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This tutorial is specifically for the freenode IRC network, the network that Wikipedia uses for IRC communication.

What do I need to connect?Edit

To access the freenode IRC servers, you'll first need an IRC client. Text clients include irssi, ircII and BitchX. Graphical clients include Pidgin for Windows or Unix-like OSes, xchat for Windows, Unix, or Mac, (although certain xchat features are not supported on Windows and Mac) , mIRC for Windows and Colloquy for Mac. Finally, regardless of your OS of choice, if you are browsing the Internet with Firefox, you may use the ChatZilla extension. Packages for various IRC clients may be included on your operating system install CDs and links to web sites for the client software can be found here. Trillian also has an IRC client where you have to check the text box for plug ins.

2011: There are three types of graphical clients for IRC, the independent program client, the web browser Add-On client, and the web-client started by opening up a website.

  • Stand-Alone clients: For Windows, for many years the major graphical client for Windows has been mirc ( pidgin ( is also available. xchat ( is available for Windows as well and is a flexible professional opensource package which stands alone and can be extensively modified by the experienced person.
  • Browser-attached client: For platforms that the Firefox Browser supports (Windows, Mac and Unix) there is an IRC client called ChatZilla. ChatZilla is built-in to SeaMonkey, and Opera also has a built-in client.
  • Web-page clients: The major web-client is and some networks host the open source qwebirc ( Some users use web-clients based on cgi:irc ( These will work on any Javascript enabled web browser.

How to connect?Edit

Once you have a client, you'll need a server. You can simply use to reach the main rotation of servers; or, you can find a more geographically local server here.

Having connection problems?Edit

After you've obtained your client and the name of a server, you may still need a bit of help in getting connected. Take a look at this tutorial or this IRC primer on, which contains a variety of other useful information as well.

About the network servicesEdit

Nickname registrationEdit

If you want to use a certain nickname on the network and don't want anyone else to take it, you must register it with the network.

You can do so by typing (in any window): /msg nickserv register password email@address.tld, of course substituting password for any password of your choosing, and email@address.tld with your email address. Try not to make your password too predictable or guessable, but also avoid using any password you use elsewhere since it's very easy to accidentally type your password into an IRC channel revealing it to others. You should now check your email for the confirmation message from freenode, and complete the steps it contains.

Registering your nick will also allow you to be added to a channel's access list; for example, some of the people in #wikipedia-en-help have +'s beside their nicknames (to identify "helpers").

Note: You only have to register your nickname once. Every other time you connect from that point on, you need to prove who you are, with this command: /msg nickserv identify password

Some IRC clients allow you to set performs (this is: command or commands that will automatically be performed on connect) so this would be an ideal command to put in your perform list. On mIRC, you can find the perform list at: File | Select Server.. | Options | Perform.

There are some other options you can set (as well as privacy options), you'll want to get a list by typing: /msg nickserv help

Task: Setting your IRC client to identify upon connectEdit

Some IRC clients allow you to automatically issue commands when connecting to a server:


  1. From the menu choose ChatZilla -> Preferences. Navigate to Global Settings.
  2. Navigate to the Startup tab. Scroll down to Locations.
  3. Click Add and use the following formats to add a network and channel, and to identify:
    (in the last example replace yourpassword with your freenode account password)
  4. Click Apply, followed by OK, to get out of the ChatZilla Preferences dialog
  5. To add all of your channels individually in the same format once you've joined them, right-click the tab of each channel -> Open this Channel at Startup
  6. To bookmark a channel without joining it automatically at startup, drag the tab for that channel directly to Firefox's Bookmarks Toolbar or Menu

X-Chat (Windows version)Edit

  1. Go to XChat. Select Network list. You will see five boxes for you to fill in:
    Nickname: The nick you wish to connect with by default.
    Second choice (optional): An alternative nick if the first is unavailable.
    Third choice (optional): As above.
    User name (optional): This is your ident. For example, in example@wikipedia/Jimbo-Wales, "example" would be generated from this field. This can be anything you want, with a maximum of nine characters.
    Real name (optional): This is your "real name" field, visible when the command /whois is used. This doesn't necessarily have to be your real name; you could just have your Wikipedia username, or a URL to your account. It can be anything you want.
  2. Once the details have been completed, highlight the FreeNode tab under "Networks". Then click the "Edit..." tab.
  3. Click "Add" next to "Servers for FreeNode". Type the following: This is the port you can use to connect to the network. See also the advanced section below.
  4. Check the "Use global user information" box under "Your details".
  5. Check the "Auto connect to this network on startup" box under "Connecting".
  6. In the "Favorite channels" box, fill out the channels you wish to join automatically in this format:
    #wikipedia,#wikipedia-en,##defocus,#wikimedia ... Please note, however, that there is a 256 character limit for this option (see also the advanced section below).
  7. Leave the "Connect command" and "NickServ password" fields blank. In the "Server password" box, type the password you use to identify yourself to NickServ.
  8. Finally, select your character set (by default, "IRC (Latin/Unicode Hybrid)" is selected).
  9. Now click "Close" and you should be all set. Close X-Chat and reboot; you should now be identified and connected to your selected channels.

Advanced options for X-ChatEdit

There are a few advanced options available for X-Chat. If you join more channels than the 256 character limit allows, you can set up an alternative autojoin using Notepad.

  1. Open Notepad.
  2. You can specify your user modes on the first line. For example, you could type (without the leading /):
    mode +iw
  3. On the second line, type idchans
  4. On the third line, you can type out the channels you intend to join. Type in the following format:
    timer 5 join #wikipedia,#wikipedia-en,##defocus,#wikimedia ...
  5. Save the file as autojoin.txt
  6. Navigate to XChat, Network list, highlight FreeNode and click "Edit..."
  7. If you specified "Favorite channels", you may now delete the contents of this field if you wish; the autojoin will be retrieved from the Notepad file.
  8. In the "Connect command" box, type:
    LOAD -e autojoin.txt
  9. Close X-Chat and reboot. The changes should now take effect.

You can also use X-Chat to connect to freenode using a secure connection (SSL). To do this, you will need to specify a different port and alter the settings slightly.

  1. Navigate to XChat, Network list, highlight FreeNode and click "Edit..."
  2. Highlight the entry under "Servers for freenode" (for example, and click the edit tab.
  3. Change this line to:
  4. Under "Connecting", check these tickboxes:
    "Use SSL for all the servers on this network"
    "Accept invalid SSL certificate"
  5. Click "close".
  6. Close X-Chat and restart the program. The changes should now take effect.

Emacs (ERC)Edit

ERC is part of the GNU project. It is included with recent versions of GNU Emacs.

to run Type: M-x erc - if you run erc in this way you need to pass "" as server "6667" as port and your nickname (you can omit the password unless you have register the nickname).

You can speed up connection process if you put this in your init file (~/.emacs)

 (defun irc ()
   "Connect to the freenode"
   (erc :server ""
        :port 6667
        :nick "<YOUR NICK>"
        :password "<PASSWORD OR nil>"))

 (global-set-key "\C-ci"  'irc)

Then you can run irc client with `C-c i`

Applying for a host cloakEdit

See the instruction page on Meta-Wiki.

"Unaffiliated" cloaksEdit

If you'd like a cloak that doesn't advertise Wikipedia, please follow the instructions at If you're looking for a member of freenode's staff, this is how you find them.

IRC Channel ListEdit

Main article: m:IRC/Channels

Channels on freenode include but are not limited to:

IRC Client SettingsEdit

  • The realname (or Full Name) field can be set optional to anything you want.
  • The ident setting should ideally be turned on, and again set to anything you want.

I want to send a file to someone and it's not working!Edit

You have to define a port range in your IRC client, add an exception in any firewall software you may be using and allow that port range in your router. Or just go to and ask them for help.

What are some basic commands?Edit

Here are some basic commands for IRC: (as taken from Wikibooks)

Command What it does Example
Sign on to a server /attach
/nick Set your nickname /nick YourName
Join a channel /join #en.wikibooks
/j #en.wikibooks
/msg Sends a message (can either be private or to the entire channel) Message the channel: /msg #en.wikibooks hello world!
Send a private message: /msg JohnDoe Hi john.
/whois Display information about a user on the server /whois JohnDoe
/clear all
Clears a channel's text.
Clears all open channel's text.
/clear all
/away Sets an away message. Note: Type /away again to return from away. /away I'm away because...
/me Sends an action to the channel. See example. The following:
/me loves pie.
would output to the chat in the case of JohnDoe:
JohnDoe loves pie.
/quit Disconnects you from the IRC network. You can also quit with a quit message. /quit Off to bed.

What happens: JohnDoe has quit (Off to bed)


Any questions or would you like to take the test? The test is pretty brief...consisting of only three questions!