IRC, which stands for Internet Relay Chat, is a way for folks to "talk" to each other (by typing) in real time over the Internet. It works a lot like a CB radio in that there are "channels" where one or more people type and everyone on a particular channel can see what everyone else is typing. People also usually use nicknames instead of their real names on IRC (just like on CB). Unlike CB radio, however, you can always tell how many others are on your channel "listening". Also, you have the ability to chat privately with other people on IRC.
We are hooked into a network of other Free-Nets called the World Wide Free-Net IRC Network (WWFIN). The WWFIN is a fairly safe environment for chatters of all ages. All of the public channels are monitored both by Channel Operators and robot programs to ensure that behavior is kept to something approximating a PG-13 type rating. I would caution, however, that even with our best efforts there is the occasional violation of our policies. These are, of course, dealt with swiftly, but there's no "tape delay" on IRC. That means an occasional off-color word or remark may make its way to your screen. If you can't live with that, then perhaps IRC isn't for you.
On the Los Angeles Free-Net, IRC is only available through our text-based system. We had some problems with people abusing the PPP IRC clients (like mIRC), so we had to eliminate that capability. To get to the text-based side of LAFN, you can telnet to lafn.org or you can dial up one of our local access numbers. Once you've logged on (LAFN members only), go to the IRC area by typing "go chat" (without quotes) at any "Your Choice" prompt. You'll see the following menu there:
1 A Quick Introduction 2 How to Use Multi-User Chat 3 Multi-User Chat Etiquette 4 A Short List of Commands PLEASE NOTE: ALL CHANNEL NAMES NOW MUST START WITH # or & Example: /join #LAFN_1 5 Join the Conversation 6 Join a LOCAL ONLY (to LAFN) Conversation (channel &local)
Be sure to read items 1 thru 4, especially if you're unfamiliar with IRC. Once you're familiar with the commands and ettiquette, use either option #5 to get to the "open" chat area or option #6 to get to the LAFN "members-only" channel. That's all there is to it! :)
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