I've had the same problem, although IRC is so integral to my work and my life that it's not feasible for me to eliminate it. Most of the time it's infeasible for me to even log out for longer than a few hours during a normal day. I don't really have a reasoned essay about this, but a few thoughts are floating around.
- IRC, as both software and a communication standard, is utter garbage. I could write a post twenty pages long just cataloguing its obvious flaws. That makes it very difficult to implement any of these suggestions. It might be reasonable to do this with Jabber, but somebody would have to write a reasonable Jabber server in Twisted first.
- There should be a way to broadcast the temperature of an IRC discussion. Twisted is largely just random noise - I want to be able to minimize my IRC client without fear that I'm missing anything, until someone raises the "temperature" to alert everyone "an interesting discussion is happening, tune in now".
- In that vein, more discussions should be scheduled, rather than happening spontaneously. An automatic moderator bot could probably help with that.
- It should be a lot easier to fork off a political conversation into a new room. I can identify with the rage reaction to various IRC conversations.
- There should be some sort of "comforting social gesture" built in to the protocol so that you can greet people, thank them, and generally make polite noises without having to dress up as a cat, weaponize trout, chew off someone's arm, or wrestle them to the ground and lick their face. Those are all "normal" greetings I've seen otherwise normal and professional IRC users use to greet each other. In my experience, women who engage in this sort of thing tend to be inappropriately affectionate, but men tend to concoct extremely violent, bizarre and intricate rituals, sometimes with a defined back-and-forth that might be five or six steps.
World of Warcraft's emotes system achieves this by being really limiting, and thus far, from what I can see, that's a great thing. WoW players don't spend hours developing byzantine in-character rituals to greet each other - you have your option of /wave, /clap, or /bow.