture from IRC in F/OSS is that, there was no real standardized replacement. Most are web applications and commercialized platforms with dubious methods of transmitting and storing of text (privacy and control concerns) and even more dubious control over what users can do, what user data is collected to be able to access those communities, even with control over what tools they use to interact — to the point that they’ve essentially provided walled gardens to individual communities, establishing deep silos between those communities. There’s no common protocol on a server-client topology with varied, decentralized control centers. Mastadon was promising but it’s another web platform that can facilitate a level of control that administrators shouldn’t have over community participants.

That’s not a unified community with common values. That’s a divided nation ready to be conquered a piece at a time by its very powerful enemies, to trade blankets and sea shells for land with.

I’ve long observed that many large f/oss projects, now that they are being embraced by these huge megacorps, are being extended in scale and scope to such extraordinary heights with the resources that can provide, but is it support or is it a growing addiction? Desktop choices aren’t completely restricted yet to two desktop environments (GNOME or KDE), SELinux is only partially being embedded in security standards that require specific distributions at this point. There’s more, and none of it is going a direction that isn’t characterized by a restriction of choices in software to benefit those sponsors’ interests. And, if they pull out, it will extinguish the project they’re supporting because that support has created a contributor headcount dependency due to the complexity of that extension it provides. That’s not support once it reaches that point. That’s dependency.

But, to get back to my point. I’m deciding currently how relevant IRC even is to DHLP if I would like to later build a community around it. That level of relevance, once decided, will play a huge part in the direction of my favorite log collection system project and the overall disposition of my strategy once I start looking at things like that.

While I don’t like that part of me, there is a little streak of me that enjoys conflict, but, being no stranger to it, I have to consider which conflicts I will undertake — so that those I undertake can be fully committed to. I should never do anything I can’t or won’t fully commit to.

Just because it’s a trap doesn’t mean it’s not the best path.

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The Personal Blog of Chris Punches