Often an IRC user receive a message (or even a K-line, a form of server ban) informing him or her that the user ID being used is incorrect. Many users don't understand what this really means, however, since they aren't familiar with the related terminology.
Most IRC clients have a /whois command (or equivalent command or menu option) for obtaining information about another IRC user. In ircII, this command is used by typing /whois nickname, where nickname is the IRC nickname of the person to be queried. For example, if you type /whois Ensor, you will see the following line:
*** Ensor is email@example.com (Some days are better than others, section leader) --1-- ---2--- -------3------- ---------4-------------------------------------- 1 = Nickname (nick) 2 = User ID (username, email ID, login name, account name) 3 = Hostname (host) 4 = Comment (realname)In this example, the parts of the line have been labeled with some of their commonly used names so you can identify them. (Number 2 is the subject of this article.)
If you use the /whois command on your own nickname, you can see what the IRC server thinks your user ID is. In some cases the host system you log into will automatically provide the server with your correct user ID. If this isn't the case, or if you use a PC (Windows/Mac/etc.) client, you may need to configure your client or set its options so that it uses your correct user ID. This is usually the name you enter at the system login prompt or as the login ID in your Internet software setup.
If you don't use your correct ID, you may be misidentified as another user or suspected of being an abuser of the IRC service. This could result in being banned from some channels or servers with little or no warning. In particular, if you happen to run a bot or otherwise have two or more IRC connections at the same time, be sure that all of your connections are configured to use the same user ID. Connections from the same dialup node using different user IDs, or that appear to give a random string of characters as the user ID, will almost certainly be identified as clonebots or floodbots and result in you or your site being banned from the network.
If you receive a message or error about your user ID but have verified (using /whois) that your user ID is correct, you should mail the administrator of the server that originated the message (or to which you were trying to connect). In some cases, the administrator may be able to adjust the checking parameters to allow your ID.
Some people feel that using their correct user ID is an invasion of their privacy, or they are afraid of getting undesirable email from other IRC users. This is a personal choice for each user, but keep in mind that if you choose not to respect the policies of a server or network, you will probably be asked (or forced) to move to a different network. On the Undernet in particular, user anonymity has been discussed in the past, and the policy has been maintained that all users must be accountable for their own actions. (For more details of the discussions, please refer to the wastelanders mail archives at ftp.undernet.org, primarily from the August-October 1994 timeframe.)
Article copyright © 1996 by Dennis Holmes. Reproduction or translation is prohibited without permission from the author.