How to participate in a chat without being intrusive?
June 27, 2006 6:38 PM   Subscribe

How do I participate in a chat where the others frequently talk about personal topics, but want me not to but in, since I am not a long-time member?

In a public chatroom, where people have known each other for years, the discussion touches on personal topics (family, life events) very frequently. I've visited the chat for less than a year so many expect me not to ask any questions or make any comments when the conversation turns personal. I am glad to oblige, but that makes me feel like an unwanted person and diminishes my participation. (As I said, those personal discussions are very frequent.) How do I still participate in chat without making others feel that I am intruding into their personal space.
posted by gregb1007 to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Chat about some of your own personal topics, and have them join YOU. Once they've seen a personal side to you, maybe they won't feel as awkward with you commenting on their personal issues.
posted by robbie01 at 6:48 PM on June 27, 2006

Do they actually come right out and say not to join in? I would assume that in a public chatroom, anything they're willing to share is up for grabs (within respect, of course). If they want to talk privately with only a few people sharing, wouldn't a better place for that be a private chatroom?
posted by cajo at 6:52 PM on June 27, 2006

You need to make yourself known to these people. Right now, they don't know anything about you. Like robbie01- start talking about you. Soon, they'll be asking you questions about yourself, and you'll be part of the gang.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:59 PM on June 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

Have they directly told you not to ask questions about them? I've found that the best way for newcomers to an online group to become a full-fledged member of the group is to start by participating in conversations surrounding the established members, asking questions, and offering tidbits about yourself. Usually people love getting questions about themself, and they'll start remembering you in a positive light.
posted by tastybrains at 7:04 PM on June 27, 2006

Response by poster: Re: Have they directly told you not to ask questions about them?

posted by gregb1007 at 7:11 PM on June 27, 2006

That's just, well, totally rude. If it's so personal that they don't want "outsiders" to join in, then they should take it to a more private medium.

I guess then the only thing to do is talk about yourself, and ask general questions to get people engaged in a conversation with you. Good luck.
posted by tastybrains at 7:20 PM on June 27, 2006

That sounds like a pretty dysfunctional online community. You say you've been there 'less than a year', which implies more than six months. If they're not willing to consider you part of the gang after six months... find another place to chat. Yuck.

Note there can also be a few blowhards that try to set the overall channel tone, and the majority may not agree with them... but will roll over and do whatever the 'leadership' says. You may find them more personable in private messages.

If they're nasty in private messages too.... time to move on.
posted by Malor at 7:27 PM on June 27, 2006

Best answer: Egh. These people don't seem very nice at all. In real life, if you were sitting at a table with a group of people who carried on a conversation that left you out and then rebuffed you when you tried to gain enough information to join in, that would just be horribly rude. Why is it any different online? But I suppose you have good reasons for wanting to continue to engage with these folks.

They'll continue to think of you as an awkward outsider if you're just sitting there quietly, looking (as far as one can "look" like anything online) sad and left-out. If the conversation isn't applicable to you, sign out, go do something else, and check back in later. You also might want to pick out one or two members of the group who seem the nicest and the most open and talk to them about the best way to become more involved.
posted by cilantro at 7:28 PM on June 27, 2006

Go nuts. Just start shoving yourself in their faces. They'll adjust. Look how we adjusted here when signups opened.
posted by bonaldi at 7:40 PM on June 27, 2006

Ditch these pompous asshats. Telling you to not ask about personal life stuff but then they sit there and talk about it?

Eh. That sounds pretty rude to me.

Dude, there are a gazillion chat rooms on teh intarnut. Find one that's more friendly.
posted by drstein at 9:26 PM on June 27, 2006

It sounds to me like someone has the mistaken impression that this is a polite way of asking you to leave.

It is not; it is a rude way of asking you to leave. It does, however, allow you to save face by claiming that it was your own decision to leave, when you finally do so.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:32 PM on June 27, 2006

Every time they start up with some old shit you know nothing about just say "Yeah blah, blah, blach, blach."
They will soon get the message. I haven't found anything people have to say that is worth listening to.
posted by zackdog at 11:41 PM on June 27, 2006

If they ask you to shut up, respond in kind. Type in ALL CAPS, comment all you wish. Or not. Ask them who appointed them censor?
posted by Goofyy at 5:46 AM on June 28, 2006

"makes me feel like an unwanted person"

You ARE an unwanted person. The people in that chat room got to know each other by commenting on each other's life events and family members (I assume they didn't all know each other beforehand), so there's no way you can become a member of the chat room and not do the same. Plus, if they are posting about something in a public chat room, commenting on it can hardly be considered "intruding" on their personal space. They're clearly putting it out there for a reason. I mean, can you tell us what the appeal of this board is? Honestly their rules/guidelines seem ridiculous; did you just infer that they don't want you to ask questions, or did someone tell you? And if someone told you, can you be sure that he/she spoke on behalf of all members? I'm hoping (for your sake and their's) that you might have gotten the wrong idea somehow.

Here's the way you'll solve this: start commenting on everything, and ask questions. Be nice, be cool, be yourself, be interesting, be engaging, etc. Act the same way you would if you were received with open arms when you first joined. If they accept you, yay, you're in. If they don't, then blow them off. Life is too short to feel bad about getting dissed by a chat room fer chrissakes. If they don't want you in the room then don't waste your time trying to change their mind. I haven't been in a chat room since high school but I am sure there are ones out there with interesting people who aren't assholes.
posted by apple scruff at 8:59 AM on June 28, 2006

Response by poster: And if someone told you, can you be sure that he/she spoke on behalf of all members?

No, these people don't speak on behalf of all members. The others do not mind the "intrusions."
posted by gregb1007 at 9:34 AM on June 28, 2006

Best answer: Well, it depends on the ratio of "these people" to "the others". You'll never be comfortable in a chat room where most of the people would rather you not talk or comment on topics that come up frequently. But if the jerks are in the minority, ignore them and go forth and chat. Engage with the friendly people and ignore the others. Kind of like any social situation, I suppose.
posted by apple scruff at 9:57 AM on June 28, 2006

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