I disagree with statement “IRC is a significant barrier for new contributors”. Because we on freenode, the best and simple way to use irc on this server is using web based chat on https://webchat.freenode.net/, easy as 123…abc.
So, I went there, imagining myself to be a relatively savvy person with no prior knowledge of IRC, picked a random nick, and picked
#fedora-council as the channel, which I happen to know. That got me:
Hmmm. So, I typed
/msg NickServ Identify <password> into the message box.
Oh wait, I see there’s something over in the left column…
It says “NickServ” and there’s a red thing that must be a message count. Okay, I’ll click on that…
Hmm, okay, I guess this name is taken. Which in itself isn’t an obvious conclusion. But I’m not going to let myself get stuck here. I’ll try another name… I’ll click on that little gear to change that in my settings, I suppose? Hmmm, nope, nothing. Well, there’s an Advanced setting, dialog and it might be in there, but … it literally says “Monsters be here, only click this button if you know what you are doing” so I won’t do that. I guess I’ll go back to the beginning and try again.
Third guess and I picked an unused name. Okay, cool. So, now I’ll just introduce myself:
Hmmm. Can’t click on that error. Nothing over in the top left this time. I’m pretty much stuck.
If I did get in, I’d learn quickly that there’s a bunch of invisible arcana in /commands, channel permissions, etc. Is it insurmountable? Clearly not, but we’ve definitely seen it be a very real barrier, so please don’t discount that.
I do agree that dead channels or not-helpful responses are a problem. By being more accessible, I hope we can get increased, positive communications.
I also agree that project discussion shouldn’t get lost in chat. In IRC, we have Zodbot which kind of magically logs meetings (more esoterica). We’ll want something like that in Matrix too, but hopefully we can also take the opportunity to make that more user-friendly too.