The unofficial #irchelp FAQ (uFAQ)
These are questions that we often get on #IRChelp on EFnet/IRCnet. We provide this list for those of you who like to learn by watching others ask questions. This way you don't have to idle on the channel, and you get a much more complete picture of the full range of questions we often get.
The #irchelp uFAQ, version 1.2.9, 27 Jul 2001
By Alex Charalabidis (Apatrix)
- I'm connected to IRC now. How do I use this thing?
- Why can't I send files with DCC?
- How can I change the name that appears when I type /whois?
- How can I change my email address as it appears in the /whois?
- My channel has been taken over. What can I do?
- How can I make a message that automatically appears when someone joins my channel?
- Where can I get a bot?
- But I need one to protect my channel!!!
- What are some cool scripts?
- How do I get into a channel that's invite-only?
- I'm banned from a channel and have never been there! Why?
- How can I look up a user using their address?
- I want to register my nickname/channel. How?
- What's a good EFnet/Undernet/DALnet/IRCnet server?
- What does a + next to someone's name mean?
- How can I see all users on my server?
- How can I be a channel op?
- Where can I get a list of servers?
- How do I set up ICQ?
- My web browser/news reader/mailer etc. isn't working. What can I do?
- What's a good news server?
- How can I make it so that someone can type !send and get a file from me?
- How can I get a file from an XDCC bot or fserve?
- I'm being nuked! What can I do to stop it?
- And how can I nuke them back?
- I need an IRC Cop! Where can I find one?
- Okay, smarty pants. Where can I find an IRC operator?
- How can I make my text appear in colour?
- How can I send/receive sounds?
- How can I avoid being sent those awful pornography adverts?
- I want to get a server and link it to EFnet. How would I do this?
- I keep sending people this file. What is script.ini? What is dmsetup? What to they do?
- Where can I get a free shell account?
- How do I make a message in purple/one that looks like * My_nick is kewl?
- Help! I get disconnected each time I try to list channels!
- I can't find any EFnet server to connect to!
- Where can I find the games/warez/mp3s someone told me to get here?
- 1. Q: I'm connected to IRC now. How do I use this thing?
- A: This "thing" is a highly complex multi-user real-time
communications system, although the concept behind it is simple and it can
appear deceptively simple in the beginning. Don't be lazy - type /help,
hit F1, read the huge amount of fine documents at http://www.irchelp.org/. Just do
something. We help those who try to help themselves first.
- 2. Q: Why can't I send files with DCC?
- A: This is a common problem with mIRC. Providing you've checked that
you're not behind some bitchy firewall, the following steps should solve
Disconnect from IRC
Go to File|setup|local info
Delete the contents of the IP address and Local info fields
Check "Always get local host" and "Server"
- 3. Q: How can I change the name that appears when I type /whois?
- A: If you're running a client on your own machine, edit it in your
setup. If you're using a client on a Unix machine run by someone else, do the following from
the command line:
Depending on the reply,
If you're on some sort of BBS and don't have access to a command line
interface, talk to your sysadmin/sysop.
- If the reply is csh, tcsh or zsh, do this:
setenv IRCNAME "whatever"
- If the reply is ksh, bash or sh , this should work:
- If it's any other type of shell, sorry, you're on your own.
- Add the appropriate line to your login file (usually .cshrc for
csh/tcsh and .profile for bash/ksh) to make the change permanent and re-login.
- Don't ignore the quotes and capitalization. They're there for a
- If you still haven't understood, get a Unix manual.
- For VMS, add the following line to your login.com file:
IRCNAME "what you would like to appear"
- 4. Q: How can I change my email address as it appears
in the /whois?
- A: You can change your username if your client is running on your own
machine. Somewhere in your setup, you'll have an item called
"identd". Find it (mIRC will have it somewhere under File ->Options) and change it to something else. On Unix hosts with no identd, some clients allow it to be set -
others, including ircII, do not. If you're on a Unix machine which is not
yours and has an identd running, tough, live with it. What's wrong with
your real userid anyway? To fake your hostname, hack your local domain name
server and start looking for a new provider since your account won't last long if you do it,
even if you don't spend the rest of your natural life on probation. Actually, unless
you're running the client on a machine which also functions as a mail host, the address in
your whois info isn't a valid email address anyway.
- 5. Q: My nickname/channel has been taken over. What
can I do?
- A: Neither EFnet nor IRCnet have any means of automagically restoring
a channel to its legit ops or a nickname to its rightful owner. As far as
the network is concerned, the current ops of a channel are also the legit
ones and nicknames are first come first serve. Regarding channels, read
takeover hints. If you're so anxious to cater to your proprietory
feelings, maybe DALnet or some small network with Services would be
better for you.
If your channel or nickname is being held by a bot and you know the
bot's nickname, use /motd <bot's_nick> to see what the server's
policy regarding bots is. If it forbids bots, you stand a reasonable
chance of having it removed by the server's operators. Question #26 will help you contact the right people.
- 6. Q: How can I make a message that automatically appears when someone joins my channel?
- A: Yuck. I find autogreets trashy, cheap and as friendly as a welcome
mat at the door of a dentist's office. Learn some basic scripting. Hint:
use ON JOIN. Remember there's nothing as silly as greeting yourself when
joining a channel and to use it only on your channels - people tend to be
annoyed by strangers sending autogreets in their channel. Colour
autogreets are one of the best ways to get banned.
- 7. Q: Where can I get a bot?
- A: If you can't find one by yourself, you don't qualify to run one. It takes considerable IRC and UNIX experience to set up a bot, and a bot-tolerant shell access account on which to run it. Misconfigured bots
are a major source of trouble and I must say I don't trust anyone who can't even download it
by himself to run it efficiently. Bots are neither liked nor supported on #irchelp, so kindly
refrain from asking there. You may feel free to try specialized channels such as #egghelp, but don't expect them to hold your hand through the whole process either.
- 8. Q: But I need one to protect my channel!!!
- A: No, you don't. Maybe you just need more friends to help you run it.
Heck, it's only an IRC channel. If you're having fits of anxiety over
that, maybe you need to take a new look at your life...
- 9. Q: What are some cool scripts?
- A: An old platitude: the best script is the one you write yourself.
You probably don't need one anyway, but just want it because people say
you should have one. Not only should you know what you want a script to
do, you should also have some understanding of your client's scripting
language in order to read whichever script you intend to run. There are
more harmful scripts around than any of us care to know - including
"doctored" versions of popular scripts with special
"features" to compromise your machine's/account's security and
some designed to do no more than that, apart from those which are plain
abusive and stupid. You'll probably ignore me anyway and get one of those
awful things which people are banned for using. Just don't come back
saying you weren't warned.
If you really have to use a script, there are a few for both ircII and mIRC which we do recommend
as an alternative to using abusive or resource-wasting rubbish.
- 10. Q: How do I get into a channel that's
- A: The obvious answer is that there's a reason for a channel being
invite-only, namely to keep you. me and other uninvited people out. Type /mode
#channelname - if the modes it returns include s, n and i, forget it. If
not, try /names #channelname and send a message to one of the visible users, if
- 11. Q: I'm banned from a channel and have never been
- A: Chances are someone else from the same provider made the whole
site unpopular. Not fair? Well, life ain't fair, is it? Follow the same
steps as in the answer to the previous question. Or you could just take
the hint and go to a channel where you're more welcome.
- 12. Q: How can I look up a user using their address/IP/DNS?
- Let's get some terminology straight first. DNS is a whole system, not a program, not something
an individual user would have, and you don't see peoples DNS servers on IRC. Some clients have a /dns command which performs DNS lookups for you. Next,
an IP (internet protocol) address is converted to a hostname (using the DNS) when you
connect to the IRC server, unless something's horribly broken. IP
addresses are numerical. If the address you have in mind isn't numerical, you mean a
hostname. As far as IRC servers are concerned, they are NOT equivalent. You cannot look
up someone by their IP address if it has been resolved to a hostname by the server. You
must use the hostname instead.
Now we have this out in the open, do /who <address>. You may use * and ? wildcards in
the address string. Users who are set invisible won't show up, so it's no longer an
effective way of finding someone, since about 75% of EFnet users are
invisible and the figure on other large networks is also very high.
- 13. Q: I want to register my nickname/channel. How?
- A: Neither EFnet nor IRCnet have any form of channel or nickname
registration service (yes, they *did* have a nickname service back when
they were still a single network but it was discontinued in 1994). First
come, first serve is the rule for both nicknames and channels. If this
concept horrifies you so much, you'd probably be better off on DALnet or
some small network with Services.
- 14. Q: What's a good EFnet/Undernet/DALnet/IRCnet
- A: A server is only as good as your connection to it. Which basically
means you should check their server lists
and pick the one closest to you. However,
- EFnet: Most North American servers have excellent connectivity and
those which accept foreign clients will be good for them too. Users in
western and northern Europe should prefer their local servers.
- Undernet: Use us.undernet.org to connect to a random US Undernet server. From Europe,
- DALnet: irc.dal.net will connect you to a random DALnet server. Irc.eu.dal.net will
do the trick for Europeans.
- IRCnet: Try us.ircnet.org. If you're outside North America, check the
server list for a server near you. IRCnet serves more countries
directly than any other network.
- 15. Q: What does a + next to someone's name mean?
- A: It means absolutely nothing if the channel isn't moderated (doesn't
have channel mode +m active). If the channel is moderated, a non-op who's
been given a +v (voice) may also send to the channel like its ops do,
while users lacking it may not. On some channels, it's used as a sign of
recognition for regulars who aren't ops but are trusted. It's also used
as a joke, to make you ask this question.
- 16. Q: How can I see all users on my server?
- A: Ten to one you don't mean the users on the IRC server you're
connected to, but the users connected to your local Internet Service
Provider. After this small lesson in terminology, try /who *.domain.com
(substituting the domain name of said ISP) but don't expect any
spectacular results, since the majority of users are invisible to /who
scans. On the other hand, what's the point of connecting to a worldwide
network if you're only looking for the locals?
- 17. Q: How can I be a channel op?
- A: There are two ways of obtaining channel operator status (ops) on a
channel. The first is to join it while it's empty, in which case you,
being the first user to join, will automagically be made its operator.
However, if the channel is already occupied, you will have to be given
ops by a user who already is an op.
- 18. Q: Where can I get a list of servers?
- A: For a quick and dirty look at your current network, type /links.
The #irchelp networks
and server lists page, sloppily maintained by yours truly, is a reasonable if not
always up to date source of server and network information.
Clients like mIRC and ircle come with pretty good server lists of their
own too, assuming you're using the current version and not one you nicked from an
antique client dealer.
- 19. Q: How do I set up ICQ?
- A: I don't know. I don't care. ICQ is not IRC and never will be. Try
ICQ's own web site. [Okay, so now I do know.
I'm still not telling, that's beside the point of this FAQ.]
- 20. Q: My web browser/news reader/mailer etc. isn't
working. What can I do?
- A: 1) Read the offending program's documentation, 2) Check the
manufacturer's site, 3) Call your local support. Just don't expect
us to have the answers. We offer IRC help, not help with unrelated
stuff which other people are paid for helping with anyway.
- 21. Q: What's a good public news server?
- A: If your local news server doesn't satisfy you, don't expect to
find a better one for free. Try DejaNews, an excellent
public news server accessible via the WWW. If you're after porn or warez and your local
news server carries none, forget it. What possessed you to ask this question in
- 22. Q: How can I serve files, or make it so that someone can type !file and get files from me?
- A: Running a file server is an advanced subject, so you're going to have to be prepared to do a little work. First of all, don't go loading up some big bloated script package just to serve files. It is both unnecessary and dangerous, since those scripts tend to have lame features, bugs, or backdoors which can get you in trouble. You can set up a simple file server in mIRC with just one command. Access the relevant help files by typing "/help /fserve" (without the quotes) which is the command for sharing your files, and also "/help on text" for how to activate that command using a "trigger" command such as !file.
Here's an example of the general syntax format and then an actual example command that would go in your "remotes" section (alt-r to access). You need to customize the command based on your specific situation and what you learned from those help files.
SYNTAX -> on *:text:!file:#:/fserve nickname maxgets homedir welcomefile
COMMAND -> on *:text:!file:#:/fserve $nick 5 C:\files\ welcome.txt
- 23. Q: How can I get a file from an XDCC bot or
- A: Ask the bot's owner or someone else on the channel where it's
located. There is no standard command set to retrieve files from bots.
- 24. Q: I'm being nuked! what can I do to stop it?
- A: This problem is usually encountered by users running some form of
Windows, since Windows machines tend to be much more vulnerable to nukes
than other operating systems. Patch your machine, using the information
provided on the #irchelp
nuke page. Taking it a bit further, you could complain to Microsoft
for selling you broken software. If you're using Linux and appear to be
affected by nukes, check LinuxHQ.
If you're using a Mac... aw heck, who uses them anyway? Besides, they're
largely immune to nukes. If your "nuke" is an ICMP flood,
contact the ISP of the address where it originated, possibly asking your
own ISP to cooperate too.
- 25. Q: And how can I nuke them back?
- A: Do you really expect a nuker to let his machine be vulnerable to the
attacks he uses? If you consider a nuke to be an appropriate response,
you really should get out of the house more often or see a therapist (or
both). Nukes are illegal, your attacker may have escaped but I won't guarantee that you'll be
as fortunate (in fact, I hope BOTH of you are caught). Anyway, if you still want to nuke
people, quit reading this FAQ - I have no desire to help
someone with that attitude and you'll probably pay no attention to it anyway.
- 26. Q: I need an IRC Cop! Where can I find one?
- A: Dial 911-IRCD and listen to the recorded message saying there is
no such thing. You're probably looking for an IRC operator.
- 27. Q: Okay, smarty pants, where can I find an IRC
- A: You probably don't need one anyway. If you're looking for someone
to retrieve your nickname or channel from someone, an IRC operator will
not intervene. What's more, if that's the case, you've ignored the rest of
this FAQ, since the subject was covered in question #5.
Each server has its own set of IRC operators. If your problem involves a
particular server, calling upon any old oper just won't do the job - it
will have to be dealt with by someone who has operator privileges on that
server. If you're absolutely convinced that an IRC operator can solve your
problem, use /stats p <server.in.question> or /trace <server>.
They generally hate being bugged about trivia they can do nothing about.
The right thing to do is type /admin <server> and mail your woes to
the address it returns. For a complaint regarding a particular client,
you can also use /admin <nickname>. Email will probably elicit a
faster response too even if your problem is something the server admin can
do nothing about.
- 28. Q: How can I make my text appear in colour?
- A: RTFM. Type /help colour. If your client can't see colour or sees
garbage instead, it will most likely not be able to send out any. If
you're using mIRC, make sure you have version 4.7 or later.
- 29. Q: How can I send/receive sounds?
- A: Again, RTFM. /help sound will tell you. Same as above applies here
- 30. Q: How can I avoid being sent those awful
- A: Set your user mode to +i (invisible). This will make you invisible
to the WHO and NAMES commands which those bots use. You'll still be stuck
with them hopping in and out of every public channel they can find. As far
as getting rid of them altogether is concerned, the network's operators
are doing their damndest, but the spammers appear to have an endless
supply of hosts which they can use.
- 31. Q: I want to get a server and link it to EFnet.
How would I do this?
- A: If you have to ask, you most likely don't qualify to run an EFnet
server. Anyway, to run your own server, get the appropriate software for
your operating system: Conference
Room or wircsrv for Windows,
visit IRCdhelp.org archive for
various irc daemons for Unix/Linux. [All ext. links.]
Note that using a non-Unix server
automatically disqualifies you from linking to most networks, including
EFnet. As far as linking to EFnet or any other major network is
concerned, if you didn't even know how to get the ircd and had to ask
this question, you don't stand a cat in hell's chance of getting a link,
even if you do have the required dedicated machine, multiple T1's and
sizeable local userbase. Expertise and experience happen to be required
as well. Read the EFnet
server requirements for more information.
- 32. Q: I keep sending people this file. What is
script.ini? What is dmsetup? What to they do?
- A: Script.ini, dmsetup.exe, and a truckload of other seemingly innocent
files are really "trojan horses" which will let anyone access your machine through
mIRC. Damage can range from being forced to say things or quit a channel
on IRC to erasing your entire HD or using your machine for illegal
activities for which you may be held responsible. Shut down your IRC
client and check out the #irchelp security
pages for possible solutions. Follow the advice to the letter and hope
that what you have will be fixed with the help of those pages. In extreme
cases, you may be forced to format your hard drive and reinstall
everything from scratch. You might want to do that anyway if you wish to be
absolutely sure that it's gone. And don't repeat the mistakes that got you
infected in the first place.
- 33. Q: Where can I get a free shell account?
- A: Accounts, shell accounts included, don't grow on trees. Even if
you're not paying for it, someone is. Ask your provider whether they offer such a service. If
what you want is a freebie "eggable shell" to run a bot on, forget it. They're a
- 34. How do I make a message in purple/one that looks like * My_nick is
- A: Type this:
/me is a pink bunny
and see what happens.
- 35. Help! I get disconnected each time I try to get a channel list!
- The short explanation is that the channel list contains a large amount of data, and often the server is just too impatient to send you all that data, especially if you have a relatively slow connection. Try a few more servers if you like, sometimes /list will work on some servers but not others. Your best choice, though, may be to get your list from the searchable EFnet channel list on the Web. That web page also has a more detailed, technical explanation for this problem, and links to other channel lists on the web.
- 36.I can't find an EFnet server to connect to!
- First of all, the #irchelp gurus, in their infinite wisdom, have provided you with
troubleshooter. However, nothing can cover all users since conditions and access
policies change weekly.
- 37.Where can I download all those games/warez/mp3s I was told to
look for here?
- We get this one so often, we have a whole separate guide to downloading files on IRC. Here's the short version: Search me. I have no need for them, and if I do, I keep it to myself and figure it
out by myself. Imagine asking an information booth in your city how to find stolen
goods... doesn't sound right, does it? We know very well that whatever you're looking
for is covered by copyright laws. Don't expect any help in breaking them. Oh yeah, and
did I mention that IRC is not a file storage service? IRC doesn't "have" files,
individuals that hang out there might have some... for the right price.
- Bonus Question: You keep telling me to RTFM. What
the hell does that mean?
- Bonus Answer: RTFM stands for Read The Fine Manual. You may replace
"Fine" with any other F word of your liking. If you're told to
RTFM, it means that the answer to your question is to be found in The
Manual, if only you bothered to look for it.
- Trick Question: You say this FAQ is unofficial.
When will it become official?
- Profound Answer: Probably never. If it were official I'd have to be
polite and politically correct, and we wouldn't want that to happen, would
we? Unless I'm going to mellow in my old age, this just ain't gonna happen.
- The Ultimate Question about Life, the
Universe and Everything.
- The Invaluable Answer is: 42!
(Don't take this lightly, it took 7.5 million years to figure out.)