The Scene on IRC - A Guide
Written by Adok
In the last few years the Internet has gained much acceptance in the scene. A part of the Internet is the IRC (Internet Relay Chat). This realtime-discussion platform has become an important place for the scene to gather. Not only is it the fastest way to communicate with people from remote places, but you can also have a lot of fun and can gather the latest news.
In fact there are many places on the IRC where sceners from various countries meet. This article is supposed to quickly introduce IRC to those of you who have not used it yet, and to provide the others a guide through the jungle of servers and scene channels on IRC.
Introduction to IRC
IRC is an abbreviation for Internet Relay Chat. It is a protocol by which people from all over the world can chat together in realtime.
There are various chat networks which use the IRC protocol, such as IRCNet (the mostly European network), EFNet (the original network, mostly used in the USA and Canada), Undernet, DALNet, and smaller ones, such as SceneNet.
In order to log on IRC you need a program called IRC client. There are various IRC clients. The most common ones for PCs are probably mIRC for Windows 3.x and Win9x (available at http://www.mirc.co.uk, Shareware) and the Linux clients ircII (included in many recent distributions), BitchX (for X Window, http://www.bitchx.com), and kvirc (for KDE, ftp://ftp.kde.org).
Using an IRC client, you can log into an IRC server, and in this way you will get into the respective chat network. Every IRC network has many, often thousands of chat channels. IRC users can log on those channels and communicate with the other people there.
Channels start with the '#' character, followed by their actual names. For example, the best known PC demo scene channel is called #coders.
If you try to join a channel that does not exist, this channel gets founded automatically. You are the only person in it, until other people join in as well. On founding a channel you automatically get channel operator status (+o), which provides you with various possibilities to change the configuration of the channel - for example so that only invited people can join the channel (+i), only operators can change the topic (+t; the topic of a channel is the message which everyone who joins the channel gets) - and kick or even ban (+b) people from the channel or make other people channel operators. Of course it works the other way around, too - you can remove +t etc.
When there is only one chatter on a channel and he leaves, the channel gets deleted. That means that the next person who attempts to joins this channel founds it again and gains +o. However, in this way it is possible that a channel gets taken over by some nasty users. They just have to join the channel when nobody is in it and thus found it again and get +o with all the power.
Some IRC networks provide methods to prohibit takeovers. However, IRCNet does not. Here another trick is used, the so-called bots. Bots are programs that have been written in the script-language of an IRC client and act like virtual users. If you install a bot on a uni account, for instance, that is connected to the Internet all the time, you can use the bots for occupying a channel, and the bots will give +o only to authorized users.
Then it's more difficult to take over a channel. Now the attacker either has to abuse a bug in the bot-scripts or wait for a netsplit, which is a failure of IRC servers that causes an IRC network to split up into several sub-networks temporarily. At the moment when the servers form the network again (netjoin), it can happen that the server forgets the settings of some channels, their userlists or who has got +o (channel desynchronisation). In this way the wrong person might gain +o and thus take over a channel.
However, such failures don't happen too often, and if we just want to use IRC for talking to other people from time to time we don't have to care about them.
There are dozends of IRC channels used by the PC demo scene. Some of them are big, international and well-known channels. Besides, there is a big number of local channels.
In addition to this, the scene IRC channels are scattered on several networks. And the channels on the individual networks often share one name. For instance, a #coders channel exists on IRCNet as well as on EFNet, Undernet, and SceneNet. But they are all individual channels.
Most scene communication, however, takes place on IRCNet. Therefore let's start with it first, and then let's take a look at the other networks with scene-related channels.
Servers: for example irc.stealth.net / irc.webbernet.net / irc.gmd.de
#coders - IRCNet #coders is the oldest and largest PC demo scene IRC channel. In spite of its name, it's not only for coders but for the whole PC demo scene, though the talk is dominated by coding-related chatting and general smalltalk. The regular bot of #coders is Sunburn, and everyone can be added to the +o-list on it after having been a regular and productive user of #coders for some months. Some people also have their private bots there. A lot of people have +o on #coders; sometimes there are even more people with +o than without +o. Nevertheless, or maybe just because of that, there are hardly any takeover attempts. The latest serious takeover attempt was the X-Men Takeover back in 1997, which resulted in a ban for all people involved. There are loads of people on #coders from many different countries. There are especially a lot of Australians and Finns, and many well-known sceners. The main language is English, of course. The #coders channel used to have a homepage, but it was closed a while ago. However, there is a mailinglist, maintained by HeadSoft. Check out http://www.onelist.com/isregistered.cgi?listname=ircnetcoders for info on how to subscribe.
#pixel - That's another international channel, which mainly deals with GFX. Most people are graphicians, but there are also non-gfxers. Most people use the PC, but there are also people who are active on other computer systems. In general there are not as much people on #pixel as on #coders, but since many people on #coders just idle, the difference is not that high. #pixel is especially famous for its 30 minute compos, held spontaneously almost every week. The pictures and the results are posted on the #pixel homepage, located at http://www.pixel.scene.org / http://fsk.ml.org/pixel. The page is maintained by Sh'ar.
#trax - is an international music channel. The number of people can be compared with #pixel, and you can also meet rather famous scene musicians such as loonie, virago, kb, assign, or distance, to name a few.
#thescene - was founded by Surfing/RamJam on January 24th, 1998. The homepage is http://the.scene.org, and this channel is dedicated to c64, Amiga, PC and Atari. As Surfing says, they "do not only talk about demos or computers, but especially about friendship, meetings, idling... :) - and pussies". On the homepage you can find a userlist, news section, guestbook and a list of the currently logged in users.
Local scene IRC channels
German: #coders.ger, #kotraum
Hungarian: #scene, #coders.hu, #demoscene, #SceneChat
Swedish: #scene.se, #swedescene
Servers: for example irc.chat.org
#coders - This #coders channel mainly deals with graphic and game programming in Assembler, Basic, C, C++, Cobol, Delphi, Pascal, and Visual Basic. Apparently it has nothing to do with the demo scene, apart from the fact that some sceners accidentially log in here from time to time.
#trax - In EFNet #trax, there are usually more people than on the IRCNet equivalent. Apparently they mostly come from the tracked music scene, but some musicians who are involved in the demo scene pop up there sometimes, too.
#Belgianscene - A local Belgian scene channel.
#scene.ar - The channel for the sceners from Argentina. However, there are not only Argentinians. The language that is spoken here is Spanish.
Servers: for example irc.undernet.org
Undernet has its #coders and #trax channels, too. But like on EFNet, they seem not to have much to do with the PC demo scene. Besides, they are less frequented.
Servers: for example irc.scene.org / irc.eu.scene.org / irc.us.scene.org
After AnotherNet had become a commercial and proprietary-client chat network, the former users of AnotherNet's #trax decided to found their own network - "where free speech and ideas would be able to run unbounded through the pastures of #trax and #coders". They use the "aircd" IRC daemon, coded by an ex-member of the demoscene, simon kirby.
SceneNet is a pretty new and small network. Being made for the scene only, the number of channels is well overseeable. Just type "/list" on your IRC command line when logged on. There are quite a few people who visit #trax. For more information, check the homepage of SceneNet at http://www.scenenet.scene.org.
There are also a lot of group channels. Some of them are public, while some others are for discussion among the group-members only. Furthermore, most scene parties have their own channels. They are mainly frequented when the party is going on. The channel of The Party, for instance, is #theparty.
A hint: If you want to discover new channels, check where the people are by