Someone (Mr. Blank, to be specific *L*) pointed out to me after having read the other pages that it might be useful to have a section for newbies. He noted that your first time chatting can be pretty difficult sometimes, with alot of mistakes made that could easily be avoided if given a little direction. I decided a page dedicated to you newbies that might help you get over some of those first time chat hurdles is a good idea. While the Netiquette page is applicable to almost all newbies, and should be read, studied and memorized, I agree that there's more to be said. Hopefully by doing so I can keep some of you from becoming S.N.E.R.T.'s and give you a leg up in the chat room. It's so much easier to make friends and fit into a room you like if you have a basic understanding of how things work. This will get you started on the right track, help you make friends a little quicker and should keep you from being labelled as someone to avoid. *L* Sometimes you may come across as a snert, but it's not really your fault, you just don't know any better. Most of you, with some help, can be molded into fine chatters and in turn, make great friends.
I was fortunate enough to avoid alot of mistakes when I first started chatting because I was introduced to a room by my sister, who'd already made excellent friends there. They were all extremely helpful to me in making my way around the room and learning the do's and don'ts. If not for them, I'm sure I'd have gone through alot more grief trying to find a room with people in it I liked and also getting to a place where I was accepted. Chat room regulars can come across as being rude to alot of you. They don't come right out and talk to someone new, they're almost guaranteed never to answer that infamous newbie question, "Anyone wanna chat?", and if they do answer, it'll be just that. *L* An answer, no encouragement to continue the conversation. There's a couple of reasons for that. The main one is simply that they're into their own conversations. It's important to remember that usually the reg's in the room have been talking together for a long time. They've got a history built up. Someone new to the room usually, and inadvertently, ends up breaking the ebb and flow of the room by interrupting conversations and attempting to talk about things no one else is talking about. To the reg's of the room, it's you that's being rude by not respecting the conversations taking place already. Another reason reg's don't always greet you with open arms is because they're tired of answering stupid questions, which you're almost always guaranteed to ask. For example, "Where are you from?", "A/S/L?", "Wanna chat?", things of that nature. It's viewed as redundant to ask if anyone wants to chat, since that's the whole reason one goes into a chat room in the first place. *L* I realize that alot of questions asked are valid ones, but when you're in a chat room and you're wanting to make it a place to stay, you can find out all those things alot of times by simply watching the chat. You're better off getting to know the reg's of a room by joining in the conversations already in place, establishing some contact that way, and then at some later point asking them, if you still feel you really need to know. At any rate, I'll try and go point by point here and give some really easy pointers that should help you establish yourselves in a room with a minimum of fuss and hopefully get you on your way to making some great friends like I have.
Your first order of business, I think, is to find a room the best suits your personality. Don't go hang out in a chat room full of adult chatters if you're 13. Don't go hang out in a room labelled a Bar if you don't like swearing or drinking or debauchery. *L* It's common sense, really. Think about what you want to get out of your time online, and then go from there. Yahoo and other search engines are a good way to find a room that best suits your interests. Once you've found a room you think is something suited to you, go into it and sit and watch what's going on. Alot of times a room may be labelled one thing, but the conversation taking place in there has nothing to do with it. This can sometimes take some time, but don't be discouraged. There's a ton of rooms out there and a whole lot of people all looking for the same thing you are, so keep plugging away, you'll find one eventually.
Okay, so you've found your room. You've sat and watched, the topics are good, the people are funny, you want to stay. The problem is, no one is talking to you. *L* You're not the first chatter to go into a room and be completely ignored, and you won't be the last. It's the rule, not the exception. Settle yourself in and watch what's going on around you. There is almost always something going on that you can take part in. One of the things you're watching for in a room is people who are obviously engrossed in a conversation of their own. Don't be a dorkus and try and jump in there, you'll get your head chewed off. What you're watching for are a group of people all talking together, sharing jokes, stories, insights, whatever. Don't feel like you need permission to join in. Pay attention to what they're talking about and jump in with something that relates. And whatever you do, don't jump in with something critical or judgmental. Again, your head will be chewed off and handed to you on a platter. There's nothing more rude than a newbie coming into a room and attempting to claim superiority. Now, it's not always a given that someone is going to talk to you right away, or even respond to you, and that's okay. Not even reg's always get a response. Just keep at it, don't give up. Bookmark that room and keep going back, remember the people you see and they're going to remember you, eventually. Persistence is the key, and remember, the only way you're going to become an accepted regular is if you keep coming back and keep respecting those little unspoken rules. Having a good sense of humour is a total bonus here. You're most likely to get noticed and have people talk to you quickly if you've got a good sense of ha ha. Unless of course, you've picked a room dedicated to people born without a funny bone. There's alot of those rooms out there too.
Another thing to do that'll help you out immensely is let people know you're new to chat and not certain about how things work. This does one very important thing, it separates you from snerts. If people in the room know you're new, then they're going to be much more accepting of any mistakes you might make and will usually help you out when you have questions. Which brings me to my second point, ask questions if you don't know what something you see means. If people know you're new they're going to be pretty informative because we all remember when we first started chatting and didn't know what half of the little symbols and signs meant. Don't be offended if they laugh their fool heads off at something you do, again, we've all probably done the same thing at some point.
I guess the last point I'd want to make here is be yourself. Know this, at some point in time, if you chat long enough, people are going to find out alot about you, and that's okay. But if you've been dishonest or deceptive in any way, they'll find that out too, which is definitely not okay. Treat the people you meet online like you would the people in your day to day lives. If you're uncomfortable revealing personal information about yourself, that's fine, we all have things we want to keep private. What I'm talking about is out and out lying about yourself, your life, your looks. It's not necessary. People aren't going to talk to you solely because you're married, single, fat, thin, gorgeous or ugly. At least not the people who matter or people worth spending your time with. They're going to talk to you if you're interesting, funny, honest and forthright. Don't talk about things you know nothing about, don't pretend to be something you're obviously not and don't try to come across as being better than everyone else because, hey, you're not. *L* The people in these rooms are just regular every day folks, looking to make some friends, have a few laughs and forget about the stresses of the day. They have feelings, wants, needs, likes and dislikes like anyone else and like all people, they want the people around them to treat them with respect and be honest.
Of course, I'm talking about the rooms that I like to go into, general chat rooms with no specific topic. Like I said before, there are all types of rooms online, catering to every need known to man. Whatever your interest, you can find it and while some of the particulars I mentioned may not always apply to those rooms, they're pretty much a given for most of them. No matter where you go, people want to be treated decently ('cept for maybe some of those SM and Bondage rooms, o' course...yikes!), want to laugh and want to make friends, just like you.
I hope this helps you in your quest to find a room and make some friends. Read the Netiquette page for some basic rules on what not to do if you don't want to stick out like a sore thumb and have people mock you. Keep in mind, some of those rules are just personal pet peeves of my friends and I and don't necessarily mean you're going to get laughed from a room for doing them. Well, not from people who like doing it, anyways. But if we catch you, we'll laugh at you for sure. *L* Take a load off, lighten up and have some fun. And remember, no matter where you go to chat, people always like to laugh and have a good time, so be witty, be wise and be yourself.
One additional note ~ John and Fadi would like me to make a special reference to the useage of *L* and *S*. In a nutshell, they say don't overuse it, and in the case of John, who just plain hates the use of *S* at any given time, don't do it at all. They will be suspicious of your self esteem and they'll make fun of you like no two other people online are capable of doing. *L* You've been warned. Over use would be adding either of those symbols to the end of every freaking sentence you type, whether it's funny or not. This applies also to reg's, you know who you are.