Long before Twitter, Google Talk, AIM, and even ICQ, there was Internet Relay Chat (IRC), a very basic client/server chat protocol. If you want to see what it’s about, or you simply long for the good ol’ days, I’m here to show you how to create your own IRC channel.
Think of a channel as an individual “room” on a larger IRC server, usually dedicated to a certain topic or organization. Your own mileage may vary. To create and access IRC, you’ll need an IRC client like any on this list. I’ll be using the ChatZilla extension for Firefox.
If you’re new, I suggest reading IRC Help before jumping in.
You’ll notice that ChatZilla presents you upon startup with links to some popular networks. For the purposes of this demonstration, I connected to Freenode, however due to its policies against off-topic channels, I suggest using the Foonetic server instead. Just type “/server irc.foonetic.net” to connect to it.
Chances are, your initial username will be taken and you’ll be given something like “Tim____”. You can change your nickname with the command “/nick NickName” (no quotes). If you plan on using your channel often, you may wish to reserve your chosen nickname with a password. You can do this with a command in the format “/msg nickserv register password email@address“. When you return to the server later, you may login with “/msg nickserv identify password“.
Now that you’ve got your nickname registered, it’s time to create your channel. This can be done with the command “/join channelname“. The channel name can be any old nonsense. Try to make sure that your channel name is unique so that you don’t drop into another channel unannounced.
Once you’re in your channel, you have the option to register the channel, in order to maintain operator “(op)” status in the channel. To do so, your command is “/msg chanserv REGISTER #channelname password description“, replacing words when appropriate.
I’ve created a channel for #MakeUseOf on the Foonetic server, and anyone is welcome to drop in and say hi. Have fun with the old-school chit-chat!
Do you have a favorite IRC client or server to suggest? Let us know in the comments.