IRC as a Communication Tool

IRC, which stands for Internet Relay Chat, is an application layer protocol that facilitates communication in the form of text. As part of an assignment for class I was asked to follow/monitor traffic on one channel for half an hour. I connected to #ubuntu, #freenode, #mysql and ##c++ and followed for an hour. Unfortunately, there was not much activity during that half hour. Most of the chat, I’d say about 80% was alerts of users joining or disconnecting. A few questions were asked on the #freenode page by users inquiring about whether a channel discussing a certain topic existed. These inquiries were generally answered promptly by chat moderators. It may be because I connected at a latish hour in eastern America (although I know users are using chat from around the country and world) but I was mostly disappointed with my IRC experience.

Examining the tool in general I think its structure greatly resembles Reddit in that you have several subreddits or channels centered around a certain topic, where users can go to interact and share information with other users about said topic. In terms of what it brings to the table for chat and chat features, I’d say it’s nothing special and is rather barebones. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Usually the characteristic that makes a chat application appealing is its sheer volume and user base. If all of my friends are using a certain website, application, or website to chat, that alone is reason for me to use it. For me, this was the case with AIM in the days of old, Facebook’s Messenger, and even Snapchat. I’m not sure most of my friend’s even know what IRC is, so in that regard it does not appeal to me. However, if IRC is the tool of choice for most computer professionals, than that would be a strong case for me to use it for that type of content.

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