IRC handbook/Creating a NickServ account
These instructions are for the freenode IRC network. While these instructions may work on most IRC services, specifically Atheme Services, these instructions were written with only the freenode network in mind.
Creating a NickServ account is much like creating an account on just about any website. Accounts let you mark your identity on a website or service, and prevents other people from being able to impersonate you or use your identity. Accounts are secured with a password, and typically have things like an email address attached to them, so you can be notified of any important changes. On IRC, an account lets you register things such as channels and, most importantly, the nicknames you use.
Why should I register?
As you may have seen on our IRC services page, the nature of IRC is to "never remember". Because of this, if you leave IRC, the nickname you used is now open for anyone else to take, and since the server forgets everything once they've passed, it won't recognize a "thief" when it sees one. In the early days of IRC, and on some IRC networks today, people argued that nicknames were "common property" and that no one could claim ownership of one. Thankfully, that mindset has changed, and today we have an IRC service called "NickServ" that registers and protect nicknames.
Registering for an account gives you many benefits. For one, it lets you gain control over a nickname or nicknames that you use. For example, if you registered the nickname "OrangePop", no one else can register that nickname, and if someone tries to use it, you have the power to get them to stop using it! Registering also allows other users to give you special access in channels via ChanServ, and since that access is tied to your account, you must log in to it in order to gain access. This gives both you and channel managers the reassurance that no unauthorized people can get their hands on the reins of the channel and wreak havoc on it.
Best of all, registering helps you fight impersonators, because registering gives you flags that, provided you know the password, cannot be copied or mimicked by other people.
How to register
If you have not seen our "Getting started" guide, please read that first, so we don't wind up repeating ourselves here!
We will be using the webchat IRC client for freenode in this guide. Other clients may differ, but they should generally follow the same format.
Connect to IRC using your favorite nickname. Once you're done, open a query window with NickServ in order to make the following steps easier (You can do this by typing in
You should now be looking at the dialog window for NickServ. Remember: anything that appears in this window can only be seen by you and NickServ. (NickServ is a robot, if you haven't guessed by now, so it's not human!)
To get a brief introduction to NickServ, type in "help". Services should respond almost immediately, but if it doesn't just wait a little bit, as NickServ may be busy.
See your current nickname? First, we should check if someone else has already registered it. If the nickname you want to use is already registered, you unfortunately can't register it (And you should probably change your nickname). To check, type
info <your nickname here>. In our case, since our nickname is "JohnnyDoe", we will type in
info JohnnyDoe. If NickServ says "<nickname> is not registered", then we can register it.
Since "JohnnyDoe" is not registered, we can register it! To get NickServ's instructions on how to register it, type in
To register, type in
register <a secure password> <your email address>. Your password should be unique, hard to guess, and something only you will know and remember. Don't reuse passwords from other websites, and don't tell anyone else your password. You will need a valid email address to register a nickname, as important information needed to complete your registration will be sent to that address. Please do not use throwaway or temporary email addresses, as you could lose your account!
Now check your email. The verification email should come within a few minutes. If it doesn't show up, check your spam folders to see if it was unintentionally filtered into there.
The email will tell you to copy and paste the following command into IRC. You can do this, but be sure to remove the spaces in front of "/msg"; otherwise, it will be sent as a regular message and not a proper private message. In our case, though, since we have a dialog window with NickServ open, you don't have to copy the "/msg NickServ" part. Just paste "VERIFY REGISTER <code>" and you're good to go!
Now, whenever you connect to IRC, you will need to input your NickServ password. The webchat client provides a handy spot for you to do so easily and painlessly. Click on the "Auth to services" checkbox on the login screen and type in your credentials. Your "Username" is the nickname you registered. Your "Password" is, obviously, your NickServ password.
You can also log in to NickServ after you connect. When you use a nickname that is registered, NickServ will send you a notice telling you this, and asks you to either pick a different nickname or log in with the correct password. You can do this by typing in
/msg NickServ identify <your password here>.
You can also open a dialog window and do it there.