10 ways to make the most of text chat

I commented previously that text chat is very core to our gaming experience. But how to make the most of text in chat channels? How can we try to communicate clearly, unambiguously, and across multiple culture and language gaps?

Here are some basic rules which may help. Feel free to break these whenever it fits the flow of conversation, they aren’t hard and fast rules — but if you are having trouble with being understood, they will help.

  1. Keep comments concise and self contained. Try to avoid running over the text limit and needing another message to finish your sentence.
  2. Avoid one or two word responses. Someone may be receiving your comment interleaved with other texts so add enough context information so that they can remember which comment you were answering.
  3. Short sentences. Don’t ramble on through multiple clauses. Text chat just isn’t the medium for it.
  4. Don’t stress too much about spelling, everyone knows that you’re typing in real time. But you will be easier to understand if you get the spelling right.
  5. Speed is of the essence. Don’t make everyone wait several minutes while you type out your magnum opus unless everyone else is communicating at the same speed (learning to type faster is one of the few transferrable skills you really will get from MMOs :) ), by the time they receive it they may have forgotten what it was about.
  6. Use channels sensibly. If you are having a private conversation with someone, take it off the guild channel to whispers.
  7. If the game UI lets you colour messages differently in different channels, then use it. Typically, a different colour for guild chat, raid chat, and private whispers will help you quickly sort through incoming text.
  8. Similarly, if the game lets you link loot, quest names, character names, etc. into text chat then go ahead and use it. It makes communication quicker and less ambiguous.
  9. Don’t be too snooty to use smilies. They’re popular for a reason. They let you add a little more emotional and tonal information to your message. If you are telling a joke in a guild with members from many different cultures, it helps to know when people are trying to be funny.
  10. Remember that you can usually scroll up and down text chat boxes to see previous messages in a conversation. Try to do that before you ask people what they were talking about, it cuts down on spam as they repeat themselves, and will annoy them less.
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7 thoughts on “10 ways to make the most of text chat

  1. 1. Oops. Not me then.
    2. Yes. Also, don’t make the mistake of assuming everyone else is in your head. COMPLETE YOUR DAMNED SENTENCES!
    3. Oops. Now you tell me. :P
    4. Yes. Maturity and intelligence are independent of spelling ability, as my various dyslexic friends can prove.
    5. Hell yes. Ye gods, the number of times I’ve /head-desked just waiting for a response, only to get a “yes” that makes zero sense in the context of previous conversation (see 2).
    6. Yes. Besides, it makes for really good mistells when you screw up.
    7. Yes. SWG is the absolute master at that – not only can you colour channels, you can colour words or phrases too. My entertainers always had “tips you” coloured in bright red, so I would be less likely to miss tips and have a better chance of thanking people. Politeness matters. ;) (Oh dear, I’m breaking rule 1.)
    8. Yes.
    9. Thank god! :D :) ;) Joking aside, I use them to try to help disambiguate chat, though since they’re often used sarcastically that doesn’t always work. But text chat is SUCH an easy medium to misinterpret and/or misunderstand that any method which helps prevent those is useful. Oh, the drama I’ve seen in text — and only some of it was intentional.
    10. You can scroll in chat?! ( :D )

  2. Ooo ooo I thought of a #11 — Thou Shalt Turn On Timestamping! For the inveterate AFK-er, like me, that’s a priceless tool. That way I can come back after 10-30 minutes away and not reply to something that was said in prehistoric times (5+ minutes ago), or at least explain my response in a way that makes it more obvious what I’m responding to.

  3. An ex-guild leader
    of mine would
    only ever type
    3 or 4 words per
    line to ensure that
    people knew he was talking
    and would follow what
    he said.

    No 2 minute “silences”
    you knew when he had
    something to say
    because there would be
    a stream of 3-4 letter
    lines coming through

  4. Pingback: /AFK – Sept 13 « Bio Break

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