Discord vs IRC: Which Should You Use?

When you think of chat services, IRC may not be the first that comes to mind, but it might be the first that you used! It’s been 30 years since IRC was created, and now Discord rivals IRC as a chat platform. Today we’re going to compare Discord vs IRC, so you can decide what works best for you.

What is IRC?

IRC was first created in 1988 by Jarkko Oikarinen, at the University of Oulo in Finland. It has always been a straightforward text chat service, that operates by connecting clients to servers. While it was once vastly popular, it has been declining since 2003. In its place, many other chat services have risen up. These include services like Discord, Slack, Skype, Hipchat, Yammer, and a million others. It is also arguable that Facebook and Twitter serve as modern-day versions of what IRC was meant to do. Currently the IRC network Freenode is extremely popular and growing, showing that the service is not dead.

Advantages of IRC


One of the main advantages of using IRC is the fact that it has such a long history. After 30 years, there is an absolute ton of support and software for IRC. There is no waiting around for extra features, because it’s likely that someone has already made it.

Many users like the fact that you can just ignore IRC if you want to. No distracting sound effects or visuals means that you can put IRC in the background while doing something else, without being tempted by notifications.

The greatest advantage to using IRC is the fact that it is open source. By being open source, the options are truly limitless. This is also why there are so many add-ons and software integrations. For those users that have a specific need, IRC is the perfect choice. This versatility is what made it so popular, and why it is still used in a lot of corner cases. You can host your own server, whereas a lot of modern services use their own servers. This is another thing that won’t impact many people, but can be make-or-break for some power users.

What Does Discord Do Better?

If we’re being honest, Discord works a lot better than IRC, for most people. The interface is clean and modern, something that IRC lacks. It is also incredibly easy to use and invite new users to servers. While other chat services require a download, Discord works in a web browser if you don’t want to install. IRC can also be technical and clunky to a newcomer, while anyone can use Discord with ease.

While Discord itself is not open source, the Bots system is, which allows for a lot of customization from special bots, whether it’s a great dashboard and moderation bot, or just something that gives cat facts.

What really sets Discord apart from something like IRC is the voice chat capability. IRC is text-only (and really doesn’t like multimedia of any kind), but Discord’s voice channels make it the premier choice for gamers. Gone are the days where you have to have an IRC window up for a chat room, and a totally different app open for voice chat with the same group.

Another aspect of IRC that Discord (and really most modern chat services) have is chat history. One of the major flaws of IRC is that when you log on, you will be presented with a blank screen, even if moments before there was a flurry of messages.

Why We Recommend Discord

Discord is definitely the new IRC. Where IRC once reigned supreme, Discord does now. It has even surpassed popular team chat apps like Slack. 

While more people than ever are using technology, the barriers to entry are much lower. You don’t need to be a “computer guy” to understand how video games and messaging apps work, like you did in the earlier days of the internet. IRC has failed to advance into the modern age quick enough, and competitors like Discord have out-maneuvered the service.

Here at Discover Discord, we write about Discord, and use it all day. We truly believe that is a great communication app for most teams, whether gaming or business.

If you’re here, you probably use Discord, but you might also use IRC for some things. If you like IRC, and use it frequently, we want to hear what you do with it. Similarly, let us know why Discord is your preferred platform!

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