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UsingNet: Chat

Along with e-mail, newsgroups, and the World Wide Web, another one of the primary reasons people get on the Internet is to find chat rooms and chat with people from all over the world about various topics. Unlike e-mail and newsgroups, chat rooms are not a standardized service. Chat rooms can be hosted on any type of server and have any type of interface through any protocol that a chat room administrator wishes.

One popular type of chat room is known as web chat. These are chat rooms that work through an HTML web page interface, usually with buttons and frames and forms for logging in. Alternatively, chat rooms can be located on a web page, but use a javascript interface for a more real-time effect (messages appear as they are typed in, instead of waiting for a web page to reload).

There is also IRC, or Internet Relay Chat, which requires that you download an IRC client (such as mIRC or pIRCh) to connect an IRC server . Once you are connected to an IRC server, you can then join thousands of different channels (rooms) and participate in real-time chatting.

Then there are dozens of other means of chatting over the Internet -- with programs you can download, on servers you can telnet to, and even with Internet phones. No matter how you chat, keep in mind that the Internet is largely anonymous -- the friendly stranger in a chat room is still a stranger, and not an ideal person to give out your phone number and address to. However, if you keep personal information private and use common sense, chatting is mostly a safe and addictive way to pass the time!

Below, we have listed some popular starting points on the Internet where you can find chat rooms dedicated to hundreds of topics. You can also visit your favorite search engine and type in "chat" and "your_favorite_topic", whatever it may be, to search for other chat rooms.

Web Chat

IRC
You can download IRC software at the following sites to connect to IRC servers. These are free to download.

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