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Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010, 12:04 am
Freenode sucks

I logged into freenode, which I haven't logged into in a while, to help stop some trolling on #bittorrent. I couldn't identify as my nick any more, so I went to ask for help...

<mquin> when did you register it?
 <bramm> uh, circa 2000
 <mquin> the current registration is a little over 6 months old - if you did register it in 2000 it must have expired since
 <bramm> so someone just stole my nick?
 <bramm> since when does this thing expire registrations?
 <bramm> I'm pretty sure I've logged in within the last year
 <bramm> given that I've always had this nick, and that there are only two people named Bram which are recognizable names in open source, and that my name is one of the most well known in open source, I'd like my nick back :-P
 <mquin> nicks are considered expired after 60 days of inactivity, after which they can be dropped either on request or when we ocassionally clean up the services database
 <bramm> also, there's a problem that I'm an op on a channel, and need to give access in it to other people
 <bramm> that policy is completely retarded
 <bramm> the #bittorrent channel is having a problem with trolls, and we need to get rid of them, and thanks to that lamebrained policy there's currently noone with sufficient ops privileges in the channel to do anything about it
 <mquin> I'm sorry you feel that way, it's not really reasonable for us to keep nickname registrations perpetually when they are not being used
 <bramm> get real. I've logged in within the last year, getting rid of them after six months is nuts
 <bramm> if nobody does anything about this I'm going to go public about it, freenode does NOT want the publicity of me being pissed off
 <bramm> er, after 60 days I meant, I've never heard of nick expiration on such a short time scale, from any site
 <bramm> I can easily prove who I am. I'm the well-known author of an important project and need my nick back to stop trolling in the project channel, is there anything which can be done about this or do I have to make a stink?
 <mquin> handing the nick back to you, even if I were able to do that, would not restore any channel access you had when you held the registration
 <mquin> channel access flags are dropped along with the account
 <bramm> well how can we get someone to have ops on the channel?
 <mquin> if you are an offical representative of the bittorrent project you can assert that by filing a group registration, which would allow you to reclaim #bittorrent
 <bramm> and how can I do that?
 <mquin> http://freenode.net/group_registration.shtml
 <mquin> you may also wish to talk to the current channel registrant - he can add additional users to the access list at this point
 <mquin> oh, my mistake, it's been held
 <bramm> what do you mean held?
 <bramm> maybe you missed that part about me being the channel registrant
 <bramm> and my nick being stolen
 <mquin> yes, I misread something I was looking at - my mistake
 <mquin> to avoid primary namespace (single-#) channels being lost in sitations such as this we transfer them to staff control in the event of the founder's nick being dropped
 <mquin> it makes it fairly straightforward to reassign them when there is a group registration rather than having them appear to be available for re-registration by anyone
 <bramm> I have never, in my entire life, heard of a registration expiration process which was this aggresive, or this cavalier about damaging existing relationships
 <mquin> the 60 days figure is just a minimum - we normally allow more grace (typically 1 week per year) for long standing registraions when processing drops by hand
 <bramm> you say that as if adding a few weeks to the end would make the time frame reasonable
 <mquin> we don't feel it is reasonable to hold nickname registrations perpetually if they are not being used
 <bramm> I'm not asking for perpetually
 <bramm> just something vaguely reasonable
 <bramm> and I hope you realize that you just completely pissed off one of the most well known and respected people in the whole open source community
 <mquin> I'm sorry you are upset
 <bramm> I'm just going to pretend you're a robot and not blow my stack at you
 <bramm> but it's requiring effort
 <mquin> What do you expect me to do? I can't very well return a nick to you that has been in use by someone else for well over 6 months.
 <bramm> well maybe the policies could have kept that person from taking over the nick, seeing as how I was using it for NINE YEARS prior to that
 <mquin> Had we known at the time that you were planning to be away from the network for an extended period of time we could have arranged for it to be held for you
 <mquin> I know it's unfortunate to lose a long-standing registration, but we do have to have some limit on what we consider a reasonable activity level
 <bramm> I was never informed of there being any such policy. I was never informed via email than my nick was about to expire. Any minimal checking of expirations being done by hand, which you say it is, would have indicated that my nick should absolutely not have been expired
 <mquin> unfortuantely it's difficult to verify which steps were or were not taken this long after the event

[Update] Well now that I've managed to get called an asshole (hi, HackerNews commenters who registered five minutes ago!) Here are my calmer thoughts

The reason I posted the log verbatim, me being pissed off and all, is that I wanted to make very clear that I was accurately representing official freenode policy, and that requesting help through support leads nowhere. My gripe is with freenode policy, which is asinine, not with the particular person I spoke to, who was merely being useless and patronizing.

The reason I got pissed wasn't because of the nick loss, which I find mildly annoying, but because channel ops got blown away, causing me to have to deal with this bullshit instead of just giving ops to someone else.

Yes I can be blunt. If you value the superficial affectation of politeness over the essential point of what someone is saying, you can shove it. I don't appreciate people saying that I'm this way because of asperger's, it just causes other people to whine that they're being oppressed because they can't criticize me. The whole line of argument is stupid. People are free to criticize me for not being polite, and I'm free to respond that they're being petty and superficial.

The whole 'it's free so you can't complain' argument is bullshit. There are plenty of free things which are of negative value to society because they suck up or distract resources which could be working on a much better alternative. I've provided lots of support for free stuff myself, both via employees and directly, and never have I claimed that a problem won't be fixed because the person airing a legitimate gripe hasn't gone through arbitrary bureaucratic processes, or that the person complaining should implement it themselves because they're a programmer, or refused to acknowledge that some pain a user experienced through no fault of their own really was unfortunate. And I always prioritize up users who matter and problems which need immediate fixing. That's the way you run things if you actually care about providing a valuable service.

As far as whether my ops problem might get resolved, whether I'd utterly cursed out the guy from support or had the humility of a saint, it probably wouldn't get handled regardless.

[Update 2] Some commenters don't seem to understand that Freenode policy, in fact Freenode's whole foundation for legitimacy, is that project leaders are entitled to control their channels. I am in fact a project leader with a long established channel, and in the time that site op spent pedantically repeating rules and procedures he could have verified who I was and fixed the situation, which, say what you will about lilo, is something he actually would do. I was not making any claim to importance which I don't unambiguously have, and my message to other programmers considering using public servers is that OFTC is down the hall and to the left.

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 08:10 am (UTC)
3ricj: dude.

While I agree that it's a braindead policy, tossing out the "i'm important and special" as an argument to policy is really rather pointless. It's an irc nick. Give me a break, there are larger problems in the world.

(who's legal name isn't support on freenode at all, because it starts with a number )

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 08:36 am (UTC)
ciphergoth: Re: dude.

Maybe so, but obviously there's a bigger problem for known names - people are more likely to want to steal them.

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 11:20 am (UTC)

Does storing a username, a password and some privelege flags consume so much memory they need to purge their database every 6 months?

WTF is wrong with people.

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 11:36 am (UTC)

People also bitch just this enthusiastically when there's a nick they want because it's 'their' nick, but it's already registered and hasn't been used for several months/years. We try to strike a balance.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 12:59 pm (UTC)

We didn't bother patching because we were switching ircds in the same week as the exploit started to be used aggressively. Which we have now done.

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC)
fragglet: No surprise there, then

This shouldn't be surprising to anyone with any experience of Freenode. Freenode is a perfect example of how open source projects tend to acquire the personality of their founder. In the case of Freenode, that founder was Rob Levin, famous for his online begging over wallops and for being completely incompetent in general. Levin's incompetence, begging and dictatorial style where he branded everyone who disagreed with him a "troll" gradually alienated all the sensible and technically skilled people from the network staff until the only people left were his equally incompetent sycophantic underlings.

When Levin died several years ago as a result of his own stupidity (riding a bike without a helmet), they took over. I haven't heard of mquin before but it looks like the cycle continues.

Your best option is to close the Freenode channel and move to OFTC, the staff of which consist mostly of the sensible and technically skilled people who left Freenode.

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)

Blaming a hit and run on the victim is a bit cold, don't you think?

You might want to look up the research on the effectiveness of crash helmets for cyclists and motorcyclists too.

OFTC is run by some great people, but it does suffer from attracting all the 'protest vote' traffic from freenode - many of whom are problem users no matter where they go. Promote OFTC because it's a cool place run by a good team, not because it's 'not freenode'.
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Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)

freenode didn't exist in 2000 (the network that became freenode did, but it was called the Open Projects Network then, so 'freenode' was unlikely to be part of a conversation).

Edited at 2010-01-30 04:07 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC)
tsar_jones: about renewing your nick...

Bram, do you think that you would be capable of writing a computer program that would log into freenode for you? If you can do that part, then I have a suggestion: why not run it as a cron job, say, every 30 days or so?

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC)
bramcohen: Re: about renewing your nick...

Had I had even the vaguest notion that such a policy might be in effect I'd have done that.

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
ext_72559: don't you know who I am?

The policy sucks, sure, but you have to give that volunteer support person some credit for being so nice even when faced with Mr. Cohen's childish Internet tantrum.

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
bramcohen: Re: don't you know who I am?

Saying 'I'm sorry you're upset' is 'nice'? That's patronizing and unsympathetic, a thinly veiled 'I wish you weren't so pissed off', which is especially galling when any normal person would be completely pissed off in my situation as well.

Sat, Jan. 30th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)

<bramm> er, after 60 days I meant, I've never heard of nick expiration on such a short time scale, from any site

fwiw, a lot of private bittorrent trackers have account expiry times ranging from 2 to 6 weeks. 60 days is not all that unusual :)
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Sun, Jan. 31st, 2010 04:58 am (UTC)

Pure momentum. Nobody complained to me with a problem until a few days ago, and I didn't have a serious reason to consider switching networks until yesterday.

Sun, Jan. 31st, 2010 10:08 am (UTC)
cdxx420: Meh... FreeNode sucks.

I had an issue with a project I used to maintain, they actually stole our channel and gave us ##freebasic. The irony is that we run a project that some might consider is in competition with a Microsoft programming language (though we have a long way to go, admittedly), and they told us that they took it because they aren't sure if it belongs to Microsoft(!)

I went through the hoopla an they never responded. They wate hours of my time and never gave me so much as an e-mail or a call.

Why does FreeNode suck so much ass??

Mon, Feb. 1st, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)

I am outraged, OUTRAGED, by the cavalier and wanton disregard freenode have for such important and serious matters regarding someone who isn't being a total douche about something unbelievably trivial?

When are they going to be killing their next kitten, I ask myself? Such heartless and evil behaviour must surely lead to them being stricken from the internet like the godless chicken-molesting whores they must clearly be, treating someone so beloved as badly and cruelly as this.

I vote we summarily execute them before the entire internet rises up against their hatefulness.

Tue, Feb. 2nd, 2010 07:39 am (UTC)

Freenode does suck.

Tue, Feb. 9th, 2010 01:45 am (UTC)

You could always try private messaging tomaw... he helped me out:

[1:58pm]tomaw: hi. it's curious as richardus added your nick to his account recently
[2:03pm] tomaw: I'm fine with removing the nick from his account as he's either holding it for you or impersonating you
[2:03pm] tomaw: but before I remove it from his account I'd prefer to be 100% certain you're the real leah
[2:04pm] leahculver: sure
[2:04pm] leahculver: you can also send me email here http://blog.leahculver.com/about.html
[2:04pm] leahculver: since I'd have to be the real leahculver to use that email address
[2:04pm] leahculver: that might be better than github
[2:05pm] tomaw: okay, you have mail
[2:06pm] leahculver: hang on, I'll fetch it
[2:06pm] leahculver: oookay
[2:06pm] leahculver: drikebAsSheebes
[2:07pm] leahculver: wtf does that mean anyways?
[2:07pm] tomaw: okay, you can register it now
[2:07pm] leahculver: nice
[2:07pm] tomaw: it's a random password generated by a password generator
[2:07pm] tomaw: if you register it now (/msg NickServ help register) then I can re-add your donor cloak
[2:08pm] leahculver: perfect! thanks
[2:08pm] tomaw: looks good
[2:09pm] tomaw: thanks for the donation too

However, I do agree that the 60 day policy is bullshit. Actually, I think most IRC policies are ridiculously outdated and it's not just a Freenode thing.

Fri, Mar. 12th, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC)

You aren't the first person to notice that they'll actually fix problems if you bribe them.