The Secret to Internet Chatting

The following takes place between 5am and 6 am.

At exactly 5am I walk into the room. It isn’t very crowded but, as usual, there is already a heated debate amongst some of the regulars. I suppose a heated debate could also arise from my use of the word ‘walk’ at the beginning of this paragraph. It is complicated: some would say I teleported into the room; others would argue that it is not a room at all.

But let’s not get into that.

My guest ‘walks’ in. Just in time. I immediately launch a private conversation with her. Folks meet Smelly cat

Hey. How are you doing?
Hello. I’m fine and I hope you are too. Sorry, I’m a bit late.

Smelly Cat: That is interesting name. How did you get it?

Yeah its good, isn’t it? It’s actually my childhood nickname. I don’t really want to get into how I got it. Anyhoo, it serves its purpose quite well. When you are in a room such as this one, it helps if you have a good unique nick name – otherwise known as a handle.

Tell us about yourself

Well, I’m young and I love life. You really have to be more specific if you want more out of me.

What do you do for a living?

I’m a chat room regulator

A what?

LOL. Right, I……get paid to spend all the day in the chat rooms, like this one, and ensure that the public discussions don’t get indecent, abusive or otherwise inappropriate.


Yeah. It gets me by. The really cool thing is that I can work from home, or anywhere else.

So what is internet chat?

Internet chat is a way of communicating instantly over the internet. I like to call it TOIP.

Text over internet protocol? That doesn’t exist, does it?

No. It only exists in my mind. But you never can be too sure, what with the pace of technology nowadays. I call it TOIP because it is like an actual conversation but one in which you don’t speak but type whoever you want to say.

How does one get to experience ‘TOIP’

There are two ways of chatting on the internet:

1 You can chat via websites that have chat rooms like talkcity or mashada. Basically, you register with the website and you can then enter the chat room(s) on that site. There, you’ll find people having a public discussion that everyone ‘hear.’ You may take part in that discussion or start a private conversation with anyone.

2 You can also chat through instant messaging (IM) software (usually available for free) such as yahoo IM, MSN IM, AOL IM etc. When chatting through such software, you log in to the messenger and chat with any contacts you have.

How do get these contacts?

Contacts are actually your friends. Every messenger has an option that lets you invite contacts, so that you can chat to them whenever you’re both logged into the IM software.

What about IRC?

IRC is an open protocol for chat/instant messaging. Some people say it’s the original mode of internet chat. It works a lot like IM software. You download some software, like mIRC, and log in. It then connects you to number of IRC services or channels and you can chat. Incidentally, IRC is mostly used by adults, for their type of discussions.

Speaking of adults, are chat rooms as dangerous as depicted on CNN or Sky news?

You cannot say that chat rooms are any dangerous than walking down the street, or having a drink at the local. You just have to be careful.


The problem is that a lot of people invite problems by not practicing safe chat. You see, young people make friends really easily and they can’t help but trust (to some extent) these friends. What they don’t understand is that not everyone you chat to is honest.

How do you practice safe chat?

Never use or reveal your real name in a chat room. Use a nick name- and not one that reveals your gender or attracts bad attention e.g sexy beast.
Be careful who you trust. The person you are talking to may just as well be 20 years older than he says he is.
Think before you reveal anything personal or answer private questions .
Get away from unpleasant situations by blocking the offending user, logging out, or even re-logging in using a different name.
Meeting people (in real life) that you first me online can be dangerous. Always tell an adult about such meetings and arrange the meeting to be in a public place and go to the meeting with one or a couple of your friends.

Can parents do anything to protect their kids?

1.Adults should talk frequently to young people about their chat experience and recommend safe chat rooms to them. (An example of a regulated chat room is gridclub)

2. You may also block chatting using special software – you may also ask your ISP for help on this.
In the spirit of freedom I have to say that there are ways to get around chat-blocking, such as by using websites like meebo or e-buddy.

What does chat mean to you?

Internet chat is beautiful technology. Just take us as an example: you’re interviewing me in a chat room! That just speaks for it itself.

Any last words?

Chatting is a wonderful way to meet people and have lots of fun online – with anonymous flirting and what not! It may also pay your bills, like it does mine. For people with websites, a chat room may drive some decent traffic your way. It is also emerging as an excellent (and cheap) way of offering customer care on websites, especially for companies that provide online services.

Think about it.

Now to burst some jargon:
LOI – Laugh out loud; used to indicate laughter when chatting
MSN – Microsoft Network
America online
IRC –Internet relay chat

Additional Resources


  1. mama shady says:

    chatrooms!how did smellycat get her job?!anyway, ive always thought that theres no way my kids are going to step anywhere close to the internet unless im at hand…to do the regulating.dont know if thats changed my mind…but its nice to know that theyre safe chatrooms!

  2. Hey. Thanks for the comment. I have no idea how Smelly Cat got her job and she refused to share that information but just said: ‘if you lurk long enough in chatrooms, you can get such a job too’. Yeah safe chatrooms definitely make me sleep better at night. Not that I have kids or anything. I guess that’s weird. 😉

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