Boggle/Big Boggle FAQ

This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document is maintained by Michelle A. Hoyle ( It is normally posted on a monthly basis to the IRC Games mailing list maintained by Eingang. Copies are also available on the Games page available at

Table of Contents

Section 1: What Are the Boggle Games?

What Is Boggle?

Boggle is high-speed word discovery game based on the board game by Parker Brother's. A group of players is presented with a group of letters arranged in a 4x4 matrix. The object of the game is to find as many legitimate words of length three or more in three minutes. The player with the most words at the end of the three minutes wins the game.

Big Boggle is similar to regular Boggle except it uses a 5x5 matrix and all the words must be of length 4 or greater. Big Boggle is currently only available at the Undernet site.

The Gameshow Hosts

The scoring and questions are controlled by a 'bot, which is an independent C program designed to work on the IRC. The Boggle bot is always called BogBot or Bog for short. A player submits a word by saying Bog, <answer>. <answer> is a word you have found in the board.

Where to Play Boggle

There are three different places where you can indulge your need to play Boggle. One of the newest game sites is on DALnet, a set of about 30 machines networked together. DALnet, a splinter network, offers you the chance to play Risky Business in what was originally a Star Trek like environment. DALnet currently hosts about 45,000 users on about 30 different servers. You can access DALnet at

DALnet Boggle is Coming Soon!

The most common location is on the group of IRC machines known collectively as the EFnet. Most client software for the IRC comes with a list of EFnet server sites to which you can connect. An example of an EFnet server site is EFnet tends to be quite crowded, lagged, and prone to netsplits.

An alternate group of machines form a network known as the Undernet. On the Undernet, netsplits, hacked channel operator privileges, and such like are relatively uncommon due to the structure of the network. Your same client software for EFnet will also work wonderfully well for the Undernet. Some common Undernet sites are or

You're not sure which network you're on? A quick and easy way to tell is by using the /lusers command. If it comes and reports to you that there are over 30 000 users connected on 70+ servers then you're connected to the EFnet. If there are fewer than 30 000 but more than 15 000, you are likely on the Undernet. DALnet will report around 40000 users. To change servers, type /server machine_name, where machine_name is something like or

A Description of the Game

You will be presented with a grid of letters, and you must form words which are at least 3 letters long, created out of adjoining letters. Letters may not be reused. Note that it is valid to move across diagonally.

As an example, in the board:

        a b c d
        e f g h
        i j k l
        m n o p

The following words are valid:

In order to register your found words, simply preface the word, one per line, with the word "bog", i.e., bog mink <return> bog fink, etc. Correct words are acknowledged and incorrect words will result in a deduction of one point from your score. It is important to remember that only one person can get the points for each word. That is, only one player can score the two points for mink. Thus, it is important to type as many words as quickly as possible.

Most people prefer to play a version of Boggle that is a little more challenging, saving the three-letter words for times when they are playing alone. If you see several people on the Boggle channel, chances are that they will want to be playing with words of four or more characters each. We did introduce a 4+ version of Boggle, Big Boggle, but this only runs at one site. Until it is more widespread, please respect the wishes of the majority.

Scoring for Boggle is relatively simple. You score 1 point for each 3-letter word. For each additional letter, add one more point to your score. Thus, for example, if you find the word fab in the above matrix, you score 1 point for fab. If you find mink, you score 2 points, and so on.

Common Problems Encountered While Playing

Q) The board doesn't line up correctly.
A) If you're using a UNIX ircII client, make sure you type:
    /set continued_line + 
    /set indent off

Note that these are the default IRC settings for ircII clients. In general, if the board is "off by a character" you can set continued_line to nothing or to + or to ++.

A) If you're using a Mac or PC client, make sure that you're using a monospaced (or fixed width) font. Examples of these include Monoco (on a Mac) or Courier. These make every character take up exactly the same amount of space.

Q) I *still* can't see the board properly.
A) Try bog show long board instead.

Q) The board scrolls off the screen. What can I do?
A) If you're using a UNIX ircII client, the best solution is to use IRC windows. You need VT100 emulation to use this feature (you have VT100 if your screen has an inverse bar at the bottom of the screen above where you type). With multiple windows, you can /msg bogbot to show you the board in one window which won't scroll, while you play in the main window.

    /window new             - create a new irc window
    /bind ^I next_window    - That's carat-I, not control-I!
       Tab will now switch windows.
       An inverse ^^^ denotes the active window.
       Use tab to select the upper window.
    /join #boggle           - Join channel in the upper window
       Use tab to select the lower window.
    /msg bogbot show board  - Shows board in lower window
       Use tab to select upper window, play!

Type /window kill to destroy a window.

Note: These commands do not work in mIRC clients; they are for ircII clients.

A)If you're using a Mac or PC client, try opening a query window to bogbot and issuing a show board or show long board command. You can then tile the windows so that the board window is always conveniently in sight.
  /query bogbot             - to open a query window
  bog show long board       - in the query window will send you board.

DALnet/StarLink Game Features

Boggle on these networks is slightly different than the other networks. The basis premise of the game remains the same but the interface is slightly changed in its input and output. The following list outlines changes made to the BogBot for these networks:

  1. Players have a choice of boards. The default displayed board at the beginning of every game is the old style board which works with IGM (or bog show board). A line by line version of the board, which works with most IRC clients, regardless of their configuration, can be obtained by saying "bog show long board."

  2. Boggle can be switched between 'hard' and 'easy' modes. Hard mode is defined as a game where all words must be at least four letters in order to count. "bog hard mode" issued during the course of a game will cause BogBot, if in 'easy mode' to only allow 4+ letter words in the following games. 'Easy' mode allows players to use 3-letter words and can be activated by using the 'bog easy mode' command.

  3. Boggle has 2 sets of statistics. One set, the 'indy' set is generated when a player plays a Boggle game alone. A 'group' set is maintained for games involving at least two players. In addition to the regular scores and wins (for both types), BogBot also stores the percentage of words found. "bog show top indy percentages" will show these for single-player games, etc.

  4. BogBot shows all words found by the 'bot and by the players. It is not restricted to only 256 characters or so. In addition, the bot will only display words that it found itself in excess of 4 letters, regardless of the mode of the bot. This is to encourage the '4+ letter culture.'

Section 2: Controlling the 'Bot and the Channel

BogBot Commands/Game Commands

A number of commands can be issued by players to BogBot. The following list of commands should be sent via a private message to BogBot. This can be done by typing /msg BogBot cmd, where cmd is one of the following:

* help 
    This provides the current list of commands to which BogBot will 
    respond.  This command might be disabled due to people flooding
    the 'bot with help requests.

* show board Sends a private message to you with a copy of the current board in play. This board is all on one line and works with IGM and 80-column text-based IRC clients.

* show long board Send a private message to you with a copy of the current board in play. This board is sent one line at a time and provides an alternative for those who don't use IGM or can't get the regular show board to work.

* show scores Displays the current points accumulated by the players for the current game.

* show top wins Will send you the list of the 10 players with the greatest number of wins. On StarLink/DALnet, this list is of the top ten high scores generated while playing with at least two people.

* show top scores Will send you the list of the 10 players with the greatest number of points in a single game. On StarLink/DALnet, this list is of the top ten high scores generated while playing with at least two people.

* show stats nickname Will send you a summary of a given user's number of wins and highest score.

* show top indy scores On DALnet/StarLink, this command shows you the top scores generated while players were playing alone.

* show top indy wins On DALnet/StarLink, this command shows you the top number of individual wins.

* show top percentages On DALnet/StarLink, this shows the ten players who have found the highest percentage of possible words while playing against other players.

* show top indy percentages On DALnet/StarLink, this shows the ten players who have found the highest percentage of possible words while playing alone.

* free channel Will remove +m, +i, +s, or +k modes in case the channel gets stuck in one of these modes.

* hard mode On DALnet/StarLink this instructs the bot to no longer accept 3-letter words as of the next game.

* easy mode On DALnet/StarLink this instructs the bot to once again accept 3-letter words as valid answers of the next game.

Channel Operators & Game Masters

Channel operators are users entrusted to maintain order on the channel as well as correct errors and notify the administration in the event of errors or mishaps. If you are not on the bot op list and think that you qualify, contact the appropriate game administrator.

People are granted operator status on EFnet/Undernet by Mach ( For StarLink/DALnet, you need to contact Eingang ( Usually, operator privileges are granted to people who have played the games for awhile so that their behaviour can be evaluated.

We do not find it amusing if people are constantly asking us for operator privileges for the games. Being an operator is not just a status thing, it is also a responsibility. If you just want to be an operator because you think it is cool, please do not even bother to ask. In fact, in general, operator privileges are granted automatically to people deemed capable of assuming the responsibility for managing the channel.

We cannot stress the importance of operators behaving appropriately. With so many games running, it is impossible for the game administrators to monitor all the channels all the time. As such, we rely on the operators to enforce the rules, particularly the rules regarding language and conduct on the channel. The games are designed to be family-friendly. If you are an operator or would like to be an operator, please be sure that you are also committed to this.

If you think someone is abusing their operator privileges or perhaps using them to cheat, please feel free to contact the appropriate game administrator with details of the problem.

Channel Rules (For Everyone)

Thousands of people have played our games, from countries all around the world, at many different times of the day and the night. In order to make sure that everyone has a good time, we have formulated the following rules which lay out guidelines for proper behaviour from all the users of our game channels. With so many games running, it is impossible to monitor all the channels all the time. Therefore, we rely on the operators to enforce the rules, particularly the rules regarding language and conduct on the channel. The games are designed to be family-friendly, which means we do have restrictions on language and content, for the comfort and enjoyment of all.

Channel operators are users entrusted to maintain order on the channel as well as to correct errors and notify the administration in the event of errors or mishaps. If you think someone is abusing their operator privileges or perhaps using them to cheat, please feel free to contact Eingang with details of the problem.

The most important rule for our game channels is that all people on the channel must be treated with respect, be they just regular game players, operators, game hosts ('bots), or game administrators. Treating people with respect means being polite, obeying the rules, and contributing in a positive way to a healthy channel atmosphere.

If you find yourself in a position where you are being verbally attacked, flooded, or otherwise harassed, please ask the offending party to cease. If they fail to cease, make use of the /ignore user@host -all command to ignore any message, public or private, coming from them and report to the problem to one of the game channel operators. Do not bother to respond to the person.

If you have a fight to pick with another user, please do it off channel or in private messages. Respecting other people means letting them enjoy the game without being subject to any personal problems you might have with other users. This would, of course, include any slights aimed at people on the basis of the colour, religion, sex, or age.

The games are meant to run in a "family" atmosphere, which means, ideally, no profanity or vulgarity at all. The users on the channel range in age from 10-80+. While the majority of us are adults and can handle language that is a little blue, it would be better to keep such language to a minimum. Going hand in hand with this is a caveat on language of a sexual nature. Vulgar comments or comments of a sexual nature are prohibited. This injunction also extends to the development of categories for any of the games.

The profanity rules do not constitute a violation of the American Constitution regarding free speech. The rules for free speech only apply to printed materials and areas of public congress. With these games, the administrators are inviting you into a private space and therefore are exempt from the rules regarding free speech. If you find their rules intolerable, you do not have to visit their "home."

We recognize that, at times, the game can be extremely frustrating. We would like to suggest that you make use of the following fun and clean expletives to express your displeasure: Krunk! Aaaargh! Ack! Wok?! Eep! Krunkola!

Channel Language
The official language of all the game channels is English. Unless the game category calls for something in a foreign language (in trivia or Chaos), all conversation on the channel and answers submitted to the bot should be English. Derivatives of English, such as Singlish, are frowned upon. The games are open to people from all over the world, so be friendly! Use proper English!

Category Complaints
Please refrain from complaining about the Americo-centric categories. The games have been running for a number of years now and most of the original players who contributed categories were from North America, which does the tilt the balance of play in their favour. Complaining about it, however, does not do anything and just annoys the other players. Instead of complaining, why not check out the category writing FAQ and write your own categories for inclusion in the game? This is a much more productive action than just complaining.

The operators are on the channel to ensure that the game runs smoothly. Operators are drawn from the pool of regular players. Asking an operator to op you is pointless and futile. If you are a regular IRC user, you probably already know how annoying it is to be constantly asked for access on a channel. If you are interested in becoming a channel operator, check out the FAQ on how to become a operator and apply!

Game bots and Errors in the Game
The game bots are programs, albeit programs with some degree of sophistication. The game bots have no idea of what is really right and what is really wrong. All they can go by is what was programmed into them by the category writer. Therefore, when the bot claims that the answer is "Aplpe" instead of "Apple," there is not much point in abusing the bot about it. Often channel operators will fix your score in such cases. If not, you yourself can report the problem using the "/msg botname /note answer x in category y should be answer z" so that it will be eventually fixed. Please do not bother to message one of the channel operators to reset your score. If they are paying attention, they will likely fix your score without prompting.

Flooding is defined as the rapid dumping of material to the channel or to other users via private messages, or repeated ctcp commands aimed at another user. Flooding often includes dumping ASCII art pictures to the screen, large pieces of conversations, textfiles, repeated pinging, etc. With the advent of colours in Ircle, mirc, and Pirch, dumping large amounts of coloured text to the channel can also be construed as flooding. We would request that you keep the use of colours to a minimum, since not all clients support colour.

Bot Commands
Most of the commands that can be issued to the game bots on a channel can also be sent to the bot via a private message. Repeatedly issuing "show scores", "show categories," etc. on the channel can be annoying. Use the /msg command instead to accomplish the same thing.

Idling on the game channels is not permitted except by the game administrators and the game show hosts ('bots). Most of the channels have a restriction on the number of users allowed on at a time. If you are idling there, you are probably preventing other users from playing.

Cheating often depends on the game being played. In general, however, the use of scripts to provide answers to trivia questions, solve Boggle boards, or provide Chaos category answers would be construed as cheating. There are some scripts around to help you play the games, such as the Boggle script and the IRC Game Machine (IGM). These scripts do not store answers of any kind, and thus are permitted. In a game such as Acro, cheating would include collaborating with other players on your acryonym expansion, using multiple nicknames or logins, or exchanging information about authorship of acronyms for the purposes of gaining points. For all the games, using multiple logins or multiple accounts to play is considered cheating as is using a search engine to look up material or keeping lists of answers. Cheating does not make the game fun for other people and, if you are caught, can be embarrassing and will result in a ban from all of the games. (See also the discussion of this in April, 2000's EinLetter. )

Electronic Terrorism
This category of behaviour includes nuking, sending people viruses or other programs when they join the channel, and spamming for other channels, networks, games, or anything that doesn't have to do with our games. In the case of nuking, firewall logs will be collected and sent to your ISP and you will be banned from all of the games. If you're auto-dccing people files when they join, you'll be told to stop and will be banned until you do so. You may be directed to an appropriate help channel on viruses or IRC for instruction on how to do this. If you're spamming inappropriately, you'll be asked to stop and banned if you fail to stop.

Revealing Answers
In the trivia games, there are moments when it is inappropriate to reveal the answer to a question, especially during the final round and during a steal. Please pay close attention to the status of the game before typing your answer.

Giving Up
In the trivia games, it is possible to say "we give up" and have the 'bot go on to the next questions. The 'bots all ignore repeated "we give up" commands from the same user for the same question; so only say it once. Secondly, it is better to have a concensus on the channel before giving up; try asking if it is OK to give up before issuing the command.

All interactions are logged and will be monitored in the event of a complaint. Please abide by the guidelines. Repeated violations of the guidelines will likely result in a global banning from all the game channels with little or no warning. Permanent channel bans for any user are the right of the game administrators.

Finally, if you have any complaints or questions about the channel guidelines, please contact one of the channel operators first and then one of the game administrators (See the game FAQs for information on contacting game administrators). We do want the games to be enjoyable for everyone.

Section 3: Problems

Reporting Bugs and Problems

Problems with a question or an answer somewhere? Or perhaps a bug in BogBot? For a problem with the 'bot, try to include as much information as possible about what actually occurred before the bug and then what the bug was. Errors can also be reported online by messaging the 'bot "/note details of error or mistake."

It happens occasionally that a word is not found by the 'bot in the board. More often than not this is because of a failure in the 'bot. If you believe it is because the word is not included in the word dictionary, please send some e-mail to Eingang. Please note that proper nouns should properly be excluded from the dictionary as they are not valid for the game of Boggle.

As of June 1st, 1997, DALnet/StarLink bots feature a new dictionary. This dictionary has 105, 000 words and excludes proper names, acronyms, abbreviations, and Roman numerals. With so many words, it's unlikely that your word isn't in the dictionary.

For a problem with one of the operators or with users on the channel, please send e-mail to Eingang including the names (user@host & IRC nickname) of the participants, details of the problem, location of the problem, and any actions that have already been taken.

Section 4: About the Authors

Who Are They?

The Boggle games were originally developed by Mach. Mach was a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of California at Davis. He is now working for Intel in Portland, Oregon. The DALnet/StarLink versions of Boggle were adapted from the original MachBot code by Eingang in 1997. Eingang is a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. Mach and Eingang combined to produce some other IRC games such as Chaos, Acrophobia, and Risky Business.

More information can be obtained from their home pages. Mach's home page is located at More information about Eingang can be found at

Contacting the Authors

Mach's e-mail address is Eingang's e-mail address is

Section 5: Other Items of Interest

Other Items of Interest

In addition to the IRC Games Server (, a number of other support groups and areas are available for Boggle players and people interested in the IRC Games.

Gigi44^ has slaved over her editor and her paint programs to bring the DALnet and StarLink game players the "Ein-Gang Pages", in which you can find pictures and short paragraphs about all your favourite players. The page is located at

Eingang moderates an on-topic mailing list devoted to the games on her networks. Announcements of upcoming tournaments, machine problems, game upgrades, new games, etc. are sent to this list. To subscribe to the mailing list, send an e-mail to with "SUBSCRIBE IRCGAMES your_email@address" as the subject of the message. To unsubscribe, send an e-mail to with "UNSUBSCRIBE IRCGAMES your_email@address" as the subject of the message. Or use our online form.

Sker has provided us with a bang-up script to help make your game playing easier when you're using a UNIX-based IRCii client. This script simplifies play on #riskybus (and variants), #acro, #chaos, and #boggle! Check it out at!

For Windows users, check out Dwight Duensing's IRC Game Machine (IGM), which provides an interface to all of our games. (His WWW page seems to be missing so the latest version here in .zip file format is stored here at

If you have a page or resource that should be added here, contact Eingang!


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Michelle A. Hoyle
About Boggle, Last modified: November 25, 2002