Plugin:IRC/en/Contact list usage

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You can add contacts to the contact list as you would any other protocol, and it will work just like you would expect it to. There is however also the possibility of setting an advanced detection scheme for each contact that you have on your contact list. This is for the advanced of you though! It will work without knowing any of this, just not as efficiently.

When you have added a user to the contact list right click it and choose "User details" and then navigate to the "IRC" tab. Here you can set a hostmask for the contact. The hostmask allows for identification beyond simply looking at whether a contact with a specified nickname is online. It is very easy to fake an identity on IRC, you basically just have to change your nickname to the person you want to imitate. However, if you are using hostmask identification you also look at properties of a user that is harder to falsify and hence is more constant: the user ID and the host address.

So, the hostmask is made up of the three things needed to identify a user on an IRC network. The nick, the user ID and the address. When setting the hostmask it is most often useful to specify it using the wildcard characters: "*" (replace for anything of any length) and "?" (replace for anything with the length of one character).

You should use the whois command to get the current values of these parameters for the contact you want to use a hostmask identification. It is a very good idea however to make sure that the hostmask is as specific and to the point as possible as that will identify your buddy better and also avoid excess network traffic.
For instance, say that you want to add a buddy to the contact list who is usually using the nickname "foo" and has the hostmask (user@address) "" (which you retrieved from the whois dialog). You would then start by adding the user "foo" from the "Find/Add" dialog or directly from right-clicking the user "foo" in the nick list of a chat window.
You should then open the "User details" dialog of that contact (by right-clicking the contact on the contact list) and navigate to the "IRC" tab. Enter in the "Nick" field "foo*" as that will match "foo|away" and "foo>>eat" or similar that your buddy could use for a nickname. For "User" you could enter "*bar" as that would match "~bar" (unidentified user) as well as "bar" (identified user). For "Address" you could set a value consisting of "???.???.???.???" as the numbers replaced with "?"'s are usually reflecting the users non-static IP address.

Another thing worth noticing is the controls in Options → Network → IRC for the Online notification system. By default the plugin queries the server every 30th second about online statuses. If you experience that the server (not your internet connection) lags then you can try increasing this timer.

You could try googling for "hostmask" and read more about it there if you need more specific information.