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I hang out on a private IRC server with about 15 folks, mostly old friends of mine working in various parts of the industry. It's primarily a place to talk about geeky topics and complain about work.

Same here. We've had a private channel running for over a decade now and as people move to new jobs and shuffle around, the channel is always home.

We've even built a bot to capture URLs and tweet them to a private handle so people can check out sites after work or while away from the channel.

To the person asking if IRC is distracting, it's a LOT less distracting than the hipster that sits next to me and is constantly checking his smartphone every time an SMS comes in. Pavlov would roll over in his grave.

Ditto. We also have a wiki and a tumblr site where we post immature nonsense. We all (except one of us) used to work at the same place, but now we're geographically and employmentologically spread out.

My group of peers does the same thing. It's a pretty broad cross section of nerds (as broad as that can be) -- the channel is busy 8-5 weekdays and dead outside those hours. Basically, they're my virtual (and one physical) officemates.

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