Public chat rooms

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Contents


Foreword

What does public mean?

Public are chat rooms that anyone can join without invitation, which is defined by changing the corresponding option from “members only” to “public”.

Figuratively, a public chat can be thought of as a public place to which everyone has access. Everything that is said is heard by everyone in this place and anyone who is there can reply (provided they have write permission).

Chat addresses that are used to post garbage messages or that are used to text in disregard of basic rules of politeness (misbehaving) can be kicked out of a chat or even permanently “banned”.

Functionality

Anyone can create closed and open chat groups with “their” server operator. The settings are usually selected so that only the administrators/moderators can see the actual name of the chat accounts. As a rule, all normal participants only see the alias name (nickname) chosen when joining and the profile picture that may be stored. You can enter and leave such a public chat room at any time or rejoin with a different alias if the desired one is currently occupied by someone else.

In addition, everyone present in the chat has a role with which various “rights” are associated: “visitor”, “participant”, “moderator/administrator” or “owner/owner”. A good description of the details can be found here: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-User_Chat#Die_Rolle_und_Rechte_eines_Anwesenden (external)

In addition, further settings can be made (for each public chat) such as:

  • Should the chat be created permanently or be deleted when the last person leaves?
  • Should the room be visible and displayed in search queries to the server?
  • Are visitors only allowed to read along or write messages themselves? (Should the chat room be “moderated”?)
  • Should the chat addresses of the visitors/participants be (publicly) visible or not?

Manners

The apparent anonymity (better: pseudonymity) of a chat room repeatedly tempts participants to make inappropriate contributions. However, just as “netiquette” applies to the worldwide web, appropriate forms of etiquette and politeness also apply to public chat rooms. For newcomers, it is therefore advisable to follow the posts passively for a while after entering a public chat room. This will give you a good impression of the tone of voice and the current mood, which - as in real life - fluctuates and should not be underestimated. Even in public chat rooms, (personal) data protection must be observed.

In a nutshell:
Always remain objective, respectful and cautious. In German it is normal to address participants as “Du” in public chat rooms - but this should not be transferred to real life.

More info:
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netiquette (external)
https://www.netplanet.org/netiquette/chat.shtml (external)

Benefits

People come together who don’t need to have any connection to each other in their other lives. However, problems, questions and opinions on a topic can be exchanged at this central location. The group size is not limited. For example, there are public chat rooms with several hundred participants. This means that the wealth of experience is correspondingly large and there is almost always someone who can provide an answer and help.

Examples

There are countless public chat rooms. Here is a small selection of active groups:

Of course to the initiative “Free Messenger
xmpp:freie-messenger@conference.jabber.de
Everything about “Jabber(XMPP) / Conversations & Co. / Gajim, Yaxim, Dino, Monal, Siskin, … / ‘secure’ messengers”
xmpp:chatstandard@chat.openim.de
Everything about “IT security, data protection and privacy
xmpp:it@chat.disroot.org

English-language groups in which the developers of the programs are also involved:

  • Information from and about the messenger “Conversations”
    xmpp:conversations@conference.siacs.eu

  • Information from and around the messenger “Gajim”
    xmpp:gajim@conference.gajim.org

  • For server operators
    xmpp:operators@muc.xmpp.org
    Without registration: read access. Registration is required to be able to create messages yourself:
    https://mail.jabber.org/mailman/listinfo/operators (external)

Suitable software

For the administration of public groups, you should use software that enables extended rights management or full control over chat rooms. For Windows/Linux Gajim can be used; suitable Android apps are monocles chat, Cheogram and aTalk.

Setup

  • Use suitable programs/apps!

  • Use the description of the chat room for “Rules” or refer to a page where these can be found

  • Should the chat room be “moderated”? Depending on this, you have the advantage that either everyone can write immediately - with the risk of garbage messages (“spam”) from strangers. Or that garbage messages are almost impossible in moderated chat rooms - with the additional effort of assigning write permissions for requests.

  • Check all available room settings to see if they fit and change them according to your own wishes if necessary.
    Among other things, it is important that the chat room is “permanent” and is not automatically deleted if no participant is currently present.

  • If possible, do not give ownership rights to just one chat account in case of representation/emergency. Either authorize several people or at least create another chat account and also authorize this chat account as an additional owner in the chat room.

  • For moderated chat rooms, it is an advantage to give several people administration rights. If there are requests for write permissions, it is better to have several people (spread out over the day) who can then process and set them up more quickly.

Moderation

How do you moderate public chat rooms? Tips that support friendly interaction:

  • Pay attention to objectivity and mutual respect, point this out and stick to it yourself.

  • No negative evaluation of / statements about people, as this would be a personal attack - pay attention to the evaluation of statements.

  • Questioning (“Did I understand correctly that …”) helps to avoid misunderstandings!

  • Do not discuss/write everything in public! Avoid escalation!

  • Private messages/conversations often help in “problem cases”. Private messages (PN) are generally very valuable and are often used. These are only addressed to one recipient; others do not see this “PN”.

  • Avoid technical terms, abbreviations and foreign words.

  • Technical moderation (“muting”, kicking out or banning participants, deleting posts, …) is client-dependent (good for this are: Gajim + aTalk) - but also dependent on server software. Example: Removing several participants at once is not possible with (I think) Prosody servers due to a bug.

  • As a room administrator in Conversations, be sure to switch on the server details in the chat room details (I think it was because of the display of the rights assigned to participants).

  • When creating chat rooms, take a look at the possible rights for chat rooms on different servers. There are big differences. Some offer more/different settings than other servers.

  • Allow discussions outside of the main topic and do not stifle them immediately. If something gets too deep/too long/too emotional, intervene and suggest alternatives (direct exchange, more suitable chat rooms).

  • If there are several administrators/moderators, set up/use a separate (non-public) chat room just for them for mutual coordination.

  • In public chat rooms, it is also advisable to reserve “Admin”, “admin”, “Administrator” and “administrator” as nicknames/aliases in the member list and thus block them for others.

Spam protection

What measures are there to protect against SPAM in public chat rooms?

Public chat rooms are - as the name suggests - public. You can ban participants (actually the corresponding chat address) - but this does not always have the desired effect. People who really want to do this are back after a few minutes with a new chat account and a new alias/pseudonym. In this case, the only thing that helps is kicking the troublemaker out and switching the public chat room to “moderated”. New participants then only have read rights and must request write rights.

Tips

To find publicly accessible rooms on a specific topic, there is the page https://search.jabber.network (external). Some programs/apps have built-in functions that also use this site.

Multiple accounts

The use of a second (anonymous) chat account is recommended for public groups. This ensures an easy and simple separation between private and public accessibility.

Vacation reports / travel diary

Groups can also be used, for example, for vacation reports etc. to provide family/friends with news (broadcast list). To do this, create the desired chat room and then set it to “moderated “. This allows all participants to read the content - without disruptive comments disturbing the travel blog. Depending on your needs, the group can be public or by invitation only.
… and the travel diary can be filled with texts, photos, videos, voice memos and interesting news.

Mute groups

In large chat rooms, these notifications can be limited or deactivated so that they do not ring, buzz or vibrate with every new entry. A useful setting is often to only receive a notification when you yourself (nickname/alias) are mentioned.