Re: Matrix IRC bridge considered harmful

Here's my two cents, granted this is not going to be an academically backed response, just my personal take.

I have had horrible experiences with Matrix/ I'm not sure which of those is due to the IRC bridge or which is due to Matrix itself, or which is due to the clients, but I really shouldn't 'have' to know the chat system at that level. My experience has been awful.

Rocket.Chat hosted at on the other hand has been pretty much consistently awesome since it first spun up, and has gotten better consistently over the last few months with weekly or bi-weekly updates. On top of that, I don't want to put words in the mouths of the sysadmins, but it seems like it's been really easy on their end to keep running and maintained. There was a small issue with NTP not working right on the server, but that was sorted out by Bart in not much time.

So, y'all are talking about bridge this and federation that, this client, that client, yada yada. This isn't making me yearn to use Matrix. I really don't want to have to have a MS degree to use a basic chat tool (exaggeration to make a point). RocketChat works, is simple, has nice mobile apps, has tons of features, and Matrix has to offer me a LOT of benefit over RocketChat to pull me in that direction.

So my question to you is this. Why is Matrix a technically and usability-wise superior option over RocketChat? And in that question, I'm not asking for theoretical benefits, I really am interested in practical use-case benefits. I could see an argument being that Matrix has Fractal and therefor is a nice GTK client, but, unfortunately as it is to say, my experience with Fractal was a bit iffy at best. I cannot even count the number of messages just dropped into the ether using Fractal.

So, the last thing I'll say is this. As a project that is trying to attract more users, many of whom are young, new to FOSS, and or are non-technology skilled professionals such as artists, designers, writers, etc, is Matrix really the best option? Or do you just want it to be the best option?

On Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 1:53 PM Michael Catanzaro <mcatanzaro gnome org> wrote:
On Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 4:23 pm, Georges Basile Stavracas Neto via
desktop-devel-list <desktop-devel-list gnome org> wrote:
> The Riot application is hard to use. It took me days to figure out
> how to connect
> to a GNOME room. It doesn't allow me to log out of the servers.

These are all problems with the IRC bridge, not with normal Matrix. I
agree the quality of the IRC bridge is catastrophic. Joining rooms is
extremely difficult, and it is a Hotel California bridge (you can check
out, but you can never leave! that's why we have all these trap ghost
accounts from Matrix who never see the PMs you send them, basically the
inverse of the problem I started this thread to complain about).

Anyway, normal Matrix has none of those problems. Please don't judge it
based on the quality of the IRC bridge.

It is a shame that the Matrix developers continue to operate IRC
bridges that are clearly serving to harm the reputation of Matrix. I
know there's value in bridging to IRC, but it should be done well if
it's going to be done at all. No doubt the Matrix developers have
limited time and competing priorities, just like we do ourselves....

> Fractal is nice,
> as I really like native clients, but Polari feels more polished.
> Matrix apparently
> doesn't allow turning off federation, and to me that's a no-go aspect
> of it. At
> last, I have a strong impression that Matrix suffers from feature
> bloat.

Fractal needs some love, for sure. I wouldn't want Matrix to be judged
by the quality of Fractal today. (In particular, all PMs you send to
users are silently discarded until the other user joins the room, and
there is no UI to indicate the user has joined the room. You really
have to create PMs from Riot, which is pretty awful.) But Fractal's
problems are all well within the skills of our community to solve.

Jan-Michael also likes the Chatty app from Purism. I didn't realize
that was a Matrix client until today, so I haven't tried it and can't
vouch for it myself, but it looks similar to Polari or Fractal. So it
seems we have two GNOME clients for Matrix, zero for Rocket.Chat....

> Rocket.Chat has been apparently more responsive to out contact, and
> even
> accepted a few pull requests from us. I believe it has a brighter
> future, specially
> if a native GTK client shows up.

I've never seen any core Rocket.Chat developers flying to us to give
talks at GUADEC, like Matthew has done. I think Matthew has perhaps
stopped focusing on GNOME due to perceived lack of interest on our side
(and competing time pressures; I guess keeping Mozilla and the France
government connected is not easy. ;)

Basically my opinion would be: there's a pretty clear industry leader
here, other open organizations are selecting Matrix after investigating
available options, why not go with what everybody else is doing? Goal
should be for GNOME developers to only need *one* chat app to do their
jobs. Let's go with whatever has the best chance of obsoleting IRC,
which looks like Matrix.

That said, I don't know much about Rocket.Chat. Honestly, I don't think
I'd heard of it before I rediscovered a couple weeks
ago. So if Rocket.Chat really is open protocol like Matrix -- a
backwards-compatible protocol that encourages the creation of diverse
clients, rather than something we just have to hope doesn't change and
break a future GNOME client -- and if we really seriously plan to write
a GNOME-style client, then I guess that might turn out just fine, and
allow us to finally move on from IRC. (I really want to see a GNOME
client though; a web client is just not good enough.) But Matrix is
good today. I guess all we need to do is redirect to, turn off GIMPNet, and call it a day. Bonus points if
we can keep the string "poop" out of any of the domain names.


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