How Should You Talk to People Online
If you enter a chat room and you want to talk to someone, particularly if you are a beginner, it is important to understand a little bit about the etiquette required in chat rooms.
To give you a bit of a dictionary definition, etiquette, often called netiquette online or even more specifically, chatiquette in a chat room, is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group.
In other words, it is how people of a group expect you to behave.
Our parents and teachers, well some of them, tried to teach us good manners and good etiquette. The two are similar but not quite the same.
Table of Contents
What manners do you need to keep in mind when talking to people online?
Manners are really the consideration for others feelings and kindness. Etiquette makes use of the language of manners. It is basically a set of rules, sometimes written, often not, that are designed to govern behavior in a particular environment, place or situation.
Having said that, there is a lot of overlap between manners and etiquette. They also change from culture to culture or place to place. What is considered extremely poor manners by some is considered perfectly normal and acceptable by others.
Golf provides a great example of etiquette, While is it perfectly good manners to wear shorts and a t-shirt on a hot day, don't try and do it on the golf course. Most clubs have very strict etiquette guidelines, otherwise known as rules. Ignore them and you will most likely be asked to leave.
Is talking in public and in a chat room similar?
"Understanding how to interact online safely and effectively is, and will be, ever more critical. As today's students grow older, they'll be using the Internet to apply to colleges and jobs, and to communicate and network with colleagues."
The same sort of thing applies when you want to talk to users. If you join in and start off with saying "HELLO ALL, HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY?" it will not go down well at all. You will probably be immediately attacked from all sides and certainly not made to feel very welcome. And if you think someone can be nasty face to face, nothing will prepare you for the lambasting you will receive from a group of unhappy keyboard warriors, trust me. Like some pals behind the wheel of a car, the security of a keyboard can turn the meekest and mildest person into a vicious, bloodthirsty monster very quickly.
So what is good netiquette or chatiquette? How should one behave if they want to join a room? Well, most of it is common sense really. That sounds simple but remember, common sense appears to be in short supply most of the time, especially online or in chat rooms. The anonymity the computer provides causes many strangers tend to behave and talk very differently to how they would with a group of real, live humans. All the lessons they have learned over the years go out the window and they transform into a different person.
Are there any cultures in chat rooms?
As with cultures, clubs or groups, etiquette can vary from one chat room to the next. Swearing is a great example. While some groups have no issue with it and everyone is effing and blinding all over the show, other groups will be highly offended with even a minor expletive and you will be shown the virtual door immediately. Racism is another one that generally does not go down too well. Pass a racist comment and suddenly the world is full of bleeding heart liberals and you will be violently attacked. What little they know about you will be attacked too; they will hunt you down and burn you at the stake, given a chance. Of course, there will be many that agree with you and support you; they will face the same fate.
If you happen to be a bigot or a racist, just for example, there are groups that will cater to you and your like minded friends. There you will find a welcoming group of friends that hate a particular race, religion, color or country and you can freely discuss your hatred with anyone amongst like-minded comrades.
There are so many specialized, highly focused chat rooms that no matter what your beliefs, fetishes or fantasies, you will be able to find someone of the same thinking. There you can interact, share stories and perhaps pick up some tips.
The rules of Online Chatting
Anyway, enough about the fringe groups, what are the general rules for online etiquette when you talk to people online? Many chat rooms post their rules or guidelines for users to read. If you are new or unsure, read them. Rather be aware of them and avoid the masses pointing it out to you when you slip. If you have read them and chose to disregard them then at least you are aware of your choice and you can face the consequences. The best way to fit into a group and avoid conflict, assuming that is what you want to do, is to observe for a while, get a feel for the group. Keep your comments brief and just watch how they interact and you will soon understand the norms and expectations of the group.
What are the basic things to look out for?
There are a few basic guidelines that will apply to most groups. The first is never type your comments in upper case, it is shouting. After more than two decades of internet use, some people still do not get this basic truth. Introduce yourself to the group without being in their face and sharing your life story. These are real people with real lives that you are interacting with and hoping to have a meaningful conversation with. You wouldn't walk over to a group of strangers at a cocktail party and tell them about your recent bout of hemmorroids would you? Well perhaps you would but the conversation is not going to go too well after that. Be polite, friendly and courteous. Respect others opinions. You want to have a healthy debate and you are welcome to have a different opinion, well sometimes, but do it in a mutually respectful way.
As much as I said earlier, get a feel for the room, users also do not like lurkers who sit idle while everyone else talks. Don't lurk, engage in the conversation if you want to be around. Be patient. Do not flood the conversation with lines and lines of text, again, just as you should not talk non-stop in a normal conversation. Say goodbye when you leave or tell people if you will be away for a while. Just basic common sense.