First off, a great big thanks to NovaSquirrel for providing a pretty good amount of logs from #freedom and #realfreedom going back all the way to 2013, not long after I founded #freedom. My past systems of keeping logs had each of my many devices holding separate log files which ended up causing me to lose large chunks of data due to either human error or hardware failure. My earliest surviving IRC logs go back only to 2015.
This IRC channel and community itself is a few years old now, and a lot has happened to get it to where it is now. I don’t have every exact date for everything, but I’ll try to tell the story as well as I can. Please note that is from the point of view of me, Cinos, the owner of #realfreedom (and former owner of #freedom) and this site.
2010-2012 – My Introduction to IRC and AnthroChat
In summer of 2010, I discovered IRC through a Nintendo DS Homebrew app called DSOrganize (I had a flash cartridge and was checking out some new things with it), which had a built-in IRC client. The first channel I ever joined was, unsurprisingly, #DSOrganize on the Rizon IRC network. Around 2012, one of my friends from Rizon invited me to another IRC network called AnthroChat. At this time, I was not really part of the furry fandom at all but I decided to join anyway just to check it out.
The first IRC channel I joined on AnthroChat was #purrfection, but I quickly branched out into new channels such as #novaforest, which is run by NovaSquirrel. Eventually, I left #purrfection and mostly spoke in #novaforest instead because I felt it was moderated in a better fashion. #novaforest would later become my biggest inspiration for starting #freedom, the original incarnation of what is now known as #realfreedom.
2012 – My Idea for #freedom
#novaforest’s main selling point is freedom of speech. Generally speaking, the only things that would really cause people to get banned from there was spamming or flooding. AnthroChat itself is also founded on this same principle, as seen by its current rules list (as of September 2017 but it hasn’t changed since before I joined):
[02:10:48AM] * – Rules? What rules?
[02:10:48AM] * –
[02:10:48AM] * – AnthroChat Rules!
[02:10:48AM] * –
[02:10:48AM] * – The rules are simple:
[02:10:48AM] * –
[02:10:48AM] * – 1. Don’t be an automated spammer bot
[02:10:48AM] * – 2. Learn the commands and resources provided by the networks’ services
[02:10:48AM] * – to manage your time here in a way that is most pleasant for you.
As someone who had been banned many times just for having unpopular opinions or saying things that other people didn’t like, this is an idea I personally believe in, so I decided I would try to create my own channel with most of the same characteristics.
2013 – The Beginning of #freedom
Sometime in 2013, I started a channel called #freedom and its basis was that almost anything was fine. At one point, the channel topic read “Everything is okay, just don’t cause drama, please.” This is because drama was rampant in the channel at one point as well as in many other channels on AnthroChat. Spamming and flooding wasn’t too bad at the time and I never found it that annoying since it was usually harmless.
In 2014, I met someone who went by the nick ‘Kurty’ on AnthroChat. He was in a few channels I was in before but decided to join #freedom. I quickly befriended and became close to him. We were both tech geeks and we got along pretty well for a while and eventually I decided I trusted him enough to give him admin status in #freedom and eventually make him the successor to the channel.
2015 – Kurty and my Break from IRC
In 2015, there was quite a bit of drama in the channel regarding arguments between a few users over moral opinions. This constant drama caused me to have panic attacks due to the nature of the arguments and my own opinion on the matter as well as other things happening in my life at the time. I became extremely paranoid to the point where I could no longer function. Because of this, I decided to take a bit of a break from running #freedom and being in the channel. On July 22nd, 2015, I appointed Kurty as the founder of the channel under the understanding that he would return the channel if and when I decided I would come back.
Eventually, I returned to #freedom but at first, I didn’t really want to take the channel back. During this time, I would log into the channel as an owner using the channel password, which Kurty had not changed. I didn’t mind too much, running the channel alongside Kurty. It seemed nice to have less to worry about, not being the sole owner of the channel, but little did I know, issues were on the horizon.
Kurty had started to take the channel in a direction I did not agree with, and along with a couple other admins (Vennix and eventually Shentino), he started to add arbitrary rules to the rule list which I did not agree with. The whole idea of #freedom was to be able to say almost anything you want without having to worry about being censored by channel ops, but rules were added to the list that prohibited things such as speaking out against ops and rules against harassment. While these rules seem pretty sensible in most cases, they only really lead to censorship, which is against the whole spirit of a channel. Generally, harassment of a single user is an issue best left to the /ignore command.
2015-2016 – The Birth of #realfreedom and my Departure from #freedom
In response to this, I started a new channel called #realfreedom which was truer to the original idea of #freedom before the ownership change. Gone were the unnecessary rules that just opened the door to censorship of users by channel ops. #realfreedom began to gather some steam though #freedom remained the larger channel.
It’s interesting to note that not long after I started #realfreedom, there seemed to be a surge in #free/freedom based channels. In addition to #freedom and #realfreedom, there was #free, founded by NateWuff, #freeforall/#freefurall founded by Vennix, and #totalfreedom founded by FOX^^EARS. There were probably more, but these are the ones I remember.
To make matters worse back at #freedom, Kurty decided at a random point that he didn’t want me to co-own the channel and changed the channel password, locking me out. I remained an administrator of the channel, but I wasn’t even the highest-ranked administrator in the channel (that position went to Vennix), which was rather insulting for someone who started the original channel.
In the weeks leading up to September 2016, Kurty began to distance himself from IRC in general, focusing instead on his offline life. Because of this, his IRC nickname registration expired. With no successor and no founder, #freedom’s registration dropped but the channel was quickly re-registered by Shentino, one of the administrators that Kurty had appointed after taking ownership of the channel (Ironically, this means that #realfreedom is now technically the older channel based on registration date. Pretty cool, huh?).
Due to my disapproval of the direction of the channel and me running my own competing channel, I became more and more detached from #freedom, instead focusing my attention and resources on #realfreedom. I eventually cut off the site, which I managed starting back when I owned #freedom. Finally, on November 26th, 2016, I was banned from the channel from speaking out against an op in the channel who I personally disliked, ending my time at #freedom, a channel I founded.
2016 Onward – More Drama and the Decline of #freedom
It is often said that ‘history repeats itself.’ This was definitely the case in #realfreedom. The same kind of drama between the same users sparked again in the channel, causing me to take another temporary break from the channel and IRC in general. This time, I entrusted the channel to Koala, another user I had been close to for a few years. Unlike the first case, though, Koala actually returned the channel when I requested it but remained an administrator for quite a while afterwards.
Due to a variety of factors including my very active advertising and a halfop at #freedom going rogue and banning everyone from the channel (and wrongfully pinning the blame on me), #realfreedom has become the more popular of the two freedom channels and one of the most popular channels on AnthroChat with #freedom being mostly full of idling users and most lines in the channel being joins, parts, and quits rather than conversation.
The Telegram group has a bit of a different story. It was started in 2016 initially and I registered it on Telegram FurList, an online database of furry-themed Telegram groups that any group owner can contribute to. It grew in popularity, attracting people from the IRC channel as well as people who were just browsing Telegram FurList, which led to some unsavory users, including one who threatened to report the group due to its lack of an explicit age limit but presence of sexual content. Due to my issues with paranoia, I quickly panicked and dropped the group, giving on on the idea of managing a public Telegram group for a year.
In 2017, I finally decided I would give running a Telegram group another chance. This time, I also put the group on Telegram FurList, but it seemed almost as if no one was seeing it online, since 100% of the users so far either came from the IRC channel or were invited by me or other group members. That said, it has grown in user count to rival even the IRC channel at times.