The IRC system was a promise in the early stages of mass Internet proliferation: a fast global chat system connecting tens of thousands of users. Over 20 years later, however, Firefox maker Mozilla plans to stop operating its own IRC instances, although the protocol continues to enjoy some popularity in the open source scene.
That writes the Mozilla employee Mike Hoye in his blog. There it says with reference to the age of IRC: “Like all unauthenticated systems in the modern network it ages badly and shows no signs of improvement.” Although IRC is still widely used in Mozilla, it also causes some organizational problems.
So the network is a “constant source of abuse and harassment”, because the spread of spambots on the platform is about endemic and moderation is very difficult. Probably because of this, more and more community members have problems from university or corporate networks to access the IRC server of Mozilla, because the protocol is blocked.
Alternative is still being searched
In the coming months, Mozilla wanted to search for alternatives. What is needed is a global, text-based system for synchronous communication. Here, products should be explicitly evaluated instead of protocols. The team has probably not yet made a decision, but has already taken a closer look at a few options.
The move not only affects the Mozilla community itself, but also some other communities using Mozilla’s IRC service. The best known are probably the developers of the programming language Rust.
These are currently considering how to make the change and refer to already used alternatives such as Discord or Zulip. IRC should also be maintained as a means of communication via the freenode network.