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Frequently asked questions about IRC


Where can I get movies/music/software?
The #1 question we are asked and it's getting a little hard to contain myself from running a script to kick people for asking. hehehe.
#mIRC4dummies does not really condone software piracy. Finding a channel that has files you want will probably be difficult, and doing a channel search using the word you want may get results and it may not. Some servers do not allow the /list command so you might have to change servers for it to work. Also if you are on dialup, this command could knock you offline with a flood of information too large for your modem to handle.
Example : /list mp3 would bring up all the channels on efnet with mp3 in the title. Keep in mind that some servers also only allow a limited number of hits, so you mihjy get only 20 or 30 hits. Similarly, for movies, if you type /list divx you will get a listing of all non-secret channels that have divx in the title. You would then join any of the channels listed and follow the rules they post for getting files. This is a complicated process sometimes and it would require a whole page or more to explain. So I won't :)... You just have to go to the channels and watch what others do. And please don't ask in #mirc4dummies how to get the files from Fserves or X-dcc bots. Watch and learn in those channels.

How do I change my nickname?
To change your nickname, type /nick newnick. Example: /nick Dickhead. If Dickhead is not being used by anyone else at that time your nickname would change to Dickhead. Depending on what script you are running, if that nick is being used your script may either notify you or just add a _ and you would end up as Dickhead_ . Efnet only allows 9 characters in a nick.

How do I start a channel?
To create a channel, type /join #channelname. The channel must of course be one that does not currently exist. For example, to create a channel named mychannel, type in /join #mychannel. If no one else is there, you would become the op in that channel.

What does the @ in front of your nickname mean?
A person with a @ in front of their nick is a channel operator. They moderate the channel and have access to special commands called mode commands that non-channel operators do not. And on IRC it is not a democracy. If an op doesn't want you in thier channel, they can ban you and you can't get back in. Depending on the type of ban, it may ban just your nick, or your ident or isp. In rare cases they will ban a whole country. I have seen .no (Norway) banned from some channel. That's the whole country that is banned, not just one person.

How do you become a channel operator?
You can become a channel operator in one of 2 ways: (1) by creating your own channel... you will automatically become the channel operator. (2) by being made an operator by an existing operator on a channel. Don't hold your breath for this one.

I know my friends nickname, but can't find him. How do I do that?
To find someone who is currently on IRC, type in /whois nickname. Info about then nick and what channels he is on will show in your status box. Of course if he has his personal mode set to invisible, the channels he is on will not show.

If I don't know what channel he is on, but know he is on IRC, how do I find him?
Well, you can contact him by messaging him. Type in /msg nickname and a message. For example /msg voy what channel are you on, voy?

What do you mean he has his personal mode set to invisible? You mean no one can see him??
No, he is not literally invisible.... you can still see him when he is on the same channel as you. The invisible mode means that when a person is searched for with a /who nick or a /names #channelname command, they will not show when the command is issued. They will, however, show in a search if the /whois nick command is issued, although the channel they are on will not be included in the information. It's simply a way to offer yourself a little bit of protection from prying eyes. To set your personal mode to invisible, type /mode your nickname +i.

How do I get a listing of the channels?
To list the active channels on the IRC network you are currently on, type /list. If you're on a large network like EFnet, there will be anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 channels or more. You might want to narrow the list down a bit. You can do this by performing a min/max listing. For example, if you wanted to list only the channels with at least 5 but no more than 10 people on them, you would type /list -min 5 -max10. Unfortunately, this does not prevent the list command from downloading all the channels. It merely filters out the channels you're interested in, and still takes an awfully long time when there are a lot of channels and you have a slow modem and machine. Mirc itself has gui channel lister. Usually the 3rd button pulldown from the top left corner of the options. You can set the settings there easier than typing

When I try to list the channels, I get disconnected from IRC. Why?
This is not your fault. It is the fault of an overly sensitive network server. When you request a list of channels, you are asking the server to download a lot of information to your machine. The requested information is placed in a server buffer, a place to temporarily store information as it is being sent out to you. At some point, the buffer becomes overloaded due to the shear volume of information being requested. At that point, to protect itself from locking up, the server will disconnect you. Its a protection mechanism built into the server, but the server doesn't know you intend no harm, and that you are simply asking for a list of channels. The only choice you have is to log onto a different server that may not be so touchy about downloading large amounts of information to you.

You mentioned IRC Networks. You mean there are more than one??
Yes. There are lots of IRC Networks out there, but the majority of them are very small, like maybe 40 or 50 users and maybe 10 channels or less. There are 3 Major IRC Networks. They are DALnet, Undernet, and EFnet.

If I'm on DALnet, can I chat with a person on a different network?
No. Each of the networks is totally separate and independent. Each network has its own set of chat servers, and they are not connected to servers on the other networks. You may see the same channel names on the different networks, but they are not the same channel. They are completely separate and independent of one another, and cannot talk to one another.

OK. So the networks are independent. But does each server on a network have the same channels as every other server on that network?

Lag? What is Lag?
Lag is the delay in time it takes for your signal to reach another user. When every thing is running just right, communication between users is virtually instantaneous. However, things seldom ever run just right. Lag between users is acceptable when the lag time is less than 10 seconds. If it gets greater than that, communication becomes increasingly difficult. You can minimize lag time somewhat by choosing a server that is geographically close to you. You can often, though not always, tell where the server is located by its server name. For instance, an DALnet server address might be Cin.dal.net, indicating it is in Cincinnati Ohio. An EFnet server might be named mickey.cc.utexas.edu, indicating it is in Texas. A list of servers for DALnet, EFnet, and Undernet can be viewed by clicking here.

How do I check if I am Lagged?
You check your lag status with the Ping command. Ping sends out a signal to a "target", who can be another user or even yourself. The command is /ctcp nickname ping. Depending on what IRC program you are using, you may also be able to use /ping nickname. The ping response time will be in seconds and will appear in the status window.

What is the PING?PONG! I keep seeing in my status window?
The Ping Pong you see is the result of the server interrogating you to see if you are still on the system. You need make no response, your IRC program does it automatically. Visible Ping!Pong!s usually occur when there is lots of lag or a bad connection to the server. If you are constantly being bombarded by the Ping Pongs, try a different server.

What does the +tn I see at the top of the window next to the channel name mean?
Those are Channel Mode Settings. Channel modes are settings that only the channel operators have access to. They are a subset of modes called Operator Modes. Operator Modes allow the operators to have a great deal of control over the channel and the users that are on the channel. The +tn modes mean that only a channel operator can change the channel topic (+t), and no outside messages are allow to be sent to the channel as a whole (+n).

What is a BOT?
Bot is short for Robot. A bot is a program written by a user that acts like and may appear to be an actual user, depending on the skill of the programmer. Bots are not looked on favorably by most Networks. They are even banned by many servers. Bots have been given a bad rap due to misuse and abuse by hackers. Malicious Bots can be programmed to flood channels with useless garbage (FloodBots), make copies of themselves for use in channel takeover attempts (CloneBots), cause nick collides which result in a user being "killed" and dropped from IRC (KillBots), or any other number of destructive functions. Bots can, however, be very useful if properly programmed. They can be user to hold a channel open when the owner is not physically there on the channel, they can be set up as a file server to offer files to people, they can be uses as help and information servers, or they can even be used to run games on a channel. Bots can range from the very simple to the very complex. The most powerful Bots are run on ircll client programs, which is a UNIX based system. Bots are not for everyone, and I would advise you not even consider using one.

What is a Netsplit?
A Netsplit is the loss of communication between servers on a Network. When a netsplit occurs, users will appear to leave the channel in large numbers almost simultaneously. You may even find yourself left as the only person on the channel. What has happened is the servers have momentarily lost contact with one another. The breakdown in communication is caused by one or more of several events, events which you have no control over. They can occur due to very high server loads, loss of Internet communication links, or a total or partial crash of the server itself. Eventually the communications will be re-established, and all the users who were on the channel will be rejoined. You can wait it out, or try connecting to a server that was on the other side of the split. I'd advise you just wait it out, unless the split last a very long time.

How do I send and receive files on IRC?
Files, including text, application, programs, and pictures, are sent on IRC using DCC. You can also use DCC to chat with another user. DCC stands for Direct Client to Client. A DCC connection establishes a direct communications link between two users that is separate from the normal IRC channels. Because it is a separate link, it is the most secure method of communicating with another user, and is not subject to the lag associated with the normal channels (although DCC links can experience lag of their own).