ChatSpike HistoryThis history of ChatSpike is bought to you by Brain, created 25th September 2014.
2001 - Humble Beginnings
ChatSpike began in 2001 and has its origins in a small network called e-TidalWave. I came to e-TidalWave due to Azhrarn (Kross) who was having an issue with his WinBot (a program i was maintaining and producing at the time) and wanted to see the issue for myself. It was at this point I met Craig. At the time, e-TidalWave had around 250 users, mostly members of an online game called DarkGalaxy. Over time, the policy of this network changed to exclude certain staff members including Craig, and seeing our opportunity, in secret, we started to configure our own network, who's name at the time was not yet decided.
At short notice, Craig managed to obtain a shell account and configure UnrealIRCd on it, and this was the beginnings of the network. It took several days for us to decide upon a name for the network, going through silly suggestions of my own such as "FishstiX" before finally settling upon a name mostly contributed by our services admin, RD, of "ChatSpike".
At the time our domain name was chatspike.org.uk and the thought of registering the name chatspike.net had not yet crossed our minds - it was only a few months into being a live network that obtaining this domain came into our minds, and this is a story for later. Between then and now, there was quite a bit of drama...
During our testing and setup of ChatSpike we had managed to convince DarkGalaxy and by extension most of e-TidalWave's userbase to move over to our new network, and half of e-TidalWaves admin team plus the official channel of my software, WinBot. This would have left e-TidalWave with just a spattering of admins and opers and not many users at all. We had planned in secret that we would all move at a given time on a given day late in the evening one summer's night in 2001. This did not go to plan however, as in the week leading up to this mass move, the e-TidalWave admins became aware of this plan, and in a fit of rage at our deception, shut down all of their servers, with the blunt message that "as everyone was going to leave anyway, they could all fuck off to irc.chatspike.org.uk" and that "the server was going to be shut down within half an hour". This did indeed happen, and we had a frantic thirty minutes to migrate two hundred plus users onto our new network, informing them of what was happening and how to connect. During this crisis, our new irc admin team and especially spaceRaptor were instrumental in making sure everyone found their new home and nobody was lost to us.
After the initial move to ChatSpike things progressed without any drama for several months. It was at this point we decided that we needed the name chatspike.net - well, i say 'needed'. One of my IRC friends who had been helping me with WinBot registered it in his name, and in exchange for the domain name, wanted to become an oper. This did not end the way he had anticipated as he had no use for the domain apart from as a bargaining tool, and ended up giving us to us gratis.
2002 - Disaster strikes
During 2002 we had one of our first proper offers of a linked server to ChatSpike. A relative newcomer to ChatSpike offered us our own server in London's Telehouse, which at the time was an offer too good to refuse. Until that point we had subsided upon borrowed 'freebie' shells, and at any one time were worried as to when anyone might pull the plug and leave ChatSpike homeless, in a virtual sense. Taking him up on his offer we were indeed granted various shell accounts on a server in London, and due to it now being our fastest server, nearest to Craig and I who are UK-based, we made it our hub over the next few weeks and migrated our services across to it.
Disaster struck when one day we connected to ChatSpike to find the hub had split and taken services with it. In a panic, we tried to SSH into the server to find out what had happened only to find that the server itself was physically down, powered off.
After speaking to our new benefactor, we were told that he had terminated the service, without any good reason, and that we would be unable to retrieve anything from the server, including our services database. By now, services had been down the better part of a day, so we reached out to our backups to find that they had never worked correctly from the new box - leaving us with only one copy of our services database several years old. Loading this database, most of the nicknames and channels on ChatSpike promptly expired and vanished, which is why if you now do an "/ns info" command on myself or Craig, you will see registration dates from 2002, and not 2001. This is why we now will never host services anywhere but boxes we are paying for with real money, and why backups are crucial to daily operation of ChatSpike.
After this debacle our new benefactor was never to be seen again, he had made a quick retreat before any G-lines could follow his arse out of the door.
2003-2004 - Konichiwa, Daniel-san!
In late 2003 ChatSpike saw its period of largest growth yet, with several large Anime channels moving to us from an IRC network that could no longer meet their needs. One of these was a large Anime trading channel known as Anime-Empire, or AE, one of the leaders of this community being Koroshiya (Albert) who came to be a good friend of ours and a provider of many useful services (more on this later).
During this time we saw some slight changes to our rules (previously we had disallowed all file trading of any kind, we changed our rules to allow for file trading of unlicensed anime and abandonware (unlicensed anime is that which has no copyright within the western world)). We also saw our user count grow from 350 users to 3500 users, at which point UnrealIRCd started to show the strain, and a sideline project of ours, "InspIRCd" was worked on to greater fervour to try and build some ircd software that could cope with the user count. This project later became very important to IRC as a whole.
During this time we held a developer chat for the popular massively multiplayer roleplaying game "World of Warcraft", which temporarily saw a massive spike in users and in traffic, and by extension pushed our servers to their very limits.
28th October 2004 - Blame brain!
In 2004 ChatSpike saw a drastic increase in the number of spambots attempting to gain a foothold on the network. Due to a new trojan which had been doing the rounds we had spent time creating a new piece of software called IRC Defender, and quickly deployed it to deal with the spambots. Part of this was a flexible way of banning patterns in nicknames. On the 28th October 2004, this was used with disasterous effect by myself, when placing a ban which accidentally banned everyone. What's more, these bans were perpetuated by the Defender software, and there was an individual ban for every user on the network rather than just one ban, leaving us with no recourse to entirely take down every server and bring them all back up again.
ChatSpike fell silent for the first time in three years. Since this day, we have remembered the occasion by celebrating 'Blame Brain Day', every 28th October, in which we all find new and interesting ways to Blame Brain...
2004-2006 - The Scandanavian Protection Racket
Around 2004, a large web game, known as NorwegianMafia moved to ChatSpike from less green pastures. They moved here with the promise of ongoing development to the network, and potential to be involved in the steerage of the network going forwards. This lively community remained here for many years, finally leaving us to move to QuakeNet. Unfortunately this web based game has slowly declined and we were unable to reach their current IRC channel for further historical information.
Many NorwegianMafia users remained upon ChatSpike after their game left the network, forming their own communities and shaping the lives of many people on ChatSpike, including our admin, w00t, who met Brik through this community.
2005-2006 - The rise of InspIRCd and the fall of WinBot, and the coming and going of many servers
From 2005 onwards, development in InspIRCd reached fever pitch as we strained to complete it to the point where it could take place of UnealIRCd on ChatSpike. Our user counts, remaining high, were a cause of much processor and memory usage on our servers, and the quicker we could complete this project, the better. Unfortunately corners were cut in an attempt to get this out of the door and to the users sooner, and as you will see in the next section, this caused massive problems for ChatSpike. During this time, development of the WinBot software was wound down so this once great channel of 100 plus users dwindled to nothing and was shut down. The InspIRCd project saw a proportional growth compared to WinBot's reduction, its channel growing to 130+ users, and it remains at roughly this count today. The increase in help on this project helped push us closer to InspIRCd release day, and closer to our own mini-disaster...
During this time to cope with our growth we gained and lost many servers. Megumi.chatspike.net was named by the Anime community (lets be honest, nobody could ever remember the name properly or knew what it meant!) and lasted a couple of years until its hosting was ended. gir.chatspike.net was hosted in germany by Garak, which lasted a few months until it also was ended. Before the roll out of InspIRCd that was to come, we had three servers live, stitch, hosted by myself, kenny, hosted by Kross, and megumi, hosted by dotcomguy.
2007 - The InspIRCd 1.0 disaster
The big day arrived when ChatSpike would finally throw away UnrealIRCd, the software it had ran on for years, and replace it with our own solution, InspIRCd. This was a 1.0 release, so of course there were bound to be a few issues. We had no idea what was about to await us. When the server was launched we were beset by crashes and dseynchs the like of which we'd never seen before. Furious, Craig insisted we roll back to UnrealIRCd, however my pride would not let us admit defeat so against everyone's better judgment, we pressed on and fixed the bugs, only to find that server linking was totally inoperable. So began two years of ChatSpike running single server, linking only to IRCServices.
Admitting final defeat, i slunk back to the drawing board, and it was not until the 1.1 release of InspIRCd a year or so later that ChatSpike was finally able to have multiple servers again.
2008 - The end of a galactic era
In 2008, it was with some sadness that Zedd and Scan, the creators of the DarkGalaxy web game, called it a day with their creation and handed the keys to the kingdom over to Craig. Craig has continued development of DarkGalaxy since, but the community, one of the first to set foot on ChatSpike in 2001, have abandoned the game and found pastures (and irc networks) new. The channel for this game still remains on ChatSpike, frequented by a few die-hards who refuse to accept that DarkGalaxy is gone, or hold out for the day when Craig will finally announce a new round, bringing this great community back towards ChatSpike again.
2009 - The slow decline of Anime channels
From 2008-2009 onwards, the once great Anime channels of ChatSpike moved on to BitTorrent only, and some onto other IRC networks. With various law enforcment agencies making life hard for file trading, legimite or not, there was no other recourse for these channels but to abandon their IRC operations. Many of the community remained on ChatSpike however, keeping a friendly atmosphere, and some of these such as Koroshiya (Albert) have offered many resources since. Setting up a hosting company around 2006, he offered his services to us and we have hosted our hub and main servers on his business, Neulink, ever since. It was around 2009 however that ChatSpike declined somewhat. Craig had found a Job in London a few years previously, and I had also moved into a new job which demanded a lot of my time. Without us around so much, ChatSpike ran under the stewardship of our trusty and talented helper and oper team who kept everything ticking over, but nothing new happening for many years.
2010-2014 - The drifting away, and drifting back of Brain, and decline of IRC in general
It was in 2010 that i met my then wife-to-be, Paula, and IRC took a back seat in my life. Combined with a more demanding job, it was during this time that ChatSpike became what it is today, a network with a much smaller but very close-knit, friendly user base. Although everyone became closer and everyone knew each other, I consider this the darkest time for ChatSpike as nothing was being done, ChatSpike was once a proud innovator and creator of new software such as InspIRCd and our custom services modules, and without our steerage and development these activities ceased, making ChatSpike less unique and less of a distinctive place to be. During these past four years there has been a steady decline in IRC itself, all networks showing a reduction in user count as people move away to other services.
Upon my steady return to ChatSpike over the past year, we have slowly started to rebuild the network to its glory days, establishing IPV6 and adding more servers, revamping our website and installing anti-ddos services to protect the network from attacks.
In short, the future looks bright again for ChatSpike, and we see another 12 years ahead of us and more against the tide of other services such as social networking messengers. Why not come and join us now to see what the future holds!