ERC is a powerful, modular, and extensible IRC client for Emacs. It has been included in Emacs since 2006 (see History) and is also available on GNU ELPA.
IRC is short for Internet Relay Chat. When using IRC, you can communicate with other users on the same IRC network. There are many different networks—if you search for “IRC networks” in your favorite search engine, you will find up-to-date lists of IRC networks catering to various interests and topics.
To use IRC, you need an IRC client such as ERC. Using the client, you connect to an IRC server. Once you’ve done that, you will have access to all available channels on that server’s network. A channel is basically a chat room, and what you type in a channel will be shown to all other users in that channel. You can be in several channels at the same time—ERC will show each channel in its own buffer.
IRC channel names always begin with a ‘#’ character. For example, the Emacs channel on Libera.Chat is ‘#emacs’, and the ERC channel is ‘#erc’. Do not confuse them with the hashtags used on many social media platforms.
You can also send private messages to other IRC users on the same network, even if they are not in the same channels as you.
ERC comes with the following capabilities enabled by default.