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Talk City Closing Doors To IRC 157

sparky writes "Talk City is going to cut off access to people using any but their proprietary IRC client starting on 12 April. This is a modified version of Pirch, so it runs only on Win32 and MacOS. Oh, yeah, it also runs ads for them, and has a reader board. They are effectively cutting off from their IRC network users of free software, and people who value choice, even with proprietary software. Perhaps their users should consider Open Projects Network?" You may even find some alleged Slashdot Authors there.
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Talk City Closing Doors To IRC

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The headline says "to people using any but their proprietary IRC client starting on 12 April. This is a modified version of Pirch, so it runs only on Win32 and MacOS. " Which isn't quite correct...Talkcity will be supporting EZTalk a Java client which works on PowerMacs using Netscape Communicator 4.7.2, and in some cases using MRJ 2.2 through Internet Explorer 5.0 for the Mac. It may work on earlier versions of Internet Explorer for the Mac or Netscape, but I haven't tested it. Pirch does _not_ work on the Mac without the aid of emulation, contrary to the article that was posted. And Talkcity will also support WebTV access as well. Scriptable IRC clients are not supported on Talkcity, such as Ircle for the starting on April 12th. However, the author of Ircle is still negotiating with Talkcity to find a way to lower the restriction, and he can be contacted at onno@macresponse.nl if you want to give him support. I suggested that he make a version of Ircle with no scripting support, because Talkcity is actually worried that scripts are causing the room floods that have happened frequently. These floods were the original incentive Talkcity had to make this chat client decision. However, that does not explain the fact that Snak, another Mac chat client which doesn't support scripting won't be allowed either. If you wish to complain, please visit: http://www.talkcity.com/help/egain/ to send your comment directly to Talkcity.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is capitalism. What do you expect these businesses to do, have losses every quarter but stay open just to serve you? Many dot-com companies will come and go in the next few years as they struggle to find a way to make a profit.

    I never thought capitalism was a great thing, but i'm not nearly as surprised by it's grinding gears as you are.
  • SlashNET [slashnet.org] has a JAVA client [slashnet.org] that lets you connect to the network. It's somewhat crude compared to a standard client, but it works.
  • my browser doesn't uncontrollably stop showing
    the web page and force me to view adds

    Ah, but some are getting the hang of just this idea. cdmag.com [cdmag.com] is one where I noticed it first. Click on a handful of reviews and articles, every so many it brings up a large picture ad right in the center with a link at the bottom and something like, "click here to go on to the article." I've also seen it a few other places, but they weren't ones I frequent so I forgot 'em. What's most disgusting is they do this on top of their constantly-refreshing banner ads at the top. Eek.

    If you want a "clean" sort of IRC, hack the server code to boot, ban IPs, etc anyone saying bad words repeatedly. Then have a bunch of people on hand for users to report abuses to, etc. etc. It certainly is possible, without resorting to banner-ad schemes.

    I'm getting a dog one day soon. I figure by the time I take it out for walks, I'll have to have a leash with banner ads going down it. There's no end to where these mopes will put advertising.
  • The problem there is there are folks (often younger people) who get a laugh taunting, cursing, etc at everyone on "chat rooms." If some folks want it better, great. They can have their servers and all. If you want to curse out people for no particular reason, there's still 4.2 billion EFNet (and the like) servers. As the Internet gets bigger and bigger, more and more jerks come out of the woodwork. This whole scheme is voluntary, it's not like this TalkCity is the only chat service on the market (yet).

  • I've been using IRC for 5 years now and this is the first I've heard of it. It can't possibly be an important network, or even a big crappy one like DALnet.

    (Switching networks is a royal pain in the ass, though. I kinda feel bad for all the poor shmucks who haven't left TC yet.)

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • No, see the problem is that as the ads proliferate, sellers of 'free' services think that the quality of their product can go into the shitpot.

    I think that even isn't as big a problem as the problem you refer to later -- that the ads become the default, and you can't avoid them. With the exception of premium channels, C-SPAN, and AMC, ads are almost impossible to avoid on television. And even the premium channels show movies with product tie-ins. Even PBS has gradually allowed "sponsors" more and more advertising, despite still begging for dollars.

    It's pretty obvious this rampant marketing does have an effect on us and our values. While I actually have a higher opinion of our society than most (we're less racist, less religiously intolerant, and in general more egalitarian than just about any society ever), we are certainly rather materialistic. And the rampant marketing isn't helping.
  • "I probably shouldn't respond to a such an elitist, glaringly unsupported claim, but I will throw prudence to the wind and point out that the percentage of Linux users on the 'net is statistically insignificant, so Talk City loses nothing, "big chunk" or otherwise."

    Cutting out any group whether it be 50 or 50,000 is not a good idea. Why should I install win32/macos, then install their client just so I can get on their network? There are tons of open networks out there. Unet, Efnet, /net, IPN, DalNet, ...etc.
    I would much rather just at add a tab to Xchat then fire up another client or a browser. TC just sounds like a free AOL chat.
  • That's not all. Phone users in either Norway or Sweden (can't recall which) have this option right now, but as you may know, local calls are also metered in Europe, so I think this isn't just an option for long distance. In fact, I'm not sure it's even available for long distance.
  • Yes, I quite agree with RuneB here. TalkCity have a rather.. interesting.. technical staff rooster (Who, of course, will be the first to get rounded up against the wall and shot when the revolution comes). I suppose one can argue for ages about the whole sincerity of the place, which as opposed to technical competence -can- be argued about. You got a few good people trying, and an administration paying $10 per hour to the hosts, when not trying to get rid of them and get volunteers to do it all for free. *shakes head* It could work, but not with that management. Pity to see them even make money.

    Now, where's the third rider of the apocalypse..
    Where's I three?
  • Of course, dont let the fact that they pay you cloud the objectivity.. *shrugs*

  • There's at least another dozen places to chat on IRC, netwise. I've been on undernet for, geez, 5 years or so now. I doubt seriously losing one corporate sponsored IRC net will harm life.
  • (tridus, from your user #, looks like you've been here a while without me noticing somehow. boy am I embarrased :-)

    Actually the question(s) wasn't (weren't) rhetorical, I'd really like to know who pays for what and where they get the money to do it with.

  • Here's what I sent to postmaster@talkcity.com:

    We don't need no thought control.

    Too much corporatism on the Internet these days. There's a thousand other places to go on the Internet. TC will not be one of them for me, I cannot live with Orwellian measures to restrict free speech.

    It's been fun... Goodbye.

    Enough said...

  • here at BGSU they deny all incoming connections to resnet boxen so any identd requests are denied and MANY IRC servers won't allow you to connect (and #linux on efnet won't let you join w/a ~username@)

    yeah, there are ways around it, but I honestly don't believe that the benefits of blocking the connections (Napster) are more abundant than not doing so...

    IRC is a part of the Internet. Block http and only allow your users to use your proprietary fucking browser and see how your userbase will dwindle... I don't understand ISP's sometimes.
  • that wasn't the point. Why even post shit like that?
  • As an Windows AIM user, I was severely disappointed with GAIM when I tried it out. I was running the beta version of AIM [aol.com] (no flames please) and GAIM lacks *tons* of features. Even ones that have been around forever (font face/color changes without having to do the HTML tags each time, et. al.)
  • I'm not much of an irc user, so pardon me if this sounds incredibly stupid, but can't anybody connect to any irc server and join any channel (discounting things like being banned) and just start talking? So can't anybody displaced by this Talk City just go to any other network and continue as usual? Or is there some great feature about this talkcity thing that I don't know about?

    __________________________________________________ ___

  • Who cares? Aren't there already dozens of regular IRC networks? Undernet, EFnet, Dalnet, Ircnet, openprojects, and probably a couple dozens more.
  • Jump through hoops? Correct me if I'm wrong, but there were already several functioning IRC-nets before Talk City came along. So who cares if Talk City goes bad, just switch to another net!

    I admit that I hadn't heard of Talk City before today, so I may be missing something important here.
    "But I'm still like a little kid, see?
    I just don't know when to quit."
    - Rei
  • The only client that works for Talk City on MacOS is their propietary Java client.

    Fact-checking is lots of fun. Let's try it some time.
  • I can't see the point.

    There are lots of IRC-Servers out there in the net. Why cry when one tries to fuck with it's users?

  • most either use their TCPirch or a linux client. A few others (10-40% at times) use webtv.
  • actually, it was 2 users:

    1) bad-seed who floods with the bad messages and kicks himself

    2) CiA`/sax-007 who has the multiple nick flood with joins/parts or message (seed has gotten ahold f this recently).
  • There are over 2000 hosts, but maybe 500 are active, of which maybe 150 are very active (host regularly).
  • Well, I think part of the problem is that the servers are managed by some not-so-smart people. I know that they know how they could fix it, but either corp (sorprate division) is not letting them, or thye are idiots.
  • Typical. Just as I'm planning on setting up a linux desktop.

    On the other hand, who the heck are they?? Never heard of them, so I doubt I'll miss 'em. Another propritary chat server - oh joy. I'm sure the 10's of thousands of us who use Regular IRC won't miss them at all.

    And anyway, where would IRC be without a good old fashioned channel takeover.
  • Google has started doing this now, you can sign up
    to maintain a branch, or just click through the
    trees that they've got their already. Google has
    the nice simple interface as always that works
    remarkably well in lynx. The people that run
    google say that they won't go into the "portal"
    business, which to me is a good thing. I just
    want to efficiently find information dammit!
  • Longest running?

    Last I checked EFNet Dalnet and Undernet used to be one, but split due to ircop's not playing nice.

    I think they are tied for longest running.

    That is unless history changes, I hate it when it does that without telling me.
  • by CentrX ( 50629 )
    But if this network does such a thing, why would you want to go back there in the first place? The only thing I can think of is to flame and be an ass ;)

    Chris Hagar
  • I liked the recent Futurama episode about the Internet. All the Planet Express people went on the Internet (using some futuristic VR gear) and were immediately visciously attacked by Ads. I remember Fry was almost carried off by an Ad for organ donation.

    Leela: "Oh no! Ads!"

  • Not meant to be flamebait or anything (merely informing the poster above...)

    I am assuming that they run their own ircd

    You bet they do!

    Microsoft Exchange Chat Service!

    Microsoft's own special perversion of RFC 1419!

  • Indeed. We all love and respect what? I don't know about you, but this is the first I've heard of "talk city" and from the looks of it, it's another bloated portal, with "discussions" and so forth.


    This is less relevant than CompuServ annoncing in has stock quotes!

  • Almost all of the people semi proficient with the Mac tend to use Ircle (or derivative), which does not have the capability to connect to their servers. Yeah, there's the option of EZTalk - but blech, who wants to use that ugly Happy Cheery JoyJoy thing? Certaintly not all the Mac people who left.

    And the CGI driven IRC - the Web, IMNSHO, was not designed for IRC :) Although I remember trying it a long time ago, to see how bad it was, and I was thoroughly impressed, the wrong way of course.

    Good day,
  • So when the bubble bursts there's going to be piles of cheap networking kit about. We just have to wait for the corporate world to go belly up. then all we need to do is lay our hands on the hardware that is no longer being used and we can build the new internet, with no ad's and a thrilling lack of spammers.

    Ladies and gentlemen, there is only one group that can save us from this corporate hell. and that is the sharks of capitalism. at some point they are going to turn on all those tasty internet startups, and strip them of everything that isn't nailed down. So far we have seen the startup's getting one over on the financiers because they have managed to sell the idea that pure ideas have a value. however when the time comes for the financiers to rip the guts out of the company, they will find that what they have to sell is more than a little insubstantial. this may be why the bubble has not burst yet. the financiers see there being far too much chance that they will be left carrying the can for the inherant problems in internet company production. They have put vast ammounts of money in, and if one person panics, it might bring the whole system down.

    Bring on the Crimson Permanent Assurance [mwscomp.com]
  • Talk City is not shooting itself in the foot. First, it is entirely irrelevant which client one uses when connecting to an IRC channel, as long as that client provides adequate (or better) functionality. Second, most Talk City members use the browser-accessible software, so the few dissenters who will now whine (on cue) about their loss of freedom will not harm Talk City one bit. Third, the only flavors that are important in a chat room are the flavors of content, not of the OS or the client. Lastly, anything which limits the disruptive abilities of script kiddies and other losers is welcome.
  • That depends on how far they go. I could be jumping the gun here, but It strikes me that they will probably go the doubleclick route - profiling individual users to target banner adds.

    There is nothing in the Talk City announcement that should logically lead you to that conclusion.

    So not supporting Linux means that they immediatly loose a big chunk of the brightest section of the populace as potential users.

    I probably shouldn't respond to a such an elitist, glaringly unsupported claim, but I will throw prudence to the wind and point out that the percentage of Linux users on the 'net is statistically insignificant, so Talk City loses nothing, "big chunk" or otherwise.

    It's a common misconception that lack of source code makes you safe. It doesn't - it just gives you a false sense of security.

    Nor did I imply that lack of source code makes you safe. Talk City took their action because of the exploits of a cretinous few, who might have been using Open Source toys, or maybe not. Hell, they might have been using BeOs or MacOS, it doesn't matter. Flood attacks can be easily accomplished whether the client is open or closed, no dissasembly required.
  • First there was EFNet,

    Then came Undernet in an attempt to add some security to the threadbare IRCd with the X, W bots.

    Then came Dalnet in an attempt to add security without the bandwidth consumption that the X, W bots took.

    EFnet is usually agreed on as being the longest running IRC network

  • by cdlu ( 65838 )
    I love OPN - there are a lot of networks who could learn a lot from it.
  • woh, what stations are YOU watching? Most channels in Ontario, Canada, at least, have commercials every 7 minutes or so.

    And as for ads on the internet, kiss their oss goodbye with JunkBuster (google for it) or Webwasher [webwasher.de]. I don't look at ads anymore cuz i block 'em out! As for TV, I record most my programs with my capture card, and then edit out the commercials. One day, I hope to have an adapter to my TV that allows me to block out all commericials. Product placements? So what if Seinfeld DRINKs PEPSI, i can ignore those.


  • I really don't think the most important issue here is them using a proprietary client to spam their users, it's that they are flat out lying to every person who uses this network. This garbage about requiring this proprietary client to prevent flood attacks and "maintaining a clean, safe, well-lit environment" and such is just a pretty looking excuse to place ads on people's screens.

    As any 15 year old (no offense) with some network experience can tell you, the concept of trusting some proprietary software on the client side to provide security is uttery foolish. The protocol can be reverse engineered, the application can be reverse engineered. When people download this program, they can do anything they like with it. It would probably not be too difficult to analyze the network traffic the program emits, reverse-engineer the protocol and find out how it differs from IRC.

    So either their entire technical staff is comprised of chimpanzees, or this statement about needing a proprietary client for security reasons is a complete lie and a very deceptive way of spamming their users.

    I can accept that they might need to raise some revenue, and they chose to do that by requiring proprietary clients, but lying to everyone to make this look more user-beneficial, I cannot.

  • Perversion? Exactly how did Microsoft "pervert" RFC 1419? Because it's not open source? I don't remember any IETF rule that all implementations of any standard protocols have to be open source.
  • they're changing the way the servers authenticate. You won't be allowed on period not even to be ctcp'd.
  • You're so wrong....

    WebTV can't run pirch.

    Talk City is not owned by NBC.

  • As a host as well.........

    There are MANY MANY users that do this. Probably hundreds since TC has started 4 years ago.
  • well Talk City does beat out geocities, yahoo, n many others on average minutes per day and in usage n stuff.

    They also have over 2 million registered users.
  • You are so right =)

  • I find it kind of funny that all these IM programs are being broken to only work with other clients from the same company. After all, the only reason to do that is the belief that your program cannot compete with your competitor's product. If yours is superior and comaptitble, people will use yours. It seems they know no one will watch those ads voluntarily, so they force it upon users, and force them to use their client. Almost worthy of Microsoft.


  • (hehe yeah, welll I've had the account a lot longer then I've been posting here, I didn't really start posting at all until browserwatch chat got nailed by y2k)

    Well ok... most of the other irc networks servers are either donated or sponsored by somebody. For years, AMUG ran one of the Undernet servers, they were the ones who had to get the money for it (it was the phoenix server, which ruled until it went down recently). Psi.net runs an Efnet server, when its up at least. I believe AOL has an undernet server (they used to run washington, I believe they still do). Most of the servers are like that.

    In the case of talkcity, its their own network, they own the whole thing themselves, and the ads are a means to try and make money off it.

    Of course its not going to work,but hey, who wants to actually have a .com company that makes a profit?
  • AFAIK, Microsoft Exchange Server is not Open Source.
  • man tcpdump ;)
  • Enjoy your world. I'll enjoy mine.

  • I often wonder about policies like this, do the people who draft them realise they're excluding everyone who's not using MS of Macs? Or is it just some "majority market" rubbish. The @Home network in Australia is only provifing access to "Windows or Macintosh Users". Anyways, if you want to let these particular people know, email them at egainfeedback@corp.talkcity.com [mailto] and let them know you exist.
  • I really don't see what the big deal is. (enough to be posted on /.)

    I am assuming that they run their own ircd; which means they lose some users. (they don't have that big of a userbase to begin with anyways; max users in a channel that I saw was 35)

    Solution: Just connect to your local EFnet, IRCnet, or undernet server (with your favorite client) and find a channel that interests you or start your own!


    PS TC Pirch is supposed to prohibit malicious activity? *bah* If the script kiddie can get the other user's IP, they are still going to flood. (seems like a poor excuse to get more add revenue; which I really don't have that much of a problem with because I am not going to use their services)
  • I thought that the problem wasn't about the software, but it was about the network "problems".. I love GAIM! www.marko.net/gaim/ [marko.net]
    GAIM has some new versions lately, Mark has picked it up and is updating many things, its becoming impressive. Proprietary IRC clients, OTOH.... that's another story.

    Mike Roberto (roberto@soul.apk.net [mailto]) - AOL IM: MicroBerto
  • Hmm... as i read that, I kinda see what you're saying, but I had an argument with myself. Although doing that would seem like kiddie-shit, it could be a good way to get a point across to them that their proprietary crap will get them into trouble. On the other hand, if you're a good coder, it'd be more useful to go and do something GOOD with your skills, like take a look at xchat or BitchX or fix my c++ compiling :)

    Mike Roberto (roberto@soul.apk.net [mailto]) - AOL IM: MicroBerto
  • it makes me laugh when companies shoot themselves in the foot like this. not only is it about supporting all of the operating systems, but I think that you lose a lot of "flavors" of people when you do this as well, and when some leave, it could carry an even greater migration along with it. Not a wise idea to shut anyone out, unless you want to be a loser.

    Mike Roberto (roberto@soul.apk.net [mailto]) - AOL IM: MicroBerto
  • yes, but i think that you're missing the point in that they're closing people out. This is not to the best advantage of a company. I don't go where I'm unwanted (except slashdot! haha)..

    Furthermore, if everyone is using the same 2 or 3 closed-source clients, what if there is a security bug found in one of them? EVERYONE is vulnerable. Competition is good, proprietary is bad. Talkcity will see.

    Mike Roberto (roberto@soul.apk.net [mailto]) - AOL IM: MicroBerto

  • Actually, I think that idea of long distance with ads was really kicked around. i think it's a GREAT idea - if people are willing to listen to ads to get free long distance, all the power too everyone! I personally woulnd't do it (i'd rather do some online long distance), but if you don't like the advertising at all, then don't go there. Don't do the long distance, don't use talk city, etc... no one is putting a gun to your back.

    Mike Roberto (roberto@soul.apk.net [mailto]) - AOL IM: MicroBerto
  • Rick,

    I read all of the messages you posted (found through your user info,) and the page that you linked, and I want to thank you for responding and state that I do believe you are sincere. However, I must point out that, sincere or not, this move will simply not do what it is designed to do. Client side security simply does not work - any script kiddy with the motivation can and will break it in short order.

    Talk City is a private organization, and has every right to do this, as you effectively point out. I question not their right, but their reasoning. The client requirement can not accomplish the goal of eliminating the disruptive minority except on a very short term. At the same time, it conflicts with the other professed goals of TC - you don't build a community by locking out a large portion of the community, however good the motivation. The mac version may be in the works, but in the meantime the mac users (and other of the TC communities from what I have heard as well) are finding new homes on EFnet. Once they are gone they may not come back.

    I am afraid this signals the beginning of the end for TC chat. If TC determines to pursue security through blessed clients - an inherently broken approach - then it is likely that they will soon determine that security is impossible. I have no iron in this fire, if you had not posted and impressed me as a reasonable and sincere person I would probably think this is a good thing, as an exemplar I'll be able to point to the next time a client asks me to implement similar measures. However you have impressed me, and convinced me that TC is a basically decent organisation that offers a service of value to many people, and thus this situation strikes me as very sad. In the end though, I fear the outcome is still a foregone conclusion - client side security does not work, and the management appears to have vetoed the server side approach, so there you have it.

    Very sad, and I do hope time proves my analysis wrong, though I sincerely doubt it will.



  • It's nonsense. Not the part about a small percentage of people flooding and abusing. That part, I am sure, is true. But this is not only not the only way to fix that - it is not any sort of way to fix it.

    Do you really suppose that other irc servers haven't faced the same problem?

    This is just an excuse to force folks to watch there ads, sad thing is much of their clientelle is probably clueless enough to buy the excuse.

    That said, this move is likely to buy them more of the problems, not less. It will be days, if even that, before l337 $cr1p7 k1dd132 around the world break their security protocol and the serious abuses begin. Security through obscurity doesn't work, I have a feeling talk city and their customers are about to find that out the hard way.

  • Its difficult to compare ads on the net to ads on TV. When surfing the net, my browser doesn't uncontrollably stop showing the web page and force me to view adds, like the regular commercial breaks on TV.

    Akkkk! Don't give marketing people any ideas, it would be like Vigor all over again, only worse!

    • Of course, this idea falls apart a bit when you consider that their IRCd is actually Open Source (GPL), unless they made it from scratch, which is unlikely.

    Just because it's GPL'd doesn't mandate the release of changes if they don't distribute a modified version, which shouldn't be a problem, seeing that it is, after all, a server.

  • What are you talking about? You can't be circumventing intellectual property protection unless there's intellectual property to be protected in the first place. Talk City doesn't hold copyright on the text of the chats taking place.
  • I'm a former reg on thier #computer* forum, on 4/12 it's definatly going to be a ghost town or kiddee chat (it's well on it's way there now). Nearly all of the regs have found another home on various IRC servers because either they can't use the other clients, they won't use the other clients (I've tried, perfectly understandable), or noone they want to chat with is gonna use the other clients. I've been chatting there for a couple years now and it's almost like watching your home burn down. At least we've already built and christened a new home.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    to just script your normal client with a phony version reply
  • by Anonymous Coward
    NICK xxxx-guest
    USER xxxx-guest daisy.talkcity.com :EZ Talk Guest
    (server MOTD here)
    (more MOTD)
    (version request from server bot)
    NOTICE TrackAllUsers :\001VERSION EZTalk 3.0:20000331:Talk City:Linux\001
    PING ezt3
    (client joins channels, etc.)

    I assume the "PING ezt3" does the trick (ezt3 = "EZTalk 3", the java client). Or maybe the "USER" line. Anyone with a sniffer should be able to figure it out (somebody on a Windows box should post a dump of the Pirch client).
  • ...safely shut down and do nothing, right after enough of the stock is sold [yahoo.com] before the shit hit the fan [yahoo.com]. Who cares -- it's not like some feeble IRC network really was supposed to become profitable.

  • It's not like this is going to affect that many people. You figure only the more technically savvy users would bother to use a downloadable client anyway, and what's the chance they're on this system anyway? Isn't that the whole concept of plugins/java, that most people aren't knowledgeable enough to download something manually liek this?

    Seems like people getting worked up over nothing. It's not like TC have to provide any IRC access at all. That's their choice, and to bitch about it isn't going to get you anywhere.
  • So what is wrong with making money, they are a company. If they don't make money they can't pay the people who work for them, they can't keep the servers running etc. Hell they can't even pay the electric bill.

    The Cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • In general, you cannot fix security problems by trying to make people use a particular client. People trying to bring down the servers can easily learn how to pretend to be the new 'secure' client.
  • oh, a java client. how long util someone decompiles it, figures out what to send, and hacks an open source client to join their network? then again, why bother. as people have said, it's just another stupid chat network, who wants a chat network with ads when there are tons of IRC networks without? talkcity who?
  • The internet has, is, and will continue to degrade into a corparate wasteland of adds.
    If you don't like it, start something yourself.

    Seriously, the Internet will happily cope with whatever services your wish to invent and implement. If you only use stuff that other people write then you have to accept what they want to do.

    I jump from free service to free service, I use free software, I don't code a damn thing, so I find it hard to get worked up when someone changes something on me - I simply move on. (In fact, that's what I've been doing quite a bit lately with changes to both i-drive and GeoCities "GeoPoints" system screwing over both my primary and secondary web sites...)

  • Actually, I think that idea of long distance with ads was really kicked around. i think it's a GREAT idea
    Actually, it exists right now, though only for Windows users. It's called Dialpad [dialpad.com]. Free long distance, paid for by banner ads. Works great even over a 33.6 modem line.
  • Does the GPL status of IRCd really matter, as long as they don't distribute it?

    This might be a hole, with GPL... If you can screw with the servers, then you control the clients.

  • Then they can sell subscriptions. If one business model doesn't work, who should we blame, the customers who don't like it, or the company? I say we hold companies accountable for lame business ideas. If nobody is willing to watch ads, they lose customers. Big deal.

    Actually, a subscription model, where you look at ads and answer questions based about them, and no money is required, is probably a good idea. That lets them get ad revenue without requiring special clients.

    I for one will never use a special browser/irc client just to help a company collect banner revenue.
  • I would agree with you if I thought their goal was only to be a catalyst for great discussions, but I believe their actual goal is to make money. This is hard to do without banner adds or at least some control over what the user sees. If they allow any IRC client access, then they have no control.

    So, they have done what any good business does; captivate an audience, make a niche, then reap the profits.

  • It's like tv, only on tv you only have to see an add every 15 minutes or so -- a respectable amount of time (if you ignore the product placements,that is...)

    Its difficult to compare ads on the net to ads on TV. When surfing the net, my browser doesn't uncontrollably stop showing the web page and force me to view adds, like the regular commercial breaks on TV. Also, banner ads are not subliminal, like product placements. Consumers know where the ads are and are free to ignore them much easier than on TV.

  • This seems to be a non-issue to me.

    Just move to a better irc network, and when you do, notice that EFNet [efnet.org] is the largest, longest running IRC network in existance. Sounds like as good a place as any, huh?

    -- iCEBaLM
  • No, there is a client (Hell, two even!) available for the Mac
    from TC. They have the ever-so-lovely EZTalk3 Java
    client, complete with gif'ed emoticons, as well as
    the CGI driven EZTalk Web.
  • I am currently a host on Talk CIty, and I have many friends that are also. The main reason for the new version comming out is that there has been a user comming into the rooms for the last month that floods the room with joins/parts, and also leaved REALLY bad messages when he kicks himself from the room. This goes on for hours almost every day.

    As for the other things such as adds and stuff, those are just things that TC did to earn more money. They need more revenue due to a major re-vamping of their company. Recently they opened up at least a hundred paying jobs (all slots filled now).

    TC has made some very bad decisions on their part about not allowing Linux users, but hey, they do own it, so I really can't complain.
  • For all the Mac people who got displaced by Talkcity (used to be eWorld, sort of), there's a new channel at #mactalk on the open project network. (irc.linux.com)

    There is no client available for the Mac from TC. It is Win32 only.
  • I'll play devil's advocate.

    If they provided a Linux binary, people would scream bloody murder, because of the afflicted dozens and dozens of Linux Alpha users.

    The alternative? Naturally it would be OSS.

    In 48 hours *MAX*, a version that would work sans ads would be out, defeating the entire point.

    I don't think it is incredibly asinine to expect companies to be able not to bleed cash to provide us services. I use JunkBuster because banner ads servers are uniformly slow, but the ads on AOL IM don't bother me as they don't slow down access, and ultimately take up a tiny chunk of my 1280x1024 desktop. Of course, I couldn't use "AOL 5.0 50 free hours" if I wanted to due to my running Win2k, but anyhow....

    There has yet to been a really great OSS solution that works for all platforms, and yet allows companies to ensure certain requirements, be they displaying ads or cheat free Quake clients. This topic has come up on SlashDot before, but checksum'd clients and other solutions haven't appeared to work.


  • yeah, its very easy to do, but I doubt Talk City is that stupid.

    remember, they're using closed source properietary software, and they control both the server and client software. Thus for them, IRC is no longer a set protocol, and can be expanded (or limited) as much as they want.

    What they should do to prevent other clients from connecting is to have the client create a complex hash out of the user's nick and send it to the server for comparision and verification. Anyone can trace packets sent to and from the server, but with a hash, it would be very hard to make another client act the same way.

    Of course, this idea falls apart a bit when you consider that their IRCd is actually Open Source (GPL), unless they made it from scratch, which is unlikely.

  • Rather difficult, because they say the servers won't just be checking the version, but also some random bit of magic they have added to it to allow authorization on their server. I don't know how, but I'm real tempted to put windows back on my box just to find out (no TCPirch for linux, oh darn </sarcasm>).
  • (hey fellow former browserwatch chat regular, how ya been? :-) )

    Well, no, your $20 a month doesn't pay for all that other stuff, it pays for your isp. Of course I'm pretty sure you already know that, and that it was just a rhetorical question. :)

    The problem with what talkcity is doing is that they're effectively using a scapegoat to make more money. I mean really, look at the announcement. wanting to create a clean enviroment and all that nonsense, I mean really... just look at how well client side security works... I mean we have such great examples as ICQ, which has no real security at all when you get right down to it.

    Its the same problem here, of course that press release is aimed at people who aren't going to have any clue about this sort of thing and will believe it, rather then the real reason, which is that they want to make more money.

    I bet if they said that, then the people around here would be a lot less annoyed. Of course an honest corporation is something that we'll probably never see, basically lying is pretty much standard business these days.
  • See this post [slashdot.org] for another hosts perspective on this, if you haven't.

    These sorts of problems have been around for years on IRC, there are ways to deal with them. Client side security is not one of them. It just doesn't work. How long before your problem chatters reverse engineer it and are right back in your face? Give it a day, two max.

    Going to require that your users download a new client every two days, with a new security protocol? How long before all your serious chatters just give up and move on? How long before the problem chatters are the only ones still using the service?

    The place to solve this sort of problem is on the server, not the client. If TC is really dumb enough to think this will really get rid of the problem chatters I suspect they are in for a very rude awakening. On the other hand, if the goal is simply to generate more ad revenue... well I doubt it will work out that way in the long run, 10% of a large audience is a lot more than 100% of a very small one, but at least the step makes some sense from that perspective.

    Bottom line - TC is either incredibly stupid, or they are lying about the reason for the change. And either way it seems they are driving many of their users away.

  • Oh, BS. How much do a pair of Nikes cost you? Why do so many people pay so much for Nike when you can buy another shoe, just as good, for a third the price? Advertising.

    If Nike quit paying Mike and Tiger thier millions, how many shoes do you think they'd be selling in a couple of years?

  • Then there's the other problem people keep forgetting: Ads don't actually make money. Say we have company A and company B. Company A product A, company B has product B. Company A decides to make product A free, and works by sellign advertising space on product A to company B. Company B, seeing how much money A is getting from them, follows suit and releases product B for free. Now company A and B have no revenue except from each other. No money is being made, so they have to start charging for their products again. The end result: We're back at square one, only now products A and B are covered in adverts. The consumer gets screwed. In fact, the products now cost more money, 'cause both of them have to pay graphic designers to make the adds, coders to incorporate them, and a host of other additions to infrastructure.

    I know this scenario is prepostrous, but its the simplest way to illustrate the primary fact: advertisements do not make money. In fact, they are costing someone (someone very stupid) money. One cannot simply wish that everything was free but with advertisements, because there is still actual revenue being produced.

    Then throw in the stock market. Companies that release products for free through selling advertising space, while simultaneously buying advertising space from other companies, are somehow making money. Their stock is rising. Where's that money coming from? Nowhere. Its effectively counterfitting. Money from nothing. This forwards inflation. People have called the modern stock market a massive pyramid scheme. This is a falsehood, as in a pyramid scheme, the last people to sign on get screwed. In the stock market, the people who didn't invest at all, and suffer losses due to inflation, get screwed. That's worse then a pyramid scheme.

    The advertising economy isn't working. The system is vulnerable to abuse.
  • No, see the problem is that as the ads proliferate, sellers of 'free' services think that the quality of their product can go into the shitpot. Thus, as everyone can see by my email address, I am reduced to doing my own techsupport for my ISP connection, because all they give a shit about is whether or not I can read the ads.

    A 'free' long distance service like you mention sounds like an abomination to me.

    And it's not just free stuff. Go to a movie theatre. Pay $8 a ticket. Get bombarded by ads. Wait a minute! Who paid for the ticket? Did you pay for the ads too?

    And as the frequency of ads increases, your actual 'voice' as a consumer drops to nothing. You can't avoid the ad economy. It's everywhere. The ads you can't skip in DVD's are just another example. You do pay for them, don't you? Why should you pay to be advertised at?

    And the more money the ads bring in, the less the 'cost' to the consumer matters, and the less the service providers give a shit about your problems.

    I leave you with the product of my imagination. This is trying to have a private conversation with someone via an 'advertised' long distance service:

    Marsha: "Oh, John"
    John: "Marsha"
    Marsha: "John"
    John: "Marsha, I want to tell you some -"
    Marsha: "John?"
  • So either their entire technical staff is comprised of chimpanzees, or this statement about needing a proprietary client for security reasons is a complete lie and a very deceptive way of spamming their users.

    I'm betting on the chimpanzees.
  • I think it is a very poor excuse, considering that they could fix their flooding problems if they really wanted to. Right now, they use MS Exchange as their IRC server, with proxy servers to handle nick registration, since they cannot modify the MS Exchange code, and are unwilling to switch to an open-source IRC server. Before the proxies, they tried to use an IRC bot; however, the bot triggered a misfeature in MS Exchange which caused random people to be killed.

    Many of the flooders abuse open wingates to get around the (ineffective, one-IP only) bans that TalkCity uses, and they could add a check to their proxies to scan for an open wingate, as many other networks have done. If they go to the trouble to try and prevent real clients from connecting, I do not see why they cannot scan for open wingates.

  • Sure, they could fix the servers to fix these problems but they never will. Making a propeitary client will get them banner advertising, cash, and a "solid" userbase. Sure, this may be an easier way to support, but this is not where Talk City is looking as for doing this .. Once again, we pop back in to the root of all evil .. $$$

    Though Talk City knows they are going to lose users from doing this, they also know that the majority of users that they are going to use are the lusers that use stupid scripts and flood stuff on IRC networks. Yes there *are* server side ways to effectively filter this out, but why would they do that? Take advantage of the opportunity, and make a good cover up as to why they must make a dedicated client to connect to their servers.

    Pure and simple .. Money folks.

  • Here's some facts on this issue that seems to be missing from most of the comments:

    1) Since announcing the closeout, Onno Tijdgat, the author of the Mac irc client ircle, has confirmed he's in discussions with Talk City about making a mac-based client. He has publically stated that ads are NOT part of the discussions of making his irc client 'supported'.

    So all the people who claim this is all over ad banners can stick that up their butts.

    2) Talk City's network is not like the other major irc networks (DALnet, efnet, etc.) which are distributed across multiple, geographically diverse servers. All Talk City's servers are centrally located. This significantly changes the flooding issues that irc is (in)famous for. There is no significant delay between servers (assuming things are running well ;). This means that clones are a somewhat bigger problem since other networks would have an inherent delay because of their network design. There is no foolproof, effective way of dealing with flooders and clones in this kind of environment. If anyone knows one, I'd like to know (sell it to Talk City ;).

    3) Dorao, the channel you were in may have had 35, but that's one channel out of thousands. Talk City limits most rooms to 50 users max so it couldn't have got a lot bigger, anyway. Also, Talk City runs two separate networks so if you connect to chat.talkcity.com you're only seeing half the picture.
    Most days, Talk City runs well over 20K concurrent users. Not a DALnet or efnet record, but not too shabby, either.
    In either case, comparing them to these networks is not relevant... Talk City isn't irc, they'd prefer the term community... encompassing chat, discussion boards, home pages, etc. They do have more users and higher usage patterns that other similar sites, by which you'd have to consider Yahoo chat, Excite Chat, Geocities and the like (Sammeh, I seem to recall seeing a notice when they surpassed 3.5 million members).

    4) 'raw' irc users make up a small minority of all chat users in Talk City. WebTV, EZTalk (java) and their co-branded Pirch client are used by the majority of users. Talk City is obviously betting/expecting some PC users will switch to EZTalk or TCPirch, and the Mac users will switch to EZTalk or ircle if Onno comes through. Sure, they'll gonna see a hit in numbers, but it's not going to be as big as some people expect.
    The hosts who've posted here are clearly working in Talk City's '#Computer' forum where you would expect a higher proportion of computer-savvy users using irc clients.
    Even if this were about ads (see point 1 above) the increase in users who switch to add seeing clients isn't going to be that high. I assume Talk City's done its homework on the numbers and thinks it can live with it.

    5) Whoever it was who said it's all about scripts is wrong. TCPirch has the ability to run regular pirch scripts (at least, I think it has) and I would expect ircle to be able to do the same. It is true, though, that the majority of disruptions to chat are caused by one or other mIRC [google.com] or Pirch [google.com] script that some lameass installed. It's blocking these clients that Talk City is aiming at (and I can hear IRCops on other networks wishing the same). As I understand it, TCPirch has other controls to block war scripts while still allowing the majority of scripts to run.

    In short, sure, hard core chatters that want to be able to run their war scripts can do so elsewhere. Talk City's clearly making a business decision based on protecting their core users from the lamers. I don't have a problem with any chat (irc or otherwise) where I don't have to deal with jerks on a regular basis.

    Now I'm done. I've already used up my quota of brain cells for today.

  • I know I pay my ISP every month, and they have to pay the telco for lines for subscribers to dial in on, but who else do they have to pay every month that any other kind of business wouldn't?
    Who pays for IRC? Who gets paid?
    Who pays for newsgroups? Who gets paid?
    Who pays for all those fat pipes and the electronics that tie it all together and gets the electrons where they're supposed to go? Who gets paid?
    Does my "$19.95 a month, all you can eat up to 56K" fully cover the costs of browsing, e-mail, IRC if I ever try it again, ftp, etc., or am I being subsidized somewhere along the line?

    Best answer should rake in big karma :-)
  • by CokeJunky ( 51666 ) on Sunday April 02, 2000 @05:38PM (#1155691)
    Why do we have to sell our brains to companies to use basic services?

    The internet has, is, and will continue to degrade into a corparate wasteland of adds.

    It's like tv, only on tv you only have to see an add every 15 minutes or so -- a respectable amount of time (if you ignore the product placements,that is...)

    But on the web, Everything (why yes, evem this form I fill out now) has an add on it.

    And now IRC? it may just be one network, but the point is that just talking to our friends, something we take fro granted is now just one more way to invade our brains and make us but stuff.

    Think abaout it. Whats next... free long distance with a commercial break every 2 minutes?
  • by susano_otter ( 123650 ) on Monday April 03, 2000 @12:48AM (#1155692) Homepage

    Here's a conundrum, taken from the world of Cable Television:

    Network Television: You pay for the shampoo, and the shampoo pays for your T.J.Hooker. Downside: Shampoo ads in the middle of T.J. Hooker.

    Ideal Cable Television: You pay for the shampoo, and you pay for T.J.Hooker. Upside: No shampoo ads interrupting your program.

    Typical Cable Television: You pay for the shampoo, you pay for the Shatner, and you still get shampoo commercials in the middle of your programs.

    Which implementation is the best?

    The Point: How do you want to pay for your Internet and World Wide Web? How much service do you want for what you pay? How many of you are perfectly willing to put up with cable bills and commercials in order to get extra spiffy programming? How is this very different for current e-service funding schemes? Discuss.

  • by Kragma ( 160238 ) <<kragma> <at> <alltel.net>> on Sunday April 02, 2000 @06:09PM (#1155693)
    Something I've been thinking about a lot lately is the way the net has sort of become a huge mini-mall. Ads are all over the place now and everyone's trying to sell something.

    The thing is that I think there may be a light at the end of the corporate tunnel. We all know that practically every dotcom is running on over-inflated IPO money right now. Some are running out of cash because the busuiness model isn't self-sustaining. No one really knows if you can sell things online and end up with a profit. Every company that sells stuff online is too busy burning cash on acquisitions and expansions.

    Wall Street is clued into all of this. Everyone is just waiting for the dotcom bubble to burst and the Federal Reserve is trying to make sure it bursts before it gets out of hand. Just look at the market cap on companies like Yahoo. Its insane. These companies have some very limited intelectual property assets and pretty much no real-world assets. Yahoo has a "portal" (what they call search engines with news services now, apparently) site, some auctions and an ecommerce thingie. All of these are done to death on the web as it is and only one item is even slightly useful (search engine, though I like Altavista more, personally). And they support the bulk of this with ads that no one really reads...Ads that just link to other dotcoms!

    When the bubble breaks I think less and 5% of dotcoms will survive. There's too many people offering identical services and not making any kind of money. Lots of sites will just die off, loose their stockholders a ton of cash and make every ligitimate businessman rather disenchanted with the net in general.

    I'm sure ads will continue though. Probably not on specific clients (like this IRC thing or CuteFTP-type deals), but places were they are unintrusive and can actually make some money (web sites like this one).

    Then we can all get back to what the web is all about: Porn, and lots of it.

    Ohh...I'm starting to sound like Katz, time to stop.

  • by DanMcS ( 68838 ) on Sunday April 02, 2000 @06:37PM (#1155694)
    is because they are unable to deal with the barrage of attacks on their irc servers from people using scriptable clients. In the explanation that was sent out to hosts, they explain that they are unable to stop the flooding, nick stealing (all TC nicks require passwords), and various war scripts that people are using on the server through these clients. This smells like BS to me, but I am unable to prove it, because I don't know enough about how IRC servers and these attack scripts works. But I chat on other servers, and they never seem to have those kinds of problems. Undernet, DALnet, whatever, I've never seen anywhere near the problems on there that I do on TalkCity.
    I suspect these come from a couple of sources. Socially, by proclaiming themselves bigger, better, and cleaner than the rest of IRC, they make themselves a target. Technically, they use these stupid proxy servers that, while protecting a user's privacy, also make it impossible to effectively ban someone; only their superops, the CSAs, can ban someone by host, and then it is server wide. This neuters the hosts they generally use to keep order; on another server, we could ban the guy and be done, but on TalkCity we have to waste the CSA's time to get it done right.
    This "solution" doesn't address either of these basic problems. That it doesn't reveals them to be the moneygrubbing rats they are, using the server only to increase their adcounts. They did the same thing a while back, adding message boards (with ads) to the server, that all hosts had to chat on, and telling all the forums and hosts that they had to have regularly updated webpages (with ads). There's nothing wrong with ads on pages; changing the structure of the place to increase adcount, while proclaiming that outside "hacker" forces are making them do this, is wrong. TalkCity is no longer a fun place to host, and that's why I'm done there, and a lot of other people too.
  • by Kishar ( 83244 ) on Sunday April 02, 2000 @05:58PM (#1155695)
    Well, as I see it, this is pretty silly. The problems listed on the info page are server-side issues, easily repaired (in fact already repaird on many servers). To quote a luser on TC, "If TalkCity was the government, they'd ban cars to prevent vehicular accidents." The funny part of this client-side, administrative solution is that they've forgotten the golden rule:

    Never trust the client.
    Never put anything on the client. The client is in the hands of the enemy. Never ever ever forget this.

    How long before $hacker figures out $black_magic and adds it to the $irc_client_of_choice (isn't source code nice?)?
    (BTW, no, it is NOT a simply version request)

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.