If you chat on gamingonlinux:matrix.org via Matrix, you might think GamingOnLinux also operates a Matrix room, but that’s not entirely true. Read on for the details.
What is Matrix? I’m using Element, not Matrix
Matrix is the network and protocol that Element (formerly called Riot) uses to transmit messages. Element is just one of many Matrix clients.
What is the gamingonlinux Matrix room?
On one hand this is a normal Matrix room, on the other hand it’s also bridged to the #gamingonlinux IRC channel on Freenode. You can reach it from the GamingOnLinux website or by connecting an IRC client to Freenode.
What is IRC?
IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. It’s a chat protocol that has been around since 1988, long before Matrix or even instant messengers came up. Read more on Wikipedia.
What does the Matrix-Freenode bridge do?
It makes IRC messages appear inside Matrix and Matrix messages appear on IRC. Everything you say in the GamingOnLinux Matrix room will be copied to the #gamingonlinux IRC channel and everything that the IRC users say will be mirrored to the Matrix room.
Can an IRC user tell that I’m a Matrix user?
Yes. On IRC, you will appear with an
[m] after your nickname. You can get rid of it by registering your nickname on Freenode and configuring Matrix to use this, but how to do that is beyond the scope of this FAQ.
It also becomes obvious that you’re using Matrix if you make use of the reply feature. This feature creates a weird-looking quote of the message replied to, it looks someting like this:
Psy-Q: hey, it seems you are a Matrix user
aMatrixUser[m]: <Psy-Q "hey, it seems you are a Mat"> yes
To IRC users, there is no such thing as replying to an older message.
In a similar vein, editing old messages doesn’t work either, it looks something like this when someone edits a message twice:
aMatrixUser[m]: i did not hit her aMatrixUser[m]: *i did not hit her, it's not true, it's bullshit! aMatrixUser[m]: *I did not hit her, it’s not true! It’s bullshit! I did not hit her! I did not! Oh hi Mark.
This makes it look unneccessarily noisy on IRC. People here are expected to keep up with the context of a conversation, that’s why you might get strange reactions when using these Matrix features in the GamingOnLinux room – or any other IRC-bridged Matrix room, for that matter.
You can’t delete messages on IRC. What is sent is sent. If you delete a message you posted via Matrix, it will appear as deleted only to Matrix users, but IRC users will still see it.
Why would someone prefer an IRC client if Matrix is more modern?
Matrix is more modern but also a lot more complex than IRC. IRC clients can be tiny and take up just a few hundred KB, they are really fast and make good use of resources. There are also downsides such as missing chat history, no support for attachments, etc. but these can be worked around by using an IRC bouncer and relying on external services to host files, then pasting their URLs into IRC.
Beyond the technical reasons, some of us are simply more comfortable using IRC, maybe because we also sit on other IRC channels or even different IRC networks from the same client.