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dumwaldo for starting the post in the P2P forum!
As said by dumwaldo:
Well, the first thing you are going to need to understand is that using IRC as a source to find downloadables is not a simple way to rip off big entertainment companies. It is a hobby and WILL require a good amount of active participation to become proficient. If you are an eDonkey user and think its going to be like Sharereactor where you click a link and wait for the download to complete or you are a newsgroup follower who thinks it is dedication because you spend 15 minutes every day to queue files then get ready for a reality check on exactly what active participation really means.
The first thing you are going to need to do is to get yourself an mIRC script that aids in the use of mIRC by automating many of the commands into simple right click tasks. It is still possible to use basic typed commands but scripted assistance will make life easier in the long run. I will not make any recommendations of scripts to use here because it is a personal choice and there are a wide variety of them available. There is a fairly comprehensive discussion regarding scripts here.
I would suggest connecting to ANY server and creating a randomly named room and try out the script before using it in a public channel. This will help you avoid embarrassing script accidents in file sharing rooms you wish to visit frequently in the future. You don't want to be banned from a good channel because you dont know how to use your script. Here is a good tip, launch your script 2 times and that way you will have an opped connection to your private test room as well as an unvoiced connection so you can see what different features are not available unless you are opped.
Don't be hasty when you first start. There are lots of options in the software itself and you should become familiar with them yourself and configure them to your likings. If you encounter a setting you are unsure of then type in the exact name of the setting and put IRC at the end of it and do a google search. mIRC has to be one of the most highly documented pieces of software in existence and the amount of helpful sites on the web soars well into the millions. It is VERY EASY to find explanations but you do have to look. Remember you are doing this because you are undertaking a new hobby, not because you don't want to invest more effort.
Maybe even find a non file sharing room and try chatting with others on IRC. Most networks will have channels geared towards helping newbies in some way. Don't be afraid to go into one of these rooms and ask for some help, but be sure you understand what you are doing before you accept help, again Google can be very helpful in quickly discerning good advice from bad advice. It is still the Internet and trust should not be offered freely to any person you have 'just met'.
You are not ready to move on to downloading files until you become familiar with basic chatting on IRC and maneuvering between networks and rooms. It would also be helpful to start establishing registered names on various networks. You will want something VERY unique because it makes things much easier when you can use the same name and password on all networks. If you use the same name and pass for all networks you will be able to set up one copy of mIRC and freely move from network to network without fussing with name and password info. This is also where you will learn how to set up the 'perform' option in mIRC or the name options in the script you are using. I suggest setting up BOTH and they will provide failsafe for each other. You will also want to examine your script options and see if it is possible for your script to auto-ghost any clones on join so you may keep your primary nick. IRC servers work based on your nick so it is important to keep it the same and not let it change if you become disconnected and rejoin the room.
There is no way of saying how long you should take to get to know mIRC because it will vary form individual to individual. It could be a few hours, it could be several months. You are ready to move on to downloading files only after you feel confident and comfortable with IRC in general. Of course at this point we can also assume you have established all your settings in a proper way because you have examined your setting FULLY and experimented with 2 connections running simultaneously to see what types of files would be allowed to send. After all, getting to know the software is the foundation of everything you will ever do related to IRC and that's the last place you would ever want to shortcut. You can not build a solid structure on a shaky foundation or it will eventually fall from lack of support.
Now you are ready to start downloading and are confident you know how to handle the software so you don't do something stupid like accept a malicious file send from a stranger or click a link you get from someone you don't know. But you have to make a decision first before you start downloading. You have to decide if you are going to serve and look for distro access or if you are going to be a leech. This is a big decision and can have a dramatic effect on your entire IRC experience from that moment forward so take some time to really think about it before you commit to any decision.
If you think serving and gaining distro access is the route you want to go then there is not much more this post will have to offer you. This is where your personality and personal networking skills are going to come into play and work for you. It could be the first step towards meeting and networking with scene group members and even getting involved with a group or it could be the beginning of a long run as an fserv whipping boy. Where it goes will be entirely dependant on you and your conduct. Good luck.
If you think you would rather go the leech route, I think I have quite a bit more to say to you. The first thing I have to say is don't feel guilty. Leeches are needed or there would be no need for the servers. It is OK to be a leech as long as you do it in the appropriate places. IRC happens to be an appropriate place to be a leech. It offers a sense of power structure that fuels the growth of the entire system. The ability to command the interest of large numbers of leeches AND support them is looked at as prestige on IRC. Yes it is true, every file serving channel, that has the type of servers I will go on to discuss, is there because they want to be the top channel in the network channel list.
That is where you will find the channels you are looking for. In the top slots of the channel listing. You want to find rooms with fast XDCC bots and good XDCC rooms are never down low on the list for very long. When you join a room and look in the name list you should see a sequence of repeating names with XDCC somewhere in the name. when you see that you will know you have found what you are looking for. Dont be overwhelmed by the amount of bots in some rooms. Occasionally you will come across rooms that seem to have hundreds of bots but generally in these cases many are dormant with no offerings and no announcements going. There is nothing really special to look for in the room names, sometimes room names will be related but sometimes they won't be. Look in any room you come across with more than 1000 people inside.
As you explore networks be sure to PAY ATTENTION and remember good locations. It might be a good idea to keep a notepad file to make notes about good rooms and good networks to help you keep your memories clear. Pay attention to channel topics and in room announcements as well. You can learn valuable things from topics/announcements. By paying attention you can KNOW THE RULES and avoid stupid kicks because you blatantly broke a channel rule, find web pages that offer bot listings or other helpful information, find out about 'support' rooms where you can ask questions or find listing bots, find out what current releases the channel is offering or any other type of information that the channel may want to offer. Always investigate the extra offerings like this. If there is a website then visit it, if there is another chat room then join it and read what is there. The more informed you are the better your success rate will be.
It will seem slow going at first and sometimes even frustrating to the point it feels like a dead end. That does change in time. As you explore and pick up on new tips by paying attention you will find that the little tips all start adding up and making a difference. Right now I could visit a website and search a database of about 4000 active XDCC bots spanning several networks and find exactly what I am looking for. I could then go visit a room and click my mouse a few times and I will have the file queued or downloading. Takes about 15 minutes for me to do a good thorough search of IRC at the moment. Want to know the web page? Sorry, I can't tell you that but I can tell you this, I found it by reading channel topics and visiting the sites offered.
So if you're looking for some detailed guide how to use an XDCC bot or how to use a certain script, I am sorry if you read this far because you're not going to find one here. There are tons of them available on the Internet that will explain the basics and that's enough to get you going. Downloading from the XDCCs is where your script will have a chance to really shine. Scripts can automate many of the commands for using XDCCs with simple right click menus. Instead of having to learn the manual commands and enter them yourself each time you need them, the script can often handle that for you. The available features will vary from script to script but you might want to look for something that automates the list, send and remove commands as well as something that has a timer feature to try and re-queue at specified intervals of time to get you into full queues as soon as a slot becomes available.
I would like to draw attention to the fact that throughout this entire post there was only one single solitary link. I did this for a reason. That is because the underlying theme of IRC and what I am trying to convey here is that you are going to HAVE to do it for yourself. If you need a deeper explanation of something, use a search engine and look it up. The most important thing about using IRC is having a degree of self reliance since many malicious things can happen or be done to you. Conversely for every one person out there that would mess with you there are 100 people out there that would be glad to help you out. The only way to know the minority of bad people from the majority of good people is to be educated enough to spot the BS.