Internet Relay Chat (IRC) it was originally written by Jarkko Oikarinen in 1988. Since starting in Finland, it has been used in
over 60 countries around the world. IRC is a multi-user chat system, where
people meet on "channels" (rooms, virtual places, usually with a certain
topic of conversation) to talk in groups, or privately. There is no
restriction to the number of people that can participate in a given
discussion, or the number of channels that can be formed on IRC.
Internet Relay Chat
(IRC) is one of the most popular and most interactive services on the
Internet. Sure, the Web is nice for finding info and E-mail beats
snailmail hands down, but when you've been wondering 'where the others
are?', then IRC is what you're looking for.
IRC is the net's equivalent of CB radio. But unlike CB, Internet Relay
Chat lets people all over the world participate in real-time
conversations. IRC is where the Net comes alive!
Using an IRC client (program) you can exchange text messages
interactively with other people all over the world. Some of the more
popular chat clients are
Virc for Windows and Homer or
Ircle for Mac's. What program you use
doesn't really matter; all of them connect to the same chat networks. When
logged into a chat session, you "converse" by typing messages that are
instantly sent to other chat participants.
Meeting people. IRC is great fun and you'll sure meet lots of
interesting people and find nice spots to hang out! But, IRC is not
something that you should just jump into without first reading up on it.
You could feel very lost if you do not know some basic commands before you
enter IRC, and you might not even know how to get out of IRC after that
:o) So, we suggest you read some documentation (help files, readmes, FAQs
etc) before you get connected to an IRC server, or it can be very
frustrating for you when you get stuck.
How to use IRC.
As in life -and CB radio- not all those chatters have something
interesting to say, but some do, and many people have developed lasting
friendships through IRC. Even marriages have resulted from relationships
first forged on IRC. In fact, some people have become so addicted to
chatting on the Internet that there's a Usenet newsgroup entitled
The value of IRC depends on how you use it. IRC can keep you company
when you can't sleep, contribute to family togetherness and cut your phone
bill. It also can expose you to unpleasant behavior. Chats can get wild
and woolly, and anyone (male or female) who takes on a female persona is
likely to be hit on. There is indeed a great deal of sextalk, sleaze and
garbage on IRC, and one should exercise caution in allowing children to
access the IRC without supervision. But, as an adult, you are free to
visit only the channels you choose, and there is also a great deal of
positive communication going on.
IRC gained international fame during the Gulf War in 1991, where
updates from around the world came accross the wire, and most irc users
who were online at the time gathered on a single channel to hear these
reports. IRC had similar uses during the coup against Boris Yeltsin in
September 1993, where IRC users from Moscow were giving live reports about
the unstable situation there.
As you see, Internet Relay Chat is a great way to talk to people from
all over the world about anything at all. On top of the latest world news
there are many help related and tech support channels where you can get
immediate assistance with perplexing computer related problems on the spot
and in easy to read typewritten form!
What you need now.
You need an IRC client now to connect to an IRC server, and give IRC a
try. There are several clients available... what program you need depends
on what Operating System you use.
mIRC is an IRC client developed
for Windows. When you use UNIX, DOS, OS/2, or a Macintosh you will need
some other client.
mIRC's Web pages give detailed
instructions for Newbies on
how to download, install and set up mIRC. If you are experienced enough
you can go straight to the
How to get started.
Unlike the World-Wide Web, which first-time users can pick up quickly,
Internet Relay Chat may seem difficult the first time you log on. Once
you've mastered a few basic commands, however, IRC becomes very easy to
Logging on. Just like you need a Web browser like Netscape or MS
Internet Explorer to use the World Wide Web, you need an IRC client to
connect to an IRC server. Once you have downloaded and installed an IRC
client you can log on to some IRC server and talk away. The first thing
you'll want to do is choose a nickname; everyone on IRC uses one. People
will soon recognize you by your nick, or even search for your nickname on
IRC. Choose your nick with care; it will be the virtual -you-.
Finding a channel. It is not uncommon for an IRC server to have
dozens, hundreds or even thousands of chat channels open simultaneously.
There are some more or less permanent channels, but others come and go.
Although a channel's name usually reflects the general nature of the
conversation within, each channel can also have a specific topic. Channel
names tend to remain constant, while topics change continuously. For
example, in a channel called "PC Users" the topic might be "Windows 95 Bug
Fixes" one day and "How to Choose a High Speed Modem" the next day.
You'll notice that all channel names begin with #. One popular and
longstanding channel, for instance, is #chat. If you decide to wade in,
just type: '/JOIN #chat' and voila, you're in. Type in some greetings and
you'll see them appear on screen, along with whatever everyone else types.
You'll probably feel lost at first, since you're popping in on a
conversation that's already in progress. In fact, several conversations
may be going on at once.
It would be great if you could get a list of all those channels
containing only the funny, witty and wise, but you can't. Instead, you
have to use the '/LIST' command, which lists all public channels, the
number of users on each and a topic description for those that provide it.
Channel topics are set by the person who creates or moderates the
channel, called the channel operator or 'op'. Chat participants can
exchange ideas about common interests, making chat sessions an ideal means
to hold forums and group discussions. For example, many businesses now
hold scheduled chat sessions, wherein customers can chat with company
representatives about a new product, or exchange technical information and
On IRC many people can simultaneously participate in discussions over a
channel or even multiple channels. There are no limits to the number of
people who can join a discussion and there is no limit to the number of
channels that can be made. You are only limited by your typing speed. IRC
can be fun and informative and is rapidly becoming one of the most popular
areas of the Internet. And IRC will undoubtedly evolve over the next year
or two with advancing technology...
Private Conversations. The conversations are not limited to
whats is going on on channels. You can have private conversations at the
same time! If, lets say, you want to speak to Speedy privately, you can
send him a message, as follows: '/MSG Speedy What do you say we hide in
privacy for awhile?'. The /MSG will open a private conversation to Speedy.
Nobody can interfere in your private chitchat now ! In my view, private
conversations are one of the handiest things about IRC.
Aside from meeting new people, then, IRC is also good for saving on
phone bills, holding conferences or practicing a foreign language. If
you're in New York and your former college roommates are in Boston, Dallas
and Seattle, you can make an IRC date, set up your own IRC channel and
even use /NOTIFY to be informed when they log onto IRC so you can /INVITE
them into your private channel!
If you want to find out more about IRC, you could visit the New IRC
Users website for information on ettiquette on IRC, the commands and
scripts you can use, as well as lots of tips and tricks and some
troubleshooting information. Try to understand the IRC FAQ written by
Helen Trillian Rose, read some IRC Intro's and dive into the Undernet FAQ.
Keep in mind that some explainations are focussed on other than windows'
specific IRC clients. Some of the info supplied should therefore be seen
as general info on what IRC is and can do.