For the past few years, #photography on freenode has been the place for us computer/camera geeks to talk about cameras and photography. I registered the channel way back in January of 2003, in fact.

Yesterday, it was made known to me that channels had to be re-registered. I went to fill out the form (of which the URI was pasted to me in a /msg), and put all the pertinent info into the necessary fields (which seemed like most every field; there was no red star or bolding or anything else which would show priority).

Around half an hour to an hour later, lilo (Rob Levin) messaged me, telling me that I needed to move #photography to something else, either #foo (where foo is the name of a website of mine — a TLD even — .com/.net/.org) or rename it to ##photography.

(Note: I do own, which isn’t official yet — although we’re setting it up — but #camerahacks doesn’t have the allure nor scope of #photography, so it’s not an adequate replacement.)

I asked that if I registered, if that would suffice. He said, “yes”, but then added, only for a channel called #photographyproject. Added shortly after, lilo stated that I needed,, or to actually have #photography. Frankly speaking, I doubt the owners of those domains actually care about IRC — or even know what IRC actually is (it’s a chat room protocol, in case you’re reading this and don’t know). In addition, I highly doubt that even if they did happen to know about IRC, that they would be on Freenode.

I asked lilo about #fedora then, as Red Hat doesn’t have anything called “Fedora”. All they actually have is the Fedora Project (which I helped to start when I was at Red Hat), and Fedora Core (the offspring distro of said project). “Shouldn’t #fedora be renamed to #fedoracore or #fedoraproject? Or should that also be moved to ##fedora?” Lilo replied with “Well, Red Hat is aggressively protecting their Fedora trademark.” As far as I know, Red Hat has only “Fedora Core” and “Fedora Project” in the clear. There was a dispute over the pre-existing “Fedora” name in the software space — and, hey, it’s even open source. They also have a top level domain of!

To make matters worse, I’ve known lilo since the days of #linpeople (and even a bit or #linux on EFNet), all through OpenProjects, and through today. I’ve met him in person a few times at various Linux World Expos — it has not been just knowing him via IRC alone. While part of the team at, we even ran a story on him and OpenProjects. I thought he might be willing to make some exceptions to the rule, but I guess not.

Anyway, it seems though we’re not going to be given a break or be grandfathered in, so the only current solutions are to either abide by the silly IRC games and become ##photography or move it elsewhere. Personally, I already use a few other channels on FreeNode, but I have been around on gimpnet for a long time too, so I’m considering moving it there.

So what does all this mean for Freenode and channels hosted there? Should I recommend that people not have channels on that network? Is #hula going to have to be renamed to ##hula or #hulaproject? What about channels which I and my friends and coworkers may wish to start — should we start them elsewhere? Is there another freely available IRC server that’s similar in scope to Freenode?

Update: Rob (lilo) responded in nice, well written comment. Thanks, Rob.

Still, there is some decision to be made with respect to the #photography channel at the moment; I think that all of us involved with the channel will have to discuss it and try to come up with an agreeable solution.

Also, as a side note, it is hard to know when policy changes on a server (such as one running IRC) are made in the day-to-day use of a server, especially when a person is ultra-busy with work and such. I guess there is MOTD on login, but how many people really read that? Also, there are wallops from time to time, but I’d suspect lots of people have that turned off by default as well. Word of mouth is the best way, I suppose (and that’s how I found out… eventually).