Happy Birthday, Libera Chat!

by staff

Hello everyone, today we celebrate the anniversary of Libera.Chat going public!

Where we are coming from

Exactly one year ago Libera.Chat was unveiled as a real time communication and collaboration service for free and open-source software, peer-directed projects, openly licensed content and collaboration. Starting from scratch we managed, just within a few months, to become the largest IRC network.

Starting from scratch, we managed to gain around 50 000 users in just a month and a half, a number which has been mostly steady since. With regard to channels we had roughly 15 000 channels formed within half a month, compared to the usercount this number is still growing, but the curve flattened itself a bit. You can see detailed graphs over at https://netsplit.de/networks/statistics.php?net=Libera.Chat

We also saw many communities and projects migrating over to Libera from other places in the first few days, counting 250 in just one week and 500 after a month. Today we are hosting roughly 950 projects and communities, and that number is still growing. We are hoping to reach the 1000th registration soon!

All these communites are quite diverse. Libera.Chat services are not only used by major free/open source operating systems and well known, world wide operating institutions such as the Wikimedia Foundation; we also have local Linux User Groups, the hackspace around the corner hacking on whimsical gadgets and liberating your hardware or someones scratch-your-own-itch image viewer that call Libera.Chat their home.

In summary we had a phenomenal first year and all of this would not have been possible without many helping hands. So we want to send out a big thank you for all the volunteers, sponsors, projects and users that supported us since we started.

Where we are now

With the numbers becoming mostly stable, we focus on keeping the network running smoothly, ironing out some minor bumps and improving our tooling. Just recently we finally got infrastructure up and ready to accept monetary donations, details can be found at https://libera.chat/contributing/donate/. We are using this money to cover the operational costs of the network as well as the administrative upkeep of the legal entity. These costs were mostly covered and donated by our volunteers so far. Libera.Chat will stay a non-profit organisation, ran by unpaid volunteers on donated hardware. We will communicate our financial status and usage of donations in a transparent manner.

Transparency in general is very important to us. You can find our annual report for our first year at https://libera.chat/annual-reports/2021/, including the financial and auditor report and the reports written by our three main teams: engineering, operations and projects & community. They contain some more detail about the various areas and daily work of libera volunteers.

In the last few months, we have launched a Trust & Safety working group to hone and organise the tools and skills we have for keeping users safe and mitigating abuse on our network. The working group has already seen enthusiastic involvement across our stafferbase and the group has been the source of numerous compassionate new ideas and solutions to difficult human problems, and they look forward to continuing to do so going forward.

What the future holds

We are aware that the protocol we are using, IRC, has been around for quite a while and had various features glued on over the past decades. Therefore it is sometimes hard to compete against more modern, freshly developed solutions in terms of usability or also features. We are working hard, both on our software stack and by collaborating in working groups such as https://ircv3.net/ to offer a more pleasant user experience and IRC being easier for fresh onboarding users.

We are equally aware that some of our tooling could be more open, more usable and sometimes more useful in general. As such, we are looking to continue work on tools and make further improvements.

As usual, keep an eye on our website, our social media channels and our source code repositories for news and announcements.

We would like to conclude with another big thank you. Without our users, projects, sponsors and volunteers Libera.Chat could not exist and would not have grown as much within just one year. We hope that you are enjoying the services we provide to our communities, and you are always welcome to drop by in #libera for comments, questions or a quick chat with us.