Introducing the temporary Matrix Council

The Ubuntu Community Council has decided to create a temporary Matrix Council to provide leadership to the Ubuntu Matrix Project while it is getting started.

Why?

The Ubuntu community is slowly adopting Matrix. This is a deliberate effort to improve our community in a number of ways.

  • Encourage more interaction between the community and Canonical.
  • Encourage more interaction between Ubuntu and neighboring communities such as GNOME, KDE and Fedora.
  • Open up our community to a wider, diverse audience, including less technical and younger generations.

Matrix offers the modern features we need, without compromising our values. Moreover, its federated nature perfectly aligns with our “community of communities”.

Matrix is set to become an important tool for our community. Decisions about how to use, moderate, and administer our Matrix spaces will have a significant impact on the community. Therefore, it’s important to have community leadership from the get-go. Leadership should be transparent and accountable, and a formal “Matrix Council” gives us exactly that.

Who?

The council consists of 5 members.

  • Marc Gilligan, Ubuntu Matrix operations
  • Mauro Gaspari, Canonical community team
  • Merlijn Sebrechts, Ubuntu Community Council
  • Nils BĂĽchner, Ubuntu Matrix operations
  • Seth Arnold, IRC Council

The council’s term is limited until 2024-04-01. After this date, a newly elected “regular” Matrix Council will take over.

Matrix Council responsibilities

The scope of this council is strictly Matrix-related. Any cross-platform decisions such as potential bridges to IRC will be decided together with the other relevant councils. A number of important topics are on the agenda.

  • Defining moderation policies for Matrix
  • Bootstrapping a moderators team
  • Defining processes for room creation, admin privileges, media handling, etc.
  • Proposing a process to elect the “regular” Matrix Council

Even though the council has the end responsibility in these matters, we encourage everyone to contribute. There is a lot of work ahead of us and we can’t do it alone! Helping out to build our Matrix community is a great way to have a positive impact on the project and become an Ubuntu member!

If you want to help out, the first step is to get started with Matrix, and join the Ubuntu Matrix Ops room.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reply to this topic.

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A great development.

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Thank you for sharing these new improvements!

I very like the idea of bringing all the worlds together to benefit the communication
for the whole Ubuntu community.

I think the way of the KDE community is going is a great example for us all
bridging the matrix with libera so both irc and matrix users can find each other
in their (support) rooms with proper usernames[M] joins and showing in the userlist aswell.
And also link to a matrix webchat wich is pretty smart.

https://community.kde.org/Matrix

And as last i think its still important to keep alive the oldskool irc foundation
as many users still rely on CLI communications.

Good luck to all making these changes!

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This is a great idea, matrix brings allot of functionality and modernisation to communication.
I’m wondering though, if any thought has been given to preservation and archiving of chat logs?

Putting my digital preservation hat on here, IRC is great for preserving and archiving chat logs as they are plain text files. An example of a nightmare for digital preservation is Microsoft Teams which has largely been taken up by corporations and in my case governments. Extracting information out of teams can be done, but the result is a folder of disorganised unstructured data which for archiving and legal is a nightmare!

I haven’t looked to closely at matrix at how it structures it’s data and how easy it is to extract, also thinking about encrypted data too. I will look into this though.

I’m unsure of Canonical’s policies on data retention and disposal around chat logs internal and external. I’m sure there would be some discussions wanting to be preserved and others to be discarded depending on subject/content.

I guess if Bridges are created then everything will be saved into a log file?

Keep up the good work!

R.

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Thanks, you bring up a good point. We currently have https://irclogs.ubuntu.com/ as a central official archive of Ubuntu IRC channels, with history all the way back to 2004.

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Public logging is indeed one of the things we will work on.

Our current idea is to set a per-room logging policy. Some rooms should be logged publicly to preserve a historic archive. Other rooms will only be saved in the matrix server itself. However, any moderator action will trigger a log window, in order to preserve the context of that action.

This is just an idea at the moment, nothing is set in stone yet, but do you think this is the right approach?

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Do you know what bridge they run/use?

Moderator events should be logged in some way, even if it’s in a separate log, for the Ubuntu Matrix Council to audit as needed. This will prove useful in the future, if a moderator’s status comes into question, or if someone wishes to appeal a ban decision.

My suggestion to the Matrix Council would be to ask, “where do we see this going in five years?” with respect to the logs. Steve is absolutely correct, there is historical context in the IRC logs that must not be discarded. That being said, should the logs be unified under chatlogs.ubuntu.com or similar?

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I am not 100% sure but i think they use this.
That would require that Libera adds an exception for the server the bridge connects the clients from to allow more clients per IP.
From what i saw all clients connect from the the same VPS IP at digitalocean in #kde

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This is a good Idea, I’m unsure of how the bridge between matrix and IRC work , would this create duplicate logs ? If so I think only one would need to be retained.

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It’s great to modernize a platform to newer technologies and it’s great to find a technology more in tune with today’s needs and communications preferences.

However, the idea of “bridges” is not well thought out, and poorly executed.

IRC has many limitations, one of the most common is line length. A message exceeding 400 characters results in the message being broken up to blocks and transmitted successively. An issue with the bridge is that when this breaking of messages, each successive message will not carry the tag to indicate who has sent the message. If more than one person is sending large amounts of text, this will degrade the user experience with different topical message commingling with the successive postings.

The next part is the tagging of messages passed through the bridge. The tag is way too long and reflects and being in the format of <{username} (@{matrix_channel}:{matrix_server_domain})>. The length of which can be cannot be controlled and can potentially exceed 255 characters in length (recalling a max line length of 400.) Knowing that matrix servers have long names (e.g. llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll[dot]space) this is going to create a very verbose post each time a message passes through the bridge gateway.

Which is the next issue, tagging a person. Currently clients offer a tab completion to emulate an effective @ reply. That will not exist for either side of the bridge gateway. Personally I have never seen anyone provide an effective answer to this problem. Just that “assume it works.” If looking at the support channel where it’s very important to tag a message to the user it is intended, it will be a very degraded experience when the wrong person is tagged because of similar resemblance to the target name. Creating a large amount of confusion, especially in a channel with a lot of activity.

Taking two very different communications technologies and mashing them together just doesn’t make any sense. To do it effectively would mean the need to remove the features that make one platform more versatile, to meet the needs of the lesser capable.

Just let IRC and Matrix communities be independent. Embrace that there will be some people that prefer one over the other. Be okay that if this means the closure or demotion of IRC to an unofficial community, let that that happen. The many features of Matrix bring a lot of opportunity, but having to adapt everything to an older technology will always create a degraded experience for everyone.

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Hello, FOSS friends! Josh here from the Matrix.org Foundation. We’re thrilled to see the Ubuntu community wading deeper into Matrix alongside other distros and open source projects. We’ve got a small but mighty team over here at the Foundation and will be glad to help any way we can.

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