Archive-name: irc-faq
Last-Modified: 1994/01/12
Version: 1.20

(1) What is IRC? 

	IRC stands for "Internet Relay Chat". It was originally
written by Jarkko Oikarinen ( in 1988. Since
starting in Finland, it has been used in over 60 countries spanning
the globe.  It was designed as a replacement for the "talk" program
but has become much much more than that. IRC is a multi-user chat
system, where people convene on "channels" (a virtual place, usually
with a topic of conversation) to talk in groups, or privately. IRC is
constantly evolving, so the way you expect things to work one week may
not be the way they work the next. Read the MOTD (message of the day)
every time you use IRC to keep up on any new happenings or server

	IRC gained international fame during the late Persian Gulf War,
where updates from around the world came accross the wire, and most
people on IRC 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.

(2) How is IRC set up?

	The user runs a "client" program (usually called 'irc') which
connects to the IRC network via another program called a "server".
Servers exist to pass messages from user to user over the IRC network.

(3) How do I use a client?

	First, check to see if irc is installed on your system. Type
"irc" from your prompt. If this doesn't work, ask your local systems
people if irc is already installed. This will save you the work of
installing it yourself.

	If an IRC client isn't already on your system, you either
compile the source yourself, have someone else on your machine compile
the source for you, or use the TELNET client. 
"telnet 6668". Please only use the latter when 
you have no other way of reaching IRC, as this resource is quite
limited, is slow, and is *very* unreliable.

(4) Where can I get source for an IRC client?

	You can anonymous ftp to any of the following sites (use the
one closest to you):  *** If you don't know what anonymous ftp is, ask
your local systems people to show you ***

UNIX client-> /irc/clients /pub/irc /pub/unix/irc
     /pub/irc /pub/comp/networking/irc/clients /pub/irc
	      there is also a client avaliable with the server code.
EMACS elisp-> /irc/clients/elisp /pub/unix/irc/Emacs
     /pub/comp/networking/irc/clients /pub/irc/emacs
X11 client-> /pub
VMS -> /irc/clients/vms /pub/irc/vms
REXX client for VM-> /irc/clients/rxirc
MSDOS-> /irc/clients/msdos
Macintosh-> /irc/clients/macintosh

(5) Which server do I connect to?

	It's usually best to try and connect to one geographically
close, even though that may not be the best. You can always ask when you
get on IRC. Here's a list of servers avaliable for connection:





This is, by no means, a comprehensive list, but merely a start. Connect
to the closest of these servers and join the channel #Twilight_Zone
When you get there, immediately ask what you want. Don't say "I have a
question" because then hardly anyone will talk. 

(6) OK, I've got a client and I'm connected to a server, now what?

	It's probably best to take a look around and see what you want
to do first. All IRC commands start with a "/", and most are one word.
Typing /help will get you help information. /names will get you a list
of names, etc. 

The output of /names is typically something like this->

Pub: #hack      zorgo eiji Patrick fup htoaster 
Pub: #Nippon    @jircc @miyu_d 
Pub: #nicole    MountainD 
Pub: #hottub    omar liron beer Deadog moh pfloyd Dode greywolf SAMANTHA

(Note there are LOTS more channels than this, this is just sample
output -- one way to stop /names from being too large is doing /names
-min 20 which will only list channels with 20 or more people on it,
but you can only do this with the ircII client).

"Pub" means public (or "visible") channel. "hack" is the channel name.
"#" is the prefix. A "@" before someone's nickname indicates he/she is
the "Channel operator" (see #7) of that channel. A Channel Operator is
someone who has control over a specific channel. It can be shared or
not as the first Channel Operator sees fit. The first person to join
the channel automatically gets Channel Operator, and can share it with
anyone he/she chooses (or not).  Another thing you might see is "Prv"
which means private. You will only see this if you are on that private
channel. No one can see Private channels except those who are on that
particular private channel.

(7) What is a channel operator? What is an IRC operator? 

	A channel operator is someone with a "@" by their nickname in
a /names list, or a "@" by the channel name in /whois output. Channel
operators are kings/queens of their channel. This means they can kick
you out of their channel for no reason. If you don't like this, you
can start your own channel and become a channel operator there. 

	An IRC operator is someone who maintains the IRC network. They
cannot fix channel problems. They cannot kick someone out of a channel
for you. They cannot /kill (kick someone out of IRC temporarily)
someone just because you gave the offender channel operator priveleges
and said offender kicked *you* off.

(8) What is a "bot"? 

        "bot" is short for "robot". It is a script run from an ircII
client or a separate program (in perl, C, and sometimes more obscure
languages). (Michael Adams) defined bots very well: "A
bot is a vile creation of /lusers to make up for lack of penis length".
IRC bots are generally not needed. See (10) below about "ownership" of
nicknames and channels.

(9) What are good channels to try while using IRC?

	#hottub and #initgame are almost always teeming with people.
#hottub is meant to simulate a hot tub, and #initgame is a non-stop game
of "inits" (initials). Just join and find out! 

	To get a list of channels with their names and topics, do
/list -min 20 (on ircII) which will show you channels with 20 or more
members. You can also do this for smaller numbers.

	Many IRC operators are in #Twilight_Zone ... so if you join
that channel and don't hear much talking, don't worry, it's not because
you joined, operators don't talk much on that channel anyways!

(10) Someone is using my nickname, can anyone do anything about it?
    Someone is using my channel, can anyone do anything about it?

        Even with NickServ (see (13) below) registering nicknames, there
are not enough nicknames to have nickname ownership. If someone takes
your nickname while you are not on IRC, you can ask for them to give it
back, but you can not *demand* it, nor will IRC operators /kill for
nickname ownership. 
        There are, literally, millions of possible channel names, so if
someone is on your usual channel, just go to another. You can /msg them
and ask for them to ven with NickServ (see (13) below) registering nicknames, there
are not enough nicknames to have nickname ownership. If someone takes
your nickname while you are not on IRC, you can ask for them to give it
back, but you can not *demand* it, nor will IRC operators /kill for
nickname ownership. 
        There are, literally, millions of possible channel names, so if
someone is on your usual channel, just go to another. You can /msg them
and ask for them to leave, but you can't *force* them to leave. 

(11) There aren't any channel operators on my channel, now what? 

        Channel operators are the owner(s) of their respective channels.
Keep this in mind when giving out channel operator powers (make sure to
give them to enough people so that all of the channel operators don't
unexpectedly leave and the channel is stuck without a channel operator).

        On the other hand, do not give out channel operator to
*everyone*. This causes the possibility of mass-kicking, where the
channel would be stuck without any channel operators.

	You have one option. You can ask everyone to leave and rejoin
the channel. This is a good way to get channel operator back. It
doesn't work on large channels or ones with bots, for obvious reasons.

(12) What if someone tells me to type something cryptic?

	Never type anything anyone tells you to without knowing what it
is. There is a problem with typing certain commands with the ircII
client that give anyone immediate control of your client (and thus can
gain access to your account).

(13) What is NickServ? What if I can't remember my NickServ password?

	NickServ is a service. Services are special robots on IRC.
NickServ resides in Germany. You must always address messages to
NickServ as and not as just "NickServ". 

	To quote from NickServ's help text, NickServ's purpose is to
keep unique nicknames on IRC. NickServ sends a warning to anyone else
who signs on with your nickname.  If you don't use IRC for 10 weeks,
your nickname expires and becomes available for reuse by anyone.  

	Basic NickServ information can be retrieved by doing
/msg help

	Only a NickServ operator can change your nickserv password.
To find out which NickServ operators are online, send

Nicknames with a "*" next to them are online at the time.

(14) Where can I find GIF archives of IRC people?

        GIF archives of IRC people are available: (NORDUnet only) /pub/comp/networking/irc/RP

(15) Where can I learn more?

	The best, basic, IRC user's manual is the IRC Primer,
available in plain text, PostScript, and LaTeX from ... Another good place to start might be
downloading the IRC tutorials.  They're avaliable via anonymous ftp
from in /irc/support/tutorial.* 

	You can also join various IRC related mailing lists: 

 * "operlist" is a list that discusses current (and past) server code,
   routing, and protocol. You can join by mailing 

 * "irchat" is an elisp client. You can join the irchat mailing list by

 * "ircd-three" is a list that exists to discuss protocol revisions
   for the 3.0 release of the ircd (irc server), currently in
   planning.  Mail to be added.

 * "vmsirc" is a list for the questions, problems, and discussions
   related to the vms IRC clients. Mail
   (with "subscribe" in the message body).

NOTE! These are not "Help me, where can I get started?" lists. For
that information, read the IRCprimer noted above. 

	Those looking for more technical information can get the IRC
RFC (rfc1459) available at all RFC ftp sites, as well as

(15) What do I do if I'm still confused or have additions to this posting?

	email or ask for help (in #Twilight_Zone) on IRC.

Helen Trillian Rose Davis            	<,>
Kapor Enterprises, Inc.            	Flames to: 
Systems and Networks Administration
I like: DL, WN, Boeing			I don't like: NW, HP, Airbus