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Getting Started on IRC - Basics


** mIRC users please,please READ the mIRC Intro & FAQ (it's in your mIRC folder)**
2.1 - Setting Up Your Client

The following deals specifically with mIRC since this is the client I am most familiar with. The procedure for other clients should be similar (contributions for other clients are welcome). You will require to enter the following information the first time you run mIRC : - Your IRC Nickname - This can be almost anything, but please note that some networks (DALnet) allow 'Nick Ownership' by way of services, and so your first choice may not be available when you connect. See the section on Guest Nicknames for more details. An Alternate Nickname - Used if the name you specified is already in use when you join IRC. Your Real Name - Not really. It's intended for your real name but you can enter anything you like into this field. This is shown when someone on IRC does a /whois on your nick. so if you want to keep your actual name secret, put in something else. Your E-Mail Address - mIRC in particular asks for this. Quite why, I am not certain (it claims it's used internally). The server you intend to connect to. On mIRC you can select this from a drop down list at startup. DALnet operates a random server system, so for the first time, select Random DALnet server. You will also need to make sure that the tab saying 'Local Info' has both checkboxes marked and the method set to normal. If you are connecting to DALnet, pleae turn on the identd server (on the identd tab) and fill in a user id. User id's can be anything, and must always start with a letter. DALnet servers will not allow connections from those witout ident running.

2.2 - Connecting to the Network

You should now be ready to connect to the network. At this stage, double check all the configuration entries, check you have selected 'Random DALnet server' and click the connect button. If you are on a dialup account and not currently online mirc should initiate the windows dialler for you. Once connected to the internet, you should see something like this :
- *** Connecting to irc.dal.net (7000)
- -dragons.ca.us.dal.net-*** Looking up your hostname...
- -dragons.ca.us.dal.net- *** Checking ident...

Possibly followed by some text (called the motd - Message Of The Day) giving the general usage rules for the server you are connected to. That's it - you are connected. If you have connected to DALnet, you may get a message like this, accompanied by a 'ping' sound :
-NickServ- This nick is owned by someone else. Please choose another.
-NickServ- If this is your nick, type: /msg NickServ IDENTIFY
-NickServ- You have 60 seconds to comply before I change your nick. First, if you see this, DON'T PANIC!. You have not done anything wrong, all it means is that the nick you are using 'belongs' to somone else. This is almost certain to be the case for common names, single letters and other topical words, so you are best to avoid these in the first place.


What to do : - Think of a new nickname. If you want to stick to the one you have, try adding a couple of ^ characters either side of it. Then type /nick followed by a space and your new nickname, then press enter. (for example /nick ^^^mynewname^^^) If you see the same message for your new nick, you must try again. If you cannot find a new nick you like, or don't know how to change, just wait a few seconds and your nickname will be changed automatically to the word Guest followed by 5 numbers. For example, you might become Guest16154. Then you can join any of the Help Channels (#beginner is good) and ask an Operator (@) to help you.

2.3 - Help! I can't connect.

There are several reasons why you may not be able to connect to a server or get disconnected very quickly :

- Error Reason Solution This Server is Full.. (Closing Link - No More Connections)

Once a server reaches it's maximum user limit, this error occurs. Try another server.

- 'Connection Refused', 'Connection Timed Out' or 'Unknown Host'
The server may not be avaiable or there may be a problem with the DNS entry. Try another server.

- 'You are not welcome on this server' or 'Ghosts not allowed..'
You, or your ISP have been banned from the server. Try another server. Closing link: K-lined You do not have access to this server. Try another server.
- Closing Link: Killed (services.dal.net (user or nickname is banned)) Either your nick, or you, are banned from the network. Try a different nick.

- Other errors (usually timeouts) You may be behind a firewall or proxy server. See your network admin

2.4 - Finding out what is available.

On IRC there are channels covering just about every topic you can think of, including some dedicated to helping newcomers find their feet. Some channels have very strict rules and will kick (throw you out) with little or no explanation or warning, while others are more willing to help. Personally, I would recommend all newcomers to at least visit #Help. Once you find your feet a little, you will want to explore further. Typing the word /list into the status screen will produce a list of all the active channels. It's a big list, often over 5000 channels, so can take a few seconds to finish. Once you have it, look it over and see what takes your interest.

2.5 - Joining, leaving & changing channels In essence, only two commands are needed to join or leave channels. All channels begin with the # character, so : /join #channelname will take you into a channel and /part #channelname will take you out of a channel. Once you have joined a channel, it's ok to sit for a couple of minutes and just watch, to get a feel for the conversations going on. If somone is talking to you, or you to them, it's common practice (especially on crowded channels) to prefix the sentence with their nickname..like this : Jimmy - how are you doing today? Where you are talking to somone with the nickname jimmy. As in real life, the best way to start a conversation is usually with 'Hello...'

There is a limit to the number of channels you can join at any one time (10, usually), so it is good practice to /part from a channel you are no longer active in before you /join another.