Why we blew up all the public channels on the Matrix server.

November 8th, 2020 - 1:15amby FTL_Adminin

UPDATE: You may need to log out and log back in to the Matrix server to ensure the old channels disappear from your channel list.

After a couple months of experimenting and receiving your feedback, tonight we made a major change to the settings of the LRN.FM Matrix server. The issue was that we missed an important setting when setting it up initially. We figured out the problem when someone noticed it was impossible to create an unencrypted room on the server. Why would one want to have an unencrypted room? Simply because it makes life easier.

Encryption is a very cool feature of Matrix, there's no doubt. However the trade-off for security is inconvenience and cost. In the case of Matrix rooms, the inconvenience includes not being able to see content that was said in a room prior to joining it. This could be considered a feature from a security perspective, but for rooms that are open to the public, it's not very welcoming. Also, some less-experienced computer users - Mark - were having difficulty with the security key function. When settng up a Matrix account, you're given a lengthy security key and instructs you to save it somewhere. If you do not do this, the encryption can make life difficult if you log out and log back in or try to log in on another device. For instance, if you don't verify you still have your key, you will not be able to see any chat in any encrypted rooms, which is a very confusing experience for a new user and resulted in more than a few frustrations from new users.

The big change that we made tonight to the server settings is that now public rooms are unencrypted by default. This makes them much more new-user-friendly. After making the change, we scrubbed all public channels from the server. I then recreated most of the LRN.FM official channels - which you can find a list of here on the chat help page. Initial reports say the Element chat client software runs faster in the new unencrypted channels. Also, the Element client can not search encrypted rooms, so unencrypted rooms overall improve the default user experience.

One of the coolest features about Matrix is that any user can create their own channels. You may now enable encryption for your new public channels, or leave it unencrypted. If you enable encryption for your channel, it's permanently on. Any private channels you create are encrypted by default, so the change only affects the public channels.

If you haven't tried out our new Matrix chat server, it's been a pretty positive experience so far, and now it should be even better. Visit for step-by-step instructions on how to join the server and also how to call in.

I hope you enjoy the new features and thank you for listening to Free Talk Live and LRN.FM.

Ian