The freenode network ( has "chat rooms" dedicated to Wikipedia 24 hours a day, in which Wikipedians can engage in real-time discussions with each other. Many Wikipedians have chatting open in one window and hop back and forth between it and other windows in which they are working on Wikipedia. The chat rooms most relevant to English Wikipedia are listed below; a more complete list of channels (for other language Wikipedias, other languages, and recent changes feeds) exists at m:IRC/Channels.

"Chat room" is another name for an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel. IRC chat takes place on a network of servers, the network that hosts the Wikimedia channels is known as freenode. To participate in the chat, you need a type of program or plug-in called an IRC client. Popular clients include mIRC (Windows), Colloquy (Mac OS X), ChatZilla (Firefox), irssi (cross-platform), and XChat (cross-platform). There are also scripts available to enhance your IRC client, and Java-based chat clients that work in most web browsers if you are travelling or do not wish to install separate software.

Use and anonymity on IRC are covered in more detail below. Note that IRC needs more care to maintain anonymity than Wikipedia editing does.


Wikipedia IRC is not owned or controlled by Wikipedia/Wikimedia. It is a project run by volunteers of their own accord. The Wikipedia channels on freenode were designed by users of wikipedia as places for Wikipedians to chat using IRC. They are casual and not logged publicly. As far as their influence on Wikipedia goes, IRC is equivalent to a conversation in a pub – the discussion may be conducted between a small number of people but may be overheard by hundreds, or more if the logs are published.

When the channels are used to attack Wikipedians, or when IRC discussions are cited as justification for an on-wiki action, the resulting atmosphere is very damaging to the project's collaborative relationships.

Freenode IRC is referenced directly in Wikimedia's standard error message for server outages:

Our servers are currently experiencing a technical problem. This is probably temporary and should be fixed soon. Please try again in a few minutes.

You may be able to get further information in the #wikipedia channel on the freenode IRC network.

The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organisation which hosts some of the most popular sites on the Internet, including Wikipedia. It has a constant need to purchase new hardware. If you would like to help, please donate.

If you report this error to the Wikimedia System Administrators, please include the details below...

IRC tutorial and host masking


Anonymity and masking


As on Wikipedia itself, you can use IRC with a name that hides your IP, and allows you to remember your preferred settings. If you have any special access rights to any channel, those will be remembered under your name too. On IRC these are two separate matters – registering a nickname is quick and easy (like on Wikipedia itself), and that name is then password protected for your own use, and cloaking is the request to have the account configured to hide its IP from other users. These matters are all covered in the IRC tutorial.

To request that your IRC account be cloaked, go here to request an IRC cloak. Group Contacts then process these by hand. This step is optional, but a good idea.

The following are the requirements necessary to obtain a cloak:

  • Must have a verified e-mail address
  • Must have at least 250 edits on Wikimedia projects (such as Wikipedia)
  • Must have a Wikimedia project (such as Wikipedia) account registered for at least three months

Note that anonymity is maintained with more difficulty on IRC than on Wikipedia. Without a hostmask, your IP address will be visible, and indexed on some Internet websites. Even with a hostmask, your IP address is at risk to be revealed due to the nature of the IRC protocol (due to the effects of a "ghost" session). If you are concerned about your anonymity, you may wish to consult with someone familiar with IRC, some of them are listed here

Another straight-forward way of guaranteeing anonymity on IRC (and elsewhere) is to subscribe with a VPN service provider. This will re-route all your internet traffic and effectively replace your IP address with the service provider's.

Most people needing live help editing Wikipedia can access IRC easily using this freenode webchat link: (for example). Web-based IRC is a good choice for first-time IRC users, for portable use, and for those who cannot, or prefer not to, install separate software:

The usual way to access IRC is via an IRC client. These are more full-featured and make it easy to watch multiple chats at a time. Scripts to enhance IRC clients are available online at Wikipedia:Scripts. From the long list Comparison of Internet Relay Chat clients, some notable clients include:

  • Windows, Mac and Linux / *nix
  • A Jabber/XMPP chat room is available at if you are not an IRC user.
  • Wikivoices runs a Skype text chat room (members in here often also host voice chats) for established members of Wikipedia. Add thedurova, the channel contact, to your contacts list and request addition to the chat room. The interface is a simplistic version of IRC. Note: The last 'cast was in late 2009, posted March 2010, and the article link to Skype public chat is down.

IRC Error: Unable to join channel (invite only)


This error occurs when you attempt to join a non-public channel (see non-public channels, below). If you know that you have access to a non-public channel and you still receive this error, the simplest fix is to ask ChanServ for an invite (see /msg ChanServ help invite for more info). If you have a cloak, you can ask a channel op to add an invex (+I) on your cloak so that you do not need to ask ChanServ for invites each time you need to join the channel.

If, however, you know you both have access to the non-public channel and you know that you have an invex (+I) on your cloak for that channel, your client might be automatically joining the channel before authenticating. Double check to make sure your client is set up according to freenode's recommended way of setting up your client and nickname so that you can be certain that your client authenticates as you connect.

Once you are connected to the freenode IRC network, you can choose which public channels you join and which chats you engage in. If you are authorized to join non-public channels then you can take part in those too. Consider also requesting a cloak if your anonymity is important.

In general on IRC, each channel operates autonomously and each has its own norms and policies - these may cover conduct (including civility, appropriate topics, and language), on/off-topic chat, who may join, and who may be asked to leave. Each channel is autonomous and in general there is no appeal from a decision by the operators of that channel to an outside body (which may have any or no reason), so it is worth checking the channel norms and rules before accidentally making a mistake of conduct. That said, in general most channels used by Wikimedia communities are friendly and do have people you can contact in case of problems. (See problems and help below.)

Once connected, some users stay logged-in to the chatrooms whenever they are on Wikipedia, and check in on the discussions from time to time, to read what is been accumulating there and to participate. Some programs used for chatting "beep" you whenever there is activity in a chat room so you will not miss anything. Often, users jump onto a chat room to draw the attention of others there of something on Wikipedia that needs attention.

Non-public channels


A number of non-public channels exist, to which access is limited. The best known of these on English Wikipedia is the administrators' channel, but others exist also for groups such as the mediation committee, the arbitration committee, and checkuser collaboration. Access to these channels requires use of a registered account, described above. If you are part of a given group that has a non-public channel, you can request access so that you can join.

Steps to getting access to non-public channels:

  1. Request it — Post a new request under pending requests for access, at the end of this page, providing your registered IRC account and links evidencing access.
  2. Get it — A channel operator will then drop by to give you access to the channel. Alternatively, ask in #wikimedia-ops, using the !ops keyword to get attention.
  3. Use it — Once your request is complete, you can invite yourself to the channel using ChanServ's INVITE command as long as you've identified to NickServ. (see /msg NickServ HELP IDENTIFY and /msg ChanServ HELP INVITE for more information).
  4. (optional) In order to gain automatic access to a non-public channel (i.e. without having to use the ChanServ's INVITE command each time), you should first obtain a cloak. From there, simply ask an op on the channel to add an invex (+I) for your cloak. If you already have a cloak when requesting access, ops will typically add an invex for you at the same time they're giving you access, but if you obtain a cloak after gaining access or your change your cloak after gaining access, you can typically reach the channel's ops by using either the !ops keyword or requesting assistance in #wikimedia-ops.

The IRC instructions page may also be helpful for getting around.

Help for accessing IRC itself is best requested on the talk page, if you have read the tutorial and other information and are still unable to use it. Once you can access IRC by some means, there are help and information channels on most Wikimedia-related topics listed above, type /join #channelname into any window, to join them and ask your question (eg, /join #wikipedia-en-help). It is customary on IRC to just ask, not to ask if you can ask :-)

Within the Wikimedia and English Wikipedia channels, your first recourse if you have difficulty, is to ask to speak to a channel operator, if any are around. You can identify channel operators in most of these channels since they will appear as having the "o" flag in a list of channel users and flags. Type /msg chanserv flags #channelname for a list of users and their access levels (this can sometimes have hundreds of lines). Further help can be obtained as follows:

  • #wikipedia-en - ask to speak to a channel operator. If needed, you can often address such problems to administrators who are IRC users. (Please see the userlist of #wikipedia-en-admins for information.)
  • #wikipedia-en-admins (the non-public admins channel) - has adopted its own code of conduct that covers problematic situations; please see that channel's guidelines and user information above, for relevant links and userlists.
  • All other #wiki... channels - speak to a channel operator for that channel.
  • Beyond that, the Wikimedia channels are supervised by the IRC Group Contacts (currently Cbrown1023 (kibble on IRC), Dungodung (dungodung on IRC) and Barras (Barras on IRC) who can advise on serious problems that channel operators have not resolved appropriately.

If the problem relates to user conduct in any channel, your first recourse should be to try and resolve matters with the person involved, failing which, ask to speak to someone who is a channel operator. If your problem cannot be resolved by channel operators, then it may be raised further as above.

It is the policy of some channels that you should not post logs on the wiki, or circulate them without permission from those involved; rather, if a matter requires logs then please obtain permission before circulating or publicizing them, and if in doubt ask a channel operator or other experienced user for advice.

List of users who are willing to help with IRC on wiki


These people are willing to help you with irc issues, especially when you are not even able to connect to the network, so that you can't ask for help there.

  • Psubhashish ([[::User talk:Psubhashish|talk]] · [[::Special:Contributions/Psubhashish|contribs]])
  • Odisha1 ([[::User talk:Odisha1|talk]] · [[::Special:Contributions/Odisha1|contribs]])
  • Ansumang ([[::User talk:Ansumang|talk]] · [[::Special:Contributions/Ansumang|contribs]])

Other discussion venues