An open letter from Atheme's developers and community

For nearly as long as has existed, we’ve worked hand in hand with freenode to create an amazing environment for free and open-source software to prosper. Atheme members contributed to freenode’s previous IRC daemon, hyperion, and continued that commitment to the community with our work on charybdis — the base for ircd-seven — as well as with our work on Atheme IRC Services, the services package which has served freenode well for over a decade.

During this time, many Atheme members worked with freenode directly; contributing to freenode’s own development projects, working with them to customize Atheme’s functionality for their needs, even directly supporting the network as freenode staff members. While Atheme’s own development team has changed over the years, we’ve always been strong partners of freenode — even until the end, on the 21st of May, multiple Atheme members reinforced this commitment by serving as staff, and even as the head of development, for freenode.

We’re thankful for the freenode of old, and we’re glad for the many shared years of freenode and Atheme’s continual growth together. However, recent events have clearly shown that the freenode of old is no longer the freenode of today.

Andrew Lee, the man behind London Trust Media and the 2017 buyout of freenode ltd., has now stepped outside of his role as a questionable caretaker to manage freenode directly. With this new direction in freenode comes a new direction where every single existing staff volunteer resigned in protest, a new direction where values and beliefs of individual projects are ignored, and a new direction where policy and channel management is dictated solely by Andrew’s whims.

While Atheme did not agree with Andrew’s new direction for freenode, we were initially open to continued collaboration for the sake of the freenode community, which has not fully migrated elsewhere. Within the day of the resignation of freenode’s staff members, we had already connected with a member of freenode’s new administration to confirm point of contacts for services-related matters, and so forth.

This good faith, however, was not returned. On May 25th, Andrew Lee conducted a channel takeover of unprecedented breadth on freenode; assuming control of hundreds of channels, many of which were legitimately registered by FOSS and peer-directed organizations who had once used freenode for their channels in order to erase the wishes of those who had since chose to move elsewhere. Amongst many hundreds of other channels, despite our commitment to continue working with freenode, this included our former home of #atheme.

The leaders and participants of the Atheme community are disappointed by this action. We find Andrew Lee to be a wholly unacceptable leader who has committed irreparable harm to the freenode community. While we once felt that continuing our working relationship with freenode where possible was the best choice for the free software community, at this point we only consider it a position which would serve to legitimize the despotic rule of Mr. Lee. and its members cannot and will not tolerate this level of abuse using our platform and we reject these actions.

Moving forward, we consider Andrew’s regime to be illegitimate. Atheme is free software, and usable by anyone including freenode. This will not change. However, while the Atheme IRC platform is free software, it is built by a community which values mutual trust, which Andrew’s actions have unfortunately destroyed. Accordingly, the collaborative efforts between freenode and come to a close today.

Atheme calls on all free software projects large and small to reject the network managed by the new freenode administration. Instead, choose networks built on the same principles which Atheme has always stood for: mutual trust and community autonomy.


  • Ariadne Conill (original author of Atheme, founding member of
  • Alyx Wolcott (atheme developer, member)
  • Austin Ellis (former contributor)
  • Christine Dodrill (former contributor)
  • Jessica Williams (former contributor)
  • Devin Brown (former tester/contributor)
  • Nicole Kleinhoff (atheme maintainer, member)
  • Robin Burchell (former contributor)
  • Aaron Jones (atheme maintainer, member)
  • Elly Fong-Jones (former contributor)
  • Alex Iadicicco (former contributor)
  • Elizabeth Myers (former contributor)


  • Síle Ekaterin Aman ( bug-tracker admin)
  • Naia Ōkami ( IRC network administrator)