Using Channel Keys

If you ever had a secret password to get into your clubhouse, you understand the way that channel keys work. You can set a channel key for your channel, and only those people who have the key will be able to join the channel. If you want to have private conversations, using a channel key is a simple way to make it happen.

Setting a Channel Key

To set a channel key, use this command:

/mode #channel +k channelkey  

In that command, replace "channel" with your #channel and replace "channelkey" with your channel key (your password). For instance, for my super-secret channel, I used this command:

/mode #baconmylove +k nomnomnom  

When you set a channel key, everyone in the channel will see the new key. When I set my channel key, for instance, the server announced this in the channel:

 * tengrrl sets mode: +k nomnomnom


  • Be sure that you choose a strong password that others will not easily guess. Follow these guidelines for strong passwords to make your choice.
  • Make sure you remove anyone you do not want to have the key before you set it. You can ask him to leave OR kick and ban if necessary. Remember that the server announces the key in channel when you set it, so everyone in your channel will see the new key.
  • Anyone who has half-op status or higher in your channel can change the channel key. If you cannot trust someone, don’t make that person a moderator. He could easily change the password and lock everyone out of the channel! See the Troubleshooting information for what you can do if you get locked out.
  • The channel key will only remain as long as someone is in the channel. If everyone leaves, the next person who joins will be able to do so without knowing the channel key. The easiest solution to this problem is either to add a bnc user to the channel or create a private bot to occupy the channel. Note that services bots will not hold a channel open.

Joining a Channel with a Key

You need to provide the password to join your channel now once you set your key. Here’s how to use the JOIN command with a channel key:

/join #channel password

For my super-secret channel, I used this command:

/join #baconmylove nomnomnom

You’ll need to give your password and this command to everyone who you want to grant access to your channel. Only give your channel password to the people you trust with access to your private space.

Changing your Channel Key

To change your channel key, just use the same command with a new password:

/mode #channel +k newchannelkey 

The command is exactly the same. You just indicate the new channel key when you use the command.


You see this error message in your status window: #channel :Cannot join channel (+k)
Either you didn’t include the password or you used the wrong password. Check with the channel owner for the correct password or to ask for access to the channel.

You get locked out of your own channel.
If you forget your password or someone else changes it, you can just change your channel key and join with the new key. If a moderator in your channel changed the password without your permission, you may want to talk to that person or remove his access. Remember you should only add people as half-ops, ops, or admins if you trust them completely.


—posted by Tengrrl/Bunny

What Is A Hostmask?

When you connect to GeekShed, the server reads information from your client and sets a hostmask that is used to identify you on the network. Perhaps obviously, your hostmask hides (or masks) some of the specifics about your connection (in other words, your host). Your hostmask will take this general format:


For example, here’s the hostmask for the LordBaconCheeseburger:


For that example:

  • nick = LordBaconCheeseburger
    It’s whatever nickname the person is using.

  • user = ~TFlash
    It’s the name set in your client. If there’s a leading tilde (~), the client is not running identd.

  • host =
    It’s the masked hostname of your connection. Your unmasked hostname is never publicly available.

You may have noticed that some people have vhosts, a virtual hostname, which hide their real connection’s name. On the GeekShed network, you can be assigned a vhost if you donate to the site or if you have been registered for 90 days or longer. If LordBaconCheeseburger donated $5 to the network, for example, his hostmask could change to LordBaconCheeseburger! If someone has a vhost, you can still see the person’s actual hostmask with the command, /userip <nick>.



—posted by Tengrrl/Bunny

Getting a Channel in the List of Chat Rooms

If you’re looking for a channel to join, all you have to do is visit the Chat Rooms page here on the site. The automatically generated page lists channels, their topics, and the number of users currently in the channel, listed from the channel with the most users to the channel with the fewest users.

To get your channel to show up on the list:

  • Make sure that your channel is not set to +s (secret) or +p (private). Private or secret channels do now show up on the list.
  • Maintain more than 5 people in the channel. The list is limited to channels with 6 or more users.

That’s it. If you have a public channel with 6 or more users, it will show up in the official list on the website. The channel doesn’t have to be registered, but we always recommend that you register your channel. It’s free and gives you better control over your chat room.

How do you determine if your channel is public?

Just use the command:

/mode #channel 

For example: /mode #topgear. In your status window, you’ll see something like this:

Mode for room #topgear is "+ntrS"

The Channel Modes page will help you decipher that response, but for our purposes, notice that there is no “s” and no “p.” That means the channel is neither secret nor private. Note that case matters. The channel #topgear is +S (strips color codes), but not +s (secret).


—posted by Tengrrl/Bunny

Learning More About A User

If you were on Facebook and wanted to know more about someone, you’d go to their profile and click the Info or About link (depending upon whether the person has set up the Timeline). We don’t have profile pages in IRC, but you can use some basic commands to learn a little bit more about someone.

For Someone Logged On Now

If you are chatting with someone or see the nick connected in a channel, use the /WHOIS command to learn more. To use the command, type:

/whois nick nick

There’s no mistake there. Type the nick twice to get complete information on the person, as in this example:

/whois LordBacon LordBacon

In return, the server will give you this information (with line numbers added):

1 LordBacon is * TFlash NextGen
2 LordBacon is using modes +iRx 
3 LordBacon is a registered nick
4 LordBacon on #theshed 
5 LordBacon using Sponsored by Phil
6 LordBacon Ruler of all that is the glory of bacon
7 LordBacon has been idle 13secs, signed on Thu Feb 16 21:31:58
8 LordBacon End of /WHOIS list.

Here’s what the info means:

  • The first line gives you the hostmask and the name entered in the client (TFlash NextGen, in this case).
  • The second line tells you the user modes.
  • The third line (obviously) tells you that the nick is registered. You won’t see that third line if the nick is not registered.
  • The fourth line tells you what channel(s) the person is on. The server will add extra lines here if the person is on a lot of channels.
  • The fifth line indicates what server the person is using.
  • The sixth line gives the SWHOIS for the person, if one is set. Most people will not have this line.
  • The seventh line tells you how long the person has been idle. Note that if you type the nick only once, you will not get the idle time for the person.

For Someone Who Recently Logged Out

The /WHOIS command will only work for people who are online. If the person just logged off, try the /WHOWAS command. To use the command, type:

/whowas nick

Here’s an example:

/whowas LordBacon

In return, the server will give you this information (with line numbers added):

1 LordBacon was * TFlash NextGen
2 LordBacon using Sponsored by Phil

You may see more information if the person was logged on more than once recently. This command is especially useful if you want to ban someone from your channel and they leave before you can check the hostmask you need to ban.

For General Info on Someone

For general information on someone who is registered, you can use the nickserv INFO command. To use the command, type:

/msg nickserv info nick

Just swap in the nick of the person you want information for, as in this example:

/msg nickserv info LordBacon

In return, the server will give you this information (with line numbers added):

1 LordBacon is TFlash NextGen
2 LordBacon is currently online.
3 Time registered: Feb 17 02:46:36 2012 UTC
4 Last quit message: Quit: Off to find more bacon
5 URL:
6 For more verbose information, type /msg NickServ INFO LordBacon ALL.

Here’s what the info means:

  • The first line gives you the name entered in the client (TFlash NextGen, in this case).
  • The second line tells you if the person is online. This line is skipped if the person is not online.
  • The third line tells you when the nick is registered.
  • The fourth line tells you the person’s quit message (if there was one).

You may see additional information if the person has set details for the nick with the NICKSERV SET command. In this example, the person has added a URL, for instance.


—posted by Tengrrl/Bunny

How to Protect Your GeekShed Password

Yesterday I witnessed this little series of events (and the names have been changed to protect the innocent):

* Joins: HarryLime (
<HarryLime> msg NickServ IDENTIFY passw0rd
* HarryLime is now known as Unidentified1337
* Quits: Unidentified1337 ( ) (Quit: 
         Unidentified1337 )
* Joins: HarryLime_ (
<HarryLime_> hmm
* Quits: HarryLime_ ( ) (Quit: HarryLime_ )
* Joins: HarryLime (
* Quits: HarryLime ( ) (NickServ (GHOST command 
         used by HollyMartins) )
<HollyMartins> lol
<HollyMartins> it was his real password...
<HollyMartins> lol
* Joins: HarryLime (
<HollyMartins> HarryLime, change your password
<HollyMartins> and don't identify in the channel
<HollyMartins> you posted this: <HarryLime> msg NickServ IDENTIFY passw0rd
<HarryLime> not my best day today O.o
<HollyMartins> obviously not

Now in case you don’t follow, let me explain what happened there. The user HarryLime logged on and accidentally typed the command to identify in the open channel. Everyone in the channel saw HarryLime’s password. Harry’s friend Holly decided to test out the password and used the GHOST command to log Harry out. [Warning: Ghosting someone’s nick as Holly does may well end up in a ban from the network so don’t try it!]

That situation inspires me to share four pieces of advice with you:

  1. Use the identify command in the status window (the tab or window that welcomes you to the server and tells you to follow the Terms of Service) and no one will ever see your password. It’s best to use that status window anytime you’re typing something you might not want everyone else online to see if something goes wrong.
  2. Change your password immediately if you do type your password in an open channel accidentally. You are at risk. Anyone can take over your nick, and gain access to everything you have on the network. Use this command:
    /msg nickserv set password supersecretpass123
    Replace “supersecretpass123” with your new password.
  3. Choose a strong, unique password. Harry’s password of “passw0rd” is not a good choice at all. Follow these guidelines for strong passwords to make your choice.
  4. Store your passwords in a secure place. Software like LastPass can keep track of all your passwords and even generate unique passwords for you. You can learn more about LastPass below by watching the video from Jupiter Broadcasting.
  5. Even the most secure password can be lost or exploited. In case you think you won’t ever have this problem, read this post on The Myths of Password Security by GeekShed staff member and security expert Allan Jude. No one is immune. Be sure you do what you can to protect your GeekShed login!


—posted by Tengrrl/Bunny

Problems with Lost Channels

If no one uses a channel on GeekShed for 60 days, it is dropped from the system. A channel can also be dropped, even if people are in it, if the person who registered it does not log in for 60 days or more. The server assumes that if someone has not logged or or a channel goes unused for 60 days, that person is abandoning any channels.

So how can you regain a lost channel if this happens to you? Once a channel has been dropped from the system, any registered user can claim and register the channel. The requirement is the same as it is for starting any new channel. If no one is in the channel, you can just join the channel and register it again (after registering your nick again if necessary).

If there are people in the channel, the situation is a bit more complicated. If someone in the channel has ops, you can ask that person to give you ops so that you can reregister the channel. If no one has ops in the channel, you need to ask everyone to leave so that you can rejoin first and get ops. Once you are an op in the channel, you can register it again.

We’re frequently asked if we can kick everyone out of a channel so that someone can reregister it. We cannot. Once a channel has dropped, it doesn’t belong to anyone anymore. The original owner no longer has any special claim on the channel. Everyone has an equal right to register it, and no one on the network staff will kick everyone or give the original owner ops in this situation.

Likewise, if someone else registered a channel that has been dropped, we will not take that channel away and restore ownership to the original owner. Channel registration is first come, first serve. Everyone has an equal right to register a channel, and no one on the network staff will give the original owner back a channel in this situation.


—posted by tengrrl/bunny

I’m Banned From My Own Channel

It’s easier than you might think to get banned from a channel you own or where you are a moderator. It may be that you didn’t identify quickly enough or services were down and you couldn’t identify. It’s even possible you or someone in the channel set a ban too wide. An asterisk wildcard in the wrong place is all it takes.

If you find yourself in this situation, this is the simplest way to remove the ban:

/msg ChanServ UNBAN channel

So if I were banned from #topgear, I’d use this command:

/msg ChanServ UNBAN #topgear

After that, you should be able to join the channel again.

You can also remove the ban the traditional way. Say you or someone banned your hostmask or vhost. You add a ban with +b, and you can remove it with -b. If you had accidentally banned yourself with this command:

/mode #topgear +b *!*

You could unban yourself by typing this command:

/mode #topgear -b *!*

As a third option, you can also try inviting yourself into the channel. Usually a channel invite will get around a ban. This command will also work if your channel is set to invite only and you cannot join.

/msg ChanServ INVITE channel

So if I wanted into the channel #topgear, I’d use this command:

/msg ChanServ INVITE #topgear

If none of these options work for you, come ask for assistance in #help!



What To Do If You Forget Your Password

Sooner or later, you’re bound to forget your GeekShed password. When that happens, you won’t be able to identify when you try to log in. Most likely, your nick will change to something like Unidentified1337 (where the number at the end is random).

For increased security, passwords are encrypted on GeekShed. As a result the reset password command does not work on our site. In order to get your password reset, visit #help and ask a staff member for help with a password reset. Anyone from a half-op up can help you. You may have to wait for someone to become available to help you, so please be patient.

You will be asked to provide the nick and the email address that you used to register it. Once that information is confirmed, the staff member will have the system send a temporary password to your email address. Once you have logged in with your temporary password, you can set a new (and hopefully more memorable) password with this command:

/msg NickServ SET PASSWORD new-password

Be sure to replace “new-password” with your new password. For instance, to change my password to “BaconIsBest” I’d use this command:

/msg NickServ SET PASSWORD BaconIsBest

If you’ve forgotten your password on the forums, follow these instructions.



Tonight’s Problems

It’s been a rough few hours. We are sorry for this. An exploit was found in a 3rd party services module and used against us. This allowed the corruption of the access lists of 2 channels. Although it is fairly obvious from the code that an exploit caused by flawed logic exists, this has gone unnoticed for almost 3 years and it is expected that many more IRC networks will be affected by this.

We will shortly carry out a full audit of all 3rd party modules to check for similar exploits in those. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Apply to Have Your Channel Featured!

Want more people to know about the fun stuff going on in your channel on GeekShed? Answer a few questions about your channel here, and we’ll consider your channel for a new feature on the GeekShed site. The idea is that every few weeks, a channel will be highlighted on the website, with details about the channel, what happens there, and other details.

There are a few requirements:

  • You have to be the owner of the channel or have the full permission of the channel owner.
  • You have to have an average of 10 or more different people in the channel regularly.
  • The channel has to be at least 3 months old.
  • The channel has to be open and public (no private or secret channels).

The GeekShed staff will choose channels to feature based on the application and observation of the channel. Acceptance is at the discretion of network staff. There is no promise or guarantee implied. To apply, just fill in the form below.