IRC Networks - The Big Four

The major IRC networks


[Last revision: 09 Dec 2001]

Index of server lists

All major networks are suffering from severe and often coordinated attacks from individuals and groups who evidently like to saw off the branch they’re sitting on. This situation has led to stricter, sometimes even draconian abuse control and access policies on behalf of the networks’ administration. Being on these networks is hardly fun these days, but they remain the most popular places to chat, exchange files, etc.

EFnet

Servers: ~40
Locations: Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, UK, USA
Max users: >78,000
Max channels: >29,000
Services: None except pseudo-chanserv

Formerly the prime IRC network and for a long time synonymous with IRC, EFnet is now sustained by its administration more than its users. EFnet stands for Eris-Free net, due to a historical event involving a server with a machine name of ‘eris’. Following the July ‘96 seperation of what is now IRCnet, the userbase is primarily North American. Connecting to EFnet can be a problem, as the servers’ access policies have become a lot stricter due to abuse problems that continue to threaten the network’s existence. Note that EFnet and IRCnet both do not support any services such as channel or nickname registration.
Server list

Undernet

Servers: ~40
Locations: Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK, USA
Max users: >87,000
Max channels: >35,000
Services: Channel (X, W)

Law and order are said to prevail here, but of course that’s not likely with that many users and a minimal number of operators to keep abusers in check. The channel service requires certain conditions before registering a channel. Policy and application form are available from the web site. Support for its services via WWW and FTP is extensive. This is a stable and highly organized network which has pioneered features now commonplace on other networks.
Note: After a 2 month hiatus, services have been restored as the network finally recovers from a series of denial of service attacks.
Server list.

IRCnet

Servers: >120
Locations: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, USA
Max users: >106,000
Max channels: >45,000
Services: None

Originally a product of the July 1996 division of EFnet, IRCnet has outgrown itself to an unexpected point. This network lays claim to the historical privilege of being the original IRC network. This is supported by the fact that the core of early IRC, including the Finnish site where IRC was first used, are now part of it. Administration and operation are also done in a much more traditional manner than on other networks. Many of the most popular channels here are “national” channels, devoted to the social gathering of nationals of a variety of mainly European countries and regions. This is also the only network with a strong Japanese presence.
IRCnet is plagued by the activities of organized gangs of hooligans harassing users and channels with practical immunity. If you’re a new user, you don’t want to go there. Seriously. On the other hand, you don’t really want to go to any of the other major networks either, with the possible exception of DALnet.
Server list.

DALnet

Servers: ~30
Locations: Canada, Germany, Norway, Sweden, UK, USA
Max users: >106,000
Max channels: >39,000
Services: Nickname (NickServ), channel (ChanServ), memo (MemoServ)

Originally created by users of EFnet’s #startrek, it has long since outgrown that to become one of the major networks on the IRC map. It owes much of its popularity to easy registration of nicknames and channels. People with strong proprietary feelings about names and those who lack the numbers or resources to support a channel on one of the other networks more often than not end up here. Because of these services and a no-nonsense attitude taken by the admins to curb abuse, DALnet is often a good choice for people new to IRC. Unfortunately, certain ISPs with many new users happen to be banned as part of that plan to curb abuse.

DALnet has been under sustained denial of service attacks for several months now. If you have trouble connecting, just keep trying the different servers in their list below.
Server list.

Latest Big Network Statistics [ext. link]

This is an external link to the netsplit.de multi-network IRC statistics site. These figures are automatically updated several times a day, and are thus current but can sometimes be incomplete or inaccurate if there are temporary problems that prevented the proper acquisition of data.



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