A chat room is an Internet destination for people to meet and talk to other users. Many have a specific topic of interest, antique cars for example. To Chat To rooms can be rewarding places to spend time: many friendships, and even some romantic relationships, get started on them.
Most chats require an account to access. Signing up is a quick process requiring at least your desired screen name, a password and an email address, and you will have to agree to a Terms of Service (TOS). Chat sites usually require some kind of software, such as Java, and will include instructions on how to set up any required software, and installations are usually minimal. Be suspicious of websites with an overly complicated installation process. It shouldn't take more than five minutes to get in.
Most chats have a common layout: a main panel with the messages, a users panel to the right and text input across the bottom. Some users in the user info panel will have special icons or characters next to their names. This denotes their status as a chat moderator: someone who is paid or volunteers to watch over the chat and respond to any unwanted behavior.
Once you're in, many sites have several rooms available to users, many will be by location or subject. Select one appropriate to your tastes and chat away.
The best thing about a chat is that it can connect users from all around the world with common interests: Anything from home repair to Harry Potter. There is a chat out there for everything, and even people with esoteric tastes are bound to find like-minded others from around the world. They are the coffee shops of the Internet's global village: places to meet, talk, and share information from anywhere. Used correctly, someone could find homework help or answers to specific questions for a work-related project from someone else who has run into the same issues.
Staying safe in a chat is about awareness. All users currently in the room case see anything you type, even if some haven't said anything in a while. Even if the few users who are responding seem trustworthy, they or others may not be. Keep personal information to yourself; never give out passwords or credit card information and be vague if asked where you live--mention a city or surrounding area.
After logging in, figure out how to report users and save chat logs. Be aware of behavior like trolling, which is when a user will say things merely to begin an argument--called flaming or a flame war. The best way to deal with suspected trolls is to ignore them.
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