Lag: when a connection between a computer somewhere between you and another individual on IRC is slow. If someone says, "gabs is lagged tonight", this means that gabs' connection to everyone is slow. The way to fix this is to quit the server that you're on and try another one. How do you know if you're lagged? You ping the entire channel and look at the response times. If they are all fast except one, you aren't lagged, but that one person is. If they are all slow, you are lagged. What is slow? A ping time of less than 5 seconds is great. A ping time of 6-13 seconds is OK. A ping time of 14-20 seconds is unpleasant. A ping time of 21-30 seconds is tolerable on a night with few people in the chat and a relaxed pace - it's very confusing and annoying when the channel is full and people are responding quickly. Anything over 30 seconds is generally untenable. If you get something higher than 60 seconds, you should automatically start looking for another server.
Splits: when a server or group of servers disconnects itself from the rest of the network of servers. What it looks like to you is that a bunch of people on your channel just quit at the same time. They didn't quit, however. They're just on the other side of the split commenting on how you've disappeared. There is nothing you can do about a netsplit except wait. It may take a little while, but the missing people will reappear.
Yes, there are basic rules of behavior to IRC, just as in everything else in life. Here are some basic IRC-wide rules of thumb.
Bots are little programs that sit in a channel and perform some simple tasks. Fraserbot and Raybot occasionally visit #duesouth (usually only when there's a special guest). Some bots will respond to simple phrases, but you can't carry on a conversation with a bot - it just is not a person. Running a bot may get your site banned from a server.
One of the great sins of IRC is running clones. Cloning is the act of logging into one IRC network more than once at a time. The sin part is logging into the same server more than once; if you log into two different servers at the same time, most people don't have a problem. Simply stated, IRC connections are a limited resource, and no server wants you using any more of their connections than you absolutely have to. This is usually interpreted as one connection. You may find yourself, and everyone at your ISP, banned from a server for cloning.
Sometimes sad, pathetic people who have no friends, and therefore way too much time on their hands, come into #duesouth and take control. This usually involves the person getting ops either by being the first person in the channel or by impersonating a regular of the channel and getting ops from a person in the channel. For the most part, takeovers are like netsplits - just wait a while, and they go away. Most takeovers don't last more than 1-2 hours and the person who accomplished the takeover is not seen again.
Probably the best tactic to take when the channel has a takeover is to regroup in another channel. Some of the fallback channels we use are #ds, #duesouth2, and #fods. It is possible to have all of the regular users in the fallback channel and having single individuals make forays into #duesouth to try to talk the person out. Once #duesouth empties out, the person who had taken the channel over often gets bored and leaves. At this point, the regular users can return to the channel.
On occasions when the person who has taken over the channel has done so by impersonating a channel regular, it is prudent to disable any auto-ops you may have. For a day or two after regaining the channel, don't give ops to anyone who can't answer a simple question about DS or about their own regular activities. Some questions have been:
On the rare occasion when a takeover lasts for more than one day, try to get some identifying information on the person who has taken over the channel, and contact that person's ISP. Most ISPs want to know if their users are coming online and abusing other people.