You can hold private conversations with other IRC users, outside of the public IRC chat rooms. To start a conversation with another IRC user:
In the contact list for an IRC chat room, double click the name of the user you want to chat with. Alternatively, right click the name of the user and choose Chat.
The IRC room contact list is not the same as Empathy contact list. It contains a list of users in the IRC chat room you joined. Different rooms can have different contacts listed.
The IRC room contact list is usually on the right side of the IRC room window. If you do not see it, choose Conversation ▸ Show Contact List.
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