What are the best IRC channels 1

HowTo IRC Chat

DANGER: Parts of the instructions still refer to the old Quakenet and are therefore no longer up-to-date!

ZaPF Chat

  • We have an IRC chat on freenode established, now just a few more users are missing!

Channel info

server port Channel
chat.freenode.net 6667 #zapf

IRC tutorial

What is IRC?

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a computer program that makes it possible to talk to thousands of people (at the same time) over the Internet. This communication takes place in lines of text on the computer screen. You are known by your nickname on IRC, and everything you say and do appears by that name. You are free to choose this nickname yourself and no other person with the same name can be on IRC at the same time.

Since not all thousands of users can talk at once, the IRC is divided into channels. These channels are something like virtual places where you can meet and chat with friends or strangers. Each channel has a freely selectable name which, however, usually has to begin with a hash sign (#). If someone wants to talk about a certain topic or seek contact, they can simply join an existing channel or create a new IRC channel. Typical channel names are e.g. E.g .: #berlin or #linux. In addition to these public channels, there are also private channels. Here you can meet friends in a quiet and secret way without stepping into the general IRC public.

The IRC language is English: the channels are called channels, the nicknames are nicknames, and the messages are messages. Nonetheless, the national idiosyncrasies are maintained and there are many channels on which only the respective national language is spoken.

The IRC program was developed in 1988 by Jarkko Oikarinen, a Finnish student, and was originally only intended as a communication system for his computer mailbox "OuluBox". Then it spread through Finland, and then the United States of America, on the Internet, becoming a global system. (Seidler 1994)

IRC server

IRC works on the client / server principle. This means that on the one hand there is a central computer - the server - that offers a certain service (in our case IRC) and on the other hand the program - the so-called client - that uses this service and provides the user with the Allows access.

The client only acts as an intermediary between the user and the server. The server does the real work. For this reason, the server is usually located on a large UNIX workstation and a simple PC is sufficient for the client. This makes it possible to use such a complex service as IRC with the smallest hardware.

The IRC does not just consist of a single server, but of a heap of worldwide networks with a large number of servers. All user data and messages are managed and sent back and forth in this network.

Set up IRC


To get on IRC you need special programs. Popular multi-messenger programs like Miranda and Trillian also support IRC. A program especially for IRC is mIRC (probably one of the most common for Windows). The download is possible here:


As for the first start:

  1. install and run.
  2. if you are asked whether you want to register it, always click on "Continue", you can also use the prog unregistered.
  3. Enter name and email address (does not have to be true). Plus 2 different nicks under which you want to be on IRC.
  4. In the same window, only under "Servers": Select "Freenode: Random Server" in the pull-down and click on "Connect to server".
  5. mIRC is now trying to connect to the Freenode IRC network, it mostly works (sometimes firewall and antivirus programs cause problems, trying something out should help).
  6. As soon as you are connected, a "mIRC Favorites" window will open. The best thing to do is to delete all of the chans listed there and remove the two hooks at the bottom. You don't need it.
  7. enter: / join #zapf
  8. Welcome to the ZaPF channel

You will not need to follow all of these steps on later attempts. mIRC has saved everything, one click on the "Connect" button (the one with the lightning bolt on it) is enough to establish a connection to the Quakenet.


Forget about me! There are a number of viable chat clients on Linux. First there is this list. BitchX, a successor to ircII, is recommended for the console. For X, e.g., KVIrc is recommended. Linux users themselves know how to install their programs, especially since this is very difficult to standardize with the many package managers.

  • KVIrc: If installed, you can enter your data under Settings -> Configure KVIrc -> Identity, whereby you can enter several alternative nicks. Connect then runs via the first button in the top bar. You choose a Freenode server and connect. When this is done, a channel list window opens in which you can enter the channel #zapf and you're in.

Mac OS X

OS X also has a number of IRC clients (including some Unix ports or GUI wrappers around them) that make things run pretty straightforward. The multi-protocol messenger Fire plays a special role here, which in principle also supports IRC, but unfortunately only does this in a very rudimentary way. So far, I like Conversation best of the real IRC clients - both in terms of the features, as well as the look and feel. Otherwise just look at http://www.pure-mac.com/irct.html or ask the well-known sage from the Orient "Guug El'Meck".

The following is a description of the two programs mentioned, the installation of which is Mac-like:
Download the file, unzip it or mount the disk image and copy the program to where you want it.

To uninstall (for whatever reason), just throw it in the trash and it's away.


As already mentioned, the IRC support under Fire is quite spartan, but if you already have the program and don't want to install anything else:

  1. Select "Accounts"> "Edit Accounts" in the menu and
  2. click the button "Add a new account" in the window.
  3. Select "IRC" as the service and fill in the relevant information in the dialog.
  4. Select "Buddies"> "Add Buddy" in the menu, enter "IRC" as the service and fill in the "Name" field with "zapf", make all other settings as required
  5. and finally and finally connect the new service.

The channel "zapf" now appears as an online buddy in the list and to enter the chat room you have to double-click the buddy.

Another peculiarity of Fire is that two chats will open:

  • One with the beautiful name "zapf", in which nothing will happen
  • and one with the name ZaPF ("... because that's clear!"), in which the actual chat takes place.

"zapf" must remain open, however - otherwise you will secretly say goodbye to the chat and wonder why no one is saying anything anymore ...


Conversation is a real IRC client, so that in addition to the nice interface that offers convenient access to the most common commands, you can also enter them manually in the chat window or the console and get full script support

When you start the program for the first time, the "Preferences" are shown automatically, in which you can enter your data and perhaps adjust your absence and other messages. Now add a new server with [APPLE + N] (either enter "quakenet" in the search field and select one of the servers from the results or enter the explicit address in the field below) and enter "/ j #zapf" in the console window that opens - the arbor is ready.

The most important commands in IRC chat

In IRC, your own mouse helps, but commands can be used to move faster. Commands start with either a "/" or a "!" initiated.

Here is a list of the commands that are important to us:

/ join or / j: in connection with the channel name behind it (e.g. / j #xyz) you can then enter the desired channel, as long as it is not restricted.

/ nick: this command is used to change its name, e.g .: / nick test changes its own name to "test".

/ msg L invite: With channel name after it: The bot L invites you into the channel (in which you have to be registered yourself). This is necessary if access is restricted.

These should be the most important for now, the list will be continued if necessary.

Characters in front of the name and how to get them

If you are now on IRC for the first time and have happily found your way into the channel, you will see the users present in a column on the right of the screen. These usually have one or the other character in front of their name, the meaning of which I would like to briefly explain here.

This status enables the IRC user to be able to say anything at all in a channel switched to "moderated". Since the channels we use are generally not set to moderated, it is of no great importance.
  • The channel operator status: "Op" or "@"
The @ in front of the name indicates a channel operator. He has the right to kick other users out of the channel and can also play other nice games in the channel.

How do you get such a status symbol? Very simple: those who have an @ in front of the name can usually easily put a +, often also an @. If you want something like that, you can try your luck.

Who is Q, please?

The inclined newcomer should now notice that someone with the short but memorable name Q is permanently in the channel. It's always there, but never says anything. There is a reason for this: Q is a bot, so in turn a program that ultimately has the benefit that the channel remains permanently registered and you don't have to set up a new channel for each meeting. In addition, you can distribute certain rights in the channel, Q then saves this.


  • Comment from Gregor on June 9th, 2008: The highlight function is apparently no longer available since mIRC 6.2, if you want to use it, you have to look around for an earlier version (e.g. 6.17).
  • Comment from Sebastian on 06/18/08: It does exist, e.g. with version 6.32, Alt + B opens the menu in which the highlighting can be set.

Now we come to another interesting feature of the IRC: the so-called highlight. It is not uninteresting for general communication, but if you don't want it, you don't necessarily have to deal with it.

It is basically just a means to draw the attention of someone who is not actively reading along, but is involved in the channel.

In most programs, the highlight (in the following HL) is configured by default to the respective nick of the user: you simply write the full nick of the person you are addressing in the channel and it starts to flash or sometimes beep. ;-)

However, it is sometimes helpful if the HL is set differently, otherwise a single upper / lower case mistake is enough and the person being addressed will not notice anything.

How do I configure my HL now?

  1. Open mIRC
  2. Options menu (Alt + O): "IRC", subcategory "Highlight"
  3. You can now see a column where "$ me" is already entered. This means that the HL is already calibrated on your respective nick. It's best to leave it as it is.
  4. Enter the term to which your HL should react using the "Add" button.
  5. Configure exactly:
    • Color: preferably red
    • Sound .... well, everyone can decide for themselves
    • Tick ​​"Flash Message" and enter e.g. * nerv * (this often applies * g *)
    • Flash is best to select the "-" ..... then flashes continuously
    • "Match on": preferably nickname and message
  6. Repeat the whole thing as often as you have words to which you want to react (at least a simplified form of your name (e.g. instead of "Sarkon" then "sarkon" or * sark *, * act as placeholders)).

There are also highlight options for other programs, which are more or less easy to find in the options menu.