So I was going to make this a video, but I figure a text post may be more accessible. I may still make a video at some point... Here we go! IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. It is, at its core, a chatroom. Being able to use the IRC is a skill that can help you a lot in this game—it is heavily utilized during live missions, and a lot of the Agents who hang out in there between live events are really helpful if you ever get stuck! In this post I’m going to give a crash-course in IRC usage and safety, and point out some of the tools available to you there. The first thing you need to know is how to get to our IRC. See that little ‘live chat’ button in the upper right corner of the forums? That’s how you get there! It leads here, which is a direct link to the #division66 room on irc.blackwatchmen.com via kiwiirc. I’m going to give most of this tutorial with the assumption you’re using kiwiirc, but there are lots of great IRC clients you can use other than kiwiirc, so don’t feel like you’re forced to just use that one! So the first screen you're going to see looks like this: You don't need to open up the server and network tab, but if you do, it'll tell you that you're connecting to irc.blackwatchmen.com on port 6667. You don't have to touch those settings. You can also see that check box there for 'I have a password'-- if this is your first time connecting, you don't have a password already. Your forum login and the IRC are completely separate. So pick a nickname, preferably one that is similar to your forum name so we can identify you on the forum, and click 'Start'! So here is the next screen you'll see: So there are a few things going on in this image that I'm going to explain to you. I've signed in with the username 'NewAgent', which you can see in the lower left corner of the screen, next to the text entry bar. Along the right side of the screen is a user list, with channel owners, ops, halfops, and voiced users at the top of the list. I'll explain all of those terms in just a second. At the very top of the screen you'll see two tabs. One of them says 'The-Black-Watchmen-Network' and has a green box with the number 10 around it, because there are 10 messages in that tab. That's the server tab, and you'll only see automated messages in there for the most part. The other tab says '#division66' and is a lighter color, because that is the room we are currently looking at. You can see that NickServ has told us, at the top of the screen, that our nickname is not registered, and has given us the syntax to do so. Next you see the event for us joining the room, and then the room topic, and then the room greeting. Those three things will always show up as soon as you enter the room. After that you can see a user has said a couple of things, and there is a line underneath to show where we navigated away, so that when we come back to the window we can see where we left off in the discussion. So, a quick note on channel owners, operators, half-operators, and voiced users. Basically the little symbols next to users' names indicate what sort of privileges they hold in the channel. In theory, these privileges are used for moderating the channel and so forth, but honestly our channels don't need a whole lot of moderation. The only users who are authorized to enforce rules, kick, or ban users are the dev team(Jarobi, crux, and Anashel) and the community manager(Santiak). But really, it never happens, and you shouldn't worry about it. Everything else more or less happens behind the scenes, so it shouldn't affect you too much. On the topic of NickServ: NickServ is literally the NICKname SERVice. It keeps track of registered nicknames and allows you to recover them if you've timed out or if someone is using your nickname. If you want to see some of the commands that NickServ can do, you can type /msg NickServ HELP into the text box at the bottom of the screen. I won't be going into most of them, as they're pretty straightforward and most of the time you won't need them. You will remember, however, that NickServ pinged us about registering our name when we joined the channel, so we should go ahead and do that. The syntax we were given is /msg NickServ REGISTER password email. I'm going to enter it in the server tab, just to keep the clutter down in these images, but you can type it into any channel and it'll still work. So here's how that looks: You can see that NickServ gave us the flag +r, which means we are registered. Flags like that can help the server to tell user types apart, and can help with moderation as well. In this instance, NickServ has autoconfirmed my registration, but sometimes it will ask you to enter a command that it will send you via email. If it asks you to enter a command from your email, you can literally copy and paste it into the text box and it will confirm your registration for you. Once you're registered, you need to know how to login. Remember that 'I have a password' check box at the start? If you click it, a text box pops up for you to type your password in. Super easy. If you forget to do that, there is a way to do it from inside the room by talking to NickServ. The syntax is as follows: /msg NickServ IDENTIFY hunter2 (because we made hunter2 our password). This will log you into NickServ just the same as if you entered your password in the text box before connecting. Now that we're registered, we should get a vhost. A vhost is basically just a way to mask where you're connecting from. Obviously the admins of the channel can still see it, but instead of having possibly identifiable information follow the @ symbol when people look at your information, you can choose a 'host mask'. For example, here's what happens when you look at my information on kiwiirc: To get a vhost, we need to talk to HostServ, which is the HOST SERVice. The syntax for getting a vhost is as follows: /msg HostServ REQUEST [vhost]. The vhost needs to be in a valid format, which means it needs to have at least one dot in it, and can only contain dots(.), dashes (-), and letters. Obviously approval is up to the admins, so don't try to get one that's offensive or anything like that. When your vhost is approved, you'll get a message via MemoServ from the admins. A MemoServ message looks something like this: It will probably say something along the lines of 'your vhost has been approved/denied'. If it's been approved, your vhost will automatically be turned on every time you login to your name! However, it can take a little while for a vhost to be approved or denied. In the meantime, you can get a temporary vhost. We have a channel with an IRC bot that will grant a temporary vhost for one session(that is, until you log out again), so you don't have to worry about your information being public while you wait for approval. To join the channel, you need to use the join command. The syntax is /join #vhost (#vhost being the name of the channel). When you get into the #vhost channel, if you read the topic bar you'll see that it tells you exactly how to tell the bot what vhost you want. I've given us the vhost sample.vhost.format to show you how it looks. And you can see if we look at our own information, we now have that vhost set in our name, to protect our identity! (just a note, I'm looking at NewAgent from another user in this image-- if you use /whois on yourself, you'll see a LOT more information, such as your IP address and so on) So now that we've figured out how to sign in, register, and get a vhost, there are a couple other commands you may want to know. Pretty much everything you could ever want to do in IRC is doable through the text bar, although kiwiirc has some built in visual elements if you're more of a point-and-click type of person. The following is a list of common commands: /join #channel - Joins the channel #channel, you'll see it on the top row of tabs alongside the #division66 room and the server tab. Can be shortened to /j to save keystrokes. This can also be done by clicking a #channel link in the chat in kiwiirc. /query Username - Opens up a PM with the user Username, you'll see it in the same place as if it were a separate channel. We try to keep all help with individual missions to PMs, to avoid spoilers in the main chat. This can also be done by clicking someone's username and choosing 'message' in kiwiirc. /whois Username - Shows the information for the user Username, such as their name, vhost, channels they're connected to, server they're connected to, etc. What I linked you above when talking about vhosts was the result of a /whois on myself. This can also be done by clicking someone's username and choosing 'info' in kiwiirc. /me action - Posts in the channel as if you've done the action. Example: <--Result of /me does a dance /part #channel [message] - Causes you to leave the channel with the message [message]. Can be shortened to /p to save keystrokes. This can also be done by clicking the 'x' on the tab in kiwiirc. /nick OldAgent - Changes your nickname to OldAgent, obviously you can replace 'OldAgent' with whatever you'd like. This can also be done by clicking your name in kiwiirc. A note on safety and security: IRC can be used to directly transfer files between computers, and directly chat between computers. If someone asks you to type a command that you don't recognize or understand into the IRC, don't do it. A quick google search can usually confirm or alleviate suspicions, and if someone is being sketchy then you should definitely reach out to any of the channel owners (users with a ~ next to their name). JantsoP in particular takes the servers' security VERY seriously. If anyone harasses you or makes you feel unsafe, please reach out to Santiak, Jarobi, crux, or Anashel right away. We all want the IRC to be a safe place for us to hang out and solve puzzles, and nobody should feel threatened while they're there. Some popular IRC clients: HexChat/X-Chat mIRC ChatZilla HydraIRC KVIrc There are lots of IRC clients out there, so take some time to explore and find one that suits your preferences. And as always, feel free to ask for help whenever you feel you might need it!