Online chat tips and advice.

Choosing the right chat name

The more creative and original your chat name the better. Remember sexual or offensive chat names are against the site rules, and will result in you being ejected or banned.

Initially your chat name is your entire online personality. When you are new to certain chat rooms people do not know you so just like in real life, first impressions will count. Offensive, common or unimaginative chat names will not stand out in the crowd. Take some time to think of a great chat name which will make you sound interesting to others.

Starting a conversation

When you first join a room, take a few minutes to sit back and see what the general topic of conversation is. Other chatters involved in conversations are not going to stop and want you to get involved if all you do is jump into a chat room and say something like, "Hi, anyone want to chat?".

Gauge the feeling of the different personalities in the chat room, make comments or chat about the current subject being discussed and you are far more likely to be welcomed into the conversation making the rooms more pleasant for everyone.

Try to reduce the time you spend in private chat as this will often exclude you from the communities in each chat room.

Sending a message

Chat messages posted by all users are displayed in the main chat window. To add to the conversation, type a message into the text input box located below the main chat window, and hit the Enter or Return key on your keyboard.

Private chat

Private chat is there for you to speak to a specific chatter without anyone else being able to view what you are typing. Private chat can be antisocial; you will find far more enjoyment in the public chat rooms where you can share your time and discussions amongst many different users.

Chat rooms are no fun when the majority are in private chat, and this only leads to a cycle where in the end a chat room becomes obsolete due to everyone chatting in private.

Please be aware our Chat Guides cannot monitor private conversations - some chatters will use this to their advantage by trying to engage in offensive chat or otherwise breaking the site rules. You can obviously report abuse to us, and even prevent private messages altogether. More information is on our safety advice page.

Starting a private chat

You should always ask a user via the public chat room for permission to send them a private message. Once you have that user's permission, click on their chat name in the main user list.

You will then see a new window display, through which you may chat with that user privately, one-to-one.

Blocking private messages and specific users

To learn more about blocking individual chatters, see the chat safety page.

Common courtesies

When in a chat room, do not repeatedly type the same thing over and over again or keep entering text into the chat rooms in quick succession. This forces the chat room to speed up to keep up with your typing. This disrupts the rooms by pushing other peoples' messages off the screen quicker and making the chat harder to read. This is called 'scrolling' - a form of disruption which is against the site rules.

Text does not have a 'volume control'. In chat rooms, when you type in CAPITAL LETTERS it is considered shouting. Whilst you may feel the need to shout every now and then it is, just like in real life, considered rude most of the time. Always ensure you are typing in lower case unless you really feel the need to shout. If this is the case, please make sure it is a rare occurrence.

Finally, before sending another user a private message you should always seek their permission first via the public chat room. Sending private messages without asking first is considered rude, and will not start your conversation off on a good footing!

Dealing with abuse

Unfortunately there will always be a small minority of people with nothing better to do than try to spoil your enjoyment of our chat rooms. The last thing you should ever do is retaliate or lower yourself to their level. We offer lots of advice on how to deal with chat abuse and advice on our chat safety page.

Chat slang and abbreviations

Perhaps the most daunting thing for new chatters is the huge variety of coded letters which appear in a chat room! You will come across a variety of chat abbreviations and chat slang in the chat rooms and we have listed some common ones below. We could never show an exhaustive list - if you come across slang or abbreviations which leave you mystified - ask people in the rooms what the term means or approach a Chat Guide. Most people will be more than happy to lend a hand - they were in your position once, too!

Emoticons - Turn your head to the side and with a little imagination, 'emoticons' show basic pictures showing a face of emotion. They are commonly used to convey feelings which are not obvious in simple text.

(((name))) the brackets are 'hugs', the name in the middle is who they are for!
: ) or :-) = smile
;-) or ;) = wink
:-/ or :/ = confused
:-D or :D = big smile
:-( or :( = sad
;-( or ;( = crying
:-0 or :0 = surprised or shocked

Abbreviations - Used to save time when typing but can seem like a different language when new to chat! Here are some of the most popular.

ASL = Age/sex/location
BF = Boyfriend
BBL = Be back later
BBS = Be back soon
BFN = Bye for now
BRB = Be right back
BTW = By the way
FYI = For your information
GF = Girlfriend
GTG = Got to go
IMHO = In my humble opinion
IMO = In my opinion
J/K = Just kidding
K = Okay
LMAO = Laughing my a*** off
LOL = Laughing out loud
NP = No problem
OMG = Oh my God
PML = Peeing myself laughing
ROFL = Rolling on the floor laughing
ROFLMAO = Rolling on floor laughing my a*** off
TY = Thank you
WB = Welcome back
WTG = Way to go
YW = You are welcome