Re-introducing an Old Social Media Technology

Woman ChattingI have been using some form of “social media” since the early 1990s. I started back in the day using Usenet and within a few months discovered something called “IRC,” (Internet Relay Chat). I’m not even sure if Usenet is still around (and if so, how to access it – last time I tried I was using Outlook Express which came with a built in Usenet reader). However through all the changes and innovations on the internet and world wide web (remember when we used to call it that?) IRC has endured.

A Brief Introduction to IRC

IRC is made up of a variety of different networks, like EFnet, Undernet, DALnet and Freenode, to name a few. Each network is then also made up of a variety of interconnected servers within that network. Generally people volunteer to host one of these servers (back in the day they were even hosted at universities). This set-up creates the a mini-internet, if you will, of interconnected servers from which users can access.

Accessing a network can be done through a variety of means – there are dedicated tools like mIRC for Windows, Irssi, ChatZilla or Xchat for Linux/Unix. Some networks, like Freenode, allow you to connect via a web interface. Personally my favorite is using Pidgin – which allows me to chat from IRC, Yahoo, MSN, Jabber, and many others at the same time.

Within an IRC network you need to have a “nick” (nickname) and join a channel (chat room). Most networks also let you register your “nick” so that other folks cannot use it when you are not logged in.

#Measure on Freenode

I have recently created and registered the channel #measure on the Freenode IRC network. I chose Freenode because it is an IRC network filled with knowledgeable professionals and students, and has fewer attacks from malicious bots and such than other networks. I invite the entire #measure (and #analytics, #waa, #waw) community on Twitter to join me on IRC for real-time chat and discussions regarding web analytics, online marketing, social media marketing and any related topics. Twitter is a great venue, but can be filled with noise and the 140 character limit can sometimes be limiting when asking questions. The Yahoo group is awesome but sometimes more immediate feedback is needed. I’ve had a channel in IRC for years now and I figured why not extend #measure to IRC as well?

Are you new to IRC? I have 2 easy ways to check us out:

  • Go to my chat page
    • Follow the easy instructions for joining the #measure channel (note: it does require you to have Java installed on your browser).
  • Go to
    • Type in the “nickname” you want – it can be anything. If it has been taken you’ll be informed and will have a chance to change it.
    • For the “channels” type in #measure
    • Ignore the “Auth to Services”
    • Type in the Captcha and click Connect

Once you have connected you should see the list of folks available in the channel in a list on the right. To chat with them, type in a message in the field at the bottom of your browser and hit “enter.” Anyone with a @ in front of their name is a channel moderator (with the exception of @ChanServ, that is a service bot used to protect the channel and provided by Freenode).

Do you use Pidgin? You can also connect to our channel that way:

  • Go to Accounts > Manage Accounts
  • Click “Add”
  • For the Protocol, select “IRC”
  • Select a “Username” (same as the “Nickname” mentioned above)
  • Server should be “”
  • Leave the password field blank (unless you know you have a registered “nick” on Freenode).

Once connected to IRC you will recieve a message from “NickServ,” which is the other services bot on IRC. Ignore any warnings it may have if you are using an unregistered “nick” – this can be changed later. In the “NickServ” window at the bottom type “/join #measure” to join our channel.

If you have any questions at all on how to chat on IRC, register a nickname, etc. and there is no one currently responding in the #measure channel, you can also refer to the Freenode FAQs online.

Here is hoping to see you on IRC!

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