Ensor's IRC Newbie Information Guide Thing
Document was last updated 6 Aug 95.
Created/maintained by: Ensor
The latest version of this guide can be obtained:
This is just a little document to save you and me a lot of repetitive typing
(well, ok, really just me). It is not intended to replace the IRC FAQ or
the help files, so you should probably read those as well. This is just a
compilation of the most common questions I (for some reason) get, in the
most common terms. Please keep in mind that not all clients implement all
features, and more detailed information on these topics can be found in the
help files or the FAQ.
List of Topics
This is what is generally referred to as your realname or ircname. You
can't normally change this without exiting irc first. If you're on a unix
client using csh, you can change it by typing:
setenv IRCNAME 'This is my name'
at your unix command prompt. For sh and ksh, I've heard you can change it
IRCNAME='This is my name' ; export IRCNAME
If you're using any other type of system, well, I can't really help you
Actions are produced by the /me command, for most people. Example:
/me yawns in boredom.
* Ensor yawns in boredom.
"Emoting" is really a different matter--see the next topic.
This is sometimes called an emoticon. Tilt your head 90 degrees to the left
and look at it again; it's a wink. You can also smile :), frown :(,
grin in an evil manner >:), be angry >:(, or whatever. Use your
Someone is messaging you. Only you can see these messages. If you see:
*Ensor* Hello, how on earth did you end up here?
you can respond by typing:
/msg Ensor I have no idea.
/list" will list all the available channels, the number of people on
them, and the channel topics. Don't try this on EFNet! It will all scroll
by too fast for you to read, and there is so much data that it will probably
break your connection to the server. See the next couple of questions....
You can also make your own brand new channel! Just make up a name, such as
"mine", and create it with "
How many people do you want? Try "
/join #mine". To invite a friend, type "
Ensor"; then they can just use "
/list -min 10". This will list all the
channels with at least 10 people on them. Looks too crowded? The "
flag also works, and you can even use both options at the same time, like
/list -min 5 -max 9".
Before you type the /list command, you might want to use "
on". This will cause the screen output to pause whenever the screen fills
up; then just hit Return or Enter to continue. You'll probably want to use
/set hold_mode off" after you see the end of the list so that the screen
doesn't stop scrolling during your conversation.
To see a list of the users on your current channel, try "
/names *". For
more detailed information, use "
/who *". For even more nitty-gritty stuff
for a particular person, use "
An @ preceding someone's nickname means that person is a channel operator
for the channel shown. People like this can do all kinds of things that
affect the channel, who can use it, and how they can use it. A * means the
person is an IRC operator. Some of them maintain the servers and try to
keep the net running smoothly. If you have a problem, you might try asking
one of these people.
Mode changes affect characteristics of a channel or person. Channel
operators (people with a @ next to their names) can make mode changes to a
channel. This is usually to your benefit (one way or the other). Type
/help mode" for more specific information.
The current channel mode (characteristics) is shown in the status bar
following the channel name; you can also see it with "
Each letter represents a different mode. Some of the more common ones are:
Probably you were being a numbskull dweeb, or you were misunderstood. It's
also possible that a ban was already placed that keeps out a group of
people which happens to include you. You'll need to beg/bribe a channel
operator on that channel to remove the ban if you want to join.
A bot is an automated program that runs on IRC. Usually their names end
with "Bot", "Srv", or "Serv", but not always.
Well, that depends what it was designed to do. Usually they op people,
make weird comments, and sometimes provide information. Try messaging one
with the word "help". Maybe it will tell you itself.
There is no short answer. (How do you write an address book program?) Read
the IRC client help files. Then, depending what you want it to do, maybe
you should read RFC1459 (the IRC protocol definition), The C Programming
Language, some unix man pages, and a box of Froot Loops.
- You can't join the channel unless you're invited.
- Only a certain number of people can join the channel.
- Moderated--only certain people can talk on the channel.
- You have to be on the channel to send messages to it.
- Only channel operators can change the topic.
- Channel is secret. Basically, it's invisible.
/set novice off", then join the channels you want. Then avoid typing
any cryptic "/on" commands that someone may tell you to type. You will see
messages from all the channels you've joined scrolling up the screen. To
switch between channels, use /join again to get to the channel on which you
wish to speak. Your current channel is always shown in the status bar just
above the input line at the bottom of the screen.
If you want to have each channel in a different area of the screen, type
A couple of different types of highlighting are available; many terminal
emulators displays these as different colors. You can make something bold
by typing ^V (control-V) around it (may be ^B on some terminals) or
underlined with ^- (control-minus, may display as ^_).
When you're ready to exit IRC (yeah, right), you can type "
/help window"; there are several subcommands for manipulating the screen in
this way. Having set novice off, it would benefit you to read "
novice" and "
/help set exec_protection" (at the very least) as well.
/bye 3 A.M.
already?" to exit and leave a comment to the people left on your channels.
You will not see the comment since your program will exit by the time it is
sent. I know of know way to do the same when just leaving a channel.
Your nickname is the name by which you will be known on IRC. You can change
it by typing "
/nick NotNewbie" (limited to nine characters). Be creative;
the more original or obscure your nickname, the less likely it is that you
and someone else will choose the same one. If you do try to use one that
someone else is currently using, you will have to try again. If you choose
one that someone else who isn't currently signed on normally uses, you will
probably have a conflict at a later point when you sign on. To say nothing
of the potential number of confusing messages and nasty comments you would
There is currently no way to register your nickname. NickServ used to exist
on EFNet for this purpose, but it's gone. If you want to start an argument
sometime, ask someone about it.
Servers occasionally (or frequently, depending on the phase of the moon)
lose their links with each other (known as a "netsplit"). If you see
several people sign off at once with the same cryptic reason, this has
probably happened. They will probably return shortly when the affected
servers figure out what's going on. Probably the most confusing aspect of
this phenomenon is that the other group sees happening to you exactly what
you see happening to them. It's all a matter of your net.point-of-view.
You may have received this file by DCC (using a /dcc command). DCC is a
method you can use within IRC to transfer files (among other things). DCC
has several subcommands; type "
/help dcc" for more information.
A couple of tips:
"IRC" isn't a particular thing; it's a method for real-time communication.
There are all kinds of little IRC networks tucked in various corners of the
world. The two most popular networks are EFNet, the older and larget net
that most people just call "IRC", and Undernet, a newer network with a
slightly different approach to solving problems. You might find server
lists and other information at the
ftp site or
web site mentioned at the top
of this document, at
cs-ftp.bu.edu, or in one of the
alt.irc.* Usenet news groups.
If you want to set it all up yourself, ftp the source code from
cs-ftp.bu.edu. If you want something easy, try this from your unix
- Don't ask for ops in a channel where you're new. This will probably
just get you kicked. The folks there don't know who you are and have
no reason to think you're up to any good if you're asking for ops out
of the blue. If you really need ops, make up a new channel name and
- Don't just appear on a channel and say "I hate bots." This will
probably also get you kicked. If you're a newbie (why else would you
read this?), you can't possibly know what every bot on IRC does, so you
can't possibly hate them all. Some of them are considered useful
and/or fun by those who coexist with them.
- It is considered bad form (read: you will be kicked and maybe banned)
to use another's nickname to try to fool others or bots on a channel.
It's one thing to change nicks briefly to make a humorous point, but
another to pose as someone else to try to obtain certain information or
telnet sci.dixie.edu 1 | sh
It will take about 20 minutes to complete and 1.5 megabytes of disk space.
When it's done, you'll have your very own ircII client installed in your
home directory and ready to use.
Read the help files (type "
/help"). Read the FAQ. Join #irchelp or
#answers. (On Undernet, join #wasteland, #help, or #newbie.) Ask your
friends. Ask your enemies. Ask me, but you'll probably just get more of
the same. ;)