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So you've installed IRC, as per Oglemi's instructions in this previous article, and now you're ready to join the Pokémon conversation, right? Wrong! IRC is as unforgiving as any social environment, and just because you're behind the anonymity of the internet doesn't mean you're safe. If anything, you're more likely to make an ass out of yourself, leave a bad impression, and invite ridicule every time you log in. So how do you ensure success on the social ladder that is Smogon IRC? This is where this guide comes in.
One of the main complaints that new users make when they log onto IRC is that no one appears to be talking, and around 85% of the time this can be attributed to them logging on at the wrong time for their timezone. Unfortunately for a lot of us, Smogon is at its roots a North American-based website, and so the Smogon IRC channels are typically the most active when people in the United States and Canada are awake. Those of you who do not live within the elusive timezones between GMT -9 and GMT -4 are basically shit outta luck. To get the most out of IRC, learn what time it is for you when the Americans are awake, but whatever you do, don't make the mistake in Lesson Two.
As counter-intuitive as this sounds, as a new user, most of the time it is in your best interest to keep your mouth shut, especially if no one else is talking. One of the gravest mistakes a new user can make is logging on, see that no one is talking, and make an obvious comment on how quiet the chat is. Not only does this make you look wholly unoriginal, it also ensures that no one would want to initiate a conversation with your smart-alecky ass for the foreseeable future. Do you go into a doctor's waiting room and remark out loud how quiet it seems to be in there? No, you don't, because that would make you a jackass. You sit down and grab a magazine, which is also not bad advice for IRC.
If you do want to initiate a conversation, asking an open-ended question is the way to go. Talking about films or video games is good, sports is even better, Pokémon as a topic is just tried and true. But usually it's more prudent to wait and see what the current topic of conversation is and see what you can contribute, which is sure to be a winning strategy, and will make you a regular in no time. Trying to derail an ongoing conversation is a definite no-no. It's best to wait for the current topic to end, and then use the momentum from the previous conversation to launch your own. Needless to say, under no circumstances use leetspeek or whatever the duck they're calling it these days, people don't talk like that on IRC, no matter what you've seen on Numb3rs.
Laughing on the internet is easy, you just type 'lol', right? Wrong. Laughing on the internet is a fine art which can really get you places if deployed strategically. Let's first go over the common types of laughs you may see:
lol - No frills laugh out loud, good to use in most funny situations
rofl, lmao - A step up from lol, but not that much, use if you're really enjoying yourself
lolol - Obviously more intense than lol, used in uproariously funny situations, bordering on sarcasm
lololol - Definite sarcasm, nobody lols this much with sincerity
lolololol+ - Usually typed in all caps, obvious sarcasm, it's probably better to tell whoever you're doing this to that they're not funny, it makes you look more acerbic and less of a cock
Of course, there's also the onomatopoeic route:
heh - A light smirk, used for only the slightest degree of amusement
ha - I imagine this as Mrs. Krabappel's laugh from The Simpsons, use when you think using that particular laugh from her is appropriate
haha - Things are getting funny now, but not that funny
hahaha - This is the one you should be using most of the time, your bread and butter laugh
hahahaha+ - The amount of ha's should be added at your discretion, as with lol's, the amount you type out is inversely proportional to how amused you actually are and directly proportional to how sarcastic you are being, though most of the time ha's look more sincere and less retarded than lol's. Don't ask me why, that's just the way the world works
hehe+ - You are a villain and you have just done something fiendish, or you are experiencing an uncommon amount of schadenfreude
Emoticons can also be used, but generally the most effective one is xD, which is equivalent to a 'hahaha' or a 'lolol'.
Now that you know the types of laugh there are, learn when to deploy them to your advantage. Just as you should laugh at your boss's jokes, so it goes without saying that you should laugh at the witticisms of the power users, from the channel owners to the voiced users. A well timed 'lol' or 'haha' can earn you favor in the days to come, and it won't be long until some newbie is laughing at your jokes and puns. Be careful not to overdo it though, as you may come off as a kiss-ass, sarcastic twit, or just a jolly moron, all of which are highly undesirable labels.
Now that you have some helpful lessons to get you started, here are some users that a budding new user should watch out for on IRC.
Once upon a glorious past, EeveeTrainer was an undisputed Pokémon champion of the Western hemisphere. But just as the power of the One Ring corrupted Smeagol into a terrifying schizophrenic wreck, so have the years of Pokémon battling transformed Eeveetrainer's mind into something not quite normal. His favorite past-time now involves asking if Hitmonlee can even learn Rest, and seeing which unsuspecting users would answer seriously. Even worse, if you're new, he may even ask you if you have been circumcised, which you should know better than to answer. Trolling him back is very tempting but is just not worth it, since it only adds fuel to the dark unholy flame that burns within his soul. Ignore him like everyone else and he will go away.
Often mistaken for a bot, what appears at first to be a series of nonsensical words is actually the 'unique' nicknames that he has come up with for various users, which are usually simple synonyms of the actual usernames. Apart from his prowess with Roget's Thesaurus, MrE also asserts that he is the 'best' at Pokémon, but without any evidence to support this fact, most learned users rightfully passes this off as the ramblings of a madman. He has also been known to plead for the freeing of Garchomp, further reinforcing the fact that he is not actually the 'best'. If MrE actually has come up with a nickname for you, that's when you know you've been on IRC too damn much.
One of the most friendliest users you'll find, if a little jarring at first. Theorymon is known for his unrelenting zeal on all things Nintendo, most noticeably Mario and Pokémon. Ubers and Glitchmons are where his Pokémon passion lies, and if you get him started on either of these topics, get ready to get your ears talked off. Theorymon's connection to Smogon and IRC is also so intense that he'll unfailingly log on even if he contracted Lupus and just coughed up a lung. What makes him most memorable, however, are his dreams. Theorymon's dreamscapes are some of the most disturbing things you'll ever read, and almost all of them involve Pokémon and Smogon in some way. Truly an enigmatic fount of knowledge, a good approachable guy but ever so odd.
There but for the grace of God go Theorymon. Like Theorymon, AJC likes to imagine what if a certain Pokémon got a certain move or ability or stat spread, except whereas Theorymon is a scholarly researcher, AJC's brand of hypotheses can be best described as feverish jackassery. He's the drunk guy at the party who talks loudly in an annoying voice that everyone wants to shut up, but won't. And if that weren't obnoxious enough, he also likes to complain about any recent bouts of misfortune he has faced while Pokémon battling, which approximately zero other people care about. Take note, new users, he's the type of guy you definitely don't want to emulate.
A user who preys on the vulnerability of new users, often subjecting them to weird questions that should probably be ignored. If you're new and you make the mistake of ignoring one of the previous lessons in this article, then odds are that RODAN will latch onto your grievous error and make sure you never forget it for the remainder of your days on IRC, that is until you somehow redeem yourself. RODAN is a big fan of nostalgia, especially cartoons that nobody else remembers, but he is most known for his links to various random corners of the internet, which are intermittently amusing but mostly a crapshoot, only click on RODAN's links if you have nothing better to do.
There you have it! A survival guide for IRC that is even fit for the fanciest royalty. If you follow everything in this guide to the letter, most likely nothing will go wrong with your first excursions to the Smogon IRC channels, but there's just no accounting for the internet. If this guide goes over well enough I may write a sequel, but until then, if you need any further help with IRC contact friendly user Birkal.
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