From W3C Wiki

This public wiki was started in November 2013 as part of an AB objective to Encourage meeting participation.

This wiki complements the Guidebook section on IRC, and serves as a beginner's introduction to IRC for W3C Meetings.

Brief overview for using IRC at W3C

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is perhaps the most important tool used at W3C. Typically, everyone in a meeting is logged into the IRC channel for that meeting -- whether they are in a face-to-face meeting or virtual.

These pages seek to give participants a basic understanding of how to use IRC at W3C.


  • IRC = "Internet Relay Chat", a form of group chat
  • Each participant chooses when he or she enters and leaves the chat room (also known as a "channel")
  • Everyone sees, and can respond to, what anyone in the room types
  • Minutes of almost all W3C meetings are written ('scribed') in IRC during the meeting
  • Meeting participants can watch the notes being written during the meeting, adding to them, or clarifying statements. (One can also help be the scribe!)

How to log in

  • This image shows how to access IRC via a browser connecting to the W3C IRC server.
  • There is also IRC software available for most platforms and other IRC servers.

  1. Put your name (might be your full name, or a nickname such as 'AnnB', as shown). If more than one word, you must use a hyphen or underline instead of space (example: Ann_Bean).
  2. Put the chat channel (or 'room') you want to enter (in this example = #ac). Channel names start with # character.
  3. Put a space, then the password, if there is one (in this example 'mita' is the password). If there is no password, you only type the channel name, with nothing following.
  4. Click "Connect"

  • You should now be 'in the room'. (See the arrow indicating where IRC says AnnB joined the room.) The list of names on the right shows all the people in the room. (Also see the arrow indicating AnnB among the list of people 'in the room', on the right.)
  • When a participant says or does something, his or her name appears in brackets, followed by what was said or done. In this example, 'ivan' and 'olivier' have said things. 'AnnB', 'manyoung' and 'kazu' have entered the room.

If that doesn't work, leave the channel field empty, and use "/join #ac mita" in the input field of the window after connecting.

How to say something

  • To post a comment in the chat room, put your cursor in the blank area at the bottom of the screen, and type. In this example, I am about to say "... the goal is to give a succinct overview to a situation and proposal".
  • When you push the 'Enter' button, your comment will be posted into the chat room. You can edit or delete your comment before you 'Enter'.
  • You may also enter a URL, which will show up as a link in the chat room.

How to change something you said, after it has been posted

  • For example, AnnB posted "this is a demo posting"

  • Then she decided it was more accurate to say, "this is a test post"
  • The format of the command to change the entry is s/<old text>/<new text>/
  • Note: one does not see the change in the chat room, in the 'raw' chat log. The text will be corrected in the "cleaned-up" web version of the minutes.

  • Next, because this was only an example posting, AnnB wanted to delete the text totally
  • The format of the command to delete an entry is s/<text to be deleted>//
  • Again, the change does not appear in the 'raw' chat log, but will be corrected in the "cleaned-up" web version of the minutes.

How to join more than one room

  • You can be in more than one chat room at a time. See the next example...

  • At the bottom of the chat window you are in, type the command: /join #name-of-new-room
  • In this example, I am in the room #ac, and am asking to join the additional room called "ac-chat".

  • Using the W3C tool in a browser, each room shows up as a different 'tab', as indicated.
  • Click the tabs to move back and forth between rooms. In this example, I am in both the #ac and #ac-chat rooms, and I am reading what's going on in #ac.
  • TIP: in many W3C meetings, there is one room for the meeting minutes and discussion, and a separate room for 'social' chatter. In this case, the name of the social room is "#ac-chat". This is where people make jokes, side comments and ask questions that are unrelated to the formal discussion going on in the meeting. The names of the rooms are announced during each meeting.

Putting yourself in the speaking queue

The W3C IRC system uses its own software robot, named 'Zakim', to manage the speakers' queue. This is very helpful during a meeting, to know whose turn it is to speak. (Zakim has other capabilities as well.)

  1. To put yourself in the speakers' queue, type: q+ (In the #1 example shown, the user named 'jerenkrantz' has just put himself into the queue. ) Zakim responds by listing out the current queue. (In this example, 'jerenkrantz' is the only person in the queue.)
  2. When you put yourself in the queue, you can also type a reminder to yourself about what you want to say, by typing: q+ to say <what you want to say> In the #2 example shown, 'MikeSmith' puts himself in the queue, reminding himself he wants to ask about the logistics of the group.
  3. One can check to see who is in the queue by typing: q? In the third example, 'dom' checks the queue and Zakim responds that 'jerenkrantz' and 'MikeSmith' are in the queue, in that sequence.

Removing yourself from the speaking queue

Occasionally one decides that he or she wants to drop off the speaking queue.

  1. In this example, "AnnB" is in the queue, as is "chaals"
  2. She decides she no longer wants to speak, thus types: q- which removes her from the queue.
  3. Zakim (the IRC software robot) responds, showing that the only person remaining in the queue is now 'chaals'.

Out of band or off the record comments

W3C house style is to use what irc calls "action" messages to denote out-of-band or off-the-record comments. Most IRC clients have a command called /me that generates this type of message. Clients generally display these messages in a different style from normal messages. For example, the irc command "/me waves" might result in the discussion window showing the text "* AnnB waves". The RRSAgent logging tool should be present on the channel as well; the function of RRSAgent is to save the irc chat log into the web. RRSAgent excludes /me messages from the Web log and minutes.

When IRC is used to keep meeting minutes it is important to distinguish what was actually said in the meeting from side conversations that were not heard by all (i.e., on a teleconference). We encourage the use of square brackets around messages that are intended to be side comments for the log; e.g. "[AnnB agrees]".


IRC is a very important tool for participating in and keeping records of W3C meetings, as well as in the social community. Please join in!

For the history of irc itself, see the Wikipedia page.

Software is an installation of qwebirc which is maintained as open source on GitHub:

See Also