How to Identify Someone on IRC

AfterNET follows what we consider the “true” spirit of IRC, and does not use reserved or owned nicknames. While sometimes users familiar with networks like FreeNode find it harder to tell who is who, we feel that NickServ does not flow well with IRC, and actually increases the problem of nickname conflicts, especially on smaller networks. As a result, it can take some more work when you need to make sure the person you are talking to is who they claim to be. This guide should serve as a quick rundown of how to check someone's identity.


Sometimes people on IRC try to pretend they are the administrators, or operators of the network. They set their username or realname to “admin” or “ircop” to try and trick you. Finding out if someone is an oper is easy though. There are two ways to do it:

/whois nickname

The whois reply will appear (sometimes in your status window). It looks like this:

[Rubin] (Rubin@ppp01-090.NWS.ORST.EDU) : +)Rubin(+
[Rubin] #afternet #nerf
[Rubin] IRC.AfterNET.Org :AfterNET IRC Network
[Rubin] is an IRC Operator
[Rubin] is logged in as Rubin

The first line is my connection information: nickname, username, hostname and realname. The second line shows the channels I am in. The third line shows what network I am on. Now there are optional lines:

[Rubin] is logged in as rubin

tells you that the person has authenticated with the /auth command to the account “rubin” in AuthServ. If you see one like the above, which states the person is an IRC Operator, than you know for sure they are an IRC Operator.

/msg x3 ircops

Use X3: type /msg X3 ircops This will give you a list of all the IRC operators currently online. If they are in the list, then they are a real IRC operator.


For identifying users, there are again multiple ways to verify someone's identity.

  • One of the simplest is to look at the person's /whois (see above) and familiarize yourself with what host they normally use. Some people have more than one host, or sometimes show up only as IP numbers, so it can be hard to keep track. If they /register and /auth with AuthServ you can see their AuthServ account in /whois.
  • Another way to verify someone's ID is to use X3. If you share a channel with the person, which you trust, you can see if they are logged into X3. If they are, you know they are the real person. To do this, use X3's ACCESS command: /msg X3 #channelname ACCESS nickname X3 will respond telling you if the person is logged in, and who they are logged in as. As a convenience, when logged in people join the channel, X3 can be configured to display their handle, and a user defined “info line”. This way when someone joins X3 is saying “I recognize this person”, and you know who they are logged in as.
  • New Hidden hosts change your hostname in /whois to Accountname.Users.AfterNET.Org. If you see someone with a hostname like this, that means they have an account with AuthServ, our account bot. /msg authserv help for more details.

I hope this guide has helped you to learn how to identify people on IRC. Please remember, AfterNET IRC operators will never ask you for your channel password. If you are in doubt, check it out.