Many people have written various humorous and not so humorous pages about chatrooms, instant messaging, even email. However, a few points are particularly worth noting.
When you enter a chat room for the first time, take a note of what's going on, you probably just walked into a fairly crowded room, not everyone is going to notice you at once. Sitting quietly in a corner for 5 minutes, then saying "Fine, nobody say hi then", and leaving is merely going to make people think "que??" at best, or "what a loser" at worst. Say hi. If nobody says hi back, the room's a loss, find somewhere else :-)
Once you are "established" in a chatroom, you will be able to observe what goes on, and much of it will be distasteful, trust me on this. [Much of this is specific to Yahoo! chat, but may well apply elsewhere.]
You will notice people getting ignored quietly, some people who won't actually type, some people who are plain rude etc.
But, onto specifics here. You will see all kinds of weird and wonderful claims about what can be achieved. Mainly by "script kiddies". These creatures can frequently be identified by having weird looking names [a tip here, don't call it a screenname or S/N, that identifies you as an AOLamer], in Yahoo! it is an "ID" or possibly an "Alias" or, if you happen to have not yet turned the misfeature off, a "Nickname". Nicknames are bad on the grounds they fail to allow you to actually identify who someone is, which is kind of a prerequisite.
Anyway, script kiddies will usually make themselves known by such things as "I will hack your computer" and "I will fry your hard drive" and so forth, the older version using 'leetspeak' as in "I w1ll h4x0r y0ur b0x 4nd 0wn 1t" are largely unused now, on the grounds that several people died laughing while attempting to parse the sentence.
Note: It is physically impossible to physically damage a hard drive or indeed any other piece of computer hardware using data, no TCP packet or UDP packet or even ICMP packet can be rendered pointy enough to damage any part of your computer. IF the person is on the same local network, yes, they could physically plug your network cable into 220 volts, but then, if they're in the same building as you, they could just as easily smash the computer with a LART, such as a baseball bat or 2×4.
Also, if you SPOT one of these creatures, watch it closeley, at some point it will probably get upset and claim to have traced someones "ISP address". [as opposed to the correct term, IP address] At this point, try not to p*ss yourself laughing please. Extra bonus points awarded if they then go ahead and post any of the following:
[It is possible for them to obtain YOUR IP address, but only if they have you on their friends list, and vice versa, and neither of you are running any worthlessly stupid program that attempts to make you unbootable but actually boots you more frequently]
I think for now that's about it.
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Last Modified 2005-11-18