In need of a mind enema? Are you trying to fail a few exams in order to stay popular with your more dim-witted friends? Or just brushing up on your French expletives and ASCII Japanese?
IRC is an international means by which people all over the world can abuse each other in a multitude of languages. It is a world-wide multi-user chat system, and it's at your door. This guide is to give you a very brief and simplistic overview of the IRC beast.
Just as it would be rather embarrassing to have a toilet block without separate cubicles, IRC provides separate ``channels'' in which people can group to talk.
Channels are identified by names, and always have a ``#'' as the first character. Channels are generally public access, but can be tampered with to make them private, or invitation only.
This tutorial deals primarily with the original IRC client, irc. There are many other console-mode clients, such as the cleverly-named ircII, bitchx, irssi, and epic. These all function in a similar way, with varying amounts of fancy features. Both ircII and epic are available on ProgSoc machines. If you're running X you might want to look at a graphical client for X, such as xchat (as you can see, programming skill and creativity in application titles don't always mix). For Windows, there are several popular clients, but the grand high supreme king of them all, if popularity is anything to go by17.2, is a program called ``mIRC'', available from http://www.mirc.com.
Fortunately, all of these clients support the commands outlined below, so regardless of which one you pick, this chapter will be relevant to you.
IRC can be run by typing irc to your shell. If you get the message ``Command~not~found'', then check to see that your path contains the directory /usr/local/bin. If it doesn't, then of course, it won't work. Fix it. If you don't know how, then get someone else to fix it.
If you still get strange things happening, it might help to type in export TERM=vt100 (or setenv~TERM~vt100 in csh) before starting IRC.
If it's working, you should get something like the following:
*** Connecting to port 6667 of server 22.214.171.124 *** Welcome to the Internet Relay Network, jtripper *** Your host is ultima.socs.uts.edu.au[ultima], running version 2.6pre19 *** Value of SCROLL set to ON *** Value of DISPLAY set to OFF *** This server was created Fri Mar 29 1991 at 14:17:20 EST *** There are 113 users on 53 servers *** 21 users have connection to the twilight zone MOTD - ultima.socs.uts.edu.au Message of the Day - MOTD - MOTD - Blug. MOTD - * End of /MOTD command.
If, during a session, you find that when the lines hit the bottom of the screen, they explode and disappear, it may be necessary to set the value of SCROLL~to~OFF:
/set scroll off
All IRC commands start with ``/''.
Before you set off on your merry rampage, you may want to choose a nickname by which you will be identified by other users - otheriwse it will fall back the the default of your login name.
/nick JackOn the main display (the bigger chunk of screen, not the tiny bit down the bottom where you type) you will see a message like:
*** jtripper is now known as Jack
At this point in time, you are still not connected to any channel. You are in limbo. No-one can hear you scream. Whatever you type (aside from commands) will be thrown away, and you won't see any conversational public messages. However, you can still send and receive messages from people with the /msg command (discussed later).
In order to join a channel, it might help to know what channels are already there. Type /list, and you'll get something vaguely resembling this (but quite a bit longer17.3):
*** #Nippon 1 *** #aussies 43 Is anyone awake in here?? *** #uts_crims 3 *** Prv 2 *** Prv 3 *** Prv 1
This is a list of channel names, followed by the number of people on each channel, and then the topic (if any). ``Prv'' means that it is a private channel and you can't join unless invited, or you happen to know the name of it.
Channels with one person are generally people who have fallen asleep, are waiting for someone to turn up, or simply enjoy using an international chat system in order to not talk to anyone.
Some users are not users at all. There are channels that employ the use of ``bots'', programs that sit around and ``op'' particular users as they join, kick off others, etc. They don't tend to be very interesting things to talk to. (More about ``ops'' later.)
Topics, set by /topic, are usually set to annoy people on the channel, and may retain their relevance for anything up to ten seconds.
To actually join a channel, type: /join~#channel
What will follow will be something like:
*** Jack has joined channel #aussies *** Topic: Is anyone awake in here?? *** Users on #aussies: Moron, @mork, @Insomniak, enema
A @ before a nick means that the user is a channel operator. Graphical IRC clients might identify chanops with coloured dots or similar imagery instead.
If at any time you wish to see who is on the channel, /join (without a name after it) will usually suffice.
Now that you are in, everything you type without a / in front of it will be sent to everyone on this channel. What you type will appear with a > at the front.
> Hi! I'm female!!
(This message often gets people's attention.)
Public messages from other people will look something like:
What, with a name like Jack??
A useful tool for the average multi-chatting backstabbing user is the private message command, /msg.
/msg moron Actually, I'm not.
-> *moron* Actually, I'm not.
Moron will see:
*Jack* Actually, I'm not.
A common mistake is to send a private message without the /msg. This looks incredibly silly when it comes up as a public message, but a couple of remedies are available. One is to yell ``oh no!'' (expletives are more popular) and thus let everyone know that you've made the mistake, drawing full attention to the rogue message. Another is not to react at all, but to resend the message privately. Yet another is to talk your way around it.
If you find someone you wish to talk to privately, you can either elope to a new channel by yourselves (changing your nicks is also a good idea to stop people from bothering you), or, more easily, there is the /query command.
Query works somewhat like /msg. When you /query~ennuyant, everything you type will only be seen by ennuyant. To make your messages public again, type /query (by itself); your private conversation will end.
While you are querying someone, you can still reach other people using /msg (ie, if you're querying ennuyant and you enter /msg~thrillu~this ennuyant guy sure is boring then your insults will be seen only by thrillu).
To find out who someone is after you've been talking to them for half an hour, (and knowing who they are could be useful,) use /whois.
You'll get something similar to the following:
*** Moron is email@example.com (I'm a moron!) *** on channels: #aussies, @#mine *** on irc server mushed.blah.oz.au
If the person is an IRC operator, you will also get something like:
*** Moron has a connection to the twilight zone (is an IRC operator)
They will also have a ``*'' before their nick.
IRC operators can help you if you get stuck, but don't annoy them too much. They can bite.
One thing many people forget to tell you is how to get out. A simple /bye will make good your escape. If someone /bye's before you can do a /whois on them, try a /whowas instead. This will tell you the identity of the last person to use that nick.
By far the most useful command you will need to know is /help. This will give you a number of topics to choose from, so that you can explore IRC's features to your heart's content. Alternately, you can hassle the people around you, or those on your channel, to help you if you get really stuck.
A popular feature is the action command. Type /me, followed by an action. For example, /me~runs~away will give something like:
* Jack runs away
/ignore is a very handy command when you wish to ignore a particular user. /ignore~Moron~all will stop all messages from Moron from reaching you - even messages sent to the channel. This can get confusing. Use /ignore by itself to see a list of people you are ignoring, and /unignore to start listening to them again.
/set~novice~off will turn off ``Novice Mode'', which is on by default when you join IRC. Novice Mode makes you leave a channel when you join a new one, so it is necessary to turn this mode off when attempting to join more than one channel at a time. To leave a channel, use /part, as in:
/away will mark you as being ``away'' when you're there, but you're not. If you type /away~(..message..), then anyone who does a /whois on your nick, or tries to /msg to you, will receive a message that you are away, followed by your message. To ``unmark'' yourself, type /away by itself. If you begin a /msg conversation with someone, they will probably complain if you forget to do this.
/names will show all the public channels, and the nicknames of the people using them.
/admin will tell you who is running the server you are using. If you have any problems, you can mail them with your complaints. But make sure that it is really a server problem, and not something silly that you've done.
If you join a channel that did not previously exist, it will be created and make you its ``channel operator''. This will give you ``ops'', certain powers and privileges that other people just joining won't have.
When the last person leaves a channel, it disappears. It is also possible to have a channel with no operator if all the operators leave without passing operator status to someone else. (This is where ``bots'' come in handy.)17.4
Some handy channel operator commands are:
If you type /mode #channel, you will see the modes active for that particular channel.
Type /help mode for further information.
Mode option summary:
In your home directory, you can have a file called .ircrc which can automatically set things up for you whenever you join IRC. Each line in the .ircrc file is as if you'd typed the same line with a ``/'' before it during an interactive session.
Any IRC commands can be used. The following is a list of useful commands specifically related to scripts:
Sometimes the server you are using gets disconnected from all the other ones. If this happens, everyone outside of your server will appear to ``signoff'' (/bye) simultaneously, and the only company you get is that on your own server.
Your local server will be constantly trying to reconnect to the rest of the world, and there's nothing that can be done about it. Just sit and wait, and get to know some Australians a bit better.
Do not use IRC from University modems. It doesn't work particularly well. 17.5
This is only a simple guide to get you going. For more information on this gem of international socialising time wastage, use the /help command or ask (nicely) the people around you, or on your channel.
As a last resort, ask the administrator of the server you are using. And don't annoy him too much because he's MINE and I'll defend him to the death.17.6
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