IRCNow: IRC for Human Beings
We all love IRC. IRC is an elegant protocol because it is simple to code for and easy to understand. It supports a huge number of clients, has a large and mature ecosystem, and has over 100,000 users from all over the globe. IRC is the home of the free and open source community.
Sadly, IRC hasn't improved much since it was first invented in 1988. As of today, IRC is still incredibly hard for average people to use. It's for this reason that the IRC community has lost over 90% of its users to proprietary chat networks like Facebook, Discord, and Slack. If we don't fix its problems, IRC will soon be dead.
Unfortunately, IRCv3 does nothing to fix any of the major flaws with IRC. A lot of the problems with IRC can only be solved by having a network provider fix them rather than merely extending the protocol:
- IRCv3 does not provide an easy, uniform way to register and login to networks with different services
- IRCv3 does not protect users from spam and online stalking/harassment (without also blocking innocent users)
- IRCv3 does not provide free bouncers that can connect to unlimited networks which are online 24/7 and resistant to DDoS attacks
- IRCv3 does not provide an easy way to upload a file in-band (you can't share code snippets, photos, or videos without using an http client)
- IRCv3 does not sync messages properly on phones (messages are often lost or repeated)
- IRCv3 does not provide message received confirmations (echo-message only provides message sent confirmations)
- IRCv3 does not provide buddy lists
- IRCv3 does not provide HTTP tunneling to bypass firewalls
- IRCv3 cannot handle frequent disconnects from mobile clients
- IRCv3 cannot handle audio/video calls
IRCv3 can be even downright harmful. IRCv3 capability negotiation is not implemented correctly on a few IRC clients (including mIRC and some older Android and Mac clients). The result is silent connection errors that are difficult to troubleshoot. So, IRCv3 introduces new bugs without fixing the issues that users truly care about.
IRCNow is working to add the features users care about while still maintaining backwards compatibility with all existing IRC clients and servers. We will bypass and ignore IRCv3 altogether.
Too many IRC developers assume that IRC is for nerds only. IRCv3 developers require users read long, technical documentation just to have a simple chat. If we do not challenge IRCv3, casual users will leave IRC because they find it too confusing. If our normal friends leave IRC for proprietary networks, even nerds will eventually quit. We are at risk of losing the last truly open protocol for the free software community -- the battle for IRC is part of the battle for a free and open Internet.