Sunday, 20 February 2011

Chat room

The term chat room, or chatroom, is primarily used by mass media to describe any form of synchronous conferencing, occasionally even asynchronous conferencing. The term can thus mean any technology ranging from real-time online chat over instant messaging and online forums to fully immersive graphical social environments. A chat room is a Web site, part of a Web site, or part of an online service such as America Online, that provides a venue for communities of users with a common interest to communicate in real time. Forums and discussion groups, in comparison, allow users to post messages but don't have the capacity for interactive messaging. Most chat rooms don't require users to have any special software; those that do, such as Internet Relay Chat (IRC) allow users to download it from the Internet.Chat room users register for the chat room of their choice, choose a user name and password, and log into a particular room (most sites have multiple chat rooms). Inside the chat room, generally there is a list of the people currently online, who also are alerted that another person has entered the chat room. To chat, users type a message into a text box. The message is almost immediately visible in the larger communal message area and other users respond. Users can enter chat rooms and read messages without sending any, a practice known as lurking.

Because chat room messages are spontaneous and instantly visible, there is a potential for abuse, which may or may not be intentional. Site hosts typically post a frequently asked questions (FAQ) list to guide users to appropriate chat room behavior, such as introducing yourself when you enter a room, making it clear when you are directing a question or response to a specific user, and reporting disruptive users, for example. Disruptive users may verbally abuse other chatters, monopolize the conversation, or even just disable it by repeatedly typing the same word or phrase into the conversation, a practice (much frowned upon) known as scrolling.

Chat rooms can be found that focus on virtually any aspect of human endeavor or interest: there are current communities based on classic movies, Irish ancestry, baton twirling, and psychic readings, for example. Various sites, such as Yahoo, provide a directory of chat sites. Others, such as MSN Web Communities, guide users through the steps required to create their own chat room.

Text-based chat

Online chat is a way of communicating by sending text messages to people in the same chat-room in real-time. Some chat rooms such as Yahoo! use both text and voice simultaneously. The oldest form of true chat rooms are the text-based variety.

Graphical multi-user environments

Visual chat rooms add graphics to the chat experience, in either 2D or 3D (employing virtual reality technology).These are characterized by using a graphic representation of the user (avatar) that can be moved about a graphic background or in a graphic environment. These virtual worlds are capable of incorporating elements such as games (in particular massively multiplayer online games) and educational material most often developed by individual site owners, who in general are simply more advanced users of the systems. The most popular environments also allow users to create or build their own spaces.
Online pool game with lobby

Some visual chat rooms also incorporate audio and video communications, so that users may actually see and hear each other.

Chat room activities

The primary use of a chat room is to share information via text with a group of other users. Generally speaking, the ability to converse with multiple people in the same conversation differentiates chat rooms from instant messaging programs, which are more typically designed for one-to-one communication. The users in a particular chat room are generally connected via a shared interest or other similar connection, and chat rooms exist catering for a wide range of subjects. New technology has enabled the use of file sharing and webcams to be included in some programs.
Sexual related uses

Some people who visit chat rooms use them as a place to experience online sex, also known as cybersex or computer love. While not physically able to see their partner, users derive stimulation from descriptive text.

Many Internet chat and messaging services allow users to display or send each other photos of themselves and users may chose to exchange nude or sexual photos. This has led to widespread concern about the potential for the sexual exploitation of minors. Minors who take sexually suggestive or explicit digital photos of themselves and share such photos with others have even been prosecuted under child-pornography statutes.
Games

Games are also often played in chat rooms. A historic example is Hunt the Wumpus.

Rules of behavior

Chat rooms usually have stringent rules that they require users to follow in order to maintain integrity and safety for their users. Particularly in rooms for children, rules usually do not allow users to use offensive language, or to promote hate mail, violence and other negative issues. Also chat rooms often do not allow advertising in their rooms or flooding, which is continually filling the screen with repetitive text. Typing with caps lock on is usually considered shouting and is discouraged.[1]

Sometimes chat room venues are moderated either by limiting who is allowed to speak (not common), by having comments be approved by moderators (often presented as asking questions of a guest or celebrity), or by having moderation volunteers patrol the venue watching for disruptive or otherwise undesirable behaviour.

Yet, most commonly used chat rooms are not moderated and users may type what they personally choose to send.

Perceived dangers

As chat rooms are often frequented by minors, they can facilitate illegal sexual contact[2] though studies have shown that this is not common, with the American Psychologist journal calling many of the fears 'myths'