Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a client/server based chat system that has been used for a long time on the internet. There are different IRC networks, Quakenet or Freenode are examples. These networks have many servers (like irc.freenode.net and chat.freenode.net) but within one network, the server you choose doesn't make a big difference (servers next to you are faster of course, but all servers offer access to all channels of the network).
Once connected to a server, you can join one or more channels and chat or send IRC commands (like setting your nick name) on the server.
As mentioned above, IRC is client/server based, so guess what: you need an IRC client to connect to a server.
Choosing an IRC client
There are hundreds of IRC clients and I sure as hell won't list or discuss all of them here. I am using
Connecting to a server and joining a channel
To join a channel, you'll need to know the network, a server of that network and the channel name. You can always find server names on the website of the network and as mentioned above, which server you choose doesn't really matter. IRC channel names always start with the '#' character. So if you're told to join #test on freenode, start your IRC client and enter the following data in the connection menu:
Note: The information above is sometimes written like this: irc://chat.freenode.net/test.
That's it. If your client doesn't allow you to specify the channel when you connect, join the channel manually by typing the following IRC command in the server chat/command window:
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