Today I got kicked off of Freenode for trying to help someone.
Every part of that sentence has backstory. It’s… complicated.
I started using freenode probably in 1998 or 1999. It was the place to go when you wanted to discuss free software. That’s 23 years ago. Freenode has become synonymous with free software support.
I expect most of you are aware that a few weeks ago someone took over the freenode network for no readily discernible reason. And things have gone downhill since then.
Meanwhile, I’ve kept trying to do my job. Part of which is supporting the Centos user community and ensuring they get the answers that they need when they need them.
Most of us moved over to Libera chat pretty quickly after the Takeover occurred. But like I said, freenode is synonymous with open software. And so the general user population, who haven’t read all of the assorted news, still go to freenode when they want answers. Aye, there’s the rub. Because when they get there, they are met with a toxic, juvenile group of people who have no interest in helping them, and are really just there to stoke their own egos.
Imagine, if you will, that you have been hanging out in the same Cafe for 20 years. You know everybody there. They’re all kind, with their own weird idiosyncrasies. But you know that it’s a comfortable, safe place.
Then, one day, the entire management has changed. There’s a few familiar faces in the customers. But for the most part they’re all new. And they’re screaming at each other. Swearing, making Nazi jokes, or just generally being vulgar.
That’s how the freenode thing has been for me. I have been on freenode almost every day for more than 20 years. Now all of a sudden the people running the show are juvenile strangers who seemed to delight in cruelty.
So, while my banishment today was not unexpected, it was a sad, pathetic end to a long era. Somehow, we have allowed this community resource to be taking over by a narcissistic millionaire who just considers it his plaything, or a way to get petty revenge. Tragic and pathetic.
Today, someone asked a question, they waited a reasonable time for an answer, and I told them maybe they should look over on Libera.chat for their answer. That was deemed worthy of booting me off of the network where I have spent thousands of hours helping hundreds of people solve their software problems. For 20 years.