Bridging IRC and Matrix - do we really need it?

Hi, everyone.

I have both IRC and Matrix accounts and some experience in using both. And this morning i tried to join Fedora channel at Matrix.org. Which got me into a bit of a trouble, so that I had to spend half an hour to figure how do I actually join it.

The issue is with the IRC-to-Matrix bridge, which in my opinion, makes Matrix experience unfriendly.

First of all, it kicks you out of the room. Second - it asks you for your IRC password. And I am definitely not comfortable with sending my IRC password and storing it at some third-party server. Third - it forces Matrix users to learn about IRC. While I think one of the reasons, why we need Matrix, is to simplify the learning curve and reduce the number of things they need to know to join the community.

Now, when I have finally logged in into the room, I realized that most of the discussion there is the IRC discussion, and there are no matrix users, apart from those which are kicked by the bot on login.

If you scroll chat logs you see message like this:

@appservice-irc:matrix.org kicked @USER:matrix.org. Reason: IRC error on #fedora: err_needreggednick

But you rarely see any of those kicked out users to come back.

So the question is, why do we even need the bridging?

If bringing new users to the same IRC chat room via Matrix gate doesn’t really work, why don’t we split it up, and have Fedora IRC and Fedora Matrix groups both working using the best features of each messaging system, rather than trying to find a common ground which has no features at all.

Note: we can still have the mirror of Fedora IRC group in Matrix, if someone finds it useful. For example if you use Matrix to consolidate your messaging systems. But I think it would be better to have #fedora@matrix.org and #fedora-irc@matrix.org rooms, rather than merge them into one.

3 Likes

For some people, it makes IRC a more accessible and usable platform.

The #fedora channel is set up to require NickServ authentication to join the channel. You must authenticate with NickServ from Matrix/Riot for this to work. However, most Fedora channels are not set up this way. Most channels / rooms that I bridge, I set up with these IRC rules:

  1. Must be authenticated to speak in the channel (but anyone can join)
  2. If you join from a Freenode-recognized gateway, automatically receive +V flag

This way, the IRC channel is protected by rampant spam from unregistered users. Since it is significantly harder to spam IRC from a Freenode-recognized gateway like web chat or Matrix, we do not require users connecting on those platforms to authenticate with NickServ.

This is how multiple channels like #fedora-commops:matrix.org, #fedora-diversity:matrix.org, and others are set up.

I understand your sentiment. But I also don’t think there is anything we can do to stop this. Folks use Matrix/Riot more often not because we told them to use it, but because IRC didn’t work for those people. It might not for you, but for some people, Matrix/Riot works with Freenode IRC and it comes with a better interface, so they will just use that because it works for them.

1 Like

Justin,

Do we have any evidence of that being the case? From what I’ve seen, most
users that have gone from IRC to Matrix or another platform which is bridged
were not trying to solve a problem by doing so, but simply moving to what is
being advertised by a few others, which they look into out of curiosity. Some
stayed, some just came right back to IRC, and others used both for a while
then moved back to IRC.

Glibly, to avoid having to choose one platform over the other. Having separate disconnected channels disconnects the conversation. In my experience, it’s better to keep the conversation together. No matter what platform we use, it will have drawbacks and there will be people who don’t like it. But the alternative is for people to either have the same conversation twice in both channels or leave people out.

In my experience trying to use IRC or bridging to it is always a bad experience. I would love to participate sometimes in the channels but I can’t even login. I have followed every guide out there and only managed to connect once or twice, and of course, it will disconnect me after closing matrix.

2 Likes

I agree entirely with the OP. IRC feels very complicated, outdated, and a bad user experience to me. I’m really interested in Matrix because of this. But while there are some good Matrix rooms, the vast majority of them use this IRC-Matrix bridge which brings down the user experience a lot. It basically throws out the benefits of Matrix and makes it another IRC interface.

If there’s any bridging at all, I think it should be the other way around. Bridge the old legacy system to the new modern one, so IRC clients can connect to it (if that’s even possible), rather than bringing the newer thing down and piping it all through the old system.

2 Likes

I agree with this approach. I do use Matrix exclusively and I have become accustomed to the small issues that come with IRC bridging.

A bit OT: Who knows why the Silverblue Matrix room is not bridged? And who can bridge it?