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Definition

chat room

What is a chat room?

A chat room is an online platform that enables users to communicate with each other in real time. Chat rooms are typically hosted on a server with an internet connection, enabling members from around the world to hold conversations about various topics.

By comparison, forums and discussion groups let users post messages but don't have the capacity for interactive, real-time messaging.

slack chatting
An example of a chat about a specific topic occurring over Slack

Examples of chat room software

The following is a list of commonly used chat rooms and communication software:

Chat rooms vs. video conferencing software

Chat rooms and chat applications are typically used for one-on-one or small-group communication, while video conferencing software is designed for more formal meetings with multiple participants.

Platforms like Zoom, meanwhile, enable voice or video chatting between two or more users. This type of software is used mostly by businesses to replace in-person meetings.

Video conferencing platforms usually offer features such as screen sharing, chatbots, interactive whiteboards and other collaboration tools. Some software offers both video conferencing and chat options, such as Skype and Microsoft Teams.

Zoom video chatting
Video chatting over Zoom

How are chat rooms used?

Chat rooms are used mainly for communication, with people discussing a wide variety of topics or simply chatting casually online with co-workers or friends. They may also be used for social networking, product promotion or gaming, as well as a remote working tool.

To use a chat room, users must create an account with the online platform and log in. Sometimes, users may also be prompted to download a software client to facilitate the use of the chat room. They can then join chat rooms or chat with other members who are currently logged in.

Chat room conversations take place in a chat box, which is visible to all participants. Many chat rooms provide features such as private messaging, chat rooms specific to certain interests and topics, or the ability to customize chat room colors or backgrounds.

Challenges with chat rooms

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 an 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.

Chat room etiquette requires users to be respectful of one another, even when discussing controversial topics. The chat room moderators typically keep a close watch on conversations to ensure that there is no offensive language or behavior and to protect chat room members from malicious attacks.

Chat rooms are an excellent way for people to communicate online with each other in real time, enabling meaningful conversations and connections over a wide range of topics. They can be used for casual conversation or more serious discussion, depending on the purpose and regulations set by the chat room moderator. With a few simple rules of etiquette, chat rooms can be safe spaces that connect people.

Explore the differences between Microsoft Teams vs. Slack, learn about the history and evolution of video conferencing, see about enhancing the efficiency of remote team communication and check out how to use live chat for lead generation.

This was last updated in January 2023

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