“Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a protocol for real-time Internet text messaging (chat) or synchronous conferencing. It is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums, called channels, but also allows one-to-one communication via private message as well as chat and data transfer, including file sharing.” – Wikipedia

It amazes me how some technologies are simple yet effective enough that they fundamentally stay unchanged for 20+ years. IRC is nearly the same as it was when I first started using it in 1992. There’s no graphics unless you send a file to someone and no “bells and whistles” to speak of. It’s plain text communication at it’s best.

It is still be a great medium to connect with people to discuss technical issues.

Before you can use this resource you’ll need a client to connect. If you are a Windows user then I recommend a program called mIRC (pronounced “Merc”) written by Khaled Mardam-Bey. It is available here: http://www.mirc.com. There’s a $20 registration fee but it’s well worth it. There are also free IRC client alternatives out there (like IceChat IRC).

There are plenty of options for Mac users to connect to IRC like LimeChat (http://limechat.net/mac/) or Textual (https://www.codeux.com/textual/).

For Ubuntu/Linux users like me, I recommend Konversation. The installation is as easy as “sudo apt-get install konversation“.

After you get your IRC client up and running, it will prompt to select a name. Enter your information to proceed.

There are lists of servers available containing thousands of chat rooms, or “channels”. The main server to find Magento and other technical help is called freenode. It is located at irc.freenode.net 6667. Type that address into your IRC client then hit Connect to jump in.

A dialog box will pop up with a list of channels. Type “#magento“, or “/join #magento” to enter the Magento help channel. There’s also “#magento2” and many other channels available. Depending on the time of day there may already be a conversation in progress.

This is a real example of someone being helped with Magento in IRC from earlier today!

A helpful document about freenode for new people is located here: http://freenode.net/kb/all.

Most people are familiar with social media so everyone knows that there’s a lot of common sense do’s and don’ts for online behavior. Social media has rules for etiquette and IRC is no different.

This is the text that is seen when entering the #magento channel. It gives helpful hints on how to interact with the people in the channel.

Here are some basic helpful tips:

  • Don’t be rude or pushy. It’s very easy for someone to be kicked and banned from IRC.
  • Don’t keep retyping your question if you don’t get an immediate answer. Your question won’t get answered any faster nor does it motivate the people that are taking the time to answer your questions to help you at all.
  • Don’t yell. ALL CAPS is still considered yelling.
  • Do be patient. If your question didn’t get answered then chances are no one is around at the time you asked it. Some people stay logged in all day on IRC but may not be looking at the chat.
  • Do ask nicely. Politeness goes a long way.
  • Do give back. Don’t just get your answer and leave. Try to help others the way that you were helped!

Your username can be registered after you connect to prevent anyone else from using it. This is accomplished by typing the following into the chat:

/msg NickServ REGISTER your_password your_email

/msg means that it’s a private message. It will show up in the chat but only you and Nickserv will be able to see it. Replace your_password with a password and your_email with your e-mail address. The e-mail address is important because Nickserv will send a confirmation phrase that will need to be entered into the chat to complete your registration.

If you’ve never used IRC before then there’s a lot of new terms to familiarize yourself with. Here are a few that everyone should know:

bot: This is a program that serves a function on IRC. Most channels have a bot to help with administration or to perform other functions (like serving up Trivia questions)

channel: IRC refers to chat rooms as “channels”. It is possible to be in many channels at the same time.

flooding: Repeating the same text over and over in an attempt to get attention or to disrupt the channel is called flooding. It’s one of the quickest ways to get kicked and banned.

kicked: Being “kicked” is getting ejected from a channel. Anyone with admin privileges (an “op”) can do this.

op: An operator, or administrator. This person can remove or permanently ban problem users from the channel.

IRC can be a great Magento resource and a great place to exchange ideas. Have fun!