Internet Relay Chat.
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 mIRC, Pirch, and 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. No worries, all info you need is available on mIRC's web pages
and... mIRC makes things really simple!
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 alt.irc.recovery.
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
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 download page.
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 use.
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
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 advice.
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!