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Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a form of instant communication over the Internet. IRC is a predecessor to the class of applications known as instant messengers.

IRC has a decentralized[?] network of servers that can be accessed by special client programs. The protocol for IRC is open, and there are many client (and server) implementations. Unlike popular instant messaging applications, there is not an inherent login[?] id that one must acquire; it's typically a much more anonymous medium than instant messaging.

IRC was created by Jarkko Oikarinen (WiZ) in August 1988. It was first written to replace a program called MUT (MultiUser Talk) on a BBS called OuluBox in Finland. Jarkko Oikarinen found inspiration in Bitnet Relay Chat which operated on the Bitnet network.

IRC is a plaintext protocol, which means that it is fully possible to use IRC via telnet, although quite inconvenient. This makes it less secure than encrypted communications, but SSL can be used to connect to IRC on networks such as P2PChat (http://www.p2pchat.net) if the client is compiled with SSL support. Because IRC connections are unencrypted and typically span long time periods, they are an attractive target for hackers. Because of this, careful security policy is necessary to ensure that an IRC network is not susceptible to an attack such as an IRC takeover war.

RFC 1459 describes the protocol used by the early IRC2[?]; 2810[?], 2811[?], 2812[?] and 2813[?] describe sets of proposed IRC extensions. Most IRC implementations consist of IRC2[?] with various add-ons[?] and protocol extensions, resulting in incompatibilities preventing connection of servers running different software.

Today there are many IRC networks; the largest include EFNet, UnderNet, IRCNet, Dalnet and QuakeNet. They run various implementations of IRC servers, but the protocol exposed to IRC users is very similar, and all IRC networks can be accessed by the same client software.

Though other forms of instant messaging are generally more popular, IRC still has a loyal following among many computer enthusiasts. The main advantages of IRC over typical instant messaging applications are:

  • IRC has an openly specified protocol
  • IRC is more suited to the "power user" due to the many options available
  • Setting up an IRC server on an Internet server is reasonably straightforward.
  • IRC has a large base of users experienced in online etiquette ("netiquette")

There are also many programs which are clients, called "bots", short for "robot". The first 'bot was written by Greg Lindahl and provided moderation for the game of Wumpus, but most modern bots either are used to exercise operator privs (controlling channels), to annoy other users (perhaps by spamming them with lots of traffic), or to serve as permanent points of contact for information exchange (an answering machine, file transfer, etc.)

IRC served as an early laboratory for many kinds of Internet attacks, such as using fake ICMP unreachable messages to break TCP-based IRC connections to annoy users or facilitate takeovers.

Because major IRC servers support clients from different parts of the globe that interact in real time, UTC time is generally used for international meetings (i.e., see #bonsai).

Popular IRC clients

Wikipedia has an IRC channel called #wikipedia on Freenode (irc.freenode.net)-> irc://irc.freenode.com/wikipedia

See also

External links

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

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