I’ve written about a few of these topics in the past and I’m sure they will be revisited again in the future. In our modern world connected as we are through the technology of the internet. There is still a need for text only based real time chatting between 2 or more people.
Text only based chatting has many advantages over both voice or video methods of communication. Far less bandwidth is needed is the biggest advantage. It can work on even the worst internet connections and the slowest of PCs.
In the days of Dial-up internet, were AOL was the king of providers, they had a multitude of chatrooms for many topics and communities across their membership. And outside of AOL and accessible to it, and all other providers were the many servers and networks of Internet Relay Chat (IRC).
During the height of IRC’s popularity it had over a million users signed in across the multitude of networks and servers. Today, with the rise of Social Media, this number has been reduced to a quarter of what it once was.
A vast majority of IRC users are now found on the Discord service. It has a number of similarities to IRC that allows users to feel “at home” there. However there are a lot of differences too between the 2 platforms.
Here are some of the similarities and differences:
Discord has a native “pretty” interface. Granted IRC does not but it’s totally depends on which IRC client one uses to access IRC.
Discard has audio and visual communications options. IRC does not have these functions at all. They are left to other services to provide them.
Discord has Avatars and Profiles. Although IRC at its base level does not. There are IRC clients that provide similar functions.
Both services have bots running on them in multiple channels performing a multitude of various tasks.
Discord requires registration in order to use it. IRC does not require registration, but many networks and servers have registration available and it’s recommended.
Discord has the ability to create channel threads. Topics that filter out of the main channel discussion into a sub-channel without leaving the channel. IRC does not have this unique ability. In IRC one would have to chat privately or form a separate channel with the smaller number of users.
Both services off the ability to chat privately between users.
IRC is independent. There are networks and stand alone servers. Each one is unique. Discord “servers” are all part of Discord and ran on the same equipment as all others.
This one fact can lead to a single point of failure for Discord. If the Discord service goes down. All of the Discord “servers” are done. Not true at all with IRC since each server and network are independent of one another.
And with the independence, IRC is individually owned. Where as Discord is corporately owned and could change any aspect of its service with a board member vote. Including making the entire service a paid service.
On Discord you can @mention another user of the “server” you are connected to and they would be notified of the mention. IRC doesn’t have this as a built-in function. However, like other functions that are built-in to Discord, many IRC clients have similar functions.
On Discord, if you join a “server”, you are automatically in all the channels save for ones that are role restricted which can cause unwanted notifications of chats. One IRC when you connect to a server you only join the channels you want to join or none at all.
With IRC, anyone can create a new channel just by joining it. And that person gets admin rights in that channel automatically. If there is registration available and the user desires they can register the channel and make it permanent. But on Discord, only Admins can create new channels. It’s the same role given to create, destroy, or modify any channel so it’s not given out to everyone.
Discord has a history feature. Once you join a “server” and are in the channels you can infinitely scroll up to see what was previously said in that channel by anyone. On IRC, there is a +H mode that can be set on some servers or networks that allow a similar functionality but it’s usually not infinite.
Discord admins have the ability to delete chats in a channel. IRC doesn’t have this ability. Once the chat is there it’s there. But new users generally wont see it because of the lack of history available.
Bots are on both services as previously mentioned. And bots are very handy to have to provide functions and features that aren’t part of the system. With Discord, you have to have Dev permissions to create a bot. And that bot cannot run on a regular member’s account. Doing so would get the bot and user banned from Discord. On IRC however, there are a variety of scripting options available. Some are based on the client program use to connect to IRC and others are dependent on the bot being used. And you can run scripts from your own client as well.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comparing IRC and Discord. Just looking at this list the favor leans towards IRC over Discord despite some of its unique features. Many Discord features can be duplicated or simulated in IRC with a bit of scripting or simple options enabled on one’s client program.
I will always be an IRC enthusiast. After all I have ran my own IRC network/server for 25 years. And in this day and age of cancel culture, the freedom of an IRC server is just what is needed.
I am sad to say that I have lost a few IRC channels to Discord. And looking at those Discord “servers” I could have over a 1000 users on my IRC network if they stayed or came back.
But if you are looking for a place to have an online real-time text based chat. I’m happy to help you get setup on IRC. You can connect via a browser at https://web.communiti.chat or point you favorite IRC client program to irc.commuinit.chat and get setup to go.