Online chat

Online chat

Online chat may refer to any kind of communication over the Internet, that offers an instantaneous transmission of text-based messages from sender to receiver, hence the delay for visual access to the sent message shall not hamper the flow of communications in any of the directions. Online chat may address as well point-to-point communications as well as multicast communications from one sender to many receivers.



Online chat in a lesser stringent definition may be primarily any direct text-based one-on-one chat or one-to-many group chat (formally also known as synchronous conferencing), using tools such as instant messengers, Internet Relay Chat, talkers and possibly MUDs. The expression online chat comes from the word chat which means "informal conversation".[1]


The first[2] dedicated online chat service was the CompuServe CB Simulator in 1980,[3] created by CompuServe executive Alexander "Sandy" Trevor in Columbus, Ohio. Ancestors include network chat software such as UNIX "talk" used in the 1970s.


The term chatiquette is a variation of netiquette (chat etiquette) and describes basic rules of online communication.[4][5][6][7] To avoid misunderstandings and to simplify the communication between users in a chat these conventions or guidelines have been created. Chatiquette varies from community to community, generally describing basic courtesy; it introduces new user into the community and the associated network culture. As an example, it is considered rude to write only in upper case, because it looks as if the user is shouting. The word chatiquette has been used in connection with various chat systems (e.g. IRC) since 1995.[8][9]

Cultural impact

Despite being virtual, chat can spill into the outside world.[10] There can also be a strong sense of online identity leading to impression of subculture.[11] Compare Internet sociology.

Chats are valuable sources of various types of information, the automatic processing of which is the object of chat/text mining technologies [12].

Social criticism

There has been much criticism about what online chatting has done in today’s society. Many people[who?] are accusing it of replacing proper English with short hand with an almost completely new hybrid language.[citation needed]

Writing is changing as it takes on some of the functions and features of speech. Internet chatrooms and rapid real-time conferencing allow users to interact with whoever happens to coexist in cyberspace. These virtual interactions involve us in `talking' more freely and more widely than ever before (Merchant, 2001).[13] With chatrooms replacing many face-to-face conversations it is necessary to be able to have quick conversation as if the person were present, so many people learn to type as quickly as they would normally speak. Critics[who?] are wary that this casual form of speech is being used so much that it will slowly take over common grammar; however, such a change has yet to be seen. With the increasing population of online chatrooms there has been a massive growth[citation needed] of new words created or slang words, many of them documented on the website Urban Dictionary

Sven Birkerts says

“as new electronic modes of communication provoke similar anxieties amongst critics who express concern that young people are at risk, endangered by a rising tide of information over which the traditional controls of print media and the guardians of knowledge have no control on it”.[14]

This person is arguing that the youth of the world may have too much freedom with what they can do or say with the almost endless possibilities that the Internet gives them, and without proper controlling it could very easily get out of hand and change the norm of literacy of the world. In Guy Merchant’s journal article Teenagers in Cyberspace: An Investigation of Language Use and Language Change in Internet Chatrooms; he says

“that teenagers and young people are in the leading the movement of change as they take advantage of the possibilities of digital technology, drastically changing the face of literacy in a variety of media through their uses of mobile phone text messages, e-mails, web-pages and on-line chatrooms. This new literacy develops skills that may well be important to the labor market but are currently viewed with suspicion in the media and by educationalists.[who?] [15]

Merchant also says “Younger people tend to be more adaptable than other sectors of society and, in general, quicker to adapt to new technology. To some extent they are the innovators, the forces of change in the new communication landscape. (Merchant, 2001).”[16] In this article he is saying that young people are merely adapting to what they were given.

Software and protocols

The following are common chat programs and protocols:

Chat programs supporting multiple protocols:

Web sites with browser-based chat services (also see web chat):

See also

External links


  1. ^ chat
  2. ^ CompuServe Innovator Resigns After 25 Years, The Columbus Dispatch, 11 May 1996, p. 2F
  3. ^ Wired and Inspired, The Columbus Dispatch (Business page), by Mike Pramik, 12 November 2000
  4. ^ IRC Chatiquette – Chat Etiquette
  5. ^ Chatiquette - guidelines for chatting online
  6. ^ UITS - Instant Messaging Chatiquette - University of Arkansas
  7. ^ Using the Internet for Active Teaching and Learning, Steven C. Mills ISBN 0131105469
  8. ^ Electronic Discourse - On Speech and Writing on the Internet - 3. Internet Relay Chat Discourse
  9. ^ CNET reviews - comparative reviews - chat clients - chatiquette The Internet Archive
  10. ^ Michael Herman (2006-10-17). "Chat room user guilty of web rage". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  11. ^ Regina Lynn. "Virtual Rape Is Traumatic, but Is It a Crime?". 
  12. ^ Texor
  13. ^ Merchant, Guy . “Teenagers in cyberspace: an investigation of language use and language change in internet chatrooms.” Journal of Research in Reading. 2001 Volume 24, Issue 3. ISSN 0141-0423
  14. ^ Birkerts, S. “Sense and semblence: The implications of virtuality.” In B. Cox (Ed.) Literacy is not enough. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 1998
  15. ^ Merchant, Guy. “Teenagers in cyberspace: an investigation of language use and language change in internet chatrooms.” Journal of Research in Reading. 2001 Volume 24, Issue 3. ISSN 0141-0423
  16. ^ Merchant, Guy . “Teenagers in cyberspace: an investigation of language use and language change in internet chatrooms.” Journal of Research in Reading. 2001 Volume 24, Issue3, ISSN 0141-0423

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