Tuesday, 18th May 2021
Computers & The Internet Article

This Month's Magazine

Feel like chatting...?

What is chatting on the Net? Have you ever wandered or have you tried it? It could be fun.

by Sebastián Polinares

Think in terms of the 70Â’s when CB Radios were in fashion, the difference is that you do not communicate by voice but by typing. 

Channels or Chat Rooms can be described as conference rooms to where a number of people are connected and ...have a chat or discussion.

If you use America On Line (AOL) , obviously you are then chatting with other AOL users, on the other hand, if you talk on the Internet Relay Chat, you are then communicating with people at large.  Usually Chat Rooms have a name, which gives an indication of what the conversation might be about.

If you have not tried this before and wish to give it a try, the first time you do so might seem stupid or futile.

So, get ready first:

  • Do not jump straight into a conversation, you cannot know what they have been saying before you entered the room. Wait until you get at least one page full of “what went on” to pick up the thread and context before you start writing. 
  • Follow the comments of just one person, then see what the people mentioned by that person reply. 
  • Once you picked up one thread, you can then follow another and you will soon get the hang of it. 
  • You can scroll the screen up to see what went on in previous pages, however no new messages will appear until you scroll down again. 
  • If you do not like the room, you do not have to stay, leave and find another.

Assuming that you want to participate in the conversation, remember one very important thing: use a screen name. Nobody uses his real name which can also be changed from one minute to the next. This is what one means about being careful, though, on the whole, the intention is to talk to interesting and friendly people.

It often happens that the group send you a friendly welcome as soon as they become aware that you have joined in. As it often happens in real life, not every one in a group of strangers is likeable and that can include people that can take advantage of a situation in respect of anonymity in order to act vulgar, crude or even worse. Children should not be left to chat on their own. 


In a previous edition, we have already mentioned “Netiquette”. This is based on pure and simple common sense:

  1. Do not hurt anyoneÂ’s feelings.
  2. Be cautious.
  3. It is polite to lurk while following what has been happening in a room, before you join in the conversation and when you finally join in it is also polite to say that  you are delurking. 
  4. Keep you messages short and to the point.
  5. Do not insult or use foul language.
  6. If the chat system you are using has a provision for you to create a profile about yourself, you may do so as truthfully as possible as long as you never give your real name, address and phone number. You do not have to tell everything either. 
  7. If you ever want to talk to someone in private, you should then send a message to that person saying who you are and what you want. 
  8. Should it happen that the conversation taking place offends you, there is no need  to stay,....leave.

Whatever you do just remember the following:

  • Most people lie about their occupation, age, locality and even gender.
  • Do not give hints that can help identifying you or your address, unfortunately there are some sick people out there. 
  • Never, never give your password to anyone. No legitimate person will ever ask you for it or need it. Should this ever happen inform your provider at once. 
  • Be extra cautions with persons who have not given a profile and ask to chat with you. 
  • Do not arrange a meeting with someone unless and until you have had the opportunity of exchanging a fair number of  phone calls (both ways). When you do meet, choose a well lit and busy locality.
    Finally remember that unfortunately there is always a jerk somewhere, if this happens:

- Your first option is to get out of the chatroom.

- Ignore him or her and continue your conversation with the others

- Make them disappear. On AOL, double-click the offenderÂ’s name on the list and then click the    ignore box.

- Complain to the individualÂ’s provider.

- Do not respond in kind and give the jerk the chance to make a complaint about you.

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