IRC File Trading: “Geek-centric way to get free stuff”?

by Jolo@EFnet with help from many others, updated May 25, 2005

IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat; it was designed to allow people to chat with each other in real time. Think of it as the granddaddy of IM and those AOL or web “chat rooms.” mIRC for Windows is the most popular IRC program.

IRC also has some very simple file sending abilities, intended originally for people to send each other a picture or small text file, etc. Recently, experienced IRC users have turned that into an illegal way to trade songs, movies, games, etc., but note that word: experienced. Unlike other peer-to- peer (P2P) file sharing protocols, IRC was never intended for widespread file trading, so it has no official, centralized list of files and no standard commands for trading files. That’s why some call IRC the “geek-centric way to get free stuff,” which is a polite way of saying file trading is not suitable for new users.

So how do all those 100000s of geeks do it anyway? If you seriously want to know, read on….

Whatever you do, please don’t go around randomly asking strangers for files or typing “!list” or “@find”. Also, keep in mind that people on IRC help channels are volunteers who are there to answer legitimate IRC questions, not to become your accomplice in crime. If you ignore this advice, you’ll find only ridicule or trouble.