What is IRC?
Which IRC Program Should I Use?
IRC Through a Proxy
Ok, here is a somewhat long guide to some of the basics of IRC. I know when I first started using it I was a bit overwhelmed and confused, so I hope this can help you get started on IRC. Just be careful, it is addicting =)
What is IRC?- Top
IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat, and is a very good way to trade thoughts, ideas and information in real-time. There are many different IRC networks, some of the most popular are efnet, dalnet and undernet. Each IRC network consists of servers in various locations that are linked together, so that when you log on to one efnet server you can see all the people logged on to the other efnet servers around the world. The different networks however, are kept separate (if you are logged on to an efnet server, you won't be able to chat with your friend that is logged on to a dalnet server).
Within each network, there are many small "chat rooms" called channels. Channel names always start with a "#". Our channel, for example, is #nkb on efnet. Caps don't matter in channel names, you could type #nKB, #NKB, #Nkb, however you like - you are still joining the same channel. To make your own channel is easy, you simply join a channel with the channel name you want to use, and if it is not already occupied by somebody else, then the channel will be made for you automatically. While in a channel, you will see a list of names of other people that are also in that channel with you. When you create your own channel, you will notice that you are the only person there - nobody else can see what you are saying.
There are many terms used on IRC that are important to understand. I will try to list many of them here in order to help you out.
OP (or operator): In the channel, you will notice someone (usually multiple people) with an "@" next to their name. This means that they are a channel operator. They have the power to change channel modes (will explain this later), kick or ban people from the channel, change the channel topic, give people in the channel a voice (next definition), and also give other people op status in the channel. The person that starts a channel is automatically given op status, and from there they have the discretion of whom else to op. When you leave a channel and rejoin, you will no longer be an op until someone else ops you again.
Voice: Also you will notice people with a "+" next to their names, this is called a voice. This means that the person can still send messages in the channel when the channel mode is set to moderated (also discussed later). Ops and voices are the only ones that can send to a moderated channel, everyone else in the channel can still see what is being said, they just can't send messages of their own. Voices, unlike ops, cannot change channel modes or kick people, they only have the ability to send to moderated channels. Ops can give and take this ability as they choose. Most channels you come across will not be moderated anyway, and a voice is used more as a sign of respect.
Net-split: This is something we all hate! A net-split is what happens when two or more servers on a network loose their connection to each other. This makes it so that people on one of the servers cannot see the people on the other server(s). These happen more frequently than we would like, and usually happen due to overloading when there are a lot of people online chatting. Most net-splits last between a few seconds to a few minutes, but they can last a long time occasionally.
DCC chat and send: You can bypass the IRC network and DCC chat with someone directly to avoid the lag that is sometimes present over the network. You can also send files to other people the same way.
Bot: A bot is basically a program that is run by someone that looks like a person logged on to the network. People use bots for many things, you can give them ops in your channel, and that way when you get disconnected, you can reconnect and have the bot op you by sending it a remote command. Bots can also be set up to control the channel by kicking people on certain events, like if they are flooding the channel (sending too much text at once). There are also DCC-Bots, which are used in various mp3/warez channels to send you files.
Takeover: This is when someone gets ops somehow in a channel and de-ops everyone else, so that they are controlling the channel. I will talk more about this later in the etiquette section, because truthfully it is very childish and should not occur.
Ping: This is the time it takes for a packet of data to travel from one computer to another. A low ping is better than a higher one, so when you have a high ping, you may want to try changing servers.
Whois: This is a command that allows you to see a person's info, such as what server they are logged on to and what channels they are currently in.
Nickserv: Some networks, such as Dalnet allow you to register your nick so that nobody else can use it. This is done through Nickserv - type "/Nickserv help" for more information on this. Some networks, like efnet, do not have this service.
Chanserv: Kind of like Nickserv, but it keeps your channel for you. You can set Chanserv to automatically give certain people ops, to set a certain topic, etc.
Which IRC Program Should I Use? - Top
There are many different IRC programs to use. This is mostly personal preference of what you like, and also depends on what operating system you are running. Most Windows users use mIRC. But don't be limited to just one program, try more for yourself and see what you like the best. Many programs, like mIRC are customizable by the use of scripts, which change the look of the program and make commands more easily accessible through the use of menus. Check out www.mircx.com for a large list of scripts and links to many other scripting sites.
IRC Modes - Top
There are many different channel modes which can be changed by channel operators (ops). When a mode is changed, you will see in the channel something like this:
"<op name> sets mode +m"
Here are some of the different channel modes:
t - This stands for "Only ops can change topic" If the mode is not set on a channel, then anyone can change the topic.
n - "No External Messages" This should always be set. If it is not, then anyone can send to the channel without even being actually in the channel.
k - "key" This is so that only certain people with the correct key can enter. The key is just like a password used to enter the channel. This will help keep unwanted people out of your channel.
l - When the mode is +l, you will see a number following it. This is the limit of the number of people allowed to join the channel.
i - "invite only" To enter the channel you must be invited first by an op in that channel.
m - "moderated" Only ops and voices can send messages to the channel, everyone else can only see the messages, not send any of their own.
p - "private" The channel will not appear on the server's list of channels
s - "secret" When someone does a /whois, the channel will not be shown along with the person's info
Basic Commands - Top
There are many commands that will help you while chatting on IRC, so many that I don't want to get into it here. You can send private messages to people, talk using colors, bold text, etc. If you are using a script, than most of these commands will be built into pop up windows, so you don't actually have to type them out yourself. My recommendation to learn the commands is to get mIRC and read the help file. It takes a bit of time, but it is very source of information on the IRC commands.
IRC Through a Proxy - Top
There is a way to connect to IRC using a proxy, this way people cannot see your actual IP address. I always do this, because before I did I would always be getting scanned by people, and they would try to send me trojans, etc. This also makes your more anonymous. The problem with proxies is that they slow you down, because you are sending stuff through the proxy before it gets to the IRC network... Many IRC networks do not allow proxies, and they scan for them when you connect. If they find you are on a proxy, they will disconnect you. Why do they do this? Because people are idiots! People will get on through proxies to hack/flood others on the network, and that is just not cool. If you are going to do that, then stop reading now! Those are the people that get all the proxies banned from the networks, and make it hard for people like myself, that would just like a little protection, to get on IRC. To connect with a proxy, you first need to find a socks proxy, there is a nice list here. Then, tell your IRC program to connect through a socks firewall, tell it the proxy's ip and port number (should be port 1080). To do this in mIRC, go into the options, if you expand the "connect" section, you will see a topic that says "firewall". Go there, click on the box that says "Use SOCKS firewall", check the appropriate protocol button (if you are not sure which it is, most of them are socks4). Then in "hostname" put the ip address or hostname of your proxy. Now you are ready to connect just like normal. If you can't connect to the server, try a few more, and if none of them are working, then switch your proxy and try again. Do this until you find a proxy/server combination that works, and then stick with it! You may find it helpful to try more servers than are listed by default with some IRC clients, so check out this list. Patients is the key here, as this process can be tedious until you find a proxy that works. Just remember that it is like this because of the people using these proxies to make trouble on IRC.... so DO NOT do the same!
IRC Etiquette - Top
Here are some basic rules that help everyone get along. I'm not going to get very in-depth right now, as this is long enough already. I'll just give a few points that I find to be important. For more on etiquette, read the netiquette tutorial.
Don't talk in all caps, it is considered yelling, and it's very annoying.
Excessive use of colors may be fun to you, but it makes your messages very hard for some people to read, so try to avoid using a lot of colors.
Don't use proxies to flood/nuke people, or you will die a terrible death and go to hell! (really!)
Do not takeover other people's channels. This is pointless, just make your own!
Thanks for your time in reading this - I know it's kind of long, but I had a lot to cram in there ;) Any more questions, post them in our forum or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll try to help out.