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See glossary for definitions of technical words.
The best known parts the internet are the web and email. Most people use the web just to read websites. Email is used for individual correspondence between people who know each other. But there are other ways of communicating using the internet.
~ Contacting websites
~ Web-based discussions
~ Email lists
~ Moderated/unmoderated discussions
~ Tips for participating in discussions
Websites often offer contact details, perhaps via an email address. A website might offer you the chance to vote on an issue, with the result appearing on the website later. A webcast is a broadcast on a website, perhaps an interview where anyone can contribute questions.
Many websites allow discussion online. These may be called boards or forums. You post a message by typing it into a form on the webpage. Soon it will appear with all the other messages. Other people can then reply to your message. These messages may be grouped into topics called threads. Some websites share photos or video clips.
Once you have set up your own webmail email address, you can join an email group through which you receive and send email to that group. You can even set up your own group.
Newsgroups are group communication accessed through newsreader software. You can also access newsgroups online. You participate in a newsgroup by reading and posting messages (similar to web-based discussion groups).
In a chatroom, a group of people chat online. The communication is more like a real conversation. Some chatrooms are web-based (but may require Java), and others require software that you download from the web. It is easy to get very involved, so beware large telephone bills! Before joining in any online discussion, it is wise spend time reading previously submitted messages. You will find out if this is really the group for you, and learn how to behave in that group.
In moderated discussions, every posting is inspected before it goes online to screen out illegal or unacceptable messages. This means moderated messages are often much slower to appear online. Moderated chatrooms have a responsible person in charge who will evict unsuitable people from the chatroom.
Tips for participating in any group discussions
~ Check out the group before joining in.
~ Try not to annoy the other people in the group.
~ Avoid giving your full name, address or telephone number.
~ Consider using a nickname.
~ If you give your email address, you may get spam (junk email).
~ If you get into a situation you don't like, just leave the discussion.
~ Think before seeing in person anyone you first meet online.
~ Take care to meet in public, and to bring along a friend.
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