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Missing something obvious here but I can't find the answer on google.

When I join a channel on IRC is there a way to view the last x messages or are they lost in the ether forever?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

It depends on the IRC server and the channel. Some IRC servers provide this service and some don't. Some channel bots provide this service and some don't, and some channels have channel bots and some don't. The easiest way to find out if there is a way is to ask in the channel. Usually, there isn't.

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If you need this, you can either setup a bot, or you can setup what's called a "bouncer". Check out ZNC for this.

ZNC is an IRC network bouncer or BNC. It can detach the client from the actual IRC server, and also from selected channels.

ZNC has all sorts of features, such as buffer reply which is what you're looking for. Given the design of IRC, something needs to be listening for those messages in order to play them back to you -- in the case of ZNC it's your "clone" that's waiting for you to attach.

An alternative to setting up a bouncer is using a cloud-based IRC service such as which should provide some buffer replay capabilities.

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You can only see what's been said as long as you're logged in. There's no logging/previous message functionality in irc - everything is sent in a realtimeish manner, and there's no server side message logging

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Plenty of IRC servers have server-side message logging and plenty of channel bots provide "last N messages" service. – David Schwartz Jan 24 '12 at 23:56
bots are different. The base IRC protocol dosen't include it, and as such, its not part of IRC. You could make a bot that kicks someone for saying snickerdoodle, but thats the bot, not irc. – Journeyman Geek Jan 25 '12 at 0:03
This is not a question about the base IRC protocol. As for your "as such, it's not part of IRC", that's not all correct. You might as well argue the world wide web isn't part of the Internet because it's not in the TCP/IP specifications. IRC isn't what it was in 1993 any more than the Internet is what it was in 1981. – David Schwartz Jan 25 '12 at 0:10

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