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Support A Beginners Guide to IRC
by fireballs619 07-26-2010, 02:20 AM

I'm sure most of you have heard of IRCs, or Internet Relay Chats, but probably don't know much about them, or how to connect to them. IRCs can be a very useful resource, whether you use them for asking quick questions or getting advice, or if you use them just to banter with those who have similar interests as you. Regardless of your motives, you have to know how to connect to IRCs before you can use them!

Many websites offer in-browser IRC web clients for quick and easy access. Orbiter-Forum has one of these, and can be found here. These types of clients are great for quickly popping in and asking questions, but aren't the best if you intend to frequently visit the IRC. Perhaps you are working on a project and want advice from other people, but you need advice from two different groups of people, i.e. two different chat rooms (called channels in the IRC world). For this, the embedded clients probably won't be enough, as you will have to have access to two channels at once. For this, you will need Mibbit.

Servers, Channels, and Ports- Oh My!
Mibbit is a website that allows you to connect to IRC channels, while still staying in you web-browser (it just takes up a tab). Mibbit has many advantages, the main one being it is extremely easy to use. For a first time user, however, it may require some instruction. The first step is to go to the Mibbit home page here. You will see a screen like this:

You want to select the button that says 'Launch Mibbit WebChat'. Disregard the other button, as you probably won't be using it anytime soon. This button will bring you to the page where you will get to connect to the IRC.

Now is a good time to learn the difference between Servers, Channels, and Ports. Since I assume all of you are familiar with forums, I will relate it to that. The forum-world equivalent of Servers are the main bulletin boards, examples on this site being 'Orbiter Web Forum' or 'General Help & Questions'. Now, if bulletin boards are servers, then channels are like threads. They hold conversations, and are found inside bulletin boards, just like channels are found inside servers. Channels always have a # in front of them- that's just the way it is. Also, similar to bulletin boards holding multiple threads, servers can hold multiple channels. Where do ports fit into all of this? Well, they don't fit well in the forum analogy, but, simply put, they tell your browser in which way to connect. You don't have to worry much about these, as the standard port is 6667. Now that you know what servers, channels, and ports are, it's time to find out how to connect!

The screen you will be brought to after clicking on the 'Launch Mibbit Webchat' button should look like this:

Just pay attention to the box that I circled, as the others are irrelevant. You will see right away that there is a space for a nickname (using your OF user name is advisable if you are connecting to an Orbiter related IRC) and a space for the channel. But where is the line for server? This is hidden, and can be found bay clicking the 'Server' button box. The page should now look like this:

Most websites that have IRCs give the information somewhere- on Orbiter Forum it can be found here. In this case, the server is irc.systemnet.info, so put that in the server line. Since the port is standard, you don't need to enter anything about that. The channel is #orbiter-forum. Remember that # sign- all channels have one! At this point, you should be connected to the Orbiter IRC in Mibbit. A quick rundown of what you are seeing. The dominant feature of this page is the actual chat. You type your message at the bottom and simply hit enter to send it, just like any other IM service. On the side will be a list of users that are currently in that channel. That's pretty much it for the layout of Mibbit. Of course, you can access more than one IRC in Mibbit. To do that, just go to the 'Home' tab at the top of the Mibbit page and enter the information for the new IRC. You can switch between IRCs by switching tabs, and your chat connections won't be closed until you close the tab.

Independent Clients- A whole new beast
Mibbit is as far as most people need-or want- to go. If you are thinking about staying in the IRC long term, however, you should really consider a IRC client. If you think you would like one, read on.

The first step to using an IRC client is picking one out. Different people will have different opinions about which one is best. Some will swear by mIRC, others by Trillian, and still more by others. It really depends on your needs, but I prefer ChatZilla for Firefox. A quick side note, if you still use Internet Explorer, I strongly urge you to switch to a different browser, be it Firefox, Chrome, Opera, or some other. Since I use ChatZilla, that is what I will be using as an example- other clients may have different ways of connecting, but the principles should be the same.

The first thing to do when using ChatZilla, is to go ahead and add it to Firefox. You can do that from this page. Once added, restart as instructed, and ChatZilla will be installed. You can find it in the tools tab at the top of Firefox. Click it to open a window that should look like this:

This may look a little daunting at first, but it is pretty easy to get a grasp of. The first thing you are going to want to do is set your screen name. You do this by clicking on the box next to the dialog box, and select 'Change Nickname'. The next thing to do is to connect to a server. To do that, type '/attach' in the dialog box, followed by the server (in Orbiter-Forum's case, irc.systemnet.info). Hit enter, and it will connect you to the server. You will get a screen looking similar to this, minus all of the tabs at the bottom (those are other channels and servers I am connected to):

You are connected to the server now, but you still have to connect to the channel. Go up to the IRC tab (open in that screen shot) and click the 'Join Channel' button. This will open a smaller window that looks like this:

This is a list of all of the channels in that server (remember, the channels are like threads, while servers are like the bigger boards). You can scroll though the list and find the channel you want, but it is easier to do a quick search. Just search the channel name (with the #) and hit 'join'. It may take a second, but you will soon connect to the channel. The last thing to do is right click on the channel tab at the bottom and select 'Join at start up'. This sets it so whenever you open ChatZilla, it connects you to the channel. It is much easier then manually entering the server and channel each time. You can connect to new servers in the same way as before, by typing '/attach' followed by the server name in the dialog box. To connect to new channels in a server you already have open, select that server's tab and go to 'Join channel', similar to before.

You are now ready to be an expert IRC user! I hope this guide helped you become more familiar with IRC, or at least understand it more. I look forward to chatting with you all!
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Old 07-29-2010, 02:39 AM   #2
Puts the Fun in Dysfunctional
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Nice article, fireballs619.

I'd like to add some common IRC commands to it if I may, both for generic IRC, and for the services running on systemnet, for new users of the official Orbiter-Forum IRC channel.

All IRC servers allow the following commands. They should be entered where you type to post messages as normal. The slash (/) identifies what you type as a command rather than a message - so anything with a / in front of it will be evaluated by the server as a command.

Where I include a phrase in [square brackets] it means you must supply information which logically replaces this phrase, without the square brackets, at this point in the command. Where the phrase is in <angle brackets>, it means that the component is optional. Providing it will usually change the result of the command.

Also, if you're using a webclient, keep in mind that some commands may be limited or disabled (for instance, you cannot /join in a webclient on systemnet).

/nick [new nickname] - Changes your nickname on the fly, and announces the change to the channel.

/join [channel to join] - Causes your client to JOIN the specified channel so you can chat there. Depending on your client, this will normally open in a new "tab" or some other page of your interface and not cause you to leave the channel you're currently in, if any.

/part [channel to part] - The opposite of a /join command, causes you to leave the channel you specify. Some clients will provide the channel you're currently on if you don't provide it, but not all do.

/quit <Message> - Disconnects you from the server, quitting all channels you are currently JOINed with the message you specify. If you don't specify a message, a default message will be used, or if one does not exist, a blank message.

/me [message] - Sends the message to the channel as an ACTION rather than a normal message, for "doing" things rather than "saying" them. For instance, /me drinks a coffee would parse as "Xyon drinks a coffee" if I inputted it into my client.

/msg [nick] [message] - Sends the message as a private message to one (specified) user only. Useful when you don't want the whole world to hear. It is bad manners to continually use this command to message people who don't want you to. You'll probably wind up getting /ignored very quickly if you pester people with this. Avoid overusing it.

/ignore [nick] - Adds a specified user to your "Ignore" list. You will not see any messages by that user in either the channel they post in or any private messages which they send you. They will still see what you post, however.

/unignore [nick] - Removes a user from your ignore list. The logical opposite of /ignore.

/query [nick] - Client-dependant. Opens a chat window with the specified nick. Any message you send in here will be the equivalent of a /msg message. If you open a query window but send no message the other person will not receive anything.

/notice [nick / [rank]channel] - Will send a message as a special "NOTICE" message to the specified nickname or group on a channel. The message can only be read by those specified but appears in the normal channel window as a specially formatted message. For example:
/notice Xyon Hello = From Xyon(notice): Hello!

By [rank]channel, I mean that you can message all the users on a channel with a specified privilege level or above at once by prefixing the symbol representing that level before the channel name. For example, on systemnet, there are five levels - in order: Owner (+q - symbol ~); Admin (+a - symbol &); Operator (+o - symbol @); Half-operator (+h - symbol %); Voice (+v - symbol +). Some networks have only Operators, Voice and normal users. These symbols are the ones you should use, but your client may display different symbols or even icons instead to represent the different levels.

Example - message all ops on #orbiterradio:
/notice @#orbiterradio Hi!

Note that any users with op or above will read it, so anyone with Owner or Admin would be able to read it too.

Specific to systemnet and other IRC networks using Anope services, there are a number of bots which can be used for various things.

/nickserv register [password] [email] - Registers your current nickname to your specified email account with the specified password. You'll need to identify to it when you next connect or Nickserv will change your nickname after a certain amount of time. Choose a strong password and a real email address to which you have access.

/nickserv identify [password] - Proves to nickserv that you are the person who registered the nickname by providing your password. Nobody on the network will see your password if this command is correct, but in case you mistype it's best to do this outside of a public channel regardless.

/nickserv sendpass [nickname] - In case you forget your password. Nickserv will email it to the registered email address.

/nickserv ghost [nickname] [password] - When you lose connection to the network unexpectedly, the server often is the last to hear about it. In fact, oftentimes you'll reconnect again before the server works out that your old account (Now what is called a "ghost") is actually inactive. Since there can only be one person with one nickname on an IRC network at any one time, you'll reconnect with your alternate nickname (usually your old one with a _ after it). This command terminates a ghost session so you can reclaim your nickname. Only registered nicknames can be GHOSTed. You must have the right password.

/nickserv drop - Unregisters your nickname. You must be identified to the nickname for it to work. Once done, anyone will be able to register that nickname again.

/nickserv help <command> - With no argument, displays a list of nickserv commands and short descriptions. Use the <command> argument to specify a command for more detailed help.

Last edited by Xyon; 07-29-2010 at 03:23 AM. Reason: Added /ignore and /unignore
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