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Last revised: January 17, 2007
Chat rooms, message boards, newsgroups, mailing lists... What's the difference?
Chat rooms are real-time. Whatever is typed shows up on the computer of everyone logged in as soon as the Internet can get it there. Many chat rooms require a chat program, like AIM (AOL Instant Messenger), ICQ ("I Seek You"), or mIRC (Internet Relay Chat), for access.
Message boards are like the old bulletin board service. Users post a message, any length from a word to an essay, and everyone who comes to the message board later can read that post and respond to it. Some message boards are monitored, that is, all messages are read by the administrator who decides whether to actually post each message or not.
Newsgroups are much like message boards, except that most require specific programs, a news reader, that will go and get the postings. Many browsers include a news reader, but users will often have to get the address of the local news host from the ISP.
Mailing lists use e-mail. Posts are e-mailed to the central facility, which e-mails them out to every member.
As you explore the Internet, you will discover chat rooms, newsgroups, message boards, and mailing lists covering different topics and appealing to different interests. Many of them can be observed from outside before any decision to join is reached. Most sites have local customs; do read the site's rules or FAQs before jumping in. Read previous and current postings for a while, too; different sites have different interests and different atmospheres.
Here are a few message boards to get started with:
The links listed above are provided for your information. ReadAssist does not endorse any product or service offered in these websites. Please read all information (including privacy and customer information, warranties and product descriptions) carefully. While ReadAssist makes every effort to be sure all links are to current websites, we cannot guarantee such.