IRC for n00bs

By E.A. Parker

Some Commands and Lingo
IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. It was first implemented in 1988 as a protocol to replace the chat-spaces
that were used at the time. Since then, it has gained an almost cult-following, and has had varying levels of
penetration. Newer services like Skype, Google products, and AIM have all-but taken the place of IRC, but IRC
excels in places where the others fail. IRC can be very complex to those who want it to be, but very simple at
the entry level; join a server, enter a room, and start typing!

Server & Channel
The Server and Channel are the two most basic elements of IRC. If you think of IRC as a city, then the Server is
like a building, and a Channel is like a room. The Server contains many channels (or rooms) that you can talk in
once you’ve connected to it. All channels are denoted by a # symbol in front of their name (some have 2 #

Nick stands for ‘nickname’, and it is how you are identified on IRC (similar to a user-name or screen-name).
Many servers allow users to register a nick with nickserv adding a level of security, but it requires you to
provide an email address. Nick’s that have been registered with nickserv will prompt you for your password
when you connect to the server.

ASL stands for “age/sex/location”, and is used to identify you as such. The ‘age’ part denotes your current age.
The ‘sex’ part is meant to refer to your gender, *not* who you like to have sex with. The ‘location’ part can be
specific or more general (Chicago vs. USA), but the more vague you are the more questions you may get
(saying things like ‘Earth’ or ‘somewhere’ for location are generally not tolerated). [FORMAT: 25/F/USA]

Op & voice
There are three levels of permissions on IRC, ‘Op’, ‘Voice’, and ‘Normal’. A normal user (generally speaking) has
the most basic permissions in channel and is generally what new users come in as. A regular user only has the
permissions to speak and preform actions that effect themselves (in some rare cases you must be ‘voiced’ in
order to speak). On the name list, normal users will not have any indicators in front of their names, and will just
show up as their nick. A ‘voiced’ user is the next step up the ladder on the permissions list, and is used
differently by every channel. In most channels a user who is given a voice is noted as being established in the
channel, or a regular. In most cases, a ‘voiced’ user has the same permissions as a regular user (sometimes a
voice will give you the ability. ‘Voiced’ users will show up with an indication in front of their nick in the names
list; most commonly a + symbol, or a brown dot if using xChat. An ‘op’ is the moderator (or operator) of the
channel, and has significantly more permissions than the others. An ‘op’ can kick, ban, voice, de-voice, and edit
permissions of all others in the channel, as well as change many settings specific to the channel including the
topic. ‘Ops’ exist to moderate the channel and make sure that everyone follows the rules. A good ‘op’ doesn’t
This document created for reference and educational purposes – © E.A. Parker, 2015

abuse their power. ‘Ops’ are indicated in the names list with an @ symbol in front of their name, or a green dot
if using xChat.

A bot is a program or script that shows up as a user in an IRC channel. They are entirely autonomous and have
various functions such as tracking statistics, flagging bad behavior, distributing permissions, running trivia
games, etc. Bots are usually managed by one of the channels ops.

PM stands for ‘private message’. You will often see things like “please don’t PM me without asking”, or “hey,
can I PM you?”

NSFW stands for ‘not safe for work’. This message that something immediate before or after it is, in fact, not
work appropriate.

/connect (/server)
The connect command is used in some programs (mIRC and text based IRC software) to connect to a server. In
some cases (xChat) the server command is used for this instead. When opening an IRC chat program that
requires this, this is the very first command you will use. You will need to know the address of the server before
using this command (generally something like
CONTEXT: /connect [server]
EXAMPLE: /connect

Using the quit command properly disconnects you from the server and all channels that you are chatting in.
You do not have to leave a channel first to quit. You can add a reason why you are quitting also, but that part is
CONTEXT: /quit [reason]
EXAMPLE 1: /quit
EXAMPLE 2: /quit Going to class!

The join command is used to join a channel (or room). You need to know the name of the channel you are
joining, and some channels require a password (most do not).
CONTEXT: /join [channel] [password]
EXAMPLE 1: /join #IRC4life
EXAMPLE 2: /join #IRC4life passw0rd

This document created for reference and educational purposes – © E.A. Parker, 2015

The part command allows you to ‘part’ (or leave) a channel that you are currently in. You can use the command
in its default form, or add a reason for leaving the channel. You must currently be IN a channel to use this
command. Using this command without specifying a channel will leave the current channel.
CONTEXT: /part [channel] [reason]
EXAMPLE 1: /part
EXAMPLE 2: /part #IRC4life
EXAMPLE 3: /part #IRC4life Going to Class!

The msg command (message) is used to send a message to a user or service without opening an additional
window to do so. This is useful for asking if you can PM, or responding to nickserv.
CONTEXT: /msg [nick] [message]
EXAMPLE: /msg Dave Hey Dave, what’s up?

Similar to msg, query is used to open a new window to chat with a user (or service). This is used for lengthy
private conversations and dialog. In this case, you only need to specify the user and the message is provided
CONTEXT: /query [nick]
EXAMPLE: /query Dave

The me command is used for showing actions, or describing something in the third person. This comes in
handy when you want to express and action or an emotion.
CONTEXT: /me [action]
EXAMPLE: /me types furiously on the keyboard.
OUTPUT: Dave types furiously on the keyboard.

Safety and Security
Be Smart!
Always remember that you’re talking to REAL people on the internet. Be smart when you do so. You probably
don’t want people to know your true identity, so don’t give them anything that could reveal it. Some people
are malicious by nature, and will exploit anything that you give them, so watch out. Most of the time you’re in a
relatively safe environment, but be safe just in case!

This document created for reference and educational purposes – © E.A. Parker, 2015

Nickserv is a service provided by many servers (including Freenode, Dalnet, and IRCnet) that protects the use of
your nickname. The services is entirely free to use, and it only requires a working email. You’re not required to
register your nickname with nickserv, but doing so will prevent others from using it when you’re not around. To
register your nick with nickserv, set your nickname to the desired and use the following command (note, if
another user is currently using that nickname, the server will not allow you to take it):
CONTEXT: /msg nickserv REGISTER [password] [email]
EXAMPLE: /msg nickserv REGISTER passw0rd
After registering with nickserv, you will see a confirmation message and receive a confirmation email from the
service. From here you MUST confirm your nickname registration with the instructions in the email that was
sent to you or your registration will expire (usually in 24 hours). You will be sent a verification code in the email,
and you must use it to verify your identity with nickserv (you only need to do this once). To verify your nick
with nickserv use the following command:
CONTEXT: /msg nickserv VERIFY REGISTER [nick] [code]
EXAMPLE: /msg nickserv VERIFY REGISTER Dave ygjggzwfydtc
Once you have successfully registered your nick, nobody else can use it without your password. However, this
means that you must now identify yourself when you log on to IRC. Nickserv will ask you to identify every time
you log on (which gets annoying, but there are some clients that allow you to bypass this), so be sure to be
familiar with the process. To identify your nick with nickserv use the following command:
CONTEXT: /msg nickserv IDENTIFY [nick] [password]
EXAMPLE: /msg nickserv IDENTIFY Dave passw0rd
Finally, once you have successfully registered with nickserv and identified your nick, you can add additional
nicks that you use to the same account so you only need to identify once. This is useful for people that put
things like “-AFK” or “-BRB” on the end of their nicks to show various statuses, or for people that use multiple
computers. To do this first change your nick to the one you wish to add then use the following command:
CONTEXT: /msg nickserv GROUP

Common courtesy when using IRC
As with most chat programs, your identity is entirely anonymous. This works great for making sure people
don’t figure out who you are, but in one degree or another everybody wants to know a little something about
who they are talking to. On IRC (and many other places on the internet) we use the term ASL to describe the
basics of identity. It is good practice to post your ASL upon entry to a channel even if you are a regular. Also,
do not be offended when someone asks for your ASL, as they may have missed it or might have just joined.

This document created for reference and educational purposes – © E.A. Parker, 2015

Private messaging (PM)
Don’t PM without asking. It’s that simple. Unless it’s some kind of emergency, ask someone if you can PM them
before you start to open a dialog with them. If that say its ok, then you can continue the private conversation. If
they say no, DO NOT PM THEM. It’s *really* that simple.

Ops and Voice
This one is pretty simple. Respect the ops. Respect those with voice. Ops are around to protect you and the
channel. They generally have more invested in the channel than the average user, and will always look out for
its best interest. People with a voice have it for a reason. Either this means that they are accepted as part of the
channel, or that they are special in some other way (denoted by the channel). WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU:
Mind yourself and act as you would around a group of friends. Ops can sometimes be like older siblings; they’ll
let you hang out as long as you’re cool. If, for any reason, they give you any kind of warning HEED IT
IMMEDIATELY (they generally will not warn you twice), and apologize if you have the opportunity to. As long as
you’re not a jerk, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
REMEMBER: Op’s exist for *both* the channel *and* you. If you have any issues with something in the channel
(a person, a topic, etc.) or have any questions, feel free to ask them. That is exactly what they’re there for, and
most of them are happy to help. (Generally speaking, this is done through PM, but remember to ask first.)

Try to stay on topic, but don’t be annoying about it. If the conversation sways in one direction or another, it’s
generally ok to let it wander as long as there’s still chatter. If an op requests that the conversation be brought
back to the topic, try to do so. The topic is generally a guideline for the conversation overall, or just something
to set the mood to everyone; it’s not something that’s set in stone (in most cases).

Harassment and Bigotry
There are many places on the internet where you can go to call each other names and use homophobic and
racial slurs. IRC is *not* one of those places. Any direct hazing or hurtful remarks are generally not tolerated,
and should be avoided at all costs.

Always NSFW!
If you post something that’s not safe for work, SAY SO! Many people are on IRC at work and don’t want to get
into trouble. Just throw a nice little “(NSWF)” at the BEGINNING of the line and you’ll be all good. THIS IS

‘Lurking’ and ‘slowchat’
When you join a channel, it might not always be active right away. Many people log onto IRC and have it in the
background while doing other things, so sometimes they’re not too quick to respond (known as ‘slowchat’). Its
good practice to say hello when you enter and if you don’t hear anything stick around for a few minutes.
Joining a channel and not saying anything is known as ‘lurking’, and in most cases will not be tolerated. That
doesn’t mean that you *always* need to say something, just contribute every now and then.

This document created for reference and educational purposes – © E.A. Parker, 2015

Suggested IRC clients
mIRC is one of the most popular clients for new users. It is very lightweight, easy to script, and easy to learn. It
has a clean interface that is customizable, but also very button-heavy (text based users tend to not like this).
mIRC is free to use for the first 30 days, and after that asks you to register. If you choose not to register you
have to wait 10 seconds when the program starts, and then you can continue to use it free. mIRC supports
windows platforms only, and it can be downloaded here:

xChat is also incredibly popular, but more so with advanced users. Again, the program is light weight and
relatively simple to use. It has a very clean interface with a server connection wizard (that can handle nickserv
identification on connect) and does not feature many buttons. xChat is free to use for the first 30 days for
Windows computers, and after that asks you to register. If you choose not to register, unlike mIRC you will be
unable to continue to use the program. xChat is *completely free* for linux platforms. You can download it

AndChat is arguably the best IRC platform for Android based mobile devices (both phones and tablets). It
features multiple server connection, and can perform most of the actions the others can as well. It is very textheavy, and takes some getting used to (generally not recommended for new IRC users). AndChat is completely
free and available from Google Play here:

This document created for reference and educational purposes – © E.A. Parker, 2015