Chatting Etiquette

Online chat usually refers to the communication we use over the Internet. This is done usually by direct one-on-one chat or even text-based group chat through instant messengers. Along with this new method of communicating online comes some proper etiquette and unstated rules, also known as Chatiquette.

Some basic rules of online communication have been outlined to avoid misunderstandings and help simplify the communication between users in chat. Chatiquette can vary from community to community since it describes basic courtesy, and we know that courtesy in different cultures or communities can vary. Chatiquette introduces a new user into the associated network culture.

One thing that can come across as rude or very intense is typing in all upper case letters. When one does this it appears as if the user is shouting. It could also give off the impression that he or she is mad. Upper case adds emphasis to a word and makes it stand out so if you do that do an entire sentence or group of sentences, it comes across as yelling.

Another chatiquette rule for online chat is ‘don’t take longer than 3-5 minutes to respond’. Chat is usually done via IM, whether it’s Skype, MSN messenger, gChat or another program. Answering someone in chat should take no longer than 3 minutes. The maximum for an IM response should be 5 minutes! Some people respond very quickly. Others take a longer time as they may be multitasking or working. However, you probably shouldn’t be logged on to IM if you are unable to chat or don’t want to be bothered. With some platforms you can also set your status to say that you’re “away from the computer” or “busy”. Also don’t make a habit of responding with a one-word answer. This can really kill conversations. If you’d rather not be bothered simply say “TTYL” and log off or set your status to invisible or “Away”.

With that said, if you are logging off or will be away from your computer for a little, it’s courteous to notify the person you’ve been chatting with. If you know you will be away from the computer for more than 10 minutes say “BRB”, which is short for “be right back”. You could also change your status or availability, as mentioned before, but telling whoever you’re talking to that you’ll BRB is even better. Should you unexpectedly sign in and out during an IM conversation then it is your responsibility to restart the chat by jumping back into what you were talking about or starting with an apology. It is understandable that some people have a weak Internet connection that causes them to get knocked offline, but it is polite to let your chat buddy know. Always say “TTYL” or “goodbye” if you plan to leave; but don’t just sign off.

It isn’t always necessary to fix all your spelling errors and typos in online chat. You should only worry about doing that if what you know the person you’re chatting with isn’t going to understand what you wrote or you used the completely wrong word. In online chat you’re not required to always be grammatically correct. Also avoid using lightly colored or hard-to-read fonts. That can be annoying for your chat buddy. Another great way of expressing yourself in online chat/instant messaging is using emoticons. Facebook now has its own chat capability as well as smileys. There are special emoticons exclusively for Facebook use. Some are similar to instant messaging emoticons and smileys, but there are a few custom-made ones. Try them out when using chatiquette.

Want to find out more about Facebook emoticons, then visit the site on how to use emoticons for Facebook.

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