For those used to a chatroom where people constantly monitor the goings on, IRC is a bit different. True there are often several people in a channel at a time. However, they often stay logged in at work and possibly while they are away from their computer. Therefore, depending on the channel, you might need to wait 10 or 20 minutes for a response to a general question. If you know who you would like to ask, then use their username in your question or comment. That usually triggers a notification in their IRC client and they are more apt to answer if they are around.
More information about irc and different clients can be found here:
- http://www.mirc.com/ - a popular windows based client
- http://colloquy.info/ - a popular mac client (also has an iphone client that works well)
- http://www.mibbit.com/ - a web based client that can also be embedded as a widget into sites
- http://pidgin.im/ - you can setup pidgin (formerly gaim) with irc accounts