to Chat on the Internet
on this page:
If this page sounds ominous or paranoid, please
understand that it was written from experience. The fun of chatting will
offset any of the doom and gloom you might find here... but hopefully you'll
remember the warnings and avoid doing anything you'll regret later. *
Ready to go for it? Try any GeoCities'
chat room! Our own Paris
chat is a good place to start.
entering chat. In Netscape, that's in "Options", then "Security", then
run your cursor over anything. Zero. Zip. Nada. Read
"Computer security," below, if you want to know why.
yourself to people in
the room and let them know you're new. Ask questions about them, where
they live, what they do, and so on. Don't ask anything private or personal
that you wouldn't want to answer yourself. Respect other's decisions to
decline answering any questions you ask, and keep in mind that you can
do the same.
the chatters are not friendly, keep
trying to start conversations for a little while (5 -10 minutes). Don't
just whine, "Doesn't anyone want to talk to me?" If no one replies to your
friendly introductions, visit another chat. Frankly, there are times
when the chats get cliquish. However, most of the time you'll find at least
one or two fun people wherever you chat.
to add a little style to
your postings. Add descriptions of physical reactions, between asterisks
or italics. For example, *turns a somersault* ... *giggles uncontrollably*
... *takes off his bowler, places his walking stick next to the arm of
the overstuffed chair, and accepts a cup of black tea* ... or even *pours
himself a martini, shaken, not stirred*. You get the idea.
few useful abbreviations:
LOL = Laughing Out Loud
BRB = Be Right Back
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
*g* = grin or giggle
*s* = smile
couple of terms: "Booted"
means the person's browser, server, or the chat monitor kicked him/her
out of the room and they had to re-enter. "Crashed" is when the whole room
shuts down (a technical glitch) and everyone has to re-enter. "Java bombs"
are what send up a series of windows with bizarre messages, and then your
browser crashes... or maybe your whole computer freezes and you have to
reboot. "Chat monitors" are not always in the room to keep the peace and
enforce the chat guidelines. If things stop being fun for you, don't hang
around... go elsewhere.
that people with crude
or suggestive "handles" are usually looking for the wrong kind of attention.
If they get too bizarre, you can always use the Configure button so you
don't have to see their postings. You can also hastily change your name
in Config, if you need to evade someone.
the general chat guidelines:
No abusive language or insults.
Don't post large or animated graphics
(icons are usually okay). Post links to your graphics or URLs instead.
No porn or violent images.
tell anyone your REAL name.
tell anyone your home, school, or workplace address or phone number.
that you don't really know who you're talking
with. A recent study showed that the majority of Internet chatters who
claim to be girls under 16 years, are actually men ages 30+. Yuk. (No,
I don't recall where I read this online, or how they figured this out.)
reveal information that anyone could use to locate
you in real life.
your chat "handle" if someone is bothering you, or leave the chat completely.
You can report them to [email@example.com] if you're really alarmed. If
you get the message to the chat staff within 6 hours of the incident, they
can read through the postings to identify the person who's bothering you.
Make sure you copy and paste into your email exactly what was said, and
include the time shown, mentioning which chat room you were in at the time.
"whisper" anything that would embarrass you. Sometimes malicious hackers
are in chat, and they'll suddenly start posting people's whispers for everyone
tell anyone in chat your password, even if they say
they're a Chat Monitor or someone who works for GeoCities. (I've seen this
trick used often.) Anyone who works for GeoCities has access to the password
database, should they need it, and no one - not even Community Leaders
- will have the need to request your password.
run your cursor over
anything and don't click on anyone's links. If they really have
a cool place for you to visit, they'll tell you the URL. If you run your
malicious link, you could lose your hard drive.
anything bizarre happens, remember: About 90% of
chat, you'd have to actually run something for the virus to be activated.
(That's another reason not to click on anything.) And even if you were
unfortunate enough to do that, it is rarely necessary to reformat a
hard drive, to get rid of a computer virus.
something happens online that frightens you
and you need to know about viruses and malicious hacks,
contact a Community Leader immediately. If you don't receive a reply
within 36 hours, contact another Leader. Usually, it's nothing to be alarmed
about, but if you need someone who understands this stuff, your Leader
can help or refer you to a good source.
you arrange to meet someone from chat:
at least one friend with you.
having a group of chatters meet at one time, in one
to meet in a safe, public place. If someone is really
okay, they won't mind meeting you in front of the police station in the
middle of the day! They'll probably appreciate this kind of suggestion,
as they're not certain who you really are, either. Other likely
meeting spots include the reference desk at the largest public library
in town, at the information desk in the mall, and so on. Be certain it's
a place where you'll have security guards available to escort you to your
car, if you get the feeling that something just isn't right. Also,
take a small camera with you, and take a picture of your online Romeo/Juliet.
I'll explain about the photo, in a minute.
your friend with you. I
don't want to sound totally paranoid, but the person who meets you might
be just the front/procurer for the person who's really interested
in you. Meeting people off-line is becoming common enough that some criminal-types
are getting verrrrry good at setting things up to fool you. Don't
find yourself totally alone with your new online Romeo/Juliet.
you meet them again, always
leave behind an itinerary of your plans, plus full info about the person
you're meeting. Also keep his photo (the one you took during the first
meeting) in a prominent place. Worst case? The police will have a photo
of him/her to track with. Ideal scene? You can sigh over the photo every
day, while you're online chatting with the object of your affection.
your online friends tell
you to watch out for someone, listen to them. I've personally watched
guys sweet-talk a girl, tell her she's the "only one," and then do the
same with another girl, as soon as the first one was out of the room. When
I've mentioned this in chat, the guys have turned really ugly, using abusive
language I never saw a hint of, when they were doing their
routine with the gullible females. And their replies, ten times out of
ten, include telling me that all I need is a good.... well, you get the
idea. My point is: If the first thing he thinks of is rape when he gets
angry with a woman, this is one Romeo you don't want to connect with!
you want to see for yourself, disconnect
from your ISP, reconnect (now you'll have a new IP#), and come back into
chat with a new name. Flirt with the object of your affections and see
what happens. Or pretend to be a crude, macho guy, and whisper to your
guy to ask if he's gotten any action in the chat.
bottom line is: Anyone who's really okay won't
mind your extreme caution.
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Community Pages, or GeoCities'
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