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Evolt Irc Primer

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Garrett Coakley

Member info

User since: 27 Jun 1999

Articles written: 4

What is IRC?

IRC (Internet Relay Chat) has been around since about 1988. It's a real time talk system where people can gather together in various channels (think of them as virtual rooms) and talk about whatever interests them. Each channel has a name which usually outlines its main topic of conversation.

To participate in IRC you need a client program at your end (for example mIRC on Windows) and the details of the server you wish to connect to.

Channel Info

#evolt, the IRC channel is hosted on the Freenode network. To connect all you need to do is point your IRC client at either or If you're using a GUI IRC client then have a look at your clients documentation to find out how you connect to a server. If you're using a command line IRC client then type:


Barring any major problems you will find yourself connected to one of the pool of servers.

(Don't worry about what /server means right now. I'll explain IRC commands a little later).

Now What Do I Do???

Once you've connected to the server, you then need to tell it which channel you would like to join. To do that you type in:

/join #evolt

and you should find yourself in the channel.

To join in the conversation, just start typing. Everytime you hit enter, the line you've typed is echoed to the channel. Yep, it's that simple.

Interacting With The Server

As well as talking directly with the other people on the channel, you can also send the server special commands. These commands have a number of functions, but the one thing they have in common is that they all start with a '/'.

A full list of possible commands is beyond the scope of this intro, but here are some of the most common.

/me [action]

Will result in your persona in the channel performing an action. For example,

/me scratches his nose

would result in everyone in the channel seeing

garrett scratches his nose

/msg $username [message]

Will send a private message to $username. Example:

/msg djc hey! where's my beer gone?

would result in djc getting a private message from me saying

hey! where's my beer gone?

If djc wanted to reply in private he would address a /msg back at me.

/part [channel] [reason]

The /part command will cause you to leave the channel specified. If you tag on a reason then that reason will be echoed to the channel as you leave. Very important note: if you want to supply a reason for leaving, you have to supply the channel. Otherwise the server gets confused.

/quit [reason]

Similar to the /part command, but it will disconnect you from the server as well.


As with all the other digital media that you've been using (web, email, forums etc) IRC has its own list of rules that aid the communication process. A full list of them is beyond this introduction (see the list of further links at the end of this article) but suffice to say they're pretty similiar to the rules for thelist that we all know and love.

Just remember, there's a person on the other end of that nickname, so keep it friendly.


Now, when I said that there is a person on the other end of a nickname, that's not always strictly true. Allow me to introduce you to thebot.

thebot is #evolt's very own, ummm, bot. Bots are programs that sit in IRC channels and do helpful stuff (most of the time). thebot is based on the infobot code and so you should see that site for more complete instructions on what it can do. But here's a quick taster.

thebot, seen garrettc

thebot will return the last time I was on the channel and the last thing I said.

thebot, exchange 10USD to GBP

Convert 10 U.S. Dollars to U.K. Pounds (will work with any ISO currency codes).

thebot, evolt

Will return a list of the current front page headlines

Further Reading & Links

About IRC



IRC is an incredibly useful tool, and hell, it's fun too. I hope this primer has helped introduce you to IRC and that you'll pop into the channel and have a chat sometime. It's a great place to get a quick answer to that niggling HTML question, or even to just kill 30 mins over lunch.

Garrett has been working on the 'net since 1992 (he still gets misty eyed thinking about the first time he saw Mosaic) and now works for gencon as a developer / web standards monkey / Open Source advocate.

More of his ramblings and output can be found at his personal site

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