About Newnet

The Birth of the NewNet IRC Network (nanook April 1996)

For about a year Matthew Ramsey had been demanding that I change our policy allowing bots in our domain to run on our IRC server. He threatened to cut us off of EF-Net if we didn’t comply with his demands. I got tired of being threatened and basically told him so.

The fact that there were other EFNet servers that allowed bots didn’t seem to matter. Because we were commercial, we were profitting from it. The fact that only 3% of our user base ran bots didn’t matter either.

In an effort to drum up support for his position he started posting our discussion to the oper-list mailing list. Jonah Barron Yokubaitis agreed with his position.

Jonah Barron Yokubaitis juped our server effectively isolating us from the rest of EfNet. I decided at that point that EfNet was a lost cause and so forged ahead and created a new IRC network, NewNet.


The Tenants of the NewNet IRC Network (nanook April 1996)

When I set out to create a new network it was with the intent of fixing problems with the existing networks that I felt were unaddressable without a radical change in protocol and concept.

Existing IRC networks are hiearchial in nature both in terms of topology and in terms of power. Users are forced to be subserviant to operators, and central HUB sites have known to resort to extortion to force their will upon others. A recent case in point was the Jupe of our server.

To address these things complete changes in the protocol that will eventually lead to a network where servers can not be isolated by administrative intent or by technical failure of individual links. We are obviously not at that point yet, and getting to that point is going to require substantial coding work.

These changes are necessary because the existing method of handling abuse on a case-by-case basis is ineffective in small networks and becomes completely unworkable in large networks. Anytime you give someone the power to control these abuses it seems inevitable that that power is abused. As long as the existing hiearchy is maintained, there is an ultimate limit to the size that the network can grow and retain any functionality at all.

In the meantime, with the problems the existing architecture has we are forced with the task of trying to remain cohesive enough to get it done. I am going to be looking (to employ) additional programmers to get the IRC server to have the capabilities we need to allow NewNet to evolve.

The following ideas were absolutely fundamental to the creation of NewNet and I absolutely wish to retain them.

  • The network exists for the users! While operators are necessary it does not exist for the opers, it exists for the users!
  • The network will evolved into a more fully meshed architecture in order to address fundamental problems of all existing IRC networks.
  • Friendly bots will be allowed on NewNet.
  • NewNet will be INclusive by nature, not EXclusive. Links will be considered on the basis of technical merit, not who has friends in high places.
  • In order to support a more meshed architecture it is necessary that technical solutions to problems of abuse be found and implemented so that eventually opers and the power and frequent abuses that go with them will no longer be necessary. One such solution is time stamp protocol. However to be effective it needs to work in conjunction with a channel server that is reliable.
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