Internet > Internet Relay Chat (IRC) > How IRC Works >

IRC Networks

In a kind of superstructure, IRC servers are connected together in larger networks so they can share channels, enabling many individual servers to combine and increase the number of chat rooms and people they support.

Each server in the same network connects to one of the other servers already in the network, and exchanges all of their traffic with that other server, so that all connected servers have all of the messages in all of the chat rooms.

These IRC networks provide the illusion to the users connected to the individual servers that they are logged onto one big, common server. It is hard to tell, but the messages you receive from a user logged into a different server far away may actually be delayed by a few seconds on busy networks.

At any given moment there are several large IRC networks running on the Internet, consisting of hundreds of servers in all. The largest networks have dozens of servers supporting tens of thousands of users at any given point in time.

Networks. Major IRC networks are listed below:

  • EFnet, the first IRC network

Mid-size and smaller networks are listed below:

Network listings can be found in the following directories:


Living Internet content is (c) Copyright William Stewart