By and large, the Mozilla community uses an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) server operated by MoCo at irc.mozilla.org (IMO). For day to day operations, IMO is used by a variety of groups and projects for communication. For the people that I work most closely with, we use the server for release management of security releases and for overall quality assurance efforts. The development team uses it quite heavily for intercommunication in the #developers channel.
Much of the open source community uses Freenode for IRC communication. The entire Ubuntu project uses it. I know that the Python community uses it quite heavily. The local hackerspace, Noisebridge, even has a channel (#noisebridge). In fact, every project that I know of that has a public face on IRC uses Freenode except Mozilla projects.
Given the cross-group nature of open source, where people often participate in many projects depending on their interests, I really think that Mozilla should move to Freenode. The current situation with irc.mozilla.org feels like a semi-private walled garden. It is a public server, yes, but it is cut off from many of our natural allies. Let’s face it, people are fundamentally lazy in many ways and the extra work that it takes to join another IRC server when someone is already active on Freenode means that many people probably don’t bother to come to the Mozilla IRC server.
A while back, as part of my work in the Mozilla QA organization, I set up #mozilla-quality on Freenode and submitted the paperwork to reqister Mozilla QA as the owner of that channel. We don’t have a lot of people drop into the channel but we get a few irregularly, often looking for help. I have personally seen that when, in response to questions that they want to direct at developers, they are directed to irc.mozilla.org, most of them do not go to the directed channels on the server.
It would be quite easy to register ownership of “mozilla-” on Freenode and to move the bulk of IRC conversations to that network. I think it would be a win-win situation for working with community there and would make Mozilla a lot more accessible to others.
This is something that will probably need to be debated and discussed in newsgroups but I wanted to post something here before beginning that discussion in order to see what the readers of planet.mozilla.org felt about the matter. If you have thoughts on this, please comment.
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