chats FAQ

Why does chats ask me if I am watching the room?

Can chats be used as a blog or message board? Yes. chats used to be primarily a real-time chat system, but we have extended its features so that it can now perfectly well be used as a blog or message board. Make sure to create a Virtual Room for this purpose, though. How long do you keep a chat room open? A chatroom which is used regularly will stay open indefinitely. In order to save space on our system, chat rooms that have not been modified (written to) within 14 days may be deleted. This should not be a problem, since you can always just create a new chat room when you need to chat again. Premium Rooms (our paid subscription) will be kept open for a minimum of 6 months, from the time they were last used. If they are modified regularly, they will stay open indefinitely. How do I delete a chat room? You cannot remove a chat room in itself. But you can clear the entire chat history (select "Clear Chat" on the menu) so nobody can see what was written previously. Also, chat rooms not used for a period of time will be deleted automatically (see below). Can I turn my Quick Chat into a Virtual Room? Quick Chats are meant to be quickly created, used for a chat or two and then discarded, but if a specific Quick Chat address has become established among you and your friends, you may want it to have Virtual Room features. If you pay to make the Quick Chat a Premium Room, it gets automatically converted to a Virtual Room with access control, custom URLs and all the other options. Of course, the room also gets all the premium features such as custom URL, timeout settings, etc. The room administrator password is automatically set to the item number from the payment (make a note of it when you pay or look it up in your receipt email - it is a 12-digit number, but not the same as the room address number). With this, you can enter the room as administrator, register your email as the room owner email and change the admin password to something you can remember. Please notice that we are not able to decide who is the most legitimate administrator of a Quick Chat. Anybody (who knows the room address) can "take control" of a Quick Chat by making it a Premium Room. Invitations How do I invite people to chat with me? It is very simple. Go to the front page, enter your name, one or more email addresses to send the invitation to and a subject for the chat. We will then send out an email invitation immediately. You can also send out invitations directly from a chat room by clicking on "invite people" on top of the page and filling out the form that appears. What are email addresses I enter used for? When you enter an email address, we send out an email invitation containing your message and a short footer (explaining some details, but containing no ads whatsoever). Email addresses are never used for any other purpose, as outlined in our strict Privacy Policy. If you want to see how an invitation looks like, you can always enter your own email address on the invitation (separate multiple email addresses with commas). Do I need to send out an invitation for each chat? No. The chatrooms are open at all times. The invitations are just a means of communicating the chat room address, which is needed in order to enter the chatroom. The recipients can save the address and access the chatroom at any time. Why does someone not get my invitations? There are several possibilities: * First of all, please double-check the address. You would be surprised how many of our users are sending email invitations to non-existent addresses like johndoe@yaho.com (instead of yahoo.com). Unfortunately, our system is not capable of telling you whether the email reached its recipient or not. * Online email services (such as Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail), as well as many email programs (such as Microsoft Outlook) have spam filters. Although it should not happen, some of chats's invitations may be detected as spam and end up in a bulk/spam folder. Please ask your recipient to check whether this is the case. There is usually an option to report to the email service/program that the invitations are not spam. * Another possible explanation is that you are sending email invitations to a mailbox, which require that senders be registered for some kind of membership. Yahoo! Groups, for instance, has this requirement. You may be registered and perfectly able to send email yourself, but if chats is not part of the group, our email invitations will be returned and never read by their recipients. Can I "uninvite" a person I have invited to a chat previously? In a Quick Chat, you cannot "uninvite" people (but you can always start a new chat and make sure not to invite the unwanted person). In a Virtual Room, you can either change the password or exclude the user in the visitor list by clicking on the icon in the right side of the row. Signing up with chats Why should I sign up with chats? chats was designed to work without the users needing to sign up. We do, however, offer some advantages to the users that confirm their email address: * As a registered user, you automatically keep a "My Rooms" list where all rooms you enter, create or get invited to are automatically saved. * In each room on your "My Rooms" list, preferences such as name and color are saved for next time you return to the room. * You can set invitation permissions, e.g. you can specify that nobody or only registered users may send you invitations. * You can enter into rooms where the owner only allows users with a confirmed email to enter. Signing up is, of course, free and only takes a minute. Who can see my email? When you are logged into chats with your email address, it can be used to identify you towards room administrators in certain cases: * In Quick Chats, there is no room administrator and, consequently, nobody can see your email. * In Virtual Rooms, only the room administrator can see it. Your email is hidden for all other users. How do I delete my account? First of all, click "My Rooms" and remove all items from your personal room list by clicking the X to the right of each room. Then, click "My Account", select the "Allow nobody to send me invitations" option and deselect the "Send me warnings and major news about chats" box. You may even want to change your personal password to some random string if you are sure you are not coming back. That's it! Technically, we will still have a file with your email address, but you will never hear from us again. In fact, if we deleted your email address, we would not be able to prevent people from sending you new invitations from the chat rooms. Finally, any rooms you may have entered will still have you on the visitor list, but please notice that it is only the room administrator that can see your email address. Features and daily use Why can't I use smileys, text color, pictures, HTML, or stuff that makes the chat more exciting? We admit that chats is a tad boring compared to instant messaging programs. The idea with chats, however, was never to offer fancy features or state-of-the-art performance, but a simple chat system which works everywhere and which everyone can use. The more features you add on, the more complex the system gets and the higher the risk of it not working becomes. Is there a way of using webcams in the chat rooms? Currently, chats does not support Web cams. We are considering whether or not we should include this feature in a future version. Why does my previous input keep coming up in the input box - even in different chat rooms? How do I prevent this? This behavior has nothing to do with chats - it is a feature of your Web browser (e.g. Microsoft Internet Explorer). Fortunately, it is easy to disable. Simply find this checkbox and uncheck it: * In Internet Explorer: Tools menu => Internet Options (last menu item) => Content (tab) => AutoComplete (button) => Use AutoComplete for Forms (checkbox) * In Mozilla Firefox: Tools menu => Options (last menu item) => Privacy (tab) => Remember what I enter in forms and the search bar (checkbox) What does it mean to SPAM chats? A very small number of our users don't know how to behave. They copy/paste large chunks of random text (such as "qweqwe qweqwe qweqwe" etc.) into the rooms they are visiting just to annoy people. To prevent this, we have implemented an anti-spam filter which limits the amount of text that can come from a single IP address (a computer address) within a five-minute interval. This limit will not be reached by simply typing very fast. If you get a spam message from the system, chances are that you have been copying precomposed chunks of text into the room. This is of course OK if the text is relevant for the room. Since our system cannot distinguish relevant text from nonsense text, however, there may be a few "false positives". Here is what you can do if that happens to you: * First of all, register with chats (it's free and takes one minute). The limit for registered users is higher, simply because we assume that anonymous users are more likely to spam. * Ask the room administrator to check the "Loosen up spam control" option in Room Properties. When this box is checked, the system allows much more text to be pasted to a room without showing the spam warning. The limit is especially high in Premium Room, which are suitable for use from a single location such as a computer lab or a company network with only one IP address. * The limit for administrators in Virtual Rooms is high by default (if people spam their own room, it just means nobody will visit it). In Quick Chats, the default level cannot be changed, but registered and Premium Users still have high limits. Taking the above into consideration, you shouldn't have any problems. If you have just gotten the spam message, you may have to wait up to five minutes. Within this period, please don't paste long messages; it will extend the ban period. To know when you can continue, try pasting a small message once every minute. What does it mean that the chat is closed? The room administrator can choose to close a chat, for instance when he or she is not there. Use the following commands from the chat prompt: * /close closes the chat. Until it is reopened, only room administrators can post. Existing visitors can read and leave the chat. No new visitors can join the chat. * /open reopens the chat for posting and joining. Please notice, however, that users may still have permission to write multiline messages or in other way change the contents of the room even when the chat is closed. This depends on the »Allow users to« box in Room Properties. Performance and browsers Does chats work on all computers? Because chats is created entirely with JavaScript - and does not rely on plug-ins or applets of any kind - the chat service should run smoothly on any browser which supports JavaScript (99% do). Furthermore, chats uses standard Web technologies (not any obscure ports or protocols) and should therefore be able to pass through corporate firewalls without any problems. chats has been thoroughly tested with the latest version of the main browsers: * Mozilla Firefox 3.5 * Google Chrome 2.0 * Internet Explorer 7 and 8 on Windows * Safari 3 and 4 on Mac OS X * Opera 10 * iPhone/Android browsers based on WebKit In addition, our aim is that chats continues to work (with minor flaws) in older browsers such as Internet Explorer 6, Netscape Navigator 6 and Internet Explorer for Mac. How many people can be in a chat room at the same time? Technically, our system doesn't have a limit to how many people can use a chat room simultaneously. Although any IT system will slow down if there are too many users, we have not had any problems yet, even with dozens of users in many chat rooms at the same time. In 2010, we have, however, chosen to put a limit on our free rooms in order to save resources for paying users. Unless you are a Premium User, you will not be let into a free room with more than 10 concurrent visitors. There is no limit for Premium Rooms or Premium Users (see "Subscriptions" section below). Why don't messages come up immediately on my computer? Maybe because your Internet connection is not fast enough. Due to the way chats functions, there is a short delay from when a user writes a message to the moment it shows up on your screen. With a good Internet connection (such as cable/DSL), this delay should be no more than 0.5-2 seconds during normal activity. Are you always up and running? Since we started back in 2001, we have had only very few short periods of downtime, typically in the order of 1-2 hours. We realize uptime is very important for our users and we do everything we can to get as close to 100% as possible. As preventive maintenance, we restart our servers every Sunday at exactly 8.22 GMT (when it is night in the US, morning in Europe, and afternoon in Asia). This is the time where we have the least amount of traffic. It takes 6-8 minutes for the system to come back up. We apologize for the inconvenience this might give. Security, privacy and abuse Is chats 100% secure and private? The way chats distinguishes between your chat room and everyone else's is by giving it an ID number. This ID number is between 0 and a trillion (up to 12 digits). That means, if anyone can guess a number in a trillion, they can access your chat room. Not very likely, is it? Like all other Web sites, communication between your browser and our server can, theoretically, be intercepted by an outsider. To avoid this, we now offer secure connections as an add-on to the chat rooms. When secure connections are enabled (https://www.chats.com), all communication is encrypted using 128-bit SSL, the standard also used for sending credit card information via the Internet. How safe is the chat service? Is there any virus protection in the chat rooms? chats is very safe to use: * First of all, chats does not install any programs on your computer, but relies on JavaScript commands which are carried out by your Internet browser. Thus, if you trust your Internet browser (which you normally can), you can trust the chats service - contrary to independent chat and instant messaging programs which may or may not include bugs or spyware. * Secondly, there is no way chats can transfer a virus or execute code from another chat user on your computer. The only thing that passes from one chatter to the others is plain text. All HTML tags, and thereby embedded code of any kind, is filtered away. Consequently, there is no need for virus protection in relation to chats. Do you accept advertising from adult websites or the like? No, we do not. Furthermore, we never use pop-up/pop-under windows and we try to avoid flashy, disturbing banners. I have been harassed by threats or insults in the chatroom. What should I do? Well, first of all, you are the one who decides where to spend your time. If you don't like the language in a specific chatroom, we suggest that you don't visit it. It's that simple. However, in very serious cases, you are free to contact the police. As explained in our privacy policy, we are able to identify individual users by means of their IP address and we are willing to help police or similar authorities in their investigations. We do NOT, however, disclose IP addresses to private users. If your complaint is not serious enough for the police, it is not serious enough for us either. Fortunately, we have never received a request from the police to disclose an IP address and we hope we never will. What does "John from x.x.x.123" mean and why do you display it? As a measure towards the 0.1% of our users who do not know how to behave themselves, we are displaying a user's partial IP addresses for log-in and rename actions. This makes it more difficult for the mentioned 0.1% to log in as multiple or different (fake) identities in the same chatroom. Furthermore, it clearly shows everybody that we are logging IP addresses, which we hope will deter malicious or deceitful behavior. An IP address is a number, which all computers on the internet have and which people can usually not change. The number could for instance be, which we would display as X.X.X.123. This gives a good indication of which computer the user is behind without compromising the safety/privacy of the user by revealing the full IP address. We realize that it is not the perfect security measure (a deceitful user may still use multiple computers), but it is better than nothing. How can I kick out people who are being rude? In a Quick Chat, you have no control of people, once you have let them in. Your only option is to stop using the room and move your trusted friends or visitors to another room by sending them the new chatroom address. In a Virtual Room, you can now ban or specifically allow users based on their email address. You can also change the room password from time to time. Of course, these options only apply if you have the administrator password for the chatroom. Subscriptions / Premium Features What are your subscriptions? We like the idea of being free and we will continue to offer a free, ad-supported chat service. Our success, however, has brought about hosting costs which we are unable to meet without subscriptions. We offer two different types of subscriptions: * A Premium User subscription which applies to one user (you!) in all rooms and which is purchased for one year or 3 months at a time. * A Premium Room subscription which applies to all users of one room and which expires when a certain amount of text (the usage limit) has been written to the room. We recommend the Premium User subscription if you use chats a lot, but you don't administrate your own rooms. Premium Rooms on the other hand are intended for people that maintain one or several Virtual Rooms. What do I get as a Premium User? A Premium User subscription gives you: * No advertisement. A clean chat experience without banners or promotions. * Faster updates. Messages appear faster in all rooms you visit. * No timeouts. You will never be asked to confirm that you are still following a room and you will not be logged out after one hour of inactivity. * Secure connections. You can access any room via "https:", thereby preventing eavesdropping with industry-strength (128-bit) SSL encryption. * Unlimited lists. Your lists of personal rooms and room visitors will no longer be limited to 40 items (12 on chats Mobile). * Unrestricted room access. In our free rooms, we have had to limit the number of non-subscribers to a maximum of 10. As a Premium User, you will always be granted access (without taking up one of the 10 free spots). A subscription is only 2-3 dollars a month. Show me the options. What do I get with a Premium Room? A Premium Room gives the best possible chat experience for all visitors: * No advertisement. A clean chat without banners or promotions. * Faster updates and no timeouts. Messages appear faster and visitors are not prompted for confirmation every 5 minutes. * Unrestricted room access. Everybody can enter, there is no limit to the number of visitors. * Complete chat history. All visitors can access the entire chat history (not just the last 10 KB). The administrator can even recall deleted contents. * Secure connections. The room can be accessed via "https:", thereby preventing eavesdropping with industry-strength (128-bit) SSL encryption. * Custom URLs. The room administrator can choose a permanent room address like: chats.com/YourName. * Hosted room option.NEW Show your room on your own website or blog in your own design and without chats logos ("white-labeled"). In the future, we may add more premium features at no extra charge. What happened to chats Plus? We changed the name to "Premium Room". If you activated chats Plus for your room previously, it has simply been converted to a Premium Room (with more features). What are usage limits? When you subscribe to a Premium Room, you must select one of three usage limits. The usage limit is the amount of text that the users can write to the chat room before the premium features are turned off again. The selected usage limit will be added to the current total usage of the chat room (size of both visible and deleted contents). The result is called the usage limit. If, for instance, the current total usage of the chat room is 2.5 MB and you select a usage limit of 5 MB, the usage limit becomes 7.5 MB. Once the chat room usage reaches 7.5 MB, the premium features are automatically deactivated (but the chat room is of course still available). You or others are able to extend the premium features at any time - the purchased usage limit is then added to the existing usage limit. In the example above, you may decide to buy 5 MB more when the total usage of the chat room is 6 MB (before it reaches 7.5 MB). In this case, the usage limit will be raised to 12.5 MB. In the chatroom, you can always see what the current usage limit is. Simply click on "View Statistics". Which usage limit should I choose? Although you can always extend the usage limit, notice that you receive a considerable discount if you purchase a higher usage limit to begin with. Depending on your needs, you can apply three different usage limits to a Premium Room: * 750 KB is intended for individuals who chat with family or friends once in a while. 750 KB may not sound as much, but it is pure HTML text with no images (unlike emails). 750 KB corresponds to a book of about 200 pages and should be plenty for occasional chatting. * 6 MB is intended for heavy personal users or groups of people who meet to discuss a topic at regular intervals. 6 MB HTML text corresponds to more than the size of the entire Bible in plain-text format and should give even the most enthusiastic groups enough room. * 48 MB should be purchased by Web masters planning to use the chat room in connection to a high-traffic Web site. Since 48 MB corresponds to a multi-volume encyclopedia, it is recommended for businesses and organizations which do not wish to bother with periodic renewals. If you can't figure out what usage limit to choose, take a look at the bottom of the purchase form. Unless the chat room is less than 12 hours old, the new usage limit field will show you how long time the premium features will be active at the current usage rate. The value changes as you select different usage limits. How do I pay and is it secure?