How to use IRC

We work hard to make things easy for you. We want you to be safe and have fun. So we will come up with some basic guides in how to best use our network so it is fun and safe for you. In this guide we will talk about some basic commands and IRC etiquette that is expected in our network. Don't forget, we have our own FreeIRC Web Client to use! We will be implementing connection guides for some of the more popular IRC clients as time allows.

IRC is a very established internet protocol that came about in the late 1980s. The popularity of IRC skyrocketed in the 1990s and became an official protocol in 1993. While it is still fairly established has been in steady decline since then. However, IRC still is a great way to have real-time discussions with like-minded people in public and in private.

There are some things that are great to know. The main information you need for chatting is the following:

  • All information is sent in plain-text unless you use an SSL connection. While FreeIRC does not log any information, anyone on channels or that you chat to could be assumed to be logging, so be careful what you say and how you connect.
  • A channel is a means for many users to talk to each other. Channel names begin with the # symbol (e.g.: #Help or #FreeIRC). You can choose whatever channel you wish to chat in. If the channel does not already exist, you will create that channel by simply joining it. To find channels you can type the command /list for a comprehensive list of channels you have access to.
  • Your nick, that is the name you want to use while chatting (you can use any nickname you like as long as it stays within our rules). If you want to be sure that your nick isn't used by someone else, you can use NickServ to register it.

IRC is very easy to use. You may be in multiple channels or private chats, so sometimes you need to keep track of where you are before you type. Most of the time you can just type in the window you wish to interact with (either channel or private message) and hit enter and the text sends. And you are chatting! Everyone that is part of that window (multiple users in a Channel, or just one user in a private chat) sees what you typed and they can do the same so you can see them. That's it. Easy!

But sometimes we need to tell the server things we would like to happen. IRC Commands are the way to tell IRC exactly what you would like to do if it is not chatting. Every command in IRC starts with a forward slash '/' at the very start of the line. You simply type commands in the same place you chat. Some IRC clients will include these commands as menu items, but no matter what client you use, typing commands will work.

Some very useful commands you'll need in IRC are the following:

  • /nick followed by the nick you want to use for changing your nick (e.g. /nick MyNewCoolNick)
  • /join followed by the name of the channel you wish to access (e.g. /join #FreeIRC)
  • /part followed by the name of the channel you wish to log out from (e.g. /part #FreeIRC)
  • /quit to quit IRC
  • /msg followed by someone else's nick in order to start a private conversation (a so-called 'private message' or 'query') with her. (e.g. /msg MyNewCoolNick May I chat with you in private?)
  • /me or /action followed by text will generate an action that looks like you are "doing something". (e.g. /me yawns will show up in the chat like * MyNewCoolNick yawns)

There are of course many more commands: if you wish to learn more, you'll find several howtos in the Web.

FreeIRC server offers some additional services called NickServ to protect your nick, HostServ to protect your hostname from prying eyes, ChanServ to help you manage your channel, and MemoServ to help you communicate with other registered users. All services need a registered nick, so read our how-tos!.