I wrote an article for Double Dot Labs on how to join a channel on Freenode and register a username. IRC is fun. https://doubledot.dev/blog/2019-03-06-Freenode-IRC-Setup/
It's a bit annoying to me that using IRC for anything today basically requires owning a server - which most (US) ISPs prohibit in their ToS. Freenode is a good way to make them more accessible, but "plain IRC" is still giving way to closed IRC-based services like slack/discord in most areas - with a few exceptions, of course.
I guess it's the same reason I find mastodon & other "decentralized social networks" interesting, because not everybody has to commit to one single service with one client and one UX, and yet nothing is split up as a result. It all works together. Mostly.
Not that your point needs clarification, but I really wanted to boost it because it relates to what we're working on.
As we build these tools, we have to remember that Mastodon (and the proposed 402-Receits system) is federated, not decentralized. I don't think everything can be decentralized; federation is a (important) compromise.
This Mastodon instance is for people interested in technology. Discussions aren't limited to technology, because tech folks shouldn't be limited to technology either!