IRC clients can connect to EFnet via
irc.efnet.org, which will be routed to a random IRC server, or clients may choose to connect directly to the closest geographical IRC server.
Initially, most IRC servers formed a single network, to which new servers could join without restriction, but this was soon abused by people who set up servers to sabotage other users, channels, or servers. When, in August 1990, server
eris.berkeley.edu remained the only one to allow anyone to connect servers, IRC server operator Greg Lindahl ("wumpus") broke away to start EFnet. The resulting argument split the IRC community of admins into EFnet and A-net (Anarchy Network), but A-net soon vanished, leaving EFnet as the only IRC network.
Continuing problems with performance and abuse eventually led to the rise of another major IRC network, Undernet, which split off in October 1992.
In July 1996, disagreement on policy caused EFnet to break in two: the slightly larger European half (including Australia and Japan) formed IRCnet, while the American servers continued as EFnet. This was widely known as the Great Split
EFnet is probably the least "unified" IRC network, with large variations in server rules and policy between different servers. There are three major regions on EFnet which each have their own policy structure. They are EU, CA, and US. Each region votes on its own server applications. However, central policies are voted upon by the admin community. An archive of previous votes can be found at the EFnet voting site
In July 2001, a service called CHANFIX (originally named JUPES) was created, which is designed to give back ops to channels which have lost ops or been taken over. In the case of having no ops CHANFIX will automatically join the channel and op people who fit the requirements.
For a takeover, a request must be made for a manual activation of CHANFIX. Once connected to EFnet, a user can find an IRC operator with the command:
/stats p; only IRC Administrators are able to request manual CHANFIX activation.
EFnet channel operators are free to run their channels however they see fit without EFnet IRCops' intervention. The EFnet IRCops are primarily there to keep all the servers on the network connected, and not to interfere in channel issues.
In early 2008 various EFnet servers began implementing SSL.