Using Chat (Chat Room)

The actual name of the software we're using is "ChatRoom" but to eliminate confusion with "Hammer-Time's Conference Room" we're calling it "Chat Room"

This page provides information on using the Hammer-Time Chat Room. It has been excerpted from the Help Page that you get when you click on Help in the Hammer-Time Conference Room. Coverage of other IRC clients is beyond the scope of this help.

We know from personal experice that the first time you log into a Chat Room that is based on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) that it can be intimidating.  But, we also know that you will soon get past that, and really enjoy "real-time chat".

The main difference between The Hammer-Time Conference Room and the Hammer-Time Chat Room is that there is no history of what's said.  If some one joins in on an ongoing chat they do do not see any of the previous chat.  Probably both good and bad, but in any case that's the way it works.  So if it's work keeping and getting comment on then you may want to post it in the Hammer-Time Conference Room.

When you select Chat, The Hammer-Time Conference Room loads a new web page that has   a Java IRC Chat client built in. This may take a few seconds so be patient. When the client is loaded, you are automatically logged you into the chat room using the same name it uses to post your messages. That is, the name is either your real name (with spaces replaced by underscores) or your login name. In IRC chat, the name you are known by is called a nickname. You can change your nickname once you are in chat at any time, as described later in this help.

In general, the login screen passes quickly and you don't see it. However, if someone else is using your nickname, the login screen waits for you to provide a new nickname in the Nick field. After you supply a new nickname (you don't need to give an email address), click Connect and you should be in the chat room.

The Chat Page has two columns, or frames. The left frame displays messages typed by members of the room as well as other activity, such as when users join or leave the room. As the conversation continues, it scrolls up. To see past conversation, simply move the scrollbar slider.

The right column or frame lists the users in the room. Your name is in bold, so you can easily identify yourself. If a channel operator (a person who has control over certain activity in the room) is present, that user's name appears in blue.

The field at the bottom of the window is for typing in messages and Chat Room commands. After you type an entry, press Return to send the message or execute the command. Note that Chat Room commands all begin with a /, such as /nick. The title bar of the applet shows the room's name and topic, if one is assigned.

This page also includes instructions for reaching this chat room by another IRC client. If this chat is for a private chat, that information does not appear.

Floating the Chat Client

You can have the Java chat client run in a separate window, which leaves your browser free for other use. To float the window, simply click the Float link on the page that contains the chat client. You can now participate in chat while using your browser for other tasks such as posting to WebBoard or joining another chat room (just follow the steps for entering a room earlier in this help). The Chat client will stay open until you close your browser or the chat window by clicking the Close button in the title bar.

Changing Your Nickname

When you enter a chat room, The Hammer-Time Conference Room automatically uses your real name or login name as your Chat Room nickname. You can change your nickname at any time during a chat session. For example, to let others know that you are on the phone and can't respond right away, change your nickname from Fred to Fred_phone. If you are going to be away for awhile but want to read the conversation when you return by scrolling back through it, change your name from Buffy to Buffy_errands. And, sometimes you may just want to change your nickname so others aren't completely sure who you are!

If you are chatting on a board that does not have a user database (a no authentication board), you are assigned a Guest nickname. You may want to change your nickname so others in the chat room know who you are.

To change your nickname during a chat session, enter the following command in the input field at the bottom of the chat client and press Return:

    /nick new_nickname

where new_nickname is what you want to be known by. Note that the nickname cannot have spaces. Use underscores instead of spaces if you like.

If someone else is using that nickname, a message appears in the left column telling you it is in use. Nicknames must be unique across all chat rooms, so even though the name doesn't show up in your current room's list, it means someone else chatting on this WebBoard is using that name.

If no one else is using the name, a message is sent to the room that your name has changed and your new nickname appears in the users list. Your new nickname is good until you change it or leave the chat room.

Chatting: Basics and Beyond

Engaging in a ChatRoom chat is quite easy. Simply type your messages in the ChatRoom client's input field and press Return. Your message appears to everyone else in the chat room, in the scrolling message frame. The input field also scrolls so you can enter a longer message.

To enter a ChatRoom command, you use the same input field. All commands begin with a /, such as /nick. Some commands have only one argument (such as a your new_nickname), while others require more arguments such as another user's nickname or a chat room name. This section describes various ChatRoom commands and how to use them to make your chats more interesting and productive.

To recall a message or command you already entered, use your up arrow key. Each time you press the up arrow, a previous message or command appears in the input field. You can edit the input or repost it as is.

Whispering to other users in the room

Sometimes when you are in a group conversation, you want to say something just to one other person. You can do this in a chat room by whispering to a specific person. You send a message to that person and no one else in the room sees it. That person can also whisper back, if he wants to.

To whisper to someone, click the user's nickname in the User list. A red box around the user's name indicates that you are whispering. As long as that user is selected, all your messages are sent only to that user and not to the whole room. If that person wants to whisper back, he or she must select your nickname from the user list on his or her client.

To stop whispering, simply click on the user's name again to remove the red box. Now any messages you type are shown to the whole room.

Sending messages to other users or rooms (/msg and /notice)

ChatRoom has two commands for sending messages to specific users or rooms. The users can be in the same chat room you are in or in another room at your WebBoard site (even across different boards). The room can be the current one or another one at this site. Being able to send messages to other users and rooms is handy.

For example, if a technical question arises and no one in the room can answer it, you can send a message to a user who you know can use it. If that user is logged into chat, he will receive it and can either answer the question directly or come join your chat room. On the other hand, if a discussion in your Cooking chat room turns to local restaurants, you can send a message to the EatingOut room. Users from that chat room can then switch to the Cooking room if they like.

The two commands produce slightly different results, which differs depending on the recipient's client software. The two commands have similar syntax, as follows:


This command is similar to whispering. The command requires a nickname and a message:

/msg nickname message

for example,

/msg Fred are you around?

If Fred is in any chat room, he receives the message. In the ChatRoom client, the message appears as a whisper. In a a PIRCH client, this command opens a separate, private chat window through which he can communicate with you.


This command is generally used for sending messages to a user in a different room or to an entire chat room. The command requires a nickname or a room (channel) name and a message:

/notice nickname|channel message

for example,

/notice #eatingout Come join our discussion of restaurants in #cooking!

Everyone in the other chat room sees the message. In the ChatRoom client, the message appears in a different color from the normal conversation text. In a PIRCH client, this command appears as a Note.

Including non-verbal comments (/action and /me)

In face-to-face discussion you can see people's gestures and get a better sense of their meaning. Even in a phone conversation you can hear the tone of voice as well as laughing and sighing. What about in an electronic chat? How can you tell if someone thinks your joke is funny? How can you tell others that you are shrugging your shoulders?

ChatRoom chat supports two commands to let you insert non-verbal comments to the conversation. These are also called action comments since you normally use them to express an action rather than a verbal response. These commands both work the same and produce the same results, as follows:

    /action action message

for example,

    /action is falling off the chair laughing

which produces the following message (action is replaced by the user's nickname):

    Skippy is falling off the chair laughing

The second command works the same way, but might be a bit easier to remember:

    /me action message

for example,

    /me shrugs her shoulders

which produces the following message (me is replaced by the user's nickname):

    Michelle shrugs her shoulders

In the ChatRoom client, an action message is displayed in a different color and starts with an asterisk (*).

Changing the topic (/topic)

In many chat rooms, anyone can set or change the topic. The topic appears in the client's title bar right after the chat room's name and makes it easy for new comers to see the current topic of discussion. Not all rooms have topics and not all rooms are enabled to allow topic changing. The channel operator determines who can change the topic for any room.

To change the topic, use the following command, which requires a chat room and topic text:

    /topic channel new topic

for example,

    /topic #cooking Favorite Pot Pie Recipes

which produces the following text in the title bar:

    Cooking: Favorite Pot Pie Recipes

In addition to the title bar changing, a message is displayed in the message frame noting that the topic has changed.

Finding information about other users (/who and/whois)

You can quickly get information about other users who are currently in chat. This information can be helpful for tracking down where someone comes from, what their real (or login) name is, and what ChatRoom privileges they have. There are two commands for finding this information, as follows:


This command shows you information a specific user or all current chat users:

/who [nickname]

for example,


gives information about all users. including their real login names and their domain names.

/who Buffy

gives information about the user Buffy, including her real login name and domain name.


This command gives you more detailed information about a specific user and requires a nickname:

/whois nickname

for example,

/whois Buffy

gives the same information as the /who command as well as what channels she is in and how long it has been since she communicated with the server.

Leaving a chat room (/part)

You can leave a chat room at any time and keep your chat client open. To do so, enter this command:


You will be removed from the chat room, but the client stays open so you can easily rejoin the same chat room or another one.

Joining another chat room (/join)

You can move from chat room to chat room if you know their names. You can do so directly or by first leaving a chat room using the /part command. To join a new room, enter this command:

    /join channel

for example,

    /join #botany

takes you to the botany chat room. If you have been kicked out of a chat room or disconnected somehow, you can use this command to quickly reenter the same room. Remember that you must include the chat room's name, which always starts with a #.

Leaving Chat

To completely leave ChatRoom chat, you can simply click the Close button on the chat client or enter the following command:


This ends your chat session and returns the ChatRoom client to it's login status. You can reenter the same chat room at any time by clicking Connect.