This file is for users new to irc. Its intention is to briefly describe what irc is all about. It is not a command summary. Please refer to Introduction to get started with the various EPIC commands.
IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat. It is a networked, real-time, online chat system. Its popularity has grown enormously since its invention more than 7 years ago, and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. There are currently upwards of 30 irc “networks” scattered around the Internet, serving every corner of the globe; do not expect everyone to speak your own native language. At any given time, there are usually upwards of 60,000 people using the various established irc networks.
The primary means of identification on irc is currently the nickname. All users have a nickname. Your nickname can be changed with the /nick command. No two users on the same irc network may use the same nickname at the same time. For all intents and purposes, nicknames are NOT owned. Anyone can use any nickname they like, including your favorite if you aren't already using it on irc, and irc operators are under no obligation whatsoever to “get it back” for you. For this reason, it is recommended that you use the /whois command if you are unsure if a nickname is someone you know or not.
It is important to recognize the nature of irc. Not everyone you meet will be friendly and good-natured. Just like in real life, you will meet jerks, and other types you may not care to associate with. You may meet people who will try to deceive you. In particular, you may run across someone who will ask you to issue some commands. USE CAUTION in these situations. If you don't know what the command does, don't do it. If the command involves the /on or /exec commands, don't do it unless you are sure you know what you are doing. If all else fails, ask an irc operator or a help channel (such as #irchelp) for help.
One final note on commands. The various EPIC commands can be abbreviated (to the shortest possible unambiguous string). For example, /na would run the /names command. This is mentioned because, occasionally, you will run across pranksters trying to get new users to type /sign or something similar (/sign is an abbreviation of /signoff). As previously mentioned, use caution whenever anyone asks you to use a command you are unfamiliar with or uncertain about.
Lastly, if you have not already done so, please read Etiquette and Introduction. The former describes the basic accepted behavior on irc, while the latter is a beginning command rundown.