Writing IRC bots with Perl's BasicBot

Bot Netiquette

Bots can be helpful, but they can also be very intrusive, especially if a bug is triggered. As a matter of consideration towards other IRC users and towards the IRC administrators, keep the following common sense rules in mind.

First, your bot should not flood channels. You must limit the rate at which your bot posts messages and prevent it from posting too many in a row. Bot::BasicBot has flood protection built in, so this should not be a big problem. The hellobot.pl example presented in this article has flood protection disabled for testing, as you can see in line 30 (Listing 1).

Second, ask permission from the channel operator before letting your bot join their channel.

Third, some IRC servers don't allow bots, or do so only under certain conditions. Most IRC administrators will be fine with bots as long as they are not wreaking havoc, but you should read the rules of the server you are accessing. Don't connect a bot if it is unwanted.

Bots that log the activity on a channel or relay messages towards other networks are particularly troublesome. Some people might consider them a threat against their privacy. Be sure people know you are running the bot for the sake of transparency.


The BasicBot Perl module allows you to create quick and dirty IRC bots in a matter of minutes. Anybody interested in developing bots using this module should have a look at the documentation [2]. It is quite easy to mix BasicBot with other Perl modules in order to achieve more complex goals, such as fetching and posting news from websites. I have a small set of bots in my gopher site [3], which you can look at if you want more examples. See Table 1 for notes on the IRC channels referenced in this article.

Table 1

IRC Systems Used in the Examples





EFnet [4]

For general chat


Canternet [5]

Built by and for My Little Pony fans



For computer chat and free software projects


  1. Manage CPAN modules with cpanminus: https://www.linode.com/docs/development/perl/manage-cpan-modules-with-cpan-minus/
  2. Bot::BasicBot at Metacpan: https://metacpan.org/pod/Bot::BasicBot
  3. Rubén Llorente's gopher site: http://gopher://gopher.operationalsecurity.es
  4. EFnet IRC network: http://www.efnet.org/
  5. Canternet IRC network: https://www.canternet.org

The Author

Rubén Llorente is a mechanical engineer, whose job is to ensure that the security measures of the IT infrastructure of a small clinic are both law compliant and safe. In addition, he is an OpenBSD enthusiast and a weapons collector.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Perl: Log Chat Sessions

    The IRC (Internet Relay Chat) protocol lets you program bots as automatic helpers. In this month's column, we let a bot log a session and store the results in a database.

  • Building an IRC Bot

    Chat rooms aren't just for people. We'll show you how to access an IRC channel using an automated bot.

  • Perl: Arduino Project

    With a few lines of self-written firmware and a simple Perl script, Perlmeister Mike Schilli trains one of his Linux computers with a plugged in Arduino board to switch electrical equipment on and off using a relay. Enchanting.

  • Revisit IRC

    Drop Discord. Say goodbye to Slack. The real way to communicate online is IRC – here's why it still rocks.

  • WebRTC Protocol

    The WebRTC protocol converts your web browser into a communications center, supporting video chat over a peer-to-peer connection without the need for helper apps or browser plugins.

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More