What I'm trying to say here is that being an active participant on a board is more time-consuming than chatting, and more, eh, shall I say "stupid" people are much more likely to go somewhere where no one expects them to act intelligent: a chatroom. I complare it to watching Jenny Jones or what have you. But there are perfectly normal, ok maybe not normal, but some non-loonies on there.
Are there ANY chat rooms on the Internet populated by smart people, or is this a Net-wide phenomenon? On decent message boards like this one, we ask questions, get intelligent answers (well, usually), and most always "speak" in paragraphs. I do frequent chat rooms but I mainly do it to play games and in those rooms the conversation is ussually about the game. But I do wander into the assorted "chat" only rooms. People who claim to be hackers becuase, "they got this program from a friend that makes your computer go crazy." Until you hit the esc key of course. But hey if you just got out of jail for beating your wife while she was pregnant then you will fit right in.
A few (ok, quite a few but in percentages of the 8,000+ members it's only a few) members of this board meet at #Straight Dope on IRC's Undernet server.
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There is usually a good game going on in the trivia room, but for the most part, finding good intelligent chat takes a bit of determination. I think you have to spend a little bit of time in a room before you write it off as completely awful.
I've had some incredibly intense debates with people there on a wide range of subjects and I have a lot of fun.
this chanel is open to those with religious beliefs as well, but prepare to be challenged on what you believe!
In a chat room, the conversation is real-time, and very fast-paced. Sitting at home at 3am on a sunday morning "cybering" with a large red neck with 5 kids IS as bad as it sounds.
I don't spend much time in chat rooms anymore, but I can guess as to why they aren't usually populated by smart people.