A virtual chat community offers users the opportunity to communicate with friends, discuss interesting topics, meet others, participate in online games or grow professionally. Some websites exist for purely social reasons while others may have other uniting features such as a common interest or distance learning via the Internet. In some instances, participants may be looking for a romantic partner and there are online communities that cater to that demographic. Education may be the goal for some communities and when this is the case, participants may take advantage of chatting technology for study purposes. Many virtual chat community websites allow participants to set up their own personalized chat rooms. Plug ins that allow users to converse via webcam or microphone may be available as well. Security issues can be a concern for many communities and some sites will take pains to cut out the presence of annoying spam.
Getting started in one of these communities is relatively simple and most sites will require a minimum amount of information when registering for membership. The use of the word community is no accident. Just as in actual communities, many of these websites offer users a number of features in addition to online chatting. Some communities feature stores where members can purchase merchandise as well as links to other related merchant sites. Others will offer the opportunity to send out e-cards to online friends and on site email accounts. Online conversations can also be supplemented with Internet radio websites or streaming music of the user's choice. Connections can be forged and enhanced in a number of ways within a virtual chat community. Members can set up pages for the purpose of photo sharing. Viewing images can be limited to members of a specific group through protective passwords. Some websites will also accommodate users who are interested in online games. Groups can even gather on the site and play the game together. Some groups have more idealistic motives. These members will unite under a particular social cause, discussing relevant issues and making contributions to charitable organizations. Members may even plan virtual parties and gatherings.
Avatar communities add a unique twist to the concept of a virtual chat community. Participants choose alternate identities and select a cartoon representation of that identity, or avatar. The choices that are available when creating an avatar are many. The anonymous experience that online chatting can provide has fostered the creation of entire virtual worlds and even universes. Chat room participants began to create these alternate identities out of a desire to place a face, even an imaginary one, with the words that their friends were sharing, These make believe worlds even offer tourism centers that allow participants to travel to worlds created by other users. Want to take a virtual vacation from the convenience of the home computer? There are a number of imaginary tourist attractions and vacation spots that can supply a little make believe leisure. In the mood for a movie? Cinemas in these Internet worlds offer users the opportunity to check out movies that were created by other members. Online comedy clubs invite members to inject a little humor into these fanciful web lives. Poetry readings, trivia contests, and many other features keep members busy with possibilities.
A specialized virtual chat community of this nature may offer users ready made avatars, or the opportunity come up with their own creation. In many cases, the images appear to be three dimensional and can move about in an online space. Commands to move the characters can be achieved through the use of the keyboard or the mouse. The whole process is similar to manipulating video game characters. When making a text comment, the words will appear in a conversation bubble near the head of the avatar on screen. Even the health of the avatar is a concern with points awarded for meeting certain needs such as rest or nutrition. Participating in an avatar based virtual chat community has become a very popular pass time for many enthusiasts, and the trend continues to grow.
A big benefit of a virtual chat community is that it can unite individuals who are struggling with similar issues. Many chatting communities will center on a specific issue such as disability, a hobby, or a profession. For example, an online community that welcomes users with a disability would address the needs and problems that this segment of the population faces. Not only would disabled individuals benefit from the website, but family members, medical rehabilitation specialists, caretakers, and others can participate in discussions as well. These sites may function as social networking portals as well as distributors of help and information. Discussion forums will usually center on topics of interest to participants and can be a helpful vehicle of connection and camaraderie. The Bible tells of the great love of Christ for all mankind. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
Online educational opportunities abound and many institutions take advantage of virtual chat community technology. Classes may be made up of students in many different locations. In some cases, students can see and communicate with the instructor online. Instructors can also speak to individual students, asking them questions and making sure that they are up to speed. Since many students are not only comfortable but enthusiastic about online chatting, taking classes in this manner may seem like second nature. In what ever way participants in these communities choose to take advantage of this technology, the opportunities for connecting with others on the web are abundant.
Web Based Instant MessagingWeb based instant messaging is the answer for people who have friends spread across cyberspace, using many different Web platforms. While instant messaging can be difficult from provider to provider such as Yahoo to MSN, a separate IM website is the perfect answer for friends and business persons to meet and converse. Often to reach across any Internet provider and web browser there has been the need for the user to download software to provide the bridge between the two. Now, thanks to web based instantaneous messaging, that need is no longer there and instant messaging has never been easier. There are a number of websites that will provide IM services, many of them offering free messaging.
Some experts expect that IM will overtake emailing as the preferred method of in office communications over the next few years. There is something about the instant, real-time flavor of IM that many people prefer. Oftentimes, the humor and nuances of someone's communication is better captured with IM over emailing. When an email is sent, one never knows if and when the message will be read, but with IM there is the instant gratification of the answer. The trend is for more and more businesses to use IM, but they are not using security measures to protect themselves from the threat of online legal, compliance and productivity issues. Many companies may not need a Web based instant messaging system, since many companies have their own local system.
Having a web based instant messaging capability is more than just being able to chat with other people like in a chat room. IN a chat room, you talk to whoever is there and available. With web based IM, the ability available is to create a buddy list which is compilation of all one's contacts. Unlike chat rooms, IM allows a person to actually contact several people and carry on a group conversation online. Many IM services actually alert users as to the members of the group who are online at the time the user is. This capability can almost have the instant affect of a phone call. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9) Many people understand this to mean that God is honoring people who try to bring about peace between human factions. But Jesus is saying that those who end the war between God and those who have not believed in Jesus Christ are the true peacemakers.
Businesses that are considering using IM for another means of collaboration may be companies that value the team approach to work productivity. Without a doubt Gen Y employees are much more team oriented than past generational workers. Because of this tendency to want to work in teams, companies will need to rethink the way work is going to be done, and provide this new wave of workers with the tools to work in the manner most comfortable for them. A web based instant messaging system certainly fits into the Gen Y pattern of thinking. IM allows teams of persons, perhaps spread out all over the country that are still working on the same project to interact all day long through the use of buddy lists. These buddy lists can show when people are available and when they are on the phone, or away from their desk. Questions can be asked immediately and information given as soon as it is requested.
When a company does decide to use IM as part of its collaborative effort, there are some things to consider. It will free up for email storage, ending the employee need for constant emailing back and forth in order to get work completed. And as said before, it can certainly speed up the work of teams that are busy working on projects. But it also does pose some risks if not handled correctly, such as the very real danger of downloading viruses from unreliable IM sources. This problem can be handled more clearly by a web based instant messaging system than by ones that individual workers download themselves. And it is true that most workers are using IM anyway, so a company ought to consider integrating the technology as a regular part of its communication protocol.
According to AOL, IM use is increasing year by year. This supplier of IM services says that IM is becoming more and more popular because it helps them get answers fast, they can send files while on conference calls, use it for work related conferences and here an interesting one: avoid difficult conversations with fellow workers. It is for certain that all IM messages can be used for legal purposes later. Thus businesses that want to use web based instant messaging must provide strict and useful guidelines to all employees as to the exact purpose and constraints of instant messaging practices. This technology is becoming more and more important and must be faced head on by companies still dragging their feet on the inclusion of such technology.
To use web based instant messaging that can perform with any other company's IM services, a person needs to choose a service provider that has that capability. This means that a person can talk to anyone else using instant messaging technology without the need to download software on one's computer. Here are some of the web based instant messaging providers that allow cross platform capability: Yahoo messenger, MSN Messenger, Meebo, Kool IM, buddy.com, Radius IM, I Love IM and Snimmer. There are many other providers, and many of these services are free to users. Make sure to ask about the potential virus threats before downloading any web instant messaging service.