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All About Chatting Online

By: Andrew Carr - Updated: 21 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
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The ability to chat online has been around since basically the interception of the Internet. Basically, it is all built-in to the network technology and protocols available.

In the modern age chatting is only a subset of communication methods we have available to us as Internet users. For instance, social networks provide the ability to chat, and to send files including videos and images. However, a great number of people still prefer to chat without logging into a social network site, partly because most chat providers include software which can be downloaded and installed onto your pc and is more convenient. Chatting the traditional way is still very popular, but the chat software has become more sophisticated over the years.

Types of Chat

There are three main types of online chatting; there are the instant messengers involving real-time communication between two or more people, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) which can operate in a number of modes and then there are online games with chat facilities including social chat rooms or MUD (multiuser dungeon, domain or dimension).

The predecessor to instant messengers was called “talkers” and these came about in the early 1980s. Internet Relay Chat is for the more technically minded and it means “synchronous conferencing”. Users of Internet relay chat can join a number of channels or search for specific channels. IRC users can present themselves in a number of modes. They can be “invisible” so that people cannot see them online, they can just receive notices from the server, and they can access what is known as a secret channel, only available to certain people. The person in charge of an IRC conversation is called the operator and users can contact the operator about any aspect of the chatting system. IRC chats can be on global or one-to-one and always operate in real-time.

Netiquette and Chatiquette

When it comes to chatting there are rules involved in line with what is known as General “netiquette”. Netiquette is the same as “etiquette” in the real world but in an online world context. Netiquette rules (written or unwritten) include the whole plethora of communications available on the Internet such as chat, discussion forums and social networking.

Most chat sites have a moderator to ensure that netiquette is being adhered to. The subset of netiquette for chatting is called “Chatiquette”. The rules of chat on the Internet include things like no rude remarks or defamatory remarks should be made and things like the use of upper case as this could indicate shouting.

There are numerous ways to chat online and a great number of the chatting sites provide software for added convenience. Chatting exists in a number of ways from chat rooms to dating sites, and basically there are chatting facilities all over the Internet. Chatting sites utilise what is known as “protocols” and chat facilities can have single or multiple protocols. A protocol is the technology used to run communications software over a network and there are several types of protocols in existence.

Examples are Microsoft’s MSN messenger and ICQ (an acronym of “I seek you”). ICQ is one of the biggest chatting mediums on the Internet with over 31 million users worldwide. It was the first Internet messaging service and was created in 1996. AOL acquired ICQ in 1998 for $407 million. You could also try “Google chat” and “jabber”.

Chatting Online is a Great Way to Meet People

There is a proliferation of chatting sites all over the Internet. Some people believe it provides them with a sense of identity in an online sense. Chatting is now an Internet subculture and it is a great way of meeting people, especially if you live alone but it is also a great way to connect and network and to improve your education and discuss recent issues. The great thing about chatting is that it is "borderless" and you can chat to people all over the world. Quite often chatting online can be come a habit and many people have met in real life as a result of chats they have had on the Internet. This all sounds great but then there is the downside too, where child safety becomes an issue and parents must be vigilant about who their children are talking to at the other end of chat conversations.

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