Last time, we explored what Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is, its history, and how to get started. In this article, we’ll take a look at how you can get connected to this vast chatting service and start finding like-minded folk around the world, and what you may find after connecting.

In part one we learned how to search for topics that you’re interested in. Here’s what happens after you find them.

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After you click the magnifying glass button, you’ll be taken to a list of channels, which looks like this:

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Be very careful when looking for chatrooms! Be sure to read the topic carefully and — if you’re still unsure — search the channel and server on Google for a better idea on what goes on in the room.

The bold words marked with a hash symbol are channels. The italic words is the server the channel is on. The green oval shows how many people are currently inside the channel. To the right of the user count is the ‘topic’ of the channel – topics are usually set up to inform people what the channel rules and subjects of discussion are. When you find a channel you want to join, click the red ‘Join Channel’ link on it – not the ‘(client)’ one!

You’ll be shown a screen like this:

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The ‘Channel’ box should automatically be filled out, so theres’ no need to touch it. All you have to do is think of a good nickname, then click ‘Start’. Be sure not to use your real name, or something that could be used to identify your real name!

Once you click the button, you’ll be in the chatroom!

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What can you expect to happen when in a chatroom? That depends 0n the kind of room you’ve connected to. One thing you can’t tell from the server listing is how active rooms are. A room with fifty quiet people will see less activity than a room with fifteen active chatters. Once you’ve connected to the room, feel free to throw out a ‘Hello!’ into the chat, and see if people respond to you. Don’t actively go out of your way to drum up a conversation, or get annoyed if nobody replies — it just means you’ve come across a more slow-going chat! If you want, you can disconnect and go back to the server listings to find a new channel instead.

Next time, we’ll look at software you can use to connect to these servers.

~ Simon