icyphox's avatar

IRC for DMs

Honestly, it's pretty great

Nerdy and I decided to try and use IRC for our daily communications, as opposed to non-free alternatives like WhatsApp or Telegram. This is an account of how that went.

The status quo of instant messaging apps

I’ve tried a ton of messaging applications — Signal, WhatsApp, Telegram, Wire, Jami (Ring), Matrix, Slack, Discord and more recently, DeltaChat.

Signal: It straight up sucks on Android. Not to mention the centralized architecture, and OWS’s refusal to federate.

WhatsApp: Facebook’s spyware that people use without a second thought. The sole reason I have it installed is for University’s class groups; I can’t wait to graduate.

Telegram: Centralized architecture and a closed-source server. It’s got a very nice Android client, though.

Jami: Distributed platform, free software. I am not going to comment on this because I don’t recall what my experience was like, but I’m not using it now… so if that’s indicative of anything.

Matrix (Riot): Distributed network. Multiple client implementations. Overall, pretty great, but it’s slow. I’ve had messages not send / not received a lot of times. Matrix + Riot excels in group communication, but really sucks for one-to-one chats.

Slack / Discord: sigh

DeltaChat: Pretty interesting idea — on paper. Using existing email infrastructure for IM sounds great, but it isn’t all that cash in practice. Email isn’t instant, there’s always a delay of give or take 5 to 10 seconds, if not more. This affects the flow of conversation. I might write a small blog post later, revewing DeltaChat.1

Why IRC?

It’s free, in all senses of the word. A lot of others have done a great job of answering this question in further detail, this is by far my favourite:

https://drewdevault.com/2019/07/01/Absence-of-features-in-IRC.html

Using IRC’s private messages

This was the next obvious choice, but personal message buffers don’t persist in ZNC and it’s very annoying to have to do a /query nerdypepper (Weechat) or to search and message a user via Revolution IRC. The only unexplored option — using a channel.

Setting up a channel for DMs

A fairly easy process:

In conclusion

As the subtitle suggests, using IRC has been great. It’s probably not for everyone though, but it fits my (and Nerdy’s) usecase perfectly.

P.S.: I’m not sure why the footnotes are reversed.


  1. It’s in queue.
  2. Channel modes on Rizon.

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