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IRC as an online community: Wikis


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Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity


This learning project or essay is about the motivations of people to go to a chat network, such as Internet Relay Chat (IRC). We will discuss certain characteristics such as the types of users who go to the channels (which receive special names such as newbies, sysops, trolls, vandals, etc), their expectations and their reactions to this interaction with other people in an online community. Due to the way Internet works, some new behavior not commonly found on real life can be experienced, such as that related to Internet anonymity. We will explore why some users seem to hide behind a nickname and take a role on the IRC channel and thus, they become actors in a drama. So, we will explore the personality of the person behind the nickname and the apparent personality that person creates to be able to interact on chat channels.

This project will focus specifically on IRC and will paste excerpts of chat logs (with permission) to illustrate some aspects. In case the logs are not available, we will illustrate the concepts creating a dialog similar to an existing one.


Hypotheses for different motivations.

  1. To discuss with people having similar interests.
  2. To ask questions about specific topics.
  3. To discuss things faster than using talk pages (in wikis) or e-mail.
  4. To socialize, as in other chat networks.

Technical nature of IRC

As an hypotheses, I propose that IRC is different to other socialization and chat networks, such as Facebook, Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live, etc., due to the fact that IRC networks usually focus on specific topics. It is common practice on most channels to maintain the conversation in the topic and ops and people try to follow that guideline. Although, there are "non topic" channels too, where, regardless of the topic, people go mainly to socialize, like in ##c++-social, users of IRC may want to go there to engage in conversation about an interesting topic and thus, to learn. So, the objective of some users on that chatting conferencing is learning and sharing knowledge with other people with similar interests.


Most of this questions and answers were taken from the freenode network. Feel free to add your signed reply. The interviewer is Sybil.

1. What are your motivations to come to IRC?

  • Sybil, talking to other people with the same interests as me (what that interest is depends on the channel) and watching interesting discussion. So, pretty much the same reasons I hang out with people in real life (but different interests, of course; otherwise, there would be no need to seek things like IRC channels :p). By Dearon.

2. Do you use another chat or social networks like Yahoo Messenger, Windows Live, Facebook?

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