How Do You Start Chatting Online?

There are many ways to start chatting online, including through chat programs using Internet Relay Chat and through websites that offer chat rooms. Many apps for mobile devices support IRC or operate as front-ends for other chat services. Many chat services offer rooms devoted to specific interests, while other services offer additional functions, such as the ability to easily modify and exchange pictures with other users.

IRC is the oldest system for online chat still in regular use, as of 2015. The system consists of a number of individual networks of interlinked servers known as nets, which relay messages to the users logged into specific chat rooms hosted on the servers. This type of chat is suited to communicating with multiple users simultaneously, so it is a good choice for new chatters interested in speaking with several people at once. IRC is also a good choice for users interested in following a conversation rather than actively participating. Many different nets exist that service general users, specific sub-communities and geographic areas.

Other chat services are oriented towards one-on-one chats rather than group communication. One example is Snapchat, which can be accessed via its iOS and Android mobile apps. Snapchat's distinguishing feature is the ability to exchange and modify pictures with other users, which the application deletes upon viewing. Many one-on-one chatting services are associated with online dating and other social activities.