KDE and open source in general has used IRC since the 90s but times change and these days people expect more than text with lots of internals exposed to the user. So KDE has set up a Matrix server which talks to other Matrix server and importantly also talks to IRC servers and their channels because some people will never change. The bridging to IRC isn’t perfect but it works much neater than on e.g. Telegram where the IRC user is one bot, here the IRC user is an individual user and you can set it up to use the same nickname you’ve been using since 1995. Unless you use square brackets in your nickname in which case I’ve no sympathy 🙂
But it still requires a bit of understanding and setup. For one thing you need an app to talk to it, and the more common apps seem to be Riot web and Riot Android. KDE has its own setup of Riot web called webchat.kde.org and you can get the Android client from F-Droid or Google Play. Once you make an account you also need to tick some boxes (including one saying you are over 16 which vexes somewhat but it doesn’t be beyond the ability of most 15 year old to work out how to work around it).
Channels are called rooms and you can then search for them on the kde.org server or on the matrix.org server. Or, once you work out the syntax, you can join channels on Freenode IRC or OFTC IRC. You can also bridge IRC channels to Matrix Rooms and make it mostly transparent which works.
There’s voice and video calling too using Jitsu and important features like emojis and stickerpacks, although the Konqi sticker pack is still to be added.
I had some faff getting my nick from Freenode recovered but managed that before long. Remember to set a nice pic so people can recognise you.
I’ve now stopped using my IRC app and don’t tend to look at Telegram unless someone pings me. It’s great that KDE now has modern and open communications. Thanks to the sysadmins and Matrix team and others who worked on this.
Next step: getting forums and mailing lists moving onto Discourse 🙂
More docs on the KDE Matrix wiki page.