D. Finding users for your channel - TalkIRC Blog

D. Finding users for your channel

11382 | 12.01.2024 | IRCGuide

So, you have your newly set up channel, all ready for “customers.” You know how to handle the unruly types. Now what do you do to get people to come to your channel? We saved this for last because it is the least technical, but in many ways it is also the most important, because how else are you going to grow your new channel?

Of the millions of channels out there, about half are public channels, most of which want users to join in and chat. You can see the server’s statistics of numbers of users, servers, channels, and IRC Operators when you connect to a server or try /lusers.

A lot depends on what you want to do with your channel. As we said early on, if you started it to chat with only a few friends in private, set the channel to +s, then /invite the people you want to your new channel. Or you can put their nicks on /notify if they are not on line at the moment, and invite them when the server lets you know they are on. Once you are done chatting, you can just let the channel disappear as the last person leaves. If nobody else knows about it, and the first person to re-create it sets the modes +s again as soon as they restart it, you should be fairly safe and would not need a bot or 24/7 client to protect it. And if someone else happens to start the channel who isn’t one of your friends, then don’t start a fight over it - just start a different channel and let your pals know about the change.

If your goal is to have a public chat channel, you should realize that it takes a lot of work and time to build up to that. The most popular channels probably take a team of 10 or more trusted friends working together closely for months or even years! So how do you get started? Most people spend time chatting in existing large channels to learn what kinds of problems their ops have to deal with, e.g., flooders, trojan file senders, abusive users, advertisers, etc. As you gain experience and become friends with the people there, they eventually may invite you to become an op. Be patient, it could take weeks, months, or even longer! Never beg for ops, that’s a sure sign of a newbie and you’ll just get yourself kicked. After you become an op there, you and some of the other ops and users might one day want to get together and start a new channel. Those friends will not only help share the responsibility of ops and help keep the channel running smoothly, but they will also be there to chat with new users who join your channel.

Many people are impatient and skip the step of gaining experience as an op in big channels and jump right to starting a new channel once they make some friends, but typically they don’t have what it takes to keep that new channel going smoothly, and soon the channel falls apart from poor organization or gets taken over by hostile outsiders.

So, what should you NOT do? We like to start with this, because it’s actually more important.

Do not “mass invite”, the act of inviting many people in many channels to join your channel, or automatically message users joining another channel to come to yours instead. Not only is it rude and annoying, but advertising of anything at all on IRC is highly discouraged. The IRCops will /kill (disconnect) or /kline (ban from the server) users who insist on mass messaging. Repeat offenders may be reported to their ISP for abuse. Ops in a channel don’t like people trying to steal their users. Think how you would feel if someone were to come to your party and try to get all your guests to leave and go to thier house! The people who usually respond to a mass invite are often troublemakers who come just to take over your channel.

So how do you get people to join your channel?

It takes patience and time. Use your website to advertise your channel and interests. You can put the channelname in your IRCNAME. for mIRC, it’s called the “fullname” and shows up on a /whois or a /who, in the (parentheses). In your new channel, put up a topic that will encourage people to join. Use some imagination - every channel is about “fun chat”, so you need to have a channel name and topic that sets you apart from the countless other channels. Don’t offer ops to anybody who joins, that’s like handing the keys to your new car to random passers-by just to make friends. The only thing that accomplishes is getting your channel/car stolen. Don’t use false advertising, nobody likes being fooled, and they just won’t stay.

It may take time for users to find and read the topic, and then decide to try your channel. You can invite individual people you have met and liked in other channels to your channel with /invite nickname #yourchannelname. Be selective. Invite only those you think would be compatible with you and your channel “family.” It’s easier to avoid inviting problem users than getting them out of your channel later. Most channel takeovers are by people who have been kicked from a channel and want revenge. Some people are just looking for an excuse to pick a fight.

Once your channel gets larger, more people will join. Users often look for a channel with at least 20, 50, or more users. Putting up bots or clones of yourself to make your channel look bigger does not help. You are likely to get K-lined for running the clones, and if people come and see there’s really nobody to talk to, they won’t come back.

There are “tides” to channels, too. Some channels have several completely different groups of people who are active at different times, depending on their time zones and work/school/sleep schedules. IRC is open round the clock with people from all over the world. Having real live people in the channel helps make a channel grow and helps take care of abusers who like to flood ‘sleeping’ channels. Keep this in mind when selecting ops so that some regulars are always available 24/7.

Some channels use an “autogreet”, a /notice sent to users when they join, to welcome people and convey channel rules. Keep it in a single /notice command and keep it short. Avoid repeating it in the channel which annoys people already there or using /msg which might open a new window and annoy people much like an unwanted popup ad in a website. Skip the annoying color, bold, underline, inverse, etc. - IRC is about chatting, not ridiculous text art.

A special note to people who are planning an IRC channel to support a group, business, or some other important venture. Please, do not build an entire little empire around a new or even non-existent channel! We’ve often seen cases where people lost their brand new channels from the usual newbie mistakes. We then find out the user had registered a domain name, built web pages, and made other commitments all based on this channel, which is now under the control of some uncooperative teenager in a foreign country. Remember, IRC is a very dynamic medium, you never know when a channel/server/network might just cease to exist. If you need a channel, make sure it is already stable and well supported before making plans surrounding it.