Thursday, May 26, 2016

Name & Shame: IRCCloud's (really shameful) unprofessionalism Home Page
Ever been threatened to have the cops called on you before? Over IRC? It's not exactly something that I haven't seen before, but this time around I couldn't resist writing about this. Today folks, I'll be outing the extremely unprofessional behavior of Mr. James Wheare (archive), the lead web engineer over at IRCCloud, and hopefully sway everyone's opinion towards why considering IRCCloud for your IRC needs is now a foolish idea.

Display Bug

[2016-05-25 05:14:14] <Techman> For a display bug, this is extreme
This all begins over something that I would call a display bug. Basically, if you changed your nickname to [] and then proceeded to say something in any channel, it would make the web app show a white screen. The issue with this is that all IRCCloud users were apparently affected.
[2016-05-25 04:03:01] * Techman → []
[2016-05-25 04:03:03] <[]> trollface
[2016-05-25 04:03:06] * [] → Techman

Was such a bug real? I decided to change to test it out while in #feedback, due to seeing something mentioned about it. Surely [] wouldn't cause an issue, right? Wrong. I decided to try it out, and resident IRCCloud staffer james wasn't very happy about that.

I think I should also mention that around this point that I had real doubts about such a simple bug even existing, so I had more of a "playful" attitude at this stage. For anyone who knows a thing or two about web design, this shouldn't register as anything more serious than "oh, lol". At least, from my design experiences a few years ago, this is how I felt.

James Flips His Lid

In #feedback:
[2016-05-25 04:04:27] * You were kicked by @james (no reason)
In #vip:
[2016-05-25 04:07:24] <Techman> I think I broke myself atm
[2016-05-25 04:07:31] <CornishPasty> You broke #feedback for me
[2016-05-25 04:07:32] <CornishPasty> Congrats
[2016-05-25 04:07:34] * You were kicked by @james (no reason)
When I tested this issue, I immediately didn't notice any adverse effects. However, things were taken back to reality when I was forcefully removed from their feedback and VIP (for subscribers) channel by James himself. I tried to rejoin these channels, but it turns out that James has kick-banned me.

In private messages with him, things got a little more interesting. He first addressed me with some really unprofessional language. Keep in mind that James is a representative and an official employee of IRCCloud; one of the co-founders really.
[2016-05-25 04:06:55] <james> really fucking uncool
[2016-05-25 04:07:59] <Techman> Bad sport eh?

From there, a fairly long and drawn out conversation that spanned several hours on and off ensued. It's generally understood that he was upset at this point, and I was more or less trying to be casual about the whole thing. I tried to get him to settle things between he and I like adults, but it wasn't going to happen.
[2016-05-25 04:08:27] <james> deliberately disabling our feedback channel is not sport, it's twattery
Must be a British thing. I don't see "twat"used often in the United States, except for the internet of course.
[2016-05-25 04:12:25] <Techman> But hey, feel free to make your company look fantastic by denying me access to #vip and #feedback over a stupid bug
[2016-05-25 04:12:45] <Techman> No wonder why Slack got all of the investments
[2016-05-25 04:12:59] <james> that's nice, try that excuse next time you get arrested
[2016-05-25 04:14:10] <Techman> Oh wow, legal threats eh?
[2016-05-25 04:14:20] <Techman> Very unprofessional, especially your tone of language with me
[2016-05-25 04:14:54] <Techman> How can you possibly expect to keep a good company if you can't stop yourself from blowing your lid over a display bug?
Above is the real meat and potatoes of the conversation. From the bold section above, I interpreted that as him threatening to pursue legal action against me. Among all of my peers, they find it hilarious that somebody would go as far as to threaten legal action over a simple visual bug in the client interface. This bug didn't affect anything on IRCCloud's backend. If anything, James should be at fault for his own (buggy) code. Any good developer would just improve and move on, not blow their lid over someone trying to ultimately joke around.
[2016-05-25 04:21:20] <Techman> Hello?
[2016-05-25 04:23:41] <Techman> I'm requesting to be unbanned from #feedback and #vip now, please
[2016-05-25 04:23:58] <james> not yet
[2016-05-25 04:24:07] <james> have a timeout
[2016-05-25 04:24:42] <Techman> Yep, really professional treating me like a child
[2016-05-25 04:24:50] <james> for behaving like one?
[2016-05-25 04:24:56] <Techman> Do you really want me to blow this up into something that's not worth it?
[2016-05-25 04:25:10] <Techman> Hey hey hey, not my fault that you took this way out of proportion to what my intentions were.
[2016-05-25 04:25:10] <james> what are you threatening?
[2016-05-25 04:25:37] <Techman> I'm trying to have a little fun, and then you send me a PM with some vulgar language
[2016-05-25 04:25:47] <Techman> That wasn't required, was it?
[2016-05-25 04:26:41] <james> required or not, you deliberately sabotaging our primary support channel makes me angry. i think you can take the language
[2016-05-25 04:27:25] <Techman> Nah, if you want to represent IRCCloud as something more than a personal project from 3 people, you have to be able to act cool even when the most enraging things happen

I told James that I would make this issue public, and so I have. From this point forward however, I just tried to see what else I could "get" from James. I gave up on trying to have an adult conversation because it was clear to me that it wasn't going to happen. That's why I constantly praised Slack (their competitor) for the amount of support they have.
[2016-05-25 05:19:05] <james> "Sure, I apologize for you blowing your lid"
[2016-05-25 05:19:08] <james> that's not an apology
[2016-05-25 05:19:24] <Techman> Yeah, you refused to apologize for yourself previously so somebody had to do it
[2016-05-25 05:19:39] <james> ok, bye

And then, later on:
[2016-05-25 13:23:52] <Techman> Have you changed your mind yet?
[2016-05-25 14:27:32] <james> Pending any further developments the ban is for 24hrs, so it will be removed tomorrow morning uk time at the latest.
[2016-05-25 14:27:55] <james> (Unless I'm given reason to extend it)
[2016-05-25 14:28:11] <james> (But I'm hoping to be given reason to reduce it)
[2016-05-25 15:06:16] <Techman> wow, a ban for 24 hours
[2016-05-25 15:06:22] <Techman> You must have been really heated
[2016-05-25 15:10:46] <james> I can make it longer if you want?
[2016-05-25 15:18:36] <Techman> Like I said, you must have been heated
[2016-05-25 15:18:49] <Techman> And nonetheless, you still want to handle this like a child. This is petty.

...and that's the conversation I've had with James.

Since then, I've deleted my IRCCloud account, and moved to a solution of weechat with its relay module loaded, and using Glowing Bear as a front end client. This was suggested to me by Noah from BetaChat, and I thank him for that. It's really opened my eyes. IRCCloud, despite me using it for over 4 years, isn't worth it to me anymore. No sense in paying a company to get screwed over. The best part? They are both open source software. Oh, and so is weechat-android, which I use on occasion.

Above all else, I created this post to highlight the way IRCCloud treats their customers. As I've said before, there's no sense in paying IRCCloud (or any company, for that matter) if their staff are going to be immature and act in the fashion demonstrated above. There's no excuse for a company official to be a "dick" or a "douchebag". If you don't like the treatment that I've received from IRCCloud support, then I recommend that you stop using IRCCloud, let alone pay for it. After all, there's nothing stopping from this kind of incident from happening again, and getting the same reaction from IRCCloud staff.