Years ago we used mIRC for a number of stock-trading chat-rooms but haven't been on IRC for a long time. About six months ago we attempted to get back on mIRC but couldn't find any contemporary mIRC freeware. Does Freenode address our miserly propensity against paying for something that 'used to was' free?
Freenode is for discussion related to "free" community projects, hence does not depend on "non free" software. Volunteer sharing of knowledge in the Promaster community I would consider a "free project".