As of just before Midnight on January 2, 1997, there was a significant disruption of the IRC network known as StarLink. The purpose of this document is to outline the events leading up to and immediately following that disruption. The sequence of events described are publicly known and verifiable. This chronicle is NOT intended to assign "blame", but simply to provide an overview of what happened.
Late on 1 Jan 97, a new network was formed from parts of StarLink. The new net is known as StarLink-IRC and its principle nodes are Rochester.MI.US.Starlink-IRC.org, Washington.DC.US.Starlink-IRC.org, and Cleveland.OH.US.Starlink-IRC.org. This network has a fully operational oper* service (DeathStar) and Channel Service bot (CStar). Any and all registered StarLink channels will be established on StarLink-IRC without the need for re-registration if the owners wish to do so.
On 15 July 1996, the StarLink network was initially established by a small group of services and server admins (split from the SuperChat/SuperLink network): Rochester (g-force), psu (siegfried aka panther), cinci (tame1), aspen (Baldyr/Ursus), and CS (channel service) (Itsy), followed quickly by Glen (sagewlf) in Australia. In addition to the core services group, the routing and coding committees (r-com, coder-com) were headed by panther.
Over the next few months baldyr went off to do other things (leaving admin duties to Sagewlf); tame1 became an 'admin at large' (after the sysmadmin of cinci changed and it could not support an IRC server); and g-force went off to school. With the exception of Baldyr, all other members of the founding services group remained with StarLink.
These servers became the founding group for StarLink. At the founding meeting, the basic principles of StarLink were established and foremost among these were that users have a right to freedom from harassment or abuse by anyone. From this basic principle, the StarLink Charter was drafted and established after review and comment from the majority of service admins. Some reservations about the charter were noted by the psu admin and, although comments were incorporated, there was no full concurrence with the Charter as written by that admin.
The channel service bot was originally CS (a copy of K9 written by DrWho and graciously 'loaned' to the new network for an unspecified period). Since CS was written in an interpreted language, the bot was run on a machine operated exclusively by its developer, DrWho. It was also made clear at the time that the CS was at best a temporary service and that StarLink would need find a replacement. Eventually, other business considerations made it impossible for DrWho to continue providing CS and it was removed.
For a period of time, StarLink operated with no channel service bot. However, Channel Services continued and the network users received the personal support needed to maintain continuity and StarLink principles with relatively little disruption.
Eventually, the channel service bot known as StarBot was created from a rockbot by sieg/panther. Again, at the time, it was known that this was a stopgap measure at best, since a rockbot simply is not designed to occupy and control hundreds of channels. However, StarBot, even with its limitations, did allow continued network growth. Over time, supporting the increased userload became increasingly more difficult due to the inherent limitations of StarBot.
As StarLink growth continued, the evaluation and approval, connection, and disconnection of servers to StarLink remained totally under the control of panther. Although new server applications were supposedly subject to advice and comment by the existing network services administrators, few (if any) were provided any advance notice of intended connectivity changes or evaluations. It became routine for opers to hook up and run a /map to see if any services had been added or removed and, if so, message around the net to find out what was up.
A few months ago, a programmer (typos) developed an excellent operator service (SunStar) that enabled StarLink opers to more effectively serve and protect the network. Typos' development and implementation of sunstar was closely managed by panther with little or no visibility by other service administrators. However, as the 'head' of coder-com, it was the prerogative of panther to do it that way. Eventually, feeling that he was not a 'part' of StarLink, typos disassociated himself with StarLink and eventually removed the SunStar service.
In mid December, dev|null (aka devon) showed up on StarLink's doorstep. Dev had written a number of oper* services for various nets and found StarLink in his search for other nets that had implemented various features so that he could incorporate useful concepts into his oper* services. Dev arrived in #channels one evening and, through Itsy, was put in contact with panther and Sagewlf. Although there was no initial intent to 'join' StarLink, dev discovered that it was somewhat of a special network, particularly with regard to the level of Channel Services provided and decided to stay.
Just after Christmas, a major confrontation between panther and devon occurred over the release of the oper* service code. In summary, the issue was whether or not devon's contribution of a uworld-class oper service and channel bot was as a full fledged member of StarLink, or simply as 'contract labor' to do a job. At the meeting, all members of StarLink present with the sole exception of panther were in favor of welcoming dev as a fully contributing and valuable member of services administration. However, despite this confrontation and for the good of the StarLink users, devon continued to allow StarLink the use of the DeathStar oper* services.
Also during this timeframe, the limitations of the existing StarBot became more and more evident. As the regular user base went past 400, providing channel services became extremely difficult and making apologies for the bots lag or non responsiveness became routine. StarLink began to lose users due to their inability to manage their channels effectively. Appeals to allow devon to run CStar (the new channel bot) continued to be met with obfuscation and both active and passive resistance by panther.
Certain members of StarLink, around this time, began a systematic disinformation campaign, spreading rumors of abuse by Channel Services members, lack of responsiveness to user needs, etc. This campaign was not constructive to StarLink as a whole, and was an insult to the months of very hard work by Channel Services representatives to overcome StarBot limitations through personal intervention and assistance.
On or about 31 December, sagewlf unilaterally and without notice, reason or provocation removed the O:lines of the chief administrators of Channel Services (Itsy, Amazing). Since the O:lines had been given by Baldyr (the original administrator) and there was no evidence of abuse, misuse, or threatening behavior, this action was unusual to say the least. No legitimate reason for this action, other than personal vendetta, has yet been given.
Near 11pm on January 1, 1997, panther and/or sagewlf began systematically and secretly removing Rochester from the connection lines (C/N lines) on all servers under their control. It became obvious that the purpose was to suddenly cut the Rochester server from the network without provocation or notice to respond to some perceived threat inherent to that server. This action was taken without notice and without any vote by StarLink server administrators or opers.
In response to the sudden, vicious, and unwarranted attack on StarLink's integrity by one or two individuals acting without the appropriate authority, the StarLink-IRC network was formed with Rochester and a new server hastily established by devon in Washington DC. Within 3 hours, the new network was up and running with a fully operational oper* service and channel service bot, something the previous 'administration' of StarLink had been unable to accomplish in six months.
StarLink-IRC holds no animosity toward StarLink's users and operator community. The original StarLink charter, with its provisions for user freedom from abuse, and prohibitions on illegal and abusive activities is in FULL effect within StarLink-IRC. However, users of StarLink should be advised that nearly all Channel Service representatives (who have provided the support the users have become used to) have moved to StarLink-IRC. As of the severance of the Rochester server from StarLink, the previous Channel Service administration has no responsibility for any actions taken by the new Channel Services group, operators, or representatives.
For your information: the original StarLink-IRC Servers (port 66667) were: