Foldit has built-in IRC (internet relay chat) support to encourage social interaction between players. Foldit automatically connects to irc.fold.it using the player's Foldit account as the IRC nickname. Users see windows to the #global and #veteran IRC channels. Users who are member of a Foldit group also see a window for that group's unique IRC channel.
For a given Foldit user, only one Foldit client can be connected to IRC at a time. Some players run multiple clients on multiple machines, making it hard to keep track of which Foldit client is on IRC. Also, Foldit's implementation of IRC lacks some of the features and functions found in other IRC software. As a result, many players prefer to use an external IRC client.
Note: Foldit chat moved to a new server 18 September 2019 (Seattle time). Unfortunately, the new server breaks the setup described below, which involves using the AutoPerform feature of IceChat to send the IDENTIFY command. It's still possible to connect through IceChat and sending the IDENTIFY command manually. Stay tuned for updates.
IceChat is a standalone IRC client for Windows. IceChat can be used to connect to the Foldit IRC server.
IceChat is available at http://www.icechat.net/site/
There are two versions of IceChat. IceChat 7 works with Windows 7 and older versions. IceChat 9 works with Windows 8 and Windows 10.
Creating a Foldit IRC accountEdit
To use IceChat or another external IRC client, you need a second Foldit account. The convention is to add "IRC" to the account name you use for playing Foldit. For example, if your player account is "CoilingOil", create and use "CoilingOilIRC" to connect to IRC.
The only drawback to creating a second account is that you need a second email address. Foldit allows only one account per email address. Fortunately, email addresses are still cheap and plentiful.
The new account should be used only for IRC, not for playing Foldit.
Once you've created your Foldit IRC account, log in to fold.it. Click on the "My Page" link at the top right.
Once on "My Page", you'll see an "IRC Key" as part of your profile. Copy the key for later use.
If you're a member of a Foldit group, ask a group admin to add your IRC account to the group.
The IceChat installer is straightforward. I used the default settings.
On my Windows systems, regular users can't install software. The "administrator" account must be be used to install software. (Actually, "administrator" has been renamed to something else, but that's another story....)
The IceChat installer offers to create icons on the desktop and in the quick launch area. It does, but only for the administrative account. As a regular user, you'll need to create your own shortcuts to IceChat.
The IceChat installer also offers to launch IceChat at the end of the process. The problem with that IceChat will be launched under the authority of the administrative user, not the regular logged-on user. This problem is common to many installers. If you're setup is like mine, don't allow the installer to start IceChat. Let the installer finish, then start IceChat separately.
IceChat First RunEdit
Under the Start Menu folder for IceChat7, you'll find an entry "IceChat First Run". Use this program to create the initial entry for the Foldit server.
On the "Server Name" screen, enter irc.fold.it
On the "Done" screen, click the right-arrow to continue to the IceChat client.
IceChat Server PropertiesEditWhen IceChat is started for the first time, you should see a list of servers under "Favorite Servers". If you did the "First Run" step, irc.fold.it should be the first server displayed. Otherwise, under "Favorite Servers", click "Add New" to add an entry for irc.fold.it.
Before connecting, you should set the IRC key and other server properties. To do this, right-click on the entry for irc.fold.it and select "Edit Server...". This brings up the server editor dialog, which has tabbed sections, arranged vertically on the left.
On the Basic tab of the server editor, make sure the nickname field has your Foldit IRC account name.
On the AutoPerform tab, enter the command
/msg NickServ IDENTIFY *irckey*where *irckey* is the IRC key found on "My Page" for your Foldit IRC account.
Also on the AutoPerform tab, make sure that "Enable AutoPerform List" is checked.
AutoJoin List tabEdit
On the AutoJoin list tab, add entries for #global and #veteran. Also, add an entry for your group, for example "#MyGroup".
Make sure that "Enable AutoJoin List" is checked.
On the Startup tab, check "Auto-connect on IceChat Startup".
The startup tab has an entry for "Nickserv Password". In theory, this can be used instead of the AutoPerform entry, but it didn't work for me.
Connecting to IceChatEdit
Once you've entered the server properties, you can connect to irc.fold.it by right-clicking it under "Favorite Servers" and selecting "Connect".
If all goes well, you should see a tab for each channel in your autojoin list, plus a console tab.
In one of these tabs, you should see a message like:
[14:43] --NickServ-- Password accepted -- you are now recognized.
which indicates the /msg NickServ IDENTIFY command worked.
If you're in a group, you should also see a message like:
[14:43] --ChanServ-- (#MyGroup) Welcome to the MyGroup secure chat.
If you're unable to connect to your group's channel, you may need to fix your group chat permissions.
IRC Group Chat PermissionsEdit
For a new account or an account newly joined to a group, the group chat settings may not be correct.
To correct this problem:
- Log in to fold.it using your Foldit IRC account
- Go to "My Page", click on "Edit" under "Options" on the right
- On the edit page, click on "IRC" under "Options" on the right
- On the IRC edit page, check "Fix IRC Group Chat Permissions", then click save
If you recently joined a group, you may also need to perform these steps for your Foldit player account.
You should be disconnected from IRC when performing these steps. Close or disconnect your external IRC client when fixing your Foldit IRC account. Close your Foldit client when fixing your Foldit player account
According to knowledgable sources, the Foldit servers update the permissions around the top of the hour. (That's UTC/GMT, for those in :15, :30, or :45 time zones.) The suggested procedure is to disconnect and apply the change just before the hour (11:55 UTC for example), then try reconnecting just after the hour (12:05 UTC, for example).
IceChat provides an easy way for Windows users to overcome the limitations of Foldit's built-in IRC support. IceChat is free and easy to install.
The "AutoPerform" function in IceChat provides an easy way to issue the /msg NickServ IDENTIFY required for proper identification with the Foldit IRC server.