Adult chat rooms have their own etiquette: study

May 26th, 2008 - 1:07 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, May 26 (IANS) Even in adult chat rooms rife with overt sexuality, users follow an unwritten code of social etiquette, whose violation invites swift penalty, according to a new study. The penalty may either be a quick reprimand, an insult or even exile from the chat room, said the study by Queensland University of Technology researchers.

The study, by doctoral student Danielle Lawson, is based on an analysis of logs comprising more than 6,000 lines of Internet relay chat (IRC), where people from around the world converse in text.

Lawson said rules of alternative sex chat rooms she studied imposed a minimum age of 18 years with a ban on posting URL links and a ban on “trolling” - posting argumentative comments or demanding sex.

“If someone new breaks those rules, the chat room operator will inform them of the rules and warn them that they could be kicked out,” she said.

In case the operator does ban somebody, then other participants in the chat room will follow his example and insult the rule-breaker or use sarcasm to chase them away.

“It has been shown that one insult often leads to a flurry of related insults. If someone broke a rule, and I responded to them by saying they were idiots, others would jump on the bandwagon and also insult them.

“It is very school yard-type behaviour, with the channel op acting as hall monitor. Participants position themselves as compliant group members by singling out rule violators and commenting on their behaviour.”

Lawson said: “There might be very far-out, bizarre conversations, but there could also be very mundane conversations, like what someone is having for dinner.

“A chat room starts to feel like a virtual home and the people like friends, even if you never meet. As a result, people share things they may not tell real-life friends they have known for many years.”

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