Leaving irc.perl.org

As of July 5 2019, I am officially retired from operations of irc.perl.org.

I've handed in the keys, my desk is cleared of personal items, and my laptop has been turned over to IT.

A couple of folks will care about why I've retired. Everyone else can hop off the train now.

Exit Interview

Before we go any further, I want to make one thing clear. None of what follows is up for discussion. This post is not an attempt to start a conversation or facilitiate change. I'm going to lay things down as I see/saw them. This is my truth and these are my reasons.

SoloOps

For a long time, I've been primary operator of irc.perl.org. For a long time, I've essentially been the only operator of irc.perl.org. Until recently, I owned half the servers and had root on the rest. The process of getting a new node (which hasn't happened in a long long time) was largely "give sungo root".

It's been a long time since I could get anyone to care about the network enough to contribute to its operations. Most of the original core team has disappeared and the remaining opers are content to just let things sit.

So, here's me, solo-operating most of irc.perl.org. And the fun thing is that I don't use irc.perl.org much. There are a couple of old personal channels with friends of mine. I'm not involved with the perl community. I've been solo-operating an irc network that I have no investment in.

Shit gets old. When my main thought about the network became "who cares? let it rot", it was time to retire.

I announced my intention to retire in early 2018. My statement at the time was that I'd turn off the lights on my servers on Jan 1 2019. Towards the end of 2018, I shut down my public facing nodes. Critical infrastructure was left running. At the end of 2018, some personal situations took me away from thinking about IRC. The Jan 1 date slipped.

It is important to note that, to my knowledge, no effort was taken on the part of the remaining operations staff to prepare for my original departure date.

A few months ago, I gave a new deadline. On July 4, regardless of the readiness of the network, my remaining infrastructure would go offline, never to return. Work did not being on replacing that infrastructure until July 2.

With a year and a half notice, the work to transition the infrastructure to new homes began 48 hours before the deadline. Even then, it was just one person. So, even now, the network is back in the hands of a single person, with all the SPOFiness that entails.

The Community

Oh, perl community. Oh boy... Let's take a bit of a time jump to focus my thoughts about the perl community on what I actually experienced, rather than what I've seen in the last while.

The time was 2013, Decemberish. Over the course of a nine hour drive, I got to thinking about irc.perl.org, its culture, reputation, etc. Codes of Conduct and community behavior were very much in the spotlight at the time. irc.perl.org has always been viewed as a rough and often nasty place. The critics weren't wrong. After that drive, I engaged the oper team and started working on what a code of conduct would look like and thoughts on how that code of conduct could be enforced.

That led to this post and started the greater community conversation. We codified the code of conduct and I delivered my proposal for how irc.perl.org should govern itself. I got well-known people in the community to lead the venture, to commit to drafting the final governance rules with community feedback, and to commit to making irc.perl.org a better place, as the community saw fit.

The conversation carried over to YAPC 2014 where I was able to sit down face-to-face with folks and get direct feedback and address complaints. This when a little voice started whispering "this is all of naught". See, thing is, absolutely everyone had some gripe about how the network was run. Everyone had some complaint about the oper staff. And absolutely everyone wanted to tell me about it. We held a BOF that ended up mostly being about one person having been banned years prior for behavior that was also banned in the new code of conduct. Reddit electronically delivered folks who don't use the network who wanted to bitch at me about the network. No one really wanted to contribute to the document or the process. Everyone just really wanted to rant at me and/or blame me for years-old grievances.

But some part of me wanted to believe that all this hard work I was putting in, the emotional labor to not metaphorically-strangle some of these people, would all pay off and the community would be better for it.

Then....

Well, nothing happened. The community leaders had agreed to a six-month timetable for drafting the new guidelines. Not a single email happened. No conversation happened on IRC. I poked and prodded. Nothing happened. (The governance document on the irc.perl.org website is the same proposal I delivered in 2014.)

I set up services so that folks could manage their channels without needing oversight. That resulted in me being accused of systemic bias and moral bankruptcy.

This is when I started drifting away. Dealing with people is hard for me. Personal politics is hard for me. I put myself out there, worked with people I'm not really fond of, and all I got for it was to be the target of everyone's rage and bullshit. No one was willing to contribute towards change in a constructive positive fashion. There was no reason to continue putting myself out there, to continue putting effort into services that no one else was willing to improve.

The perl community, in my experience, has every interest in complaining and being hostile. The perl community, in my experience, has no interest in being part of any solution. Some members of the perl community seem to believe that the only solution is one in which everyone else changes.

This is not a community that I want to be a part of. This is not a community I want to provide services for.

What Now?

What happens now, for me, is that I move on with my life. I've been looking forward to closing this chapter of my life for a while now and I'm glad the time has finally arrived.

For the network? I don't know. A quick glance at the stats tells me that the network is down to about 600 users, down from about 1200 at its peak. I don't think IRC is dead but irc.perl.org is certainly drifting towards biologic stability. Most folks are probably going to be better served by freenode or oftc. If nothing else, other networks have staff and sponsors and the like.

So, irc.perl.org users, this is goodbye. I hope you find peace in wires.