Friday, February 20, 2009

Do You Chat?

Just over a year ago I attended my first on-line chat session during the eHarlequin open house. It was very hectic yet exciting. So many authors and readers but they were all talking at the same time. You had to read fast and type faster or your response would get swallowed up in the rest of the responses.

A year ago I didn’t know how to IM and yet a couple months ago, the 4 other Prairie Chicks and myself conducted our first IM conference call. It really worked well. What I like about it is that MSN has set it up so that you can always see who is typing something. If someone is going to ask you a question, you wait for it then answer. Very civilized. Also, if you go away from the screen to work on a word document for example, as soon as you have a response, you’ll receive an amber flashing at the bottom of the screen. It’s a nice feature which means you’re not sitting and waiting especially if you have a slow typist at the other end.

Facebook also has IM chat but it’s not as efficient as MSN. What I mean is that if you’re waiting for a response from someone and you go to another screen, there is no warning that someone is waiting for you. Quite often I leave people waiting while I’ve gone on to some other task and forgotten about them. Like MSN, Facebook also tells you when the other party is writing so you know a response is forthcoming.

Tonight I had 2 chats scheduled at the same time. When they both started at 7 pm, I had no idea which one I would participate it. About ten mins ahead of time, I went over to the eharlequin Steeple Hill chat for their first ever live chat. I’ve been excited all day about this one since I know many of the authors, readers and writers who were scheduled to show up. But no one was there.

So, I left that screen and clicked on the Wild Rose Chat for their monthly historical get-together. This is a moderated chat which I really like. There is order here. Run by the editors of The Wild Rose Press, we are informed it’s moderated and if we have a question, we are to send a ? and wait. The moderators will make a note of who sent a ? first and answer their questions in queue. Very organized. Very efficient. An excellent source for information without the headache of trying to follow different threads.

But I kept hearing a door opening and closing and these pinging sounds. I finally realized that while I was participating in the Wild Rose Press chat room, the Steeple Hill chat room was filling up. A whole crowd had shown up and were busily carrying on different conversations at their own pace.

And then I realized that although the Steeple Hill chat room was fixed, I could move the Wild Rose Press chat box to a position on the upper right corner of the screen and still read the Steeple Hill one. Yes, it was a mite confusing, but the main thing was to keep an eye out for my name and answer accordingly. So, for just over an hour, I worked the 2 chat rooms together before finally leaving the Wild Rose Press and settling down in the Steeple Hill one.

A couple things I noticed. I can save everything that was said in the Steeple Hill ‘Flash’ chat room but nothing in the Wild Rose Press one.

I could type in the Wild Rose one and still have both on the screen but as soon as I type in the Steeple Hill one, the other one automatically minimized.

If the Wild Rose one was minimized, I would get the flashing amber signal that I needed to respond.

Which one of these is better? I don’t know yet. I’ll have to participate more to see although being able to save the conversation was a big plus in favor of the Flash chat room at eharlequin.

Have you ever participated in a chat room? Did you enjoy the experience? Is it something you’ll repeat?


  1. Chatting continues to be a major part of my online "work". It's publicity, promo, socializing... it's all rolled into one.

  2. I know what you mean.

    You know, I never liked the coffee claches that other wives got together for every morning. I considered it a complete waste of time. But here on the net, I don't mind it at all.


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