How To

Want to learn more? If you're a beginner at chat, this page will teach you the basics. If you're a WebTV user who would like to create your own personal chat interface, we'll help you do that, too.

How to Chat

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a system of interconnected Internet servers that allows users to send messages back and forth to each other in real-time. It connects people from around the world and brings them together in the same virtual room. People who would not otherwise meet due to geographic, age, and physical differences are able to connect mind to mind and share their thoughts and interests.

Personal computers use programs such as mIRC and PIRCH. WebTV's IRC program is built in, and many WebTV users create their own IRC chat interfaces. When you use an IRC chat with WebTV, your name will be the same as your e-mail name. Without a special chatserver and interface, you cannot change your nickname unless you change users.

Getting Started

There are many places on the Internet where you can chat. Here at Chat4TV, WebTV users can begin by selecting an interface on our Chat page. PC users can find information about how they can connect with their own chat programs, too. For our WebTV users, Net4TV Voice's chat editor Diane Dumas has dozens of links to many chat sites and servers on

Tips For Chatting

The one thing that you have to remember is that the Green Text on your screen is actually coming from real people. If you'd like your chat experience to go well, try to give people the same sort of courtesy you would in "real life." Going into a chat for the first time, it's a good idea to feel the room out when you first get there. When you pick up on the topic and the conversation you may even be asked to join in. The smaller rooms that have fewer people are good places to start. These rooms don't scroll as fast as the bigger rooms and give you a chance for some one-on-one conversations.

Now The Fun Begins

Once you have joined the server and room of your choice, you're ready to chat! Here is a list of commands that you can use navigate any chat server.

/join #RoomName
This is the command to change rooms. If you want to visit another room, put the room name in after the # to go there.

To chat in the room, just type your message into the input box and press "Enter." It will appear on the screen in the room and all of the chatters in the room will be able to see it. Keep your messages fairly short, a couple of lines at most, and they'll be easier to read and follow. Putting in entire paragraphs can trigger the "flood control" on a server and cause you to be disconnected.

/msg name Hello!
This will allow you to send private messages to people in the chat room. This is a great way to invite people to whereever you are in chat. This is called a private message or a whisper because only the person you send it to can see it. On WebTV's interface, you can also pop up the "whisper" box, and many of the custom WebTV chat interfaces have their own "message" boxes, too.

/me action
This is a cool way to indicate that an action is taking place. Doing this will make the text on the screen of what you said turn a different color and stand out from the rest. If your nick is "KittyKat15," an example of this would be:

/me is really enjoying the chat today

will look like this on the screen:

KittyKat15 is really enjoying the chat today

Using this will tell you who is in the room with you by displaying a list on the screen.

/whois name
This function is a person checker. By typing this command an a person's name, you could see a little info on them. On WebTV you might see something like this:

Outrage69 is Outrage69

You can use this command to see if your friends are on the chat server, even if they're not in the same room with you. If they are not on the server, you will get a "User not found." message.

Chat Terms and Language

If you're new to chat, it might seem sometimes that the people in the chatroom are speaking a foreign language. But it's really just abbreviations for some frequently-used terms, and some "emoticons" for facial expressions. Here are some you may come across:

Laughing out loud.
Rolling on the floor laughing.
Be right back.
Away from keyboard (when someone leaves their chat client connected, but isn't "really" there.
Private message (also "whisper").
Kiss on the cheek.
TY, thx
Thank you, thanks.
yw, yvw
You're welcome, you're very welcome
:-)     ;-)     :-D
"Emoticons" showing smile, wink, and a laugh.

Chat Server and Client Terms

Internet Relay Chat. There are a number of different methods of chatting on the Net. This is the one that we use and that WebTV supports.
IRC client
The software that you use to connect to an IRC server to chat. mIRC and pIRCh are popular PC-based IRC clients, and we have a Java client that PC users can use to chat on this server. WebTV has an IRC client built into the browser. WebTV users with "custom IRCs" actually are using the built-in client, but calling the functions in a web page that gives them a personal look and feel.
Short for "robot," a Bot is a software program that can issue certain IRC commands as if it were a person. Bots that are not specifically authorized for Chat4TV are not allowed on this server.
Also known as chatrooms or "rooms." Each server may have a number of different channels active at one time, some of which are public, and some that may be private and only available by invitation.
ops, IRCops
Operators, or operator status. Operators are the controllers of specific chatrooms (channels), and have the ability to mute disruptive users (so that their words cannot be seen in the room), to kick them out of the room, or to ban them from being able to re-enter the room. Operators also control the room topic, and have certain other room controls. "Official" operators on Chat4TV are also called hosts.
When a room is set to "moderated," chatters can only speak to each other by private message, but cannot speak in the room so that everyone can see unless they are "voiced" by the operator. Chat4TV's rooms are left on "moderated" unless there is an operator available on the server.
Pronounced "kay-line," this means to ban from the entire server so that the server will refuse to establish a connection. Klines may be applied to a user, to a particular IP number or connection, or to an entire set of IP numbers or an ISP, if it is the source of intentional and ongoing disruption.
Sending too many characters into the server at one time, either in open chat or in private message. Our chat server has a flood control, and will disconnect you automatically for flooding. Sometimes, you may get carried away writing a long message and flood accidentally, but users who flood deliberately in an attempt to disrupt the chat or the chat server will be banned or klined.

How to Build a WebTV Chat

If you're a WebTV'er, you probably know that many WebTV users build their own chat interfaces, or use chat interfaces that are built by their friends. Many of these interfaces are very cool -- they include things like RealAudio radio stations so that you can listen to music while you're chatting, pop-up boxes with built-in messages for actions, and nicely colored layouts that are much prettier and more personal than WebTV's choices. Some custom interfaces (like some of the ones for our Sunday Chat4TV show) even have webcams, or layouts that allow the PiP of the WebTV Plus to fit so that you can chat and watch TV at the same time.

If you'd like to have a custom IRC interface of your own, the first thing you need is your own homepage at a provider like GeoCities, Tripod, or Angelfire. The WebTV Pagebuilder homepages can't be used (or not very well) for custom chat interfaces.

Once you have your homepage, all you need to do is to check out the step-by-step instructions that our Chat Editor Diane Dumas has made for Net4TV Voice. You'll also find cut-and-paste code already done, with instructions on how to modify it to point to the server and chatroom that you want to go to. One of the cool things you can do with your own chat interface is to send the link to your page to another WebTV user in email. All they need to do is to click on the link, and there they are, in the chatroom with you.

Here is the link to Diane's tutorials, and other useful information about chatting from Net4TV Voice:

If you're building and you've got questions, you can also ask in Net4TV's Chat Doctor forum:

User2User Help and Support

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