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Online chat can refer to any kind of communication over the Internet, but is primarily meant to refer to direct one-on-one chat or text-based group chat (formally also known as synchronous conferencing), using tools such as instant messengers, Internet Relay Chat, talkers and possibly MUDs. The expression online chat comes from the word chat which means "informal conversation".[1]



The term chatiquette is a variation of netiquette (chat netiquette) and describes basic rules of online communication.[2][3][4][5] To avoid misunderstandings and to simplify the communication between users in a chat these conventions or guidelines have been created. Chatiquette varies from community to community, generally describing basic courtesy; it introduces new user into the community and the associated network culture. As an example, it is considered rude to write only in UPPER CASE, because it looks as if the user is shouting. The word chatiquette has been used in connection with various chat systems (e.g. IRC) since 1995.[6][7]

People often do not use proper grammar, particularly capitalisation and punctuation, when chatting online. Often this is to save time or simply out of plain laziness. Thus one will see proper names spelled with lower case, and a classic case of this is the way in which people type "I'm", often coming out as "im" or less often, "Im" or "i'm".

Cultural impact

Despite being virtual, chat can spill into the outside world [8]. There can also be a strong sense of online identity leading to impression of subculture [9]. Compare Internet sociology.

Software and protocols

The following are common chat programs and protocols:

Chat programs supporting multiple protocols:

Web sites with browser-based chat services (also see web chat):

SMS based chat services:

See also


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