IRC is old-school internet chat, invented in the late ’80s but remaining popular with many techy users to this day. If you’ve ever used Slack or Discord, IRC pioneered that style of chat - in particular, the use of multiple “channels”.
There isn’t one IRC network that everyone connects to - rather, there are several. The CSSA’s channels are on Libera.Chat, a large network used by free and open-source software and peer directed projects.
The CSSA bridges our IRC channels to our Discord, so that our community can stay connected regardless of how they prefer to chat. (“Bridging” means that Discord users see IRC messages and vice versa.)
You connect to IRC with a client program, of which there are dozens, of every variety. Fortunately, there are plenty of web-based clients that are convenient for beginners. Libera.Chat runs a very minimal webchat called gamja - just pick a nickname and click connect.
If you’d rather use your own client (see here for a list),
irc.au.libera.chat with TLS (your client may call this SSL or
ircs) on port
6697. The CSSA channels are
details on fancy connection options can be found here.
IRC is an open protocol, and many free / open-source clients are available. IRC isn’t subject to the whims of one individual or company (someone tried recently, and predictably failed in spectacular fashion).
IRC, while it’s evolved over the years, still works in largely the same way as it did in the late 80s - if you’re into computing history, here’s a part of computing history that’s alive and kicking for you to experience today.
Why would you not want to do this? Well, you miss out on many of the niceties of modern chat networks - there are no reactions, custom emotes, or built-in photo upload on IRC. (Some of these things, like reactions, might finally be coming, though!)