Basic IRC Concepts

The Nuts and Bolts

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a protocol that was invented by Jarkko Okarinen. There are two essential parts to the protocol, the server and the client. The client (point a) connects to and parses information from the server (point z) over the Internet via TCPIP. Servers may be interconnected to each other to form networks (point y to point x and point z; or point y to point x to point z). Interconnected servers share user data and information behind the scenes.


When a client (user) connects to the server, he or she chooses a nickname. Only one user may have any givin nickname at a time, so during that session, the nickname is used to identify who is talking. Each user also has an ident (tells what their computer claims is their account name), a hostname, and an account name (optional). All of this information is visible with the /WHOIS command.


Commands are typed into the input box with a / (forward-slash) in front. Modern IRC client software adds to the basic commands, and often provides menus to make it easy to find them. Some important commands to learn include:

Command Description
/JOIN #channelname (Joins the channel)
/PART #channelname (Leaves the channel)
/MSG nick message (Sends a private message to someone)
/ME does an action (A way of describing something about you, such as /me is an artist)
/MODE #channel +modes (Sets modes of a channel; You must have +o)


IRC is centered around Channels (or 'rooms'). Each channel begins with a # (pound sign), and has its own topic and users. The JOIN command is used to join one such channel. Once you join, you can type, and it goes to everyone else in the channel.

Joining a channel with no other clients in it creates it with you in charge. Almost everything about IRC is controlled by modes. For example, when you are in charge of a channel, it is indicated by mode +o on that channel. Channel modes allow those who have created a channel to control and manipulate it. Ihe following are the basic channel modes: (the full list is here)

Mode Description
+b nick!use@hostmask (adds a ban to the channel ban list)
+i (makes a channel invite-only)
+h (makes a user a half-op)
+k keyword (adds a required keyword to join a channel)
+l limit (limits the number of clients on a channel)
+m (channel moderated, only +v users can talk)
+n (no messages to the channel from outside the channel)
+o (channel operator)
+p (channel is private, appears on list but not in queries)
+s (channel is secret, does not appear in list or queries)
+t (topic may only be changed by channel operators)
+v nick (makes a user voiced, may speak on channel if moderation mode is set)


There are special types of users called bots. Bot is short for robot, and these users are not controlled by people, but instead by computer software. Some bots are important, because they are run by the network to help manage things. Two such bots are AuthServ, and X3.

AuthServ is the account bot. You register an account with it, and log-into that account. It attaches your nickname, to your account name while you are logged in, and makes it so other users, and bots, know who you are.

X3 is a channel management bot, (sometimes called Channel Services.) It keeps a list of users for each channel that are known, and grants them access such as +o.

Most bots respond to the command “help”, so try

/msg AuthServ HELP


/msg X3 HELP.