Giving Visitors the Gift of Gab

Chat rooms provide a way for visitors to your site to engage in live, real-time communication. Like message boards, chat rooms enable lots of users to leave messages on the same topic, but these messages don’t appear in topic-related threads. Instead, the messages appear as they’re sent, and the various conversation threads run together in the same area. You may think that this sounds a bit chaotic, and I can’t agree more. Chat room discussions are totally unstructured, and the more people that are in a chat room, the more confusing it is to try to follow a conversation.

But chat rooms are fun and popular, and even chat novices quickly get used to picking out the specific conversation they’re a part of. Still, carrying on a conversation in a chat room is kind of like talking to one or two people in the middle of a large party. This isn’t your problem as a Webmaster, though, except that you may want to recommend these rooms mainly for smaller gatherings. People who regularly hang out in chat rooms understand and accept their peculiarities, and if your visitors really want chat rooms, providing them is easy enough. Several sources on the Web offer their services to help you add a chat room to your site. In this section, I cover ParaChat, but other chat room source sites are listed in Table 10-1 at the end of this chapter.

ParaChat ( is one source that gives you a fast way to slap a Java chat room onto your Web site. To add ParaChat ...

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