A “netsplit” is a term used in Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to signify a temporary disconnection in a network. It occurs when there is a break in the connection between servers in a network, making it appear as though users on one server have suddenly left the IRC. Once the servers are successfully reconnected, it appears as though these users have rejoined.



The phonetics of the keyword “Netsplit” is: /ˈnɛtsplɪt/

Key Takeaways


  1. Netsplit refers to an interruption in an internet connection in a network, causing it to be divided into two or more separate parts, which cannot communicate with each other.
  2. Often used in the context of IRC (Internet Relay Chat), a netsplit can mean users cannot communicate with each other if they’re on different sides of the split. However, these users may not even know that a netsplit has occurred.
  3. Various issues, such as server crashes, internet connectivity loss, network routing problems, or other technical glitches, can cause netsplits. Although temporary, the effects can still be disruptive to online services.


Netsplit is a term used primarily in the context of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) networks to denote a situation where two servers within the network stop communication due to network congestion or hardware failure.


This scenario is important because it can disrupt the real-time exchange of information, causing users to appear as if they have left the chatroom or causing messages not to be relayed. Understanding and addressing netsplit occurrences is crucial for maintaining smooth, uninterrupted communication and interaction in these online environments.

It’s a key network management and stability issue, directly affecting user experience and service reliability.


A Netsplit is a term used in the realm of Internet Relay Chat (IRC), referring to an event where two servers within the network are disconnected or “split” from one another. This can happen for various reasons, including network failures, ISP issues, hardware problems, or software crashes.

The primary purpose of a Netsplit is not intentional; it’s generally considered a disruption in the normal functioning of an IRC network, but it serves the purpose of protecting the network by isolating the issue, preventing it from spreading, and causing a larger damage.

Netsplit 1.svg

Netsplit 2.svg

Images from Scott5144 on Netsplit. (2023, July 11). In Wikipedia.

When a Netsplit occurs, users on one server become invisible to users on another server and vice versa. This essentially creates two separate IRC networks temporarily until the connection issue is resolved. Once the servers can reestablish their connection, the two networks merge to a single network, and the users can communicate again. Post reconnection, servers share their database changes, including updates about new users, channel creations, or message logs. However, because of netsplits, data may sometimes be lost in transit, leading to inconsistencies across the network. Therefore, a netsplit, in essence, is a mechanism to handle network disconnections in IRC networks.


Regarding technology, a netsplit usually refers to an occurrence in an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) network when a network is split into two or more parts due to an interruption in communication. Here are three potential real-world examples:

1. Company Chat Server: Imagine a company using an IRC network for internal communication. An unexpected server outage in the London branch could cause a netsplit, leaving employees in this branch disconnected from the IRC network. Meanwhile, the New York and Tokyo branches may still be connected but unable to communicate with London until the connection issue is resolved.

2. Gaming Community: Consider a popular gaming forum using an IRC network to keep members informed about updates. If there’s a netsplit due to an abrupt server issue, some members might stay in the chat while others are inadvertently disconnected. This could result in fragmented communication and potential miscommunication about important gaming updates.

3. Tech Conference: A live tech conference hosting multiple backchannels through an IRC network for attendees to discuss events in real-time could experience a netsplit if there’s a major WiFi dropout or technical glitch. Some attendees would continue with the operating parts of the network, while others would be cut out of the conversation until the netsplit is resolved.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is a Netsplit?

A: A Netsplit is a term often used in the context of Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to describe when a network connection is interrupted between servers within the network. When this occurs, it appears as if the network has split into two or more smaller networks.

Q: What happens during a Netsplit?

A: During a Netsplit, users on one server cannot interact with users on another server. It also appears as though users on the disconnected server have all simultaneously left the chat, creating the illusion of a sudden mass exit.

Q: How is a Netsplit resolved?

A: Once the issue causing the connection interruption is resolved and the servers reconnect, the split network appears to merge back together. This process is also visible to users as it appears that users from the disconnected server have re-entered the chat all at once.

Q: What causes a Netsplit?

A: A Netsplit can be caused by various issues, including a server crash, network congestion, or scheduled server maintenance. Any circumstance that leads to a loss of connection between servers can result in Netsplit.

Q: Can I do anything to prevent or fix a Netsplit?

A: As an individual user, you cannot prevent or fix a Netsplit because the issue lies within the network’s servers. However, you can usually reconnect to the chat fairly quickly once the server issue has been resolved.

Q: Does a Netsplit result in data loss?

A: Typically, a Netsplit does not result in data loss. The chat messages sent during the time of Netsplit are usually queued by the server and sent once the connection gets restored.

Q: Is Netsplit a common occurrence?

A: The frequency of Netsplits can vary based on the stability of the network. In the early days of IRC and in networks with unstable infrastructure, they may have been quite common. However, with modern improvements and robust infrastructure, they are somewhat rarer.

Related Tech Terms

  • Internet Relay Chat (IRC)
  • Server Link
  • Network Disruption
  • Client Disconnection
  • Rejoin Message

Sources for More Information


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