If you are curious about someone elses identity IRC obligingly provides
several tools for snooping. One that everybody uses all the time is /whois.
Syntax is / whois <nick>
/whois will give you information about the channels that a user is in, the operator
status and information about the server that he or she is connected to.
The command has a variant where you enter the nickname twice. That will tell you
the amount of time the user has been idle.
You can obtain the /whois information for someone who just left IRC for a short
while using the /whowas command. It's not very reliable because the information
is cached by the servers only a short time.
Even the most dedicated of us have to leave our keyboards sometimes, and it's
usually more convenient to just leave Snak running while you slip off to, lets
say make coffee, rather than quitting the program and then running it again five
minutes later. However, if one of your IRC friends sent you a private message
during that time, you obviously will not reply and you might worry about appearing
rude. Fear not IRC has this situation covered.
There are two uses of the away command. The command to mark yourself as away from
the keyboard is
/away making coffee
Anybody messaging you will automatically get a message saying *** YourNick is
away: making coffee. In order to mark your return to the keyboard simply type
So, use /away with a message to mark yourself as away, and use it without a message
If you expect to be away from the keyboard for extended periods of time it might
make sense to close the channels you are in. If you do not then the private messages
you receive during that time might get lost in the normal channel traffic. If
you close the channels, then private messages will get routed to the console window
that normally do not receive other messages except occasional server messages.
If you have the console window open when joining a server, among other things
you will see a message saying something like this:
*** umodes available oiws, channel modes available biklmnopstv
This cryptic message refers to the various possible modes, or attributes, that
channels and users can have, and since not all servers (or all clients) recognize
all the modes, this is the servers personal menu that is being displayed for you.
A user mode is a mode that applies to you, the user. The user-mode "+o"
means that you are an IRC operator. This mode is different than the channel operator
mode, which confusingly also uses the o designator. IRC operators have wide ranging
privileges and rank above channel operators. The o mode is not under your control,
but the modes i, w and s are.
Mode "+i" means that you are "invisible" and in general will
not appear on peoples /who lists. Certain servers set the invisible user mode
Mode "+s" means that you receive server notices. These are technical
messages, that flow between servers, forming a constant, normally unseen undercurrent.
Mode "+w" is obsolete. It used to control the delivery of wallops which
were messages sent to every irc operator simultaneously.
In order to set a particular mode use the command
/mode YourNick +<modeflag>
To remove a particular mode use
/mode YourNick <modeflag>
The channel modes are more interesting than the user modes but they are exclusively
under the control of the channel operators. They offer subtle ways of restricting
channel activity. In Snak you have easy access to the most common channel modes
from the channel settings dialog.
Two modes that are almost universally used now is +n and +t.
Mode "+n" prevents messages from people outside the channel from being
sent into the channel. This only prevents messages to the channel at large, not
individual private messages to channel members.
Mode "+t" limits the ability to change the channel topic to channel
operators only. If this is not set then anyone can change the topic of the channel.
In Snak, changing the topic could also be done from the channel settings dialog.
The rest of the channel modes make a channel increasingly restrictive.
Mode "+m" does not restrict access to the channel, but the channel is
"moderated" meaning that only channel operators and users having the
+v (voice) flag set (see next chapter). This mode is often set on a channel that
serve as a news outlet or is running some theatrical performance or similar where
only a few of the members should be speaking.
Mode "+l" takes a second parameter like "+l 20" and is used
to set a limit on the channel population. In the example the channel limit would
be set to 20. If that number is reached then the server will not let additional
Mode "+i" means that the channel can be joined by invitation only. To
extend an invitation to someone you can use the /invite command.
Mode "+k" takes a second parameter like "+k SECRETPASSWORD".
This mode locks the channel so that the key "SECRETPASSWORD" is required
to enter it. Anybody attempting to join the channel will have to use this command:
/join <channel> SECRETPASSWORD
Mode "+p" makes the channel private. The channel is omitted from the
channel list that the server returns but you may be able to see who is in the
channel if you know the channel name.
Mode "+s" is the most exclusive of all a secret channel. It's
omitted from the channel list and you can not find out who is in it even if you
know the channel name.
This mode is used, for example, for business meetings where everything happens
by prearrangement and the users or the channel do not want to be part of the generality
Unless a key has been set on a private or secret channel you can join it as long
as you know the name.
To set a channel mode use the command
/mode <channel> +l 20
To remove a channel mode use the command
/mode <channel> -l
There are three modes that are kind of hybrid, meaning they are user modes that
apply only in a particular channel.
Like the regular channel modes, these hybrid modes can only be used by channel
Mode "+v" controls the voicing and unvoicing of a user. If the channel
is moderated (see the previous chapter) then the user can speak. It does not affect
anything if the channel is not moderated. Some channels use the voice flag as
a temporary rank on the way to becoming a channel operator.
Mode "+o" bestow channel operator rights upon the lucky individual.
The new operator can now participate in the channel management.
Mode "+b" is something that you do not want given to you. It's a banishment
from the channel :-( The server maintains a list of banned addresses for each
channel and will entirely prevent you from joining a channel if you have been
The ban flag takes a second parameter which is the address of the offender, using
* for wildcard:
/mode <channel> +b *!*@*.lamers.org
will ban anyone that has an address in the lamers.org domain from joining the
channel. The part before the exclamation point is the username, and the remaining
part is the userhost.
If you are interested in seeing the ban list for a channel you can open the channel
settings dialog. This dialog also allows you to edit, add and delete bans for
a channel (provided you are a channel operator).
The mode command allows several mode flags to be concatenated like this:
/mode <channel> +lo 22 charlie
This does two things in one command. First it sets the channel limit to 22 and
then it gives channel operator status to charlie.
This command was described in the chapter on connecting to a server.