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Ephemeral nature of IRC

Asa Zeren
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Hi,

In your article "Absence of certain features in IRC considered a
feature," you mention as one of the advantages of irc it's ephemeral
nature. While I see the point, as someone who is not a longtime IRC
user, I am unsure how long time users follow communities without a
backlog. On services with a backlog, you don't have to be constantly
engaged with the chatroom to be in a conversation, and you can go do
some work for some time, and then hop into the room, read the
conversation, and join in if it is interesting. How do you manage to do
this without a backlog? In particular, how do you deal with
conversations that you don't start?

Thanks,
Asa
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You participate in conversations that happen while you're there, and
maybe if you step away from the keyboard for a bit you'd read the top
ten or so lines to get whatever context you can before participating.

If it doesn't make sense then I'd recommend just using IRC for a bit so
that you can grok it for yourself.
Asa Zeren
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> You participate in conversations that happen while you're there

The issue I have is with the notion of "while you're there." Is this
supposed to mean "while you have the irc window open in front of you?"
If so, I don't see how a conversation could ever start, because if there
is no ongoing conversation, then there is little possibility of someone
having the window open, as there is nothing to engage with. Thus, if you
have something (a question or thought) to post, who would see it?

> If it doesn't make sense then I'd recommend just using IRC for a bit
> so that you can grok it for yourself.

I have used IRC a bit, but only for asking questions. The issue I see is
as the replier. If there is no backlog, how do you "check in" on the
channel every once in a while to see what is being discussed. Is your
flow of interaction different from this?

Sorry if I'm not getting something obvious. I'm just trying to
understand the way people interact with IRC.
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On Mon Nov 30, 2020 at 12:22 PM EST, Asa Zeren wrote:
> > You participate in conversations that happen while you're there
>
> The issue I have is with the notion of "while you're there." Is this
> supposed to mean "while you have the irc window open in front of you?"
> If so, I don't see how a conversation could ever start, because if there
> is no ongoing conversation, then there is little possibility of someone
> having the window open, as there is nothing to engage with. Thus, if you
> have something (a question or thought) to post, who would see it?

I keep an IRC window open all day every day and participate in
conversations on and off as I can spare the attention and things are
going on. I can assure you that conversations do, in fact, take place on
IRC.
Asa Zeren
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Ah. I think I grok it now. What was throwing me off is the idea of "no
backlog." What you are really talking about is that the backlog exists,
but is non-persistent.

Actually, this brings up another question. The advantage you give in the
blog post is that the lack of a backlog eliminates the culture of
"catching up." My question is then how does this do this? If I ignore
IRC for some time (taking a nap, eating food, focused work, etc) and
then come back to find several hundred (or thousand) messages (because
my client has been open), how is this any better than Matrix
et. al. with a persistent backlog?
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> The issue I have is with the notion of "while you're there." Is this
> supposed to mean "while you have the irc window open in front of you?"

Not necessary, just that you are online with a client running in the 
{fore,back}ground. Almost all IRC clients will notify you if you are 
mentioned or DCC'd.

On the other hand, there are better channels for support/communication, 
like email! Or mailing lists.

> I have used IRC a bit, but only for asking questions. The issue I see 
is
> as the replier. If there is no backlog, how do you "check in" on the
> channel every once in a while to see what is being discussed. Is your
> flow of interaction different from this?

There are IRC bouncers that are typically hosted on a machine that's 
online when you're not which will collect the chat backlog so you can 
read it when you are online.
ZNC is a popular one, soju by emersion is another.

> Sorry if I'm not getting something obvious. I'm just trying to
> understand the way people interact with IRC.

Always good to ask for clarity, just be weary of how you phrase a 
question.
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On Mon Nov 30, 2020 at 12:45 PM EST, Asa Zeren wrote:
> Actually, this brings up another question. The advantage you give in the
> blog post is that the lack of a backlog eliminates the culture of
> "catching up." My question is then how does this do this? If I ignore
> IRC for some time (taking a nap, eating food, focused work, etc) and
> then come back to find several hundred (or thousand) messages (because
> my client has been open), how is this any better than Matrix
> et. al. with a persistent backlog?

You are not expected to read all of them. And most people don't leave
their clients open ALL the time.
Asa Zeren
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> You are not expected to read all of them. And most people don't leave
> their clients open ALL the time.

So it's more of the culture of not reading large numbers of messages
when you get them because not everyone else can.

Thanks for the conversation!
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On Mon, 2020-11-30 at 17:45 +0000, Cosmo Borsky wrote:
> > I have used IRC a bit, but only for asking questions. The issue I
> > see 
> is
> > as the replier. If there is no backlog, how do you "check in" on
> > the
> > channel every once in a while to see what is being discussed. Is
> > your
> > flow of interaction different from this?
> 
> There are IRC bouncers that are typically hosted on a machine that's 
> online when you're not which will collect the chat backlog so you can
> read it when you are online.
> ZNC is a popular one, soju by emersion is another.
> 
Some IRC channels also provide centralized logging.

e.g. Fedora's meeting channels are often logged during meetings:
https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Meeting_channel?rd=Fedora_meeting_channel

and Ubuntu seems to log even more:
https://irclogs.ubuntu.com/

Best regards,

-- 
Michel Alexandre Salim
profile: https://keyoxide.org/michel@michel-slm.name
chat via email: https://delta.chat/
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