In any communication network, there is a delay between when a piece of data is sent and when it is received. When the network is congested with lots of traffic, this delay sometimes gets very large, and is called "netlag". Long delays happen when the network discards some data (generally due to excessive congestion) and it has to be retransmitted. As congestion gets worse and data is lost more often, the hosts at each end wait longer before retransmitting it. (They do this to keep from making the congestion worse and worse until the net stops working entirely.) Thus the lags you see get longer as well as happening more frequently. A still longer lag can occur if equipment fails somewhere on the net between you and ICS, so that no data at all can get through for a while. Everyone has lag sometimes, because some lag originates close to the server, but some people do have much more frequent and severe lag than others, so have compassion on them.
Lag on today's Internet is unavoidable. Many schemes have been proposed for detecting lag on ICS and adjusting clocks to compensate, and if we find a good one we may implement it. However, this still won't eliminate the problem. Perhaps the most effective thing you can do to fight lag in the long run is to support the National Information Infrastructure initiative, and/or other proposals for upgrading network capacity in the U.S. and around the world.
Some slow links in the network between ics.uoknor.edu and most of the rest of the world are supposed to be upgraded later in 1994, so we can hope the lag situation will improve then for many people.
If you have bad lag, try another ICS host (see "help addresses") or consider to use a so called "timeseal"-client, which allows you to synchronize your clock with the clock of your opponent regardless of delays in the network (see "help timeseal").
See also: addresses, timeseal