Ok, you're on a channel and you want to talk. Well, this might be the easiest thing to do on IRC. It's simply a matter of typing what you want broadcast to that channel and pressing [enter]. You'll then send what you typed for everyone on that channel to read.
This is fairly simple and straight forward. After that, there are several other ways of communicating. One important thing to remember is that CAPS are considered as shouting and can get people on the channel rather annoyed. If you accidentally hit the cap's button and have text all in upper case, apologize. Usually a " eek, caps, sorry" will suffice.
First off, you'll see actions happening from time to time. Things such as "prodig-E hugs whoever he happens to be flirting with." This is through using the /me command. It is used something like this:
Usage: /me [action]
Example: /me says "hello!"
Output: prodig-E says "hello!"
Sometimes /me is not a valid command on some systems. The command /describe works in exactly the same way.
That's the basics on communicating to a channel. All fairly simple and straightforward.
Of course many people want to say things to a particular person and they don't want everyone on the channel to hear it. This is where most of the conversations on IRC seem to fall. Needless to say, there needs to be some form of communication that facilitates this. The first one is to simply form a channel and have the two people go onto it. To prevent any interruptions, you can make the channel invite only and secret or private. For more on that, go to the section on Channel modes. Like I said, this is the easiest way of dealing with things
The other way is through private messages. To send a message to someone, you use the /msg command. It's form is:
Usage: /msg [nick] [message]
Example: /msg abbi hey there!
Output: [to abbi only] *prodig-E* Hey there!
Basically, a lot of people who sit on channels and appear to not talk, are simply caught up in messages, however there are other people who simply leave their computer for hours on end (also known as "idling") , so you can't tell who is who. But messaging is a nice way to have private conversations with one or more people. Msg can also be used to msg a channel that you aren't on, or if you're on 2 channels, you can msg to the channel that you're attention is not centered on. It has the same effect as being on that channel and speaking aloud.
Another command that is similar to /msg is the /notice command. It looks slightly different in that it is surrounded by dashes:
-prodig-E- as opposed to [prodig-E] or *prodig-E*. It is similar to /msg and identical in use, except it is mostly expected that people use msg instead of notice. I'm not fully sure of the difference. Anyone who knows is free to inform me so I can update this page.
Another thing that can be done is to use /describe. Describe works similar to the /me command, except it is directed towards a person/channel in particular, and not the channel that a person is on.
Usage: /describe [nick] [action]
Example: /describe Cannibal hugs you
Output: [to Cannibal only] *** prodig-E hugs you
Basically, what /msg is to public channel conversation, /describe is to the /me command.
A final note is on the /query command. This directs everything you do to the person you're querying instead of a channel.
So if I set up a query with CremeSoda, when I type something that would normally go to the channel, it would go to him instead. If I used the /me command it would work the same way as the /describe command. So it basically reverses the command usage. To do a /me action on a channel you'd have to:
/describe [channel] [action].
To say something on the channel, you'd have to
/msg [channel] [action].
Usage: /query [nick]
Example: /query CremeSoda
These are the basics of communicating with people on channels. Using these commands, you can talk to people on channels and people not on the same channel.
Now that covers the basics of chatting. A good idea now will be to check out the section "Netiquette".