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#53922 - 12/10/03 12:28 PM Question about IRC and it's future
mistajon Offline
Nutrimatic drinks dispenser

Registered: 14/09/03
Posts: 5
Loc: Australia
Howdy everyone.

I have a good question. Why has IRC stayed the same for years and years, IE the way it works, its design etc.

I guess you will probably say its perfect as it is? Anyway, would like to hear your feedback about this subject.

How do you see IRC changing in the near future, do you think someone will update its structure, i'm not talking about just the "client" to use IRC.


-+ techtavern forums +-

#53923 - 12/10/03 01:17 PM Re: Question about IRC and it's future
Mentality Offline
Planetary brain

Registered: 01/06/03
Posts: 5024
Loc: London, England
Well, the IRC format has to follow a certain protocol...it has to. And really, as you say, it doesn't need to be changed because it's pretty much perfect - I mean, I'm sure people could point out some boring little thing that nobody cares about (they usually do), but on the whole it's perfect. The whole point of the actual IRC engine is to let users send messages to one another, and be able to receive messages from other users, be it a human, bot or machine (i.e. a server). Also, it's job is to display somewhere the nicknames that are in the channel and various other things that it all fulfills.

Rarely, people take any actual notice of this. In fact, what has changed so rapidly and massively is the clients that run IRC, mIRC being a prime example - and they do need to advance further, because they certainly aren't perfect and people notice them more. In fact, because of the popularity of mIRC, you'll notice even on these boards that some people don't realise that you're connecting to "IRC" - they think you're connecting to "mIRC".

The future? Hmm, I don't think the structure will change, or if it does, it won't be anything dramatic. I am worried about the problem of DDoS attacks that are making ISP's and businesses think twice (or thrice) before even considering donating a server to a network - especially as really, they gain nothing from it except a small bit of advertising. On the other hand, I see the IRC world fighting against these - I believe new procedures and technologies will provide a better way to fight against DDoS attacks and prevent them. Unfortunately, like most things on the Internet, as soon as we find a fix for it, they'll find a new way to abuse, and a lot of the time it's even worse than the last. It's a never-ending cycle. Or at least it is until ISP's (AOL being an example) and even Governments wake up and realise the seriousness of the situation. Hopefully, once they've had a few years of their defense systems going down every month, they'll start to realise and take reports of infected hosts more seriously. Which brings me on to another point - nowadays, anyone can get a computer. I know a 6 year old girl with a computer with broadband Internet and she is let to roam free on it. A message could flash up saying "YOU HAVE A VIRUS" and she would just close the window and continue heh. Until Internet users as a whole wake up and smell the coffee, and start to actually take precautions to stop viruses, infected machines will not completely wipe out - even with the effors of ISP's. However, it seems no matter how much the IRC community tries to prevent viruses from being spread, and how infected users can clean and protect themselves, people just don't seem to get the message. I assume this is because of two reasons:

1) Most of the messages that are sent to warn people about viruses and to warn them not to download files off of strangers or visit websites, are released in official notices by companies or IRC networks and therefore, written in perfect English. Many people won't be able to understand the words in it, and will probably get half way through reading it and think, "bah, this is boring I can't be bothered to work out what it says."

2) They simply don't care.

The latter is probably the more common. Because many viruses, particularly IRC-related ones don't actually do any noticeable damage to your computer, people don't care. They may run background processes which mean your machine is sending things like GTbots to networks, but what do they care? They don't notice it. They might be spamming infected websites which contain more serious viruses to other users...but hey, it doesn't affect them!

This is the sort of behaviour that's going to cause problems, and I don't see it clearing up in the near future.

However, people do keep ranting on about the end of IRC, the end of mIRC and all that. To be honest, I think it's a possibility - but a very small one. There's always a possibility of most things...a bomb could drop on my house as soon as I submit this post, but it's not going to :P - Sure, if all servers decide to delink because of the aforementioned reasons, then it's a possibility. But the thing is, many of the server admins of networks, and network admins themselves, either own their own hosting companies or have friends that do, so they can always provide servers. DALnet is a prime example...it had quite a few servers linked quickly, some might call them "emergency" servers but that's not quite correct.
Anyway, I'm digressing, that's not even happened yet so let's not go there heh. I, in all seriousness, do not think that IRC Is going to end, nor do I think Khaled or Krejt or anyone else involved in the making, testing and contributing of mIRC are suddenly going to pack up and leave.

IRC cannot simply end. 500,000 people, on average, are using the biggest networks at any one time. (Actually, at the time of typing, it's 548,086). I'd knock off about 100,000 to take into account bots, particularly in the case of QuakeNet (because they allow so many clones - 4 connections from one host) and EFnet (because they still allow warez mad). So, 400,000 on the top 5 networks alone. I don't think it can simply end that easily. Either it would slowly, but surely, be started up again, or, a new (perhaps better?) way to chat would be thought up. I am however, confident that IRC will live to see it's 20th anniversary smile

These are points I've brought up on various Forums (Remember IRCForums?) and I'm sure there are plenty of more people that want to say something that I've not mentioned above (probably cause I've had 6 hours sleep and can't be bothered *G*). I think I'll stop aimlessly droning on now heh.

Just my 2 (or 10) pennies worth smile


#53924 - 12/10/03 01:18 PM Re: Question about IRC and it's future
Mentality Offline
Planetary brain

Registered: 01/06/03
Posts: 5024
Loc: London, England
For any of you that were worried, no, a bomb did not drop on my house *grin*


#53925 - 12/10/03 04:52 PM Re: Question about IRC and it's future
CloCkWeRX Offline
Fjord artisan

Registered: 18/02/03
Posts: 309
Loc: Adelaide, Australia
IRC has existed for ages, and it will for ages more - there's something you just can't replace about it.
Lord knows people have tried - for instance the introduction of IM software. We've seen internal ways of doing the messagin,m which has led to 'i don't use MSN, so I can't message you'.
Then we saw trillian step in to reunite all of the major protocols, whcih was a good step - but this IM craze is evil in my opinion.

The fact that microsoft shut down chat servers so that you can't meet strangers is something whcih makes me kinda sick. Theres nothing better than talking to someone half a world a way - but moves like that are trying to force us to talk to people we already know.
I don't like talking absolute crap to people that will remember me for it and talk to me the next time i see them in the flesh.

WE've seen HTTP and XML models of client and server communication start to take off - i personally like it, the idea of web services rather than web pages.
I myself am trying new and experimental things, like an RSS (Really simple syndication) client and server for mirc - RSS was made for websites to trade news around, whereas this would be aimed at IRC - whats the most talkative channel, etc etc.

HTTP was a good stepping stone for XML services, we just need to find new applications for IRC protocol - innovation will come from the chat server developers if from anywhere at all.

The mirc developers are the other big innovators, I believe it was mirc that started the idea of DCC, which is now a well established and effective method of file/chat commmunication.

The mirc scripters play a small but effective role in the shape of IRC - we now see lots of spam bots, but we also see anti spam tools, and a high degree of automation. Scripts are something which are unique(ok not really) to mirc compared to many other protocol clients - MSNscript isn't something I'd care to tangle with.

The reason we don't see much innovation is because mirc is closed source - the development team can't stick in every good idea, tehy don't have the time. An opensource community might be able to service it better, but you'd also start getting diversification - lord knows its bad enough with scripts as it is now - no communication, no coding practices, no anything.

I think that the future lies in developing other services which use IRC as a middleman... what these may be we'll never know.
Adding com support to mirc was a great step imho, opening up prewritten code to developers in a great way.
If we saw this support fully completed, we'd see an amazing rise in what we use IRC for i think.

Also, we need more scripters who aren't 14 and barely can spell. Ones that are actual programmers that can carry good habits back to mirc scripting. I know there are practically NO php + mirc integrations about, but imagine the potential...
One simple idea is a profile management system - you fill out your user information, and have a standard blog style site. In addition, you have a mirc script which simply returns a url for a basic CTCP request, then a small client that lets you read it online.
One of the limiting factors in IRC server development is that not many people buy the stupid software, and if they do its exspensive.
It costs a lot in terms of netwrok traffic routing everything through a central server - we need to start escaping the bindings of this network model.
You can maybe register a nickname and read some short messages on most networks today.
Some have news feeds.
Why do they need this? Its really all very primitive, when they could externalize alot of these services.

Also I think we need to see some kind of unification between all of the larger networks - use of common EXTERNAL services would be one i would lvoe to see.

There's more in my head but I'm sleepy

#53926 - 12/10/03 05:26 PM Re: Question about IRC and it's future
Raccoon Offline
Hoopy frood

Registered: 18/02/03
Posts: 2594
The only thing I see changing about IRC are the trends of those who use it.

IRC has always been considered a somewhat underground form of communication, with no TOS agreement to abide by and is more-or-less anonymous. This being so, it usually attracts people looking for something that's less than socially accepted, but it also attracts slightly more capable and intelligent users compared to other online "chats".

"Hacking, Phreaking, Warez, Cracking, Anarchy and Porn" and everything inbetween can be found on IRC... but today that trend has focused mainly on WaReZ (MP3s, Movies, etc) considering the top 50 channels are warez related. Some might blame this on mIRC's built in DCC/ FServ features which make sending files easy, but if mIRC didn't facilitate this some other program would have.

Who's to say where IRC will lead us though. Some have speculated that if webcam support were added that IRC's top 50 channels would be adult related. Perhaps if voicechat support were added, Keroaki channels would be the hot topic. Who knows.

As long as I can join #electronics or #math and get reasonably intelligent answers to my questions on a whim. smirk

- Raccoon
Well. At least I won lunch.
Good philosophy, see good in bad, I like!

#53927 - 14/10/03 01:35 PM Re: Question about IRC and it's future
Muun Offline
Nutrimatic drinks dispenser

Registered: 06/01/03
Posts: 6
IRC will probably have adapt to I2 when it arrives... wink

OT - but as for how mIRC changes, I actually hope *nothing* will change in its current look, layout, etc... *especially* that mIRC never gets the horrific, vomit-inducing "winbloze xp gui look" tumor that many applications started developing in their new versions, after MS spewed xp out... smile

#53928 - 20/10/03 04:41 PM Re: Question about IRC and it's future
vague Offline
Ameglian cow

Registered: 18/12/02
Posts: 39
Loc: Sweden
IRC certainly isn't changing, but to conclude that this is because it's perfect? I think that it's a lousy protocol, concieved by someone who didn't know enough at the time (internet was very, very different back then), and who certainly didn't design for networks with 1000s of users. IRC hasn't changed mainly because there isn't anyone around who could change it in any way that would be widely supported. That's it as far as I'm concerned.