Leaving atheme 10 Apr 2014

Today I am announcing that I have decided to resign from atheme.org. With this, all involvement from me in IRC-related projects should be considered terminated; I have removed myself from the various machines run by Atheme and the github organization.

Atheme has been a great disappointment to me for the last few years. When I started the project with jilles, our goal and focus was to expand the potential of IRC networks by building a modern platform that other vendors could use as a reference to deliver a more compelling user experience, to make sure IRC remained relevant as a collaboration tool. To an extent, we succeeded in our mission, and for a time, built a world-class free software organization to back it. We knew then, that our work was more important than just building a next generation platform for freenode, which is why we built the project in this manner.

We were not alone in our efforts, many people including those from Anope, used Atheme as a playground for prototyping features that would later arrive in other projects. But it was not enough, IRC continued to lose users, and as the stakes got lower and lower people became more aggressive in their competition for the remaining market share.

But we did most of this work between 2005 and 2009. Since then we have just coasted along. Atheme ceased to be an incubator for new technology on IRC. Most of the actual engineering talent left long ago, to work on other projects.

Since then, various people turned it into some sort of ideology debate which is sillyness. IRC is meant to be an open protocol, developed by all stakeholders equally and in an innovative way. Unfortunately, that has not been the viewpoint of a lot of other Atheme people for some time, to the extent that I helped to fuel that fire (for example by enforcing our copyright on copied code in Anope) as APL, I apologise as IRC deserved better, and still does.

Atheme needs to rediscover itself and find a new path in order to maintain it’s position of relevance and leadership in the IRC development process. While Atheme has done some good in recent years, it has in many ways become a metrics game, a competition of how many networks are deploying the platform verses Anope, and this attitude will not bring the best possible engineering that I know Atheme can still deliver. This is a discovery process that needs to be done by the people running the day to day operations, not by someone who is busy pursuing other interests.

To that extent, it is time for me to move on. But it doesn’t really feel like quitting, as the Atheme that I care about has been dead for a long time. Atheme could have done so much more, like finishing Chiron, our implementation of Rob Levin’s CORRIDORS proposal, but didn’t. We had a shot at truly changing the world in the same way that IRC originally did and we blew it, simply because we were too apathetic to take on projects that we needed to.