[tor-project] IRC for Complete Beginners (to send to friends who want to volunteer for Tor)

Kate Krauss ailanthus at riseup.net
Wed Mar 20 20:43:22 UTC 2019

Hi all,

I recently decided to rejoin IRC, and it was complicated and glitchy. It
took weeks of troubleshooting and a manual re-set from pastly, who was
working with someone at OFTC. Many thanks to phoul and pastly for their
kindness and help. I know that it takes one minute or less for a very
experienced person to start and troubleshoot a new account on IRC, and I
am not that person. 

I have written a short guide for people who have never used--and maybe
never heard of--IRC before. You can forward this email (or whatever
final version is developed) to friends who want to volunteer for Tor but
are daunted by IRC. The persona I'm focusing on:

**A person who has not used IRC before and may or may not be
technical.** (I’m starting with English, but other languages are needed
as well.)

The goal is to get new people up and running, talking on IRC to Tor
people, in real time, with as little frustration as possible. 
There are also cultural aspects to IRC that require explanation to
prevent frustration, so below I have linked to a couple websites that
can help. Moving people from webchat to a special client is a project
for another time. 

Please send your input, focused on this hapless individual who has never
used IRC before but wants to help Tor. I wonder if there are better docs
on IRC culture? Apologies in advance for anything that is annoyingly
inaccurate. Can fix! 





Tor staff and community members communicate using IRC (Internet Relay
Chat) to do their daily work. IRC is a group chat platform a bit like
Slack, but it is open source and non-commercial. Here is the simplest
possible guide for getting onto IRC and starting to chat with Tor people
in real time.

1. Click this link: https://webchat.oftc.net/

2. Fill in the blanks:

NICKNAME: Anything you want, but choose the same nickname every time you
use IRC to talk to people on Tor. If your nickname is already being
used, you will get a message from the system and you should choose
another one.


3. Click Enter, and you will enter the biggest Tor channel, #tor, which
is essentially a chatroom. The #tor channel is like a big train station.
It usually includes Tor developers, founders, and other community
members. There are some random people in #tor as well. Feel free to

You can ask questions here, and people may be able to answer right away,
or there may be a bit of a delay. If you want to talk to someone
specific, start your comment with their nickname (if you know it) and
they will typically get a notification that someone is trying to contact

Sample questions: “This is my first time ever on IRC. Who can I talk to
about doing translations for Tor?”


“ailanthus: Who can I talk to at Tor about volunteering for UX?”

Tor also uses another channel, #tor-project, for discussions and to
coordinate work. Your nick (nickname) must be registered to join this
channel. You can follow instructions for registering your nick using the
IRC cheat sheet linked below. If you get stuck, you can ask for help in
the #tor channel.

To switch channels, type: 
/join #nameofchatroom
then hit Enter

IRC has been around for decades, and has its own culture. 
Here are some tips for navigating IRC:

An IRC cheatsheet
(includes instructions for registering your nickname)

More on IRC: https://www.drupal.org/irc/usage

Good luck! My nickname is ailanthus and I’m often on IRC. Come say hi!

*Tor also maintains an email list for its Community Team, which includes
volunteers. To join this email list, start here:


Kate Krauss
Twitter: @aidspol

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