Subscribing to mailing lists is a good way to learn about a project's culture and the type of problems they're working on. You don't have to post right away -- you can lurk for a while.
Some projects have a lot of mailing lists...
Some projects don't have any mailing lists.
One common division is to have one lists for users and another for developers.
Top-left: Colloquy. Top-right: X-chat.
Bottom-left: Hexchat. Bottom-right: webchat.
(Haven't installed a client yet? Go here.)
IRC is decentralized, which means no one organization or company controls it. Instead, individuals host networks. Make sure your channel AND network are correct!
You can join a channel from the command line!
You can make your own new channels this way, by joining a channel that doesn't already exist.
Try joining #openhatch on Freenode this way.
If you use someone's nickname, most clients highlight that so it's easy for them to see. It's considered good form to include the nicks of people you are addressing, although you don't need to do this for every single line.
You can start a private conversation with someone using this command:
/query nick messsage
It is considered good form to ask in the public channel whether you can send a private message to someone.
You can do actions.
You can register your nickname!
/msg NickServ REGISTER password email@example.com
Then, when you return to the network after being away, you can identify yourself with your registered name and password:
/msg NickServ IDENTIFY account password
If you want to be persistently logged in to IRC, you can:
(we can help you!)
If you want to log into IRC quickly and don't have a client set up, try webchat:
Want to learn more? Try #irchelp!
Issue trackers are kind of like a group "to do" list.
Explore the trackers and list what they have in common. Don't forget to click through to individual issues!