Basically, it’s a chat application. It’s been around for a long time now, and it still has a legion of devoted users. To connect to it, you need an IRC client, of which there are many available. Some applications which aren’t specifically aimed at IRC do contain a client – apps such as Trillian can connect to a variety of different chat protocols at the same time.
IRC servers can be interconnected to create an even bigger network.
How do I use it?
In order to communicate with others, you can either join a channel, which is a group discussion, or you can send private messages to a single user of the system. You’ll need a client like MIRC to get connected.
What else can I do with IRC?
Well, you can transfer data, including file sharing. Many IRC channels were a popular method of sharing files in the early days of the internet before other well-known file-sharing applications hit the headlines. Piracy was rampant, and still is to this day.
Many people have moved away from Irc in the last decade – there are flashier and easier to use applications abound which can do much the same thing. The barrier to entry is the interface and commands which are necessary to find your way around the system. It takes a little getting used to, but can be learned in maybe half an hour. This just can’t compete with the more intuitive interfaces that modern apps contain, and this is the main reason for the lack of new users as the use of the internet has exploded.
The most basic channels to get started are #newbies, and #beginirc
- /j or /join followed by the channel name. Channel names need to be prefixed with a #
- /list will give you a list of all the channels available on the server.
What about the future of IRC?
It may be that IRC remains the realm of previous devotees.
It may also become a place for those who are concerned about privacy to avoid some of the intense scrutiny that other chat clients pose.