Should You Add Chat Rooms? - But…Why?
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When you host even one chat room on your Web site, there’s all kinds of considerations to take into account. First, even though it seems otherwise, you can’t just put anything on the Internet that you want. If your site or your chat has any sort of mature content (meaning that it is only suitable for adults over the age of 18), you will have to include disclaimers stating the chat rooms are not meant for children. You must do this legally.
You will also have to maintain and provide rules for your chat rooms, guidelines which are clearly displayed on login pages. Make sure your rules are easy to understand and accessible to all.
If you have an open chat room which is available to all, you will need to put certain filters and measures into place to protect the general public. Content filters can help weed out offensive language and images if you do not want these to appear in your chat. You may also need to employ online moderators -- persons who watch the chat for potentially offensive or dangerous users. This is all designed to keep offensive content out of your chat rooms, something you want to do (and have to do) for any public forum or medium.
Even if the chat code is free and fairly simple to put on your site, that’s only a small portion of the work that goes into actually maintaining an online chat room. Why go through the hassle, the time and the effort to bring this service to your pages? Sure, chat is interactive…but is it popular and profitable enough to warrant all this extra trouble?
Should You Add Chat Rooms?
When the Internet was new and chat was popular, the answer would unequivocally be yes. Like all things, however, the Internet is subject to change and growth with time. Fewer Internet users are visiting chat rooms these days, opting instead for online forums and lightning-quick instant messages they can trade back and forth outside the confining space of an online room.
If you get a good amount of traffic and your users seem to have some desire for chat, or if you simply want to add a feature you’ve never offered before, you might want to seriously consider including free online chat rooms. But it’s not likely adding a single chat room will boost your traffic a noticeable amount, unless you launch a very active and aggressive promotional campaign.
If your site already offers a great deal of interactive features, adding chat could just be icing on the cake for your users. It’s not likely, however, that adding a chat room will create a new flood of traffic to your pages. When chat is used to enhance, it can be very effective, but only as one of the many interactive facets of your site. Be sure to also include discussion boards, features which allow users to add comments and other public tools that allow traffic to contribute. If you want to offer a site that has the total package, chat rooms can be an exciting new feature, but they should definitely not be the only feature your site provides.
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