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irc – still relevant?

As we close out the year 2020 (and there is a long story to be told about this year indeed), I have been reviewing the technology that I use and rely on every day.

Much has changed since my first home computer, an Apple IIc, and I am continually fascinated by what each year brings to us. However, one thing that was made in the late-80’s persists in my use to this day – IRC.

I’m not going to go in-depth into what IRC is and isn’t – the link above is a great getting started guide – but think of it as a precursor to Slack, Discord, and MS Teams (without the proprietary software). You can connect to a number of servers such as freenode, and then join even more channels that suit your interests.

Enjoy Linux or OS X? There are channels for that.

Coding? Star Wars and/or Star Trek? Yup.

Tip: go here to search for servers and channels that align with your interests.

And people are live. You can post your question, your thoughts, or your help to other people and interact in real time. I’ve seen people spend hours helping complete strangers troubleshoot technical or software issues, and then go on to help someone else. It helps to avoid situations like poor DenverCoder9. 🙂

And people are generally really chill and kind. Trolls do exist, but mods are usually good about keeping things friendly.

And all this without the need to signup for proprietary services that may not respect your privacy.

So back to my question in the title – is IRC still relevant?

Yes. While newer technologies exist with more and more features, the simplicity of IRC and the open nature of it means that despite declining usage, it still has a place in the open source world and beyond.