I’ve figured out what was going on with the IRC channel, and in particular, why everything related to the channel started going wrong recently.
It seems that the channel #nomic was considered unused for sufficiently long that the channel was automatically dropped (returned to the control of people at large, rather than BlogNomic in particular); although I kept entering there, I was the only person, and had no official status within the channels, so the automated systems at slashnet concluded (incorrectly) that I was someone who wanted an abandoned channel for myself, as opposed to someone hoping the genuine occupants would come back. The channel’s been under nobody’s control in particular for quite a while, therefore (which is maybe why the page we were scraping before disappeared).
Anyway, I’ve now taken control of the channel (claiming territory for BlogNomic, hurrah), and taken steps to try to ensure that we keep the same channel long-term. blognomicbot, in addition to scraping the nick list, has now been given official status within the channel (even though it doesn’t actually /do/ anything), so it counts as being a legitimate user of the channel. Likewise, I’m currently on the official list (with full dictator powers to do anything; someone has to have those powers at any given moment, otherwise there’d be no way to pass them around). Therefore, unless something happens to me, it’s likely that we’ll have the channel for the near future, at least.
Still, it’s a pity that IRC was sufficiently abandoned that slashnet decided we didn’t use it any more. It would be a pity if that useful source of real-time discussion continued in disuse. The dynasty is apparently drawing to a close soon; for all I know, the next dynasty will be one where IRC is much more useful. (It’s certainly likely to be if I win it.)