Identifier behaviour in various types of lists

Authorqwerty 2006/09/16 14:45

mIRC has five types of lists that accept address-mask entries: one is the Users list, found in mIRC Editor's Users tab. The other four are those found in the Control section of mIRC's address book: Ignore, Op, Voice and Protect.

For each of these lists, there are one or more identifiers that allow you to compare a user's address against the list and determine if there's a match. However, these identifiers do not behave the same way. The purpose of this article to delineate those differences.

For the Users list, we have two identifiers, $level() and $ulist(). Let's start with $level; the help file says that $level() searches the Users list for the specified address and the example uses an address mask of type 2 (for more on masks see /help $mask). So if your Users list looks something like this:


then typing

//echo -a $level(*!*

will give you 42; mIRC searched through the Users list for the exact entry *!* and found it. However, $level() also accepts full addresses (of the form nick!address@host), which is what makes it really useful. When you specify a full address, mIRC goes through the list and compares each item against the specified full address; if the current item is a wildcard string that matches the full address, the associated level is returned. Think of it as an internal sort of

if (<list item> iswm <full address>)


//echo -a $level(somenick!

gives 42.

The other identifier, $ulist() is more powerful though; not only does it accept either an exact mask or a full address, like $level(), but it also accepts wildcard address masks that are not in the Users list. Considering the above Users list, typing

//echo -a $ulist(bleh!*

gives you *!test@*.com. Why? Because when mIRC goes through the list, it performs two checks for each item: it checks whether the current list entry is a wildcard string that matches the specified address (or address mask) but it also checks for the opposite, that is whether the specified address mask is a wildcard string that matches the list entry. A scripting equivalent of what's going on would be

if ((<current item> iswm <address>) || (<address> iswm <current item>))

Now about the other list types. For the Ignore list, we have the $ignore() identifier. This one works exactly like $level(): it either looks for an exact match in the ignore list or it checks whether each item in the list is a wildcard string that matches the specified full address. This means that if you add qwerty!* in your ignore list, both

//echo -a $ignore(qwerty!


//echo -a $ignore(qwerty!*

will give you back qwerty!*, however

//echo -a $ignore(qwerty!*test*

will give you an insufficient parameters error (meaning $ignore() returned $null).

The Auto-Op and Auto-Voice list identifiers $aop() and $avoice() have identical behaviour, which matches $ulist()'s behaviour; they perform the same "2-way" comparison, thus they are more powerful than $ignore().

The Protect list identifier $protect(), however, seems to be broken in mIRC v6.2; it only accepts an exact mask, that is a mask that's represented literally in the Protect list. So if your Protect list contains *!*, only $protect(*!* returns that entry; both $protect(foo! and $protect(*! return $null.

NOTE: the exact same rules that apply to address book identifiers also aply to their respective /if operators. That is, isignore, isaop, isavoice, isprotect exhibit identical behaviour to $ignore(), $aop(), $avoice(), $protect() respectively.


While performing some additional tests, I got the following results.. ('isban' included just because it also takes masks)

nick full narrow exact wide all
$aop x x x
isaop x x x
$avoice x x x
isavoice x x x
$ignore x x
isignore x x
$protect x x
isprotect x x
$level x x x
$ulist x x x x
isban x x

The entry assumed present in all lists is *!*@host.domain. Legend:

entry mask tested description
nick nick nickname of matching person currently in IAL
full nick!user@host.domain full address, no wildcards
narrow *!user@host.domain narrower wildcard mask
exact *!*@host.domain exact address as present in list
wide *!*@*.domain wilder wildcard mask
all *!*@* mask matching every possible mask

Clearly $protect/isprotect are different from the rest, but the rest on itself is also far from consistent! Especially $ulist is worth a closer look though, as a few more tests of the "*!user@* vs *!*@*.domain" kind yielded all sorts of seemingly illogical results. With a large number of test cases, I've tried to procedurize how $ulist decides whether there is a match between the given input address and an entry in the userlist.

In comparison, for $level this process is rather straightforward. It can be assumed that $level iterates through the userlist, entry by entry, and tries to decide for each whether there is a match - that is, for each entry in the userlist, it checks this userlist <entry> against the <input> as given as first parameter and decides between match/no match. A very close approximation of this matching process can be described as follows:

  1. If the userlist entry <entry> is a basic nickname, meaning the entry does not contain any of the following characters: '!', '@', '*', '?', then it is implicitly considered to be suffixed with '!*', effectively turning "<entry>" into "<entry>!*" for the next step.
  2. A match is assumed if, and only if, the userlist entry is a wildcard-match against the given input: "<entry> iswm <input>".

This indeed fully explains the full/narrow/exact data points in the table above, as well as pretty much all other combinations I could come up with.1)

However, $ulist is much more complicated than that! Even if we ignore the L and N parameters and again fully concentrate on the most basic yes/no test whether <entry> in the userlist is a match for the given <input>, there are lots of strange things about $ulist. The simplest procedurization of $ulist's matching algorithm that I could come up with, is the following:

  1. If the given input is exactly a single star "*", it's a match.
  2. The given input <input> is extended to form an (optionally) wildcarded nick!user@host format, according to the rules given below.
  3. Like with $level, <entry> is suffixed with "!*" if it does not contain any of the characters '!@*?'.
  4. If <entry> is a wildcard match against <input> ("<entry> iswm <input>"), it's a match.
  5. If <entry> contains no wildcards, and <input> is a wildcard match against <entry> ("<input> iswm <entry>"), it's a match.
  6. If <entry> can not be split up in a <entry-nick>, <entry-user> and <entry-host> portion, it's not a match. <input> is split up in the same way at this point, but this can never fail because of the extension earlier.
  7. If either <entry-host> or <input-host> (or both) are a single wildcard, i.e. either the userlist entry or the extended input ended with "@*", then it's not a match.
  8. Now each of the three pairs <entry-nick> and <input-nick>, <entry-user> and <input-user>, <entry-host> and <input-host>, are checked with a two-way wildcard matching algorithm (see below). At this point, a match is assumed if, and only if, all three pairs are two-way wildcard matches.

This indeed seems overly and unnecessarily complex, but I do not see a way to reduce the number of steps of this procedurization while yielding the same results - I've tested this procedurization as well and it seems to always yield the same results as $ulist itself.2) $ulist's input extension is as follows:

  • If the input contains neither a '!' or a '@', add '!*@*' at the end.
  • Otherwise, if the input contains no '!', insert '*!' at the beginning.
  • Otherwise, if the input contains no '@', add '@*' at the end.

The two-way wildcard matching algorithm is a little too messy to describe here in full detail, but essentially it takes two wildcard strings as input, and decides whether there could potentially be a literal text string that is matched by both wildcard strings. For example, *a* and *b* match; a* and *b match; a* and b* don't. Wildcards '*' and '?' are both supported.

Again, I have no idea why $ulist is so incredibly complicated. Its behaviour doesn't strike me as particularly useful.. — Saturn 2006/09/25 20:54

1) The only errors were on the diagonal of my test matrix, indicating some malformed (i.e. not wildcarded nick!user@host format) entries would behave differently than expected when matched against themselves.
2) Again, except for some errors on the diagonal with malformed entries.
list_identifiers.txt · Last modified: 2011/10/17 23:51 (external edit)
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