Mozilla plans to drop IRC as a main communications platform and the server infrastructure that powers IRC.mozilla.org in the coming months.
One of the better ways to reach out to Mozilla and to talk about Mozilla products such as Firefox is IRC. Internet Relay Chat is accessible using modern browsers but also with the help of standalone IRC clients.
IRC may look ancient to the modern eye but it is a long standing communications platform with a loyal following.
Mozilla employee Mike Hoye, charged with finding a new communications product and retiring IRC, revealed on April 26, 2019 that Mozilla will drop IRC as a communications platform. Hoye acknowledges that IRC has been Mozilla’s “main synchronous communications tool since the beginning”. On the downside, Hoye argues that IRC has aged badly and that the change of things getting better is slim to non-existent.
He notes that abuse and harassment has been experienced by colleagues and that it is difficult from a technical perspective to connect to IRC.
We’ve come to the conclusion that for all IRC’s utility, it’s irresponsible of us to ask our people – employees, volunteers, partners or anyone else – to work in an environment that we can’t make sure is healthy, safe and productive.
All of that, and the fact that IRC is not accessible from “inside schools, colleges, or corporate networks” led to the decision to drop IRC as a communications platform.
Mozilla has not decided on a new platform for synchronous text communication. Hoyes reveals that there are several candidates that could replace IRC, and that candidates have to meet Mozilla’s selection requirements:
- Must be a product by another company or organization.
- Self-hosted or pay for a service.
- Needs to be accessible.
- Needs to be a product, not a protocol.
- Must be a proven, modern service.
- Must support authentication because Mozilla Community Participation Guidelines will be enforced.
Time-wise, Mozilla plans to pick a candidate in the coming months and decommission irc.mozilla.org soon thereafter. All of that is likely going to happen this year.
It appears, that the decision is not based on expenses or maintenance of the IRC infrastructure. While these could play a role as well, it is clear that the focus of Hoye’s blog post is authentication and as a byproduct the enforcement of Mozilla’s Community Participation Guidelines.
The new communications product has not been selected yet; it will be interesting to see if Mozilla will pick a proprietary product or select an open solution instead.
Now You: What is your take on Mozilla’s decision?