From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
This page houses discussion related to the hosting of Wikimedia's IRC channels. Documentation of current, past or potential hosting solutions are welcome. Essays should be avoided. Elaborating on the basic information of various proposals and contributions to each sections pros and cons are welcome.

Currently Wikimedia Foundation hosts its official channels (generally recent changes channels) on Wikimedia's IRC network and unofficial channels on freenode. Generally other Wikimedia related channels are also hosted on freenode.

Current: freenode[edit]

Since the early years of Wikipedia, the IRC channels for Wikimedia related activities have been housed on freenode.

freenode contributions to Wikimedia[edit]

  • Free hosting of all Wikimedia IRC channels
  • Technical access for cloak and channel management
  • A number of freenode volunteers and "staff" also volunteer for Wikimedia projects
  • Seat on freenode's Group Advisory Board

Wikimedia contributions to freenode[edit]

  • A number of Wikimedia developers also volunteer for freenode
  • Donation of $5,000 on 7 October 2006
  • Participation on freenode's Group Advisory Board


  • Established relationship
  • It's free
  • One less thing for operations to manage
  • Influence within existing structure
  • Easy contact with other opensource projects who have their channel there


  • No longer accepting outside wikis[1]
    Would you mind explaining what "outside wikis" are? AFAIK, the only real criterion is their opensourceness, not their outsideness. Elfix 09:12, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I've spoken with Freenode staff about this today - and have had a project recently rejected..then unrejected (now under review). Essentially they're not sure what their policy is right now and are debating it internally. It's not clear yet if activity related to open-source software development, or if the founding papers also intended for supporting open-content projects not focusing on software as well. It sounds like it will be awhile before this is fully resolved - so wikis outside WM whose applications are pending are left in limbo for now. There's also not consensus on if projects denied group membership can still receive a # level (vs. ## level) room. Hope that helps clarify what was meant by that item. --Varnent (talk) 08:05, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    You are conflating a bunch of stuff here. There is Wikimedia, there is freenode and there is the community. Wikimedia doesn't use the IRC networks itself as much as its community does. Not accepting other wikis, or projects, is really not in the purview of this discussion. It is an internal Freenode decision, there is nothing that affects us with who they accept and for what reason. This is getting conflated with words like "outside wikis" and "we". Theo10011 (talk) 00:12, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I have no idea what you expect a response to be since you didn't really contribute any substantive comments. I'm perfectly aware of the differences between freenode, the Wikimedia movement/community, and the Wikimedia Foundation. I understand that WMF has no official usage of freenode channels and that it's the community/movement (WM). Hence why all of this has been about volunteers and others involved in managing the channels doing the outreach. Can you be more specific why you think it's a bad idea for the Wikimedia community to advocate for the inclusion of open-content projects on the freenode network? Just because we don't run freenode means we're forbidden from offering input? That seems crazy to me. --Varnent (talk) 01:11, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Like O detailled in "wikimedia host"'s pro, I don't think this can be used as a con. the WMF's goal never was to host other projects things. DarkoNeko (talk) 09:47, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Hosting - maybe not - but supporting I think is within WM's scope. The manner in which MediaWiki is maintained supports that notion. As a good steward to the wiki community - I think it's in part our role to encourage our partners to help other like-minded wikis. So Freenode possibly rejecting wikis should be of interest to WM, IMHO. --Varnent (talk) 08:05, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Some outreach on this topic did indeed help. WikiQueer's application was reconsidered and has now been accepted. Thank you to folks that helped convey their feedback to freenode. I am awaiting more information on what exactly this means for wikis moving forward. --Varnent (talk) 17:11, 30 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Limited possibility to maintain channels, limited number of group contacts (people who can deal with cloak requests and other staff related issues)
    There can be a handful of group contacts, probably a dozen-ish. There are currently 4 group contacts for Wikimedia, and things have been running fine lately. Elfix 09:25, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    There can be max 4 group contacts in this moment, per freenode policy Petrb (talk) 09:35, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    [1] doesn't mention anything about a 4 people limitation. DarkoNeko (talk) 09:39, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I also had confirmation from a member of freenode staff that there was no such limit; the only limit being the common sense. Elfix 09:41, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    hmm, I'm curious. What is our "size" compared to others freenode-hosted projects, and what is their respective group size ? DarkoNeko (talk) 09:49, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Yeah, if we need more Group Contacts (which, wouldn't hurt honestly), we just need to add them. AndrewN (talk) 23:43, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    So I'm waiting for a confirmation from a freenode staffer myself that this limit doesn't exist, as we [the ops] have been under this impression since at least 2008. The Helpful One 00:00, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Freenode ircd software doesn't conform to IRC standards, freenode uses many custom "improvements" that can cause troubles if used with standards compliant clients. [2]
  • Obsolete ircd protocol
    Don't really understand this, either. Why are you suggesting Wikimedia IRC; why not Wikimedia XMPP instead? Elfix 09:41, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • How is it obsolete?
  • Complicated process of channel creation
    • How so? Nemo 12:45, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • It's quite easy to create a channel. If you don't know how to, you probably shouldn't be setting it up in the first place. AndrewN (talk) 23:43, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • Heh, complicated? seriously? You sure you know what you are talking about? Theo10011 (talk) 00:12, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proposed actions[edit]

  • Request a meeting with freenode staff and reps from WM/WMF (who?)
    Who: the Group contact
    • Educate on Wikimedia structure and wiki culture / use of wikis - answer any questions from freenode
      It came up in my conversations with freenode staff that they are not as familiar with wiki projects as might be helpful in their reviewing of outside project applications. --Varnent (talk) 08:12, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      I don't think they need it. Nemo 12:48, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      They suggested otherwise and I'd rather hear from them than speculate. --Varnent (talk) 20:11, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      Freenode staffers aren't the ones requesting this, You are. I don't see Nemo speculating. They have group contacts for this exact reason because they don't need to know our internal structures. I like that the two are very separate and independent. Theo10011 (talk) 00:17, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      Since you weren't in any of the conversations I had with freenode staffers..I'm not sure how to respond to your assumption on what they want. I take objection with your notion that this is only from me - and I also disagree with your notion that freenode wants nothing from us. That was not at all my impression from my emails and IRC conversation with them. Please focus on constructive comments and not speculation. --Varnent (talk) 01:15, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • Offer input on policy regarding if software is a criteria for project participation (given that a vast majority of WM projects do not meet that qualification if taken as an individual application - advocating for broader acceptance seems to be in our best long-term interests)
    • Clarify any confusion on policies related to bots (some have reported bots being kicked off repeatedly?) and max number of group contacts/managers/cloak czars
      • Ask the GC
    • Find out what resources freenode is in need of that WM may be able to help with
      • This could be monetary donations and/or servers, I've asked about this, will update when I get an answer. The Helpful One 00:02, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Establish or method of ongoing contact - perhaps offer to help freenode with apps from wiki projects they'd like some context to, etc.
    • The method is the group Contact, very easy.
  • Follow-up on freenode resource needs
    Sounds like use of a server or help from skilled volunteers may be of interest to freenode staff. --Varnent (talk) 08:12, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    This is entirely unrelevant to the point. Nemo 12:48, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    How so? What support the freenode staff have an interest in receiving from WM seems very relevant... --Varnent (talk) 19:47, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I don't know how you can take such liberties and speaking on behalf of freenode staff and what they need. No one asked for anything, this entire section is irrelevant. Theo10011 (talk) 00:16, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    I'm not clear on how you think I'm taking such liberties. I talked with them - asked if they'd like resources from WMF - they said they'd like to have that conversation. That is all I've relayed there. There has been discussion about this on the listserv (started by others), conversations in IRC (again, started by others), and a request for a chat about this at Wikimania (again - initiated by someone else). I'm at a loss for why you're resistent to this discussion even occurring. If you don't want to engage in it - don't click the edit button..that simple.. Say you don't like it - fine - but saying we shouldn't even be discussing it? I wasn't aware we had conversation czars. :/ --Varnent (talk) 01:18, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proposed: Open-content based IRC network[edit]

Investigate alternative IRC networks based on open-content projects rather than open-source software projects.



  • Not freenode (see freenode's pros)
  • Not internal (see wikimedia hosted pros)

Proposed: Wikimedia housed wiki IRC network[edit]

IRC network operated by Wikimedia volunteers and Wikimedia Foundation to host IRC channels for Wikimedia and outside wikis. This would be an expansion of already existing IRC network for recent changes channels.


  • Inclusive of open-content projects
    • the WMF's goal doesn't include hosting outside projects, be it their wiki, mailing list, IRC channel, etc. This is different than "having our own IRCD" and shouldn't be used as a "pro". DarkoNeko (talk) 09:17, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • IRC network already in place and used for recent changes channels
    • Are you serious? Nemo 12:42, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      • As was mentioned on mailing list somewhere, the IRC network in place already is very nice and simple, it's read only for everyone and everyone's IP is anonymised, the existing network would not be able to support users without some significant tweaks and developmental work as far as I am aware. The Helpful One 00:08, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Users could authenticate using their SUL account
    • Looks like a fairy tale
    • Would mean re-creating every protections that are currently used to protect accounts into the IRCD software.
    It doesn't matter what it involves as long as there are devs willing to implement it. Petrb (talk) 09:26, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    It does matter ; all the time spent coding (and testing, maintaining) this won't be used in other projects of the WMF. DarkoNeko (talk) 09:37, 21 June 2012(UTC)
    • Not just no, but hell no. IRC sends passwords in PLAIN TEXT, unless you configure your client to use SSL (which most people don't). Auth against SUL runs the risk of exposing users passwords. AndrewN (talk) 23:41, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Could be integrated with interface of wikis
    • Not before someone develops the software
  • Simple cloak system (could be simply SUL.project)
    Simpler - users wouldn't need to request cloak, but would get it automatically based on their SUL details. That's not a matter of personal taste, it's clearly more simple Petrb (talk) 09:27, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Err, you seem to be forgetting that there's more than a single Wikimedia project (Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikisource...). How will one show their participation to a particular project? Elfix 09:25, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    They could simply pick it in preferences Petrb (talk) 09:28, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    That mean developers would have to code an IRCD to mediawiki interface too, then. DarkoNeko (talk) 09:34, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    They should rather get the many bugs fixed which would make our on-wiki work easier... instead of writing code for this. -Barras talk 09:36, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    That is also irrelevant, "there is a problem with 1 thing" is not excuse to not improve some other thing. There are bugs and there will be bugs. That's no way a reason to stop developing a new stuff. Petrb (talk) 09:39, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    We wouldn't need to implement IRCD, but only few more options, which is a matter of 20 minutes Petrb (talk) 09:40, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • Seems like too much extra work to set up... Not going to lie though, would be nice to be able to change your mask and not have to bug one of 4 contacts. AndrewN (talk) 23:41, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      • How often are you going to need to change your cloak? Really we shouldn't be encouraging users to be changing their cloaks so frequently, when people get access to restricted channels we set an "invex" on their cloak /mode +I *!*@project/username in freenode which means they can join the channel if they are identified without having to use /msg chanserv invite #channel. Every time someone changes their cloak in these channels invexes need to be removed and updated, access lists on-wiki need to be changed too. Also, when a nick is dropped or IRC cloak is changed, the old IRC cloak still remains on the +I list of a channel (well at least in freenode) and has to be removed. Why would you want to change your cloak so frequently? Also, it would be better to fill out the form instead of poking individual contacts, they will just send you to the form! :-) The Helpful One 00:08, 23 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  • One more thing for Wikimedia Operations to oversee and manage (in case it was strictly WMF staff operated)
    • This is a good point, but considering that even operations is open (to a degree) to volunteer contributors nowadays, I think this won't be much of an additional burden to ops. After all, volunteers can operate it as much as possible, and hopefully all ops needs to do is to deploy the occasional configuration change or software update. It's probably worth of noting that Wikimedia already hosts an IRC network, though it's intentionally locked down and (somewhat unintentionally) using a badly documented IRCD.
      While freenode has been stable and generally an OK host to WMF and non-WMF projects alike in the past, it seems that their stance on wiki projects has taken a turn for worse. And while this may not apply to WMF projects and/or people alike, I've always felt that freenode's been a bit too bureaucratic.
      Wikimedia has been a trendsetter in the past — and I don't just mean the word wiki nor the overall popularity of wiki sites — which makes me feel that it'd be good for everyone if Wikimedia would lead the way here.
      In light of the above wall of text, I wholeheartedly support setting up a Wikimedia housed wiki IRC network. --Jack Phoenix (Contact) 21:04, 16 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      "Volunteers" isn't a magical, unlimited resource with infinite knownledge. DarkoNeko (talk) 09:21, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      There is no such, is that comment relevant to anything? Petrb (talk) 09:23, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      It's revelant to the answer to the first con, which imply the new IRCD to be mostly managed by volunteers. DarkoNeko (talk) 09:27, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      I don't understand it, volunteers aren't resource of infinite knowledge just as nothing else is. But how is that related to this proposal? Petrb (talk) 09:29, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • If the Wikimedia cluster goes down, so does our main way of instant communication. So basically, utter chaos.
    Which cluster? All clusters including all servers? That would probably cause chaos anyway. It's more possible whole freenode go down (about 20 servers) than wikimedia clusters (~900 servers) Petrb (talk) 09:21, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    From personal experience since 2004, the WMF servers have had a lot more problems and have caused more unavailability than Freenode's. DarkoNeko (talk) 09:30, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Some servers in 2004, now we are talking about network that could consist of more servers than freenode has, which could be spread across many clusters, thus it would be far more stable than freenode Petrb (talk) 09:34, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Some servers SINCE 2004. What are these "many clusters" you speak of ? DarkoNeko (talk) 12:10, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Means moving thousands of people from a server they're used to and have been on for several years, just to have a funky hostname and "host outside projets". I think changing group habits is hard, painful and shouldn't be done lightly. DarkoNeko (talk) 09:26, 21 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    Saying "just to have a funky hostname and "host outside projets"" comes off as condescending and makes it harder to take you seriously. Can you make your point without putting down other people's contributions? --Varnent (talk) 20:08, 22 June 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  1. Recent rejection email sent to a wiki project: "Whilst I'm sure that your project has many admirable goals, it does not appear to be centric to the concepts of free software, and so is not topical for our network. We are imposing stricter criteria on new project registrations lately due to some other registered groups having to be recinded. With this in mind, I'm afraid we will need to reject this grf, and if you wish to use freenode for your IRC channel, suggest that you take the "##" channel instead."
  2. For example freenode cloaks contain invalid characters, some commands can trigger IRC protocol events which should technically never happen

See also[edit]