Citizens' Corner: A Tutorial on IRC

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Author: Zandera Sommers, February 2014

"There are a few ways to get introduced to IRC on the Boards. Some people look at TarValon.Net for the first time, click “Forums” and then click “chat” by chance. Some people are taught how to access text chat by a friend. Some people are chat pro's and have already used it before they joined the Tower. Text chat is just one more aspect of the Tower that a citizen may experience and enjoy.

I would have to say my favorite memory was the first time I entered IRC chat. I was so new and everyone was so nice and welcoming.. Wil Cambrae and Neisa Sedai especially. They took me under their wings and really welcomed me. Its the first time I felt a part of a family. It was really something special.. Something I will never forget." -Gracienda Al'vonde

-Respectfully pilfered from al'Cary Mandoragon's 2006 March Tar Valon Times article.

Forums, threads, private messages, Facebook, meeting-up in real life, texting, calling, video-calling, voice chatting. There a lot of ways to connect with fellow Tower members. We are, at heart, a social group of people with common interests, and one way that you can mix and mingle with your fellow Tower members is through text chat.

What is “IRC chat”? In essence, it's a chat room operated by a separate company that is somewhat affiliated with TarValon.Net. “IRC” stands for “Internet Relay Chat.” You type a line of text at the bottom of the client and press “enter,” and you may send a message to new members and long-time members alike.

Chat is public. Anyone, regardless of their rank in the Tower (and even people who are not at all related to the Tower) may enter chat rooms and read what you write—so take care on what you say! You do have the option to send private messages to others on IRC, but it's easy to forget that in the public chat room.

The Tower has three official registered “rooms” that you may enter,though it is not unusual for participants to go into creatively-named rooms for fun.

The three names of the rooms are:

  1. wheel
  2. oldewarderandhen
  3. wanderingwoman
  1. wheel is the default room. You will find basically everyone online in the Tower in this room. In order to join a room, type “/join #wheel”for example, just as if you'd type a message. #oldewarderandhen is a room made for playing games. It appears to be most active during festivals, when scheduled events take place, like trivia and other competitions. Finally, #wanderingwoman is the mature chat room,where older members (18 and up) may broach topics not meant for those with more tender ears. More information on both the channels and IRC in general may be found in the Membership Manual located at MM: Chat Guidelines.

There is more than one way to access IRC. As previously mentioned, the easiest and most direct way is to go to the top of TarValon.Net and click “Forums.” Then see the second line under that one? Go to the last option and click “chat.” Your browser will automatically open up a new tab, and you will be prompted to enter a username and enter the lobby for #wheel, the main Tower chatroom. Doing this will allow you to access IRC through Mibbit. The second way to connect to chat is to go to Sorcery.Net and click “Webchat.” In this method of connecting, you not only need to add a username,but you also need to specify the channel you would like to link to. (We've already mentioned the three Tower channels up above so you can definitely fill that out.) Sorcery.Net is the site that hosts our three channels. They are not in any way related to the Tower—none of our members work there, we don't control what they do, and they're not (necessarily) big Wheel of Time fans.

A short word on choosing your username: According to Tower rules, your nickname must be clearly recognizable as your Tower name on TarValon.Net. Basically you're not allowed to moonlight as someone else. This is mainly for everyone's safety because, for example, someone could log on and try to harass people. Users are identified to prevent this and ensure everyone has a good time.

The last way (that I know of,) to connect to IRC is by downloading software on your computer to maximize the ease of use of IRC. This is mainly for frequent chat users. The program that I use is called mIRC and may be downloaded here: I wish I could tell you how to set up the options, change all the colors, and set up all your rooms to open automatically, but I don't even know myself. (I got a Brown to do it for me.) However, this does bring me to my next point about IRC.

If you're having difficulty using IRC or just have general questions,there are moderators who administrate chat (not just for safety as mentioned,) but are just there to be friendly, helpful people, and they may be able to help you out. Just like the rest of the staff positions on the Tower, “chat ops” are volunteer positions. You may end up serving some time monitoring chat if you find you really like to hang out there and apply—or you might not. You'd have totry it to find out! If you want to see who the current administrators are, you may visit the library at Chat Operators or when you log in, just look for anyone who has a “@” in front of their name or a star.

One last note: There is a “robot administrator” who always hangs out in our channels named “@Bela.” Bela has been programmed to (1) keep the channel open if, for some reason, everyone left and (2) login formation about who has accessed chat when and what was said. I'm not telling you this to weird you out but mostly to warn you not to try and introduce yourself to her and embarrass yourself. (She's not real.)

Besides the chat ops, there is a Master/Mistress of Chat—a position that just came back this month, actually. Back in the day, the MoC was called the IRC Administrator. She used to be the head of all the chat ops, but starting in 2014 after her brief time of nonexistence, s/he has returned to handle all the tech aspects of maintaining Bela and managing our channels with Sorcery.Net to ensure we stay registered and healthy. Nowadays, the MoC is not someone to approach about problems with IRC beyond what you would approach a regular mod for, but you may always go to MM: Chat Help for more information.

So once you've made your nickname and entered chat, the most important way to fit in is to use the right etiquette to speak to people. Here is an awesome article (if I say so myself) that you may read about using honorifics on IRC, since it is relatively counter-intuitive. Unlike the Boards, the social norm is to neglect all honorifics unless noted in a user's nickname. I think it's an excellent idea for you to go read the article I linked to learn all about it.

Just for fun when I was writing this article, I logged on to IRC and randomly asked people for their thoughts and experiences on IRC. I got a few people to respond:

[19:45] <@Onis_OLeia> I can tell you that because of IRC, the more direct

communication one can have with people compared to on the forums, I got to know some people so well that I decided to stick around.

[19:45] <@Onis_OLeia> A couple of them are now very close friends of mine.
[19:48] <@Nymala> I met my husband through IRC
[19:48] <@Onis_OLeia> Yeah, I got to know my Warder through #wheel!
[19:53] <@Ashlyn> When I first joined, I found the forums pretty overwhelming and a bit

intimidating. Then I got to know some people on IRC, and I felt much less out of place commenting on forum threads.

[21:01] <@Lilli> The one thing I've found unique about our IRC channel is that people can go

for hours without talking and then a conversation will start flowing like it never stopped. No one minds.It's like we're all Browns in that respect. It gives a sense of security to me to know that no matter how long it takes to answer, someone did listen. It feels so welcoming that way.

I leave you with one last warning, dear readers. You may have already discovered that the Tower is quite addicting because it's full of interesting people, fascinating conversation, and fun things to do,though they may be productive or not. My warning is this: IRC is even more addicting than the Boards, PMs, or even some real-life events. It's convenient, always-present, and there is such a short time between when you poke someone and they respond—it's almost instant access to other book-loving, fun people like yourself! Use it wisely, and don't over-use it or you may find yourself unwashed,unemployed, and hungry—it's that amazing!

If you haven't already discovered that the Tower is addictive, I look on you with envious and appraising eyes. You've barely started to discover what awesomeness there is to access here. I wish you good luck on your continued adventures.