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Introduction to IRC Course by ElizabethBevilacqua (pleia2)

What is IRC?

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. It is a chat protocol used by thousands of people all over the world to communicate in real time. You use your "IRC Client" to connect to an "IRC Server" that others have also connected to. From there you join channels (like chat rooms) that interest you and give you the chance to talk to others that share your interests.

How will learning to use IRC help me get more involved with Ubuntu?

Because IRC is real time, it is a popular tool for FLOSS developers and users to exchange thoughts and ideas, provide help, and have meetings.

As with most of the FLOSS world, there aren't many women using IRC. This tutorial seeks to get more women interested in and comfortable with using IRC.

Choosing a Client

This course includes tutorials on XChat the most popular GUI client for Linux and irssi, the most popular text-based client for Linux.



You probably want to read one of these before moving on to learning general commands.

General IRC Commands

The following tips and tricks are not specifically related to any client.

Registering your nickname

  • Once you have a nickname you want to use on IRC, be sure to register it with nickserv. The process of registering varies from network to network, but in general you just send the following message to learn what you must do:

    /msg nickserv help register

    On Freenode you type /msg nickserv register password where "password" is a password you'd like to use. By registering your nickname you ensure that you are the owner of that nickname and no one else can impersonate you. Also, on Freenode and some other big networks, you are not able to send private messages to other people on the network unless your nickname is registered.

    The next time you log onto the network you will need to "identify" yourself to NickServ as the owner of your nickname. This is generally done with the following commands:

    /msg nickserv identify password Read up on documentation for your IRC client to see about how this can be done automatically on login.


  • Sometimes in IRC you'll see something like this:

    * nickname goes to get a cup of coffee That is an action. To do this yourself you'd type:

    /me goes to get a cup of coffee

Joining and Parting

  • As a general rule, IRC clients allow you to join and part channels by using the following commands:

    /join #ubuntu-women

    /part #ubuntu-women People who are in #ubuntu-women will see you joining and parting something like this:

    nickname [n=nickname@host.fake.com] has joined #ubuntu-women

    nickname [n=nickname@host.fake.com] has left #ubuntu-women

Sending Private Messages - This can be done by sending the following command:

  • /msg nickname hello, this is a private message! Where "nickname" is the nickname of the person you want to send the private message to. Please note that not all people accept private messages, and it is generally considered polite to ask questions in channel and only use private messages if both parties agree to it.

There are many more commands available in IRC, see links in the "Helpful Links" section for more.


Just as important as knowing how to use the software is using how to properly act in IRC channels. This is a list of tips for easing into IRC without upseting anyone with unintentionally rude behavior.

  • DO NOT TYPE IN ALL CAPS - It's considered shouting.
  • Do not greet every person in the channel individually, just saying "hello" to the whole channel is sufficient
  • Do not use public away messages, they are annoying
  • Do not join and part a channel several times in a short period
  • Read and obey ALL rules posted for the channel you join (please read the IrcGuidelines for #Ubuntu-Women)

  • English is the most commonly used language on IRC, if you want to speak another language you should try to join a channel or network that specifically states that. Ubuntu has a number of channels for different languages.
  • Use proper grammar and spelling as much as possible, using "l33t sp34k" will not impress anyone
  • Do not advertise your website/channel/etc in other channels unless it specifically comes up in conversation - mass advertising is cause for removal on most networks
  • When you join a social channel you may want to hang out for a bit and get the feel for the channel before jumping into conversation.
  • When you join a technical channel for a question there is no need to ask if you can ask a question, just ask your question and hang out for a while to see if anyone can answer it. Do not expect people to answer immediately, do not repeat your question every 10 minutes or every time a new person joins the channel.

  • IRC Channels are not AOL chat rooms, asking for personal information by saying things like "A/S/L?" is generally not appropriate.

Finally, as with any forum where you interact with others, be nice and try not to stir up trouble.

Courses/IRC (last edited 2011-12-26 23:23:49 by lyz)