One month of Libera Chat
Whew - what a month (and a couple of days). Few of us expected earlier in the year to have to create a new IRC network, from scratch, in a few days!
And yet, that’s what we did. On May 19th, Libera Chat, formed by the ex freenode staff team, opened its doors. We’re incredibly grateful for the many thousands of you who followed us. With your help, we have a thriving network of over 15 000 channels and 40 000 registered users across more than 700 projects, communities and informal spaces, and we did that in the space of a month.
Building up an IRC network to this scale in this short a time period has been a tough challenge, but also incredibly rewarding. It would not have been possible without the kind sponsorship of various organisations with an interest in the FOSS community - an acknowledgements page will be on the website shortly to list them all.
When we launched, we had a small handful of EU-based servers, mostly sponsored by the Libera volunteer staff team themselves out of their own pockets. Now, we have 20+ boxes across the world, and new regional rotations (irc.eu.libera.chat, irc.us.libera.chat and others) allowing users to connect to a server closer to them.
Web chat and Tor
At launch, we did not have web chat or Tor available, having had to focus on the buildout of the core network. Several of our projects made it clear that these were important features for them, so we cracked on, and now have webchat or a more lightweight gamja and connections via Tor available for use.
We’re incredibly humbled that over 570 projects and communities have chosen to call Libera their home; we’ve had all hands dealing with project registrations, with a huge backlog of tickets to work through. Relying solely on volunteers, we haven’t been able to handle all of them as quickly as we would like to. We really appreciate the patience we’ve been shown, and are doing our very best to fully catch up! With over 750 tickets resolved, there are still roughly 150 open ones remaining, and new ones come in daily.
This does not mean you shouldn’t register your project today. If you have a project or community you’d like to register, view our channel registration guide for information.
Culture and Organisation
But the challenge isn’t just technical. We know that what is most important about IRC is community - tech is an enabler, but ultimately it’s a bridge for people.
We wanted to get the community structure, the governance, and the people bit right too - in how we act, how we are organised, and how we plan to continue providing a relevant and positive fabric for collaboration and community!
We’ve posted and talked already about our structure - a Swedish non-profit organisation which holds the domains and assets. All important decisions must be voted on by the members of the organisation in structured meetings - steps taken to ensure that actions of one person cannot seriously harm the network. You could call it a lesson learned the hard way.
The non-profit organisation has now had its organisation number assigned by the Swedish authorities - 802535-6448. We’ve already made tweaks to our bylaws to optimise the organisation based on our early experience. We are continuing to explore how to optimise and grow, to ensure we continue to be safe, inclusive, stable, and relevant.
In closing, it’s been an amazing month, and we are all truly humbled by the support we’ve seen from the FOSS community. It was an honour for each and every one of the ex-freenode volunteers to serve the FOSS community for so many years, and we’re truly grateful that we’ve been able to continue to do so here on Libera, after the unfortunate events which made our tenure at freenode no longer viable. We thank all our projects and users for their support, patience and goodwill, and look forward to working with you all in the future.
Keep your eyes on this space, our mastodon, twitter and GitHub presences for future updates, including future plans and in-depth information on selected areas of work and subjects.
Stay healthy and keep rocking.