How to use IRC!

On our last post, we spoke about “What is IRC?” their clients and they’re using. In this post, we are going to explain how to use IRC and how to make conversation with someone. Basic understanding and general server/client common commands, used on a daily basis on all IRC networks.

Once connected to an IRC server on a network, you will usually join one or more “channels” and converse with others there. On EFnet, there often are more than 12,000 channels, each devoted to a different topic. CyIRC, on the other hand, it’s still in its infancy. Conversations may be public (where everyone in a channel can see what you are typing) or private (messages between only two people, who may or may not be on the same channel). IRC is not a “game”, and I highly recommend you treat people you meet on IRC with the same courtesy of respect as if you were talking in person or on the phone, or there may be serious consequences with the channel operators.

1. Some Basic Details.

Channel names begin with a #, as in #help. The same channels are shared among all IRC servers on the same network, so you do not have to be on the same IRC server as your friends.

Each user is known on IRC by a “nick”, such as smartgal or FunGuy. To avoid conflicts with other users, it is best to use a nick that is not too common, e.g., “john” is a poor choice. On some nets, nicks do not belong to anyone, nor do channels. This can lead to conflict. So, if you feel strongly about ownership of such things, you may prefer networks with “services” like CyIRC, DALnet, or other smaller networks.

Channels are run by channel operators, or just “ops” for short, who can control the channel by choosing who may join (by “banning” some users), who must leave (by “kicking” them out), and even who may speak (by making the channel “moderated”)! Channel ops have complete control over their channel, and their decisions are final. If you are banned from a channel, send a /msg to a channel op and ask nicely to be let in (see the /who command in the next section to learn how to find ops). If they ignore you or /who gives no response because the channel is in secret mode (+s), just go somewhere else where you are more welcome.

IRC servers are run by IRC admins and by IRC operators, or “IRC ops”. IRC ops manage the servers themselves and, on CyIRC and many other networks, do not get involved in personal disputes, channel takeovers, restoring lost ops, etc. They are NOT “IRC Cops.”

If you have a graphical client such as mIRC for Windows, many commands can be executed by clicking on icons with the mouse pointer. It is, however, highly recommended that you learn to type in the basic IRC commands first. When entering commands, pay close attention to spacing and capitalization. The basic commands work on all the good clients.

If you are going to use KiwiIRC or any modern IRC client you may notice a few changes on the way they work. KiwiIRC has a few of its own extra commands. Something that we will discuss in another post in the near future and the use of IRCv3.

2. Examples on how to make a conversation chat on IRC.

Using commands on IRC is pretty straight forward. Just type in where you usually type the corresponding / then the command needed.

Note: If you are logging in be adviced staying safe from prying eyes use the Network Connection Status to input your login. This is to prevent you from accidentally posting by mistake your login info on a channel or on anyone chatting with you in a private message.

Some examples are given below. In these, suppose your nick is “yournick”, and that you are on the channel #coolness.

Your friend “MaryN” is in #coolness with you, and your friend “Tomm” is on IRC but is not on a channel with you. You can apply these examples in general by substituting the relevant nick or channel names.

An example conversation with your friends:

What you type

What happens

/join #coolness

You join the channel #coolness.

/who #coolness

Gives some info on users in the channel.

@ = channel op, while * means IRC op.

hello everyone

Everyone on #coolness sees _ hello everyone_. (You need not type in your own nick.)

/me is a pink bunny

Everyone in #coolness sees * yournick is a pink bunny

/leave #coolness

You leave the channel.

/whois Tomm

You get some info about Tomm or whatever nickname you entered.

/whois yournick

This is some info others see about you.

/nick newnick

Changes your nick to “newnick”

/msg Tomm hi there.

Only Tomm sees your message (you don’t need to be on the same channel for this to work).

/ping #coolness

Gives information on the delay (round-trip) between you and everybody on #coolness.

/ping Tomm

Gives information on the delay (round-trip) between you and just Tomm.

/dcc chat MaryN

This sends MaryN a request for a dcc chat session. MaryN types /dcc chat yournick to complete the connection. DCC chat is faster (lag free) and more secure than /msg.

/msg =MaryN Hi there!

Once a DCC connection has been established, use the /msg =nick message format to exchange messages (note the = sign). DCC does not go through servers, so it are unaffected by server lag, net splits, etc.

/help

This works in many clients. Try it!

/quit good night!

You quit IRC completely, with the parting comment so that others see “*** Signoff: yournick (good night!)”.

NOTE: When you are not in a named channel, lines not beginning with a / have no effect, and many commands work differently or fail to work altogether.

3. What to do next.

You can learn a lot by joining a channel and just listening and talking for a while. For starters, try these channels: #cyprus or #cyirc.

For help with the mIRC client, try joining #mirchelp. For help with general IRC questions, join #help.

To form your own channel with the name #mychannel (if #mychannel does not already exist), type /join #mychannel. The channel is created and you are automatically made an op.

4. Some smileys and jargon.

🙂 is a smiley face, tilt your head to the left to see it. Likewise, 🙁 is a frown. 😉 is a wink. :~~( is crying, while 😛 is someone sticking their tongue out. 😛 ~~ is drooling. (-: a lefty’s smile, etc. There are hundreds of these faces.

On CyIRC basically we use emojis through our own web client based on KiwiIRC.

Here are some common acronyms used in IRC:

 brb =  be right back                     bbiaf = be back in a flash

 bbl =  be back later                     ttfn = ta ta for now

 np  =  no problem                        imho = in my humble opinion

 lol =  laughing out loud                 j/k = just kidding

 re  =  hi again, as in 're hi'           wb = welcome back

 wtf =  what the f--k                     rtfm = read the f--king manual

 rotfl = rolling on the floor laughing

Note: Profanity is something you must avoid at most or all times. You don’t want people to treat you the same way or operators to kick/ban you from the channel. Of course, operators can set the channel to +G mode, that way anyone typing anything profane the other users will see only <censored> over your profane word.

5. Some advice.

Etiquette. Typing in all caps, LIKE THIS, is considered “shouting” and should be avoided. Likewise, do not repeat yourself or otherwise “flood” the channel with many lines of text at once. Be sure to use correct terminology, e.g., “channel”, not “chat room”, and “nick”, not “handle”.

While in a channel, follow the lead of the channel ops there. If you antagonize them, you may be “kicked” off the channel forcibly and possibly “banned” from returning. On the other hand, some channel ops are power-hungry and may kick or ban for no good reason. If this happens, or if someone on a channel is bothering you, simply leave the channel – there are thousands of others.

Registration. On many networks, services exist for the registration of nicknames and/or channels. These services vary greatly between networks but are usually mentioned in the server’s message of the day (MOTD) which is shown when you first connect. You can show the MOTD again at any time by typing /motd in most clients.

The network’s home page will also detail any services offered on that network.

Nickname registration allows you to “own” a nickname, and prevent others from using it on that network. Consequently, if you try to use a nickname that someone else already has reserved on such a network, you will receive a warning message from the network, and after a few seconds, your nickname will be changed or you will be disconnected. In the event that this happens, simply change your nickname until you find one that’s not taken. Consult the MOTD (Message Of The Day) or network homepage for details if you want to register your nickname.

Harassment and attacks. If someone starts harassing, abusing or flooding you, leave the channel or use the /ignore command. It is a good idea to set your user mode to +i (invisible) to avoid unsolicited messages and harassment – if you are “invisible” generally only users on a channel with you can determine what nick you are using. To avoid the person that is harassing you just type /ignore nickname (replace nickname with the corresponding nick that is harassing you example /ignore John32).

6. Server problems & choosing a server.

At this point, you are ready to “chat” on IRC. For the most part, the commands above should suffice for beginners, but things can go wrong in IRC.

Net splits. Networks can become divided (called a “netsplit”), thus separating you from users you had been speaking with. These splits are often relatively short, though common some days.

Lag. A more frequent problem is “lag”, where there is a noticeable delay between the time you type something in and someone else reads it. Choosing a server near you is one way to try to lessen lag. Lag can be measured by using the /ping command (see the commands section above). Once you find a better server, the command for changing servers is /server server.name.here.

Server Lists. On most clients, typing /links give a list of servers on your current network. Use this command sparingly, no more than a couple times in a row, or you may be mistaken for a “link looking” troublemaker.

Ping? Pong! mIRC users: Ping? Pong! in the status window just means your server pinged you to make sure you were still connected, and your client automatically replied with a pong. Don’t worry about these. To see pings in KiwiIRC you must enable advanced in settings then enable showRaw, this will show it in an extra window all the pings and other server stuff, that may be a bit annoying.

Reminder about DCC chat. The /DCC chat command can be used to establish a one-on-one connection that avoids lag and will not be broken by a netsplit! Check your docs for usage info. In most clients, you can set up a DCC chat connection by both typing /DCC chat nick_of_other_person. To talk through that connection, type /msg =nick whatever (note the = sign). In mIRC, you can also start a DCC chat session by selecting DCC and then Chat from the menu and then entering the nick of the user with whom you wish to chat. A window opens for that DCC chat session. KiwiIRC doesn’t use DCC Chat, while it’s common to use other means of communications without the need for DCC anymore.

7. A word of warning.

IRC scripts are sets of commands that your client will run. Many otherwise good scripts have been hacked so that if you load them, you can seriously compromise your security (someone can get into your account, delete all of your files, read your mail, etc.). There are also evildoers who try to send people viruses and other bad things. Just like in real life, don’t accept anything from a stranger. There have been many incidents of this type, not just a few. Do not ever run a script unless you know what each line does, not even if it is given to you by a friend, as your friend may not have the expertise to detect well-hidden “trojans”.

Automatic DCC get is a very bad idea! Once it is on, you are susceptible to dangers ranging from disconnection from your server to giving someone else control of your computer. Quite a few people have run into serious problems because of the DCC auto get setting. Another reason why we as CyIRC do not allow this either, nor does our webchat use DCC in any way.

Now that you’ve read this beginner’s guide on how to use IRC, get on IRC and enjoy!

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