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Definition: chat


A real-time communication via keyboard between two or more users on a local network (LAN) or over the Internet. Non-verbal, a computer chat is like sending text messages back and forth. Either characters are transmitted after each key is pressed, or all the text is sent when the user presses Enter. The term chat became so pervasive in the computing world that a two-way audio communication is sometimes called a "voice chat," and video calling is often called "video chat."

Live Chat for Support
Live text chat is a common website support system, allowing someone to be assisted by a company representative, who typically handles more than one site visitor at a time. Called "live chat," "live help," "live person" or "live support software."

Chat vs. Instant Messaging (IM) vs. Texting (SMS)
All three of these terms are used synonymously because all of them deal with sending and receiving text. Yet there are differences. In the past, chat and IM sessions were on the computer, while texting was strictly a cellphone service. Today, the same service may be used on both mobile devices and computers.

Additionally, while a chat session can be initiated by users merely browsing a website, instant messaging (IM) requires installing an IM program and opening an account. It may also require sending invitations to recipients. Texting only requires knowing the recipient's cellphone number. See instant messaging and text messaging.

Chatting Used To Be Verbal
Before chat services became popular, if people referred to "chatting on a cellphone," they meant talking. See chat room, video chat and IRC.




A Live Chat
Live chat is a great website addition for customers. When a visitor looks at the router section on Cisco's website, this dialog pops up. Although the young woman's headset might imply a voice call, the live chat is only text.