Is IRC at the end of its life 63

Web IRC clients

I've been using IRC for years. Since the South African BBS Connectix days, on ZAnet #durban.

During boarding school I took a break from all things Internet, but by Bath University I was back... this time on Quakenet. Thanks to Quake & QWTF clans. There is a chat channel on Quakenet with a few hardcore BUNCS members from 1998 that we are still on.

Since University I've had a VPS and long enjoyed a screen & irssi session on Freenode to complement most of my working activities. I've lurked on #whatwg since its inception and I've asked countless stupid questions on a variety channels like #bash with familiar regulars like greycat & twkm.

I've also been on OFTC for years, mainly because of Debian projects like Debian Live & lately ikiwiki.

Refreshingly the W3C as a organisation use IRC to facilitate meetings. It has a rather excellent bot to help scribe and produce minutes of meetings on the Web. Really would like to see more of this.

I like to think I've introduced some folks to IRC and I was quite pleased to get 3 collegues recently on IRC. In my previous workplace we sat around the table and we were all on Gtalk, so there was no need for a company IRC channel.

So the four of us on a Freenode channel was immediately controversial. Freenode is only for "Free and Open Source Software communities" and we at the company were mainly communicating tbh about company type bullshit. So where do you go if you want an IRC channel for your company? Beats me. Update: Friends tell me their companies run an ircd at their workplace... yikes... another hurdle!

Btw Unreal ircd is 78k SLOC and the esteemed irc client irssi is 65k SLOC... quite a lot of C tbh, for an allegedly simple IRC protocol.

The barrier to entry to the world of IRC communication is outrageously high for businesses.

Setting up chanserv for the "business" channel to cater for employees with a password or rather to limit a certain IP range is non-trivial.

Next a distributed network probably requires some sort of nick registration. Took me personally ages to bother to register my nick on Freenode. Scripting a nickserv identify rule for a variety of IRC clients is another PITA.

Then there is question of users who connect from their local machines and basically drop off (leaving countless annoying quit and joined messages) when they for example change between wlan0 and eth0. Hence missing out on a potential backlog of messages. My colleagues are smart people, but I can't get all of them to use tmux/screen & irssi can I?! It's expensive for a start.

Furthermore I have the problem where the usual shell I run irssi in the UK is just too slow from Malaysia. So what now? Get a new VPS and re-configure stuff like IP masks? What a massive & expensive PITA.

So with the problems outlayed above, I think IRC is seriously in trouble. It really rang true for me as the co-working space in Malaysia, full of smart people... I'm the only person on IRC. They prefer Stackoverflow or Gtalk for discussions. Lack of Asian IRC servers is also a little worrying.

I like to think IRC could pull through well into 21st century if they solved the back channel (reconnect) problem and if IRC had a decent Web front end. Freenode's webchat seems broken half the time, for example too many connections from one IP.

During a fun IRC discourse on #suckless, cls adds:

kfx recalls the defunct project irc+, where he said it died because "nobody gives a shit".

Update: I guess there is no such thing as original thought! via tokeiihto:


If you like this, you might like the stateless Web kiosk software I develop. Webconverger typically replaces Windows on PCs and is deployed in public and business environments for ease of deployment and privacy. Once installed it auto-updates making it painless to maintain. Try it where you exclusively use the only viable open platform... the Web!