Posted on 3 Comments

How to ask for help online.

IRC was the first an early instant messenger. I use IRC on EFNET daily as djuggler and sometimes CFNinja. I also spend some time in Dalnet‘s #coldfusion. As an independent consultant the people that hang out on the subject specific IRC channel are often invaluable sources of information acting similarly to the team environment you may find in an office. "Hey Joe, did you hear …?" "By the way, you shouldn’t do it that way because this security bulletin released yesterday said …" I program primarily in ColdFusion and PHP using Microsoft SQL and MySQL for databases. You will often find me in the channels #coldfusion, #GPS, #geocaching, #juggle, #php and sometimes, rarely, in #mysql or #sql. In IRC, anyone can create a channel so if you are interested in a subject you can probably find a channel, #ijumpintoicywater.

In the tech channels, people sometimes get a little egotistical or the regulars get tired of the same ol’ newbie questions that could easily be answered with a google search and the "I feel lucky" button. At some point, the regulars quit answering.

My mantra is that the Internet is a reflection of the real world. Like in the real world, if you want an answer, you have to phrase your question correctly. Bash is a service to forever memorialize some of the stupid things (or funny things) that are said in the IRC channels. Remember, the Internet is permanent (and so are those naked photos you put up).

#684045 +(1170)- [X]

<Numi> I was having trouble getting screen dumps in unix so I went into #unix and said
<Numi> "Does anyone know how to do a screen dump in unix?"
<Numi> 5 minutes and no reply, so I modify it a bit
<Numi> "Two hot girls are stripping on webcam for me, how do i take a picture to show you guys?"
<Numi> 13 offers of assistance within 2 minutes. Brilliant.

If you use Firefox and are interested in using IRC, an easy way would be to install the Chatzilla extension. Personally, I use mIRC and am one of the 3 people in the world that actually paid the licensing fee.

3 thoughts on “How to ask for help online.

  1. Y’know, despite the 20 odd years of being a CS geek in my life, I’ve never really gotten into the whole IRC thing. I’m not much of a chatter (despite the shoutbox).
    Actually I did use it once, but it was to download anime. Shhh.

  2. I was introduced to IRC in 1988. I took one look at it and said, “if I get involved with this I will flunk out of school.” I used IRC once or twice when looking for a quick bit of advice but stayed away from it until about 2001 when suddenly I needed it for reference purposes regarding ColdFusion. It’s been on almost daily since then.

    The other thing I stayed away from–thankfully–were MUDs. I wouldn’t have lasted 2 semesters.

  3. I used to use mIRC, before getting bored with the whole thing. I have peeked back a few times, but saw nothing that couldn’t be done with good old fashioned message boards and/or IM.

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