An IRC Quick Guide

One of the joys of HOL is getting together with your fellow students, and a great way to do that is through IRC chatrooms. So here's a quick guide for your basic IRC commands.

Choosing a client

In addition to web-based services, there are many programs available, some of which are listed on Wikipedia (with more included in this list as well). If you already have a program that allows you to chat in AIM, MSN, and Yahoo all at once, you might already have an IRC program.


Server: /server
This will connect you to the chat network.

Nick: /nick newnick
This is basically your username. Start with your HOL name, to make it easy to be identified. If you want to change your nick, you can do this at any time by using the above command.

Register: /msg NickServ register PASSWORD EMAIL
With PASSWORD being replaced with your desired password, and EMAIL being replaced with your working email address
Nick registration isn't complete until you send the command found in the registration email you'll receive.

Identify: /msg NickServ identify PASSWORD
With PASSWORD being replaced by your actual password
When you've registered your nick, this will tell NickServ you are who you say you are.

Channels: /join #hufflepuff
This is how you join the official Hufflepuff channel. If you wish to join other channels, type /join #channelname
Some programs automatically assume the # symbol before the channel name; if you join a channel you expect to be full and find it empty, check the channel name. If it says ##channelname, leave and use the join command again, without the # symbol.

Query: /query nick message
A query is a private chat. Using this command will open a new window within the program.
A lot of programs will simply let you double-click on a user's nick to open a p2p with them. Try it; it's fun!


Op (OP): This is a short version of saying channel operator. These are the moderators of the channel, who can kick people out or ban them for misbehavior. Most programs will put these people at the top of the nick list (where you see the names of everyone in the channel), and many will differentiate them with some sort of symbol (it varies, but the @ symbol is common) or different color. You might also see op used as a verb; this means setting someone as a channel operator.

p2p: Stands for peer-to-peer and is another way of saying a query. Often people will ask to p2p something to you or want to open a p2p with you.

Nini: This is something HOLers say to each other when someone is going to bed. It's an affectionate way of saying, "Night, night!"

Bot: As a noun, this is a script which automates certain tasks; in HOL, most bots that people talk about are Quidditch practice bots. These bots, when activated, will give you a question from HOL Quidditch for you to practice. As a verb, this is practicing Quidditch using one or more of the bots.

Ping: For most of the online world, a ping is basically the amount of time it takes two servers to communicate. In HOL chatrooms, it's used in a variety of ways.

  • The most common use is as a synonym for highlighting. In some IRC programs, you can choose to have the program highlight lines that mention your name, usually with a sound. This is helpful for those who stay connected to IRC for long periods; pings can be used to get their attention.
    Oftentimes a HOLer will say "Ping me when my friend shows up" or will have "PIN" (Ping If Needed) in their nick; what they're asking for is for someone to say their name.
    Sometimes you may see someone talked about as "" (with a dot in the middle of their name) or have people tell someone not to ping a person who is away. This is to help avoid excessive highlighting. However, as long as you're not spamming a channel with a person's name, there's no reason for you to apologize for saying a person's name, even if they are away. It's up to the person with the ping settings to control how they are applied. So long as you don't abuse a person's name, don't even worry about it.
  • Another use of ping is the traditional use — the amount of time it takes for two servers to communicate — but it's most often used with the Quidditch bots.
  • Sometimes someone might "ping out," which means that their IRC client failed to respond to server communcations, so they were disconnected.

Basically, if it's a person talking about pinging, it's likely to be related to getting their attention, but if it's about Quidditch or a bot, it'll be about the speed of server communciation.

Netsplit: IRC services are made up of several servers; sometimes these servers fail to communicate. What happens is a netsplit. It will look like a number of people quit at the same time. Within a minute or two, those people will come back all at once. It's not a big deal, but it can be amusing to watch.

Posted August 9, 2012.