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Chat is the term used to describe any form of real time, online communication.
Chat is most commonly used to describe text-based online communication, in which people in online chat sessions type messages to each other using their keyboards, but it can also refer to video and audio-based online communication, such as video chat. Chats can involve two or more people.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who still uses text-based chat?
Though the popularity of chat rooms has declined with the rise of social media, text-based chat continues to be enormously popular. Instant Messaging apps, such as Facebook’s Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber, are among the most widely used apps for mobile devices. Despite the ability of many of these apps to incorporate audio or video into a chat session, text-based chatting remains the primary usage for these apps.
Businesses have also embraced text-based chat as a simple, interactive form of support. Chat-based web support may be manned at the other end, or use a bot to generate pre-programmed responses for common support questions. Web users often prefer chat support to phone support, because there is typically less waiting and support concerns can be handled in the background, while we work on other things. For companies, they offer a less-expensive alternative to phone support. Many companies have also begun using instant messaging services for their employees, enabling work-based chats between coworkers from across the office or business partners on the other side of the world.
Are there rules for chatting?
Like any form of communication, the rules to chatting vary based on the venue and participants. When chatting with your friends over instant messaging software, you can “speak” to them exactly as you would in person. The same is true for chats in your office, except in this case you need to follow the same guidelines you would use when speaking to a coworker in person. Online chat rooms and other public communication platforms may have their own rules of conduct and appropriate content. Make sure to read those guidelines before you start participating in an online community. For more information about acceptable online behavior, see our guides to Netiquette and Social Netiquette.
How do I find people to chat with?
The most common form of chatting these days occurs between friends or members of your social network. If you are looking for new individuals to chat with, you could start by searching interest groups on sites like Facebook. There are also several online chat communities that have different groups, or chat rooms, focused on particular topics. Topics can range from your favorite celebrity to childhood disorders to favorite technologies and more, and chat sessions may be text- or video-based. Some sites will allow you to view the chat before becoming an active participant, so you can learn the language of the community and make sure you’re comfortable participating.