Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is one of the oldest forms of “chat room” on the Internet. Developed all the way back in 1988, IRC was just about the only way for people with different ISPs to communicate in real-time until the instant messaging services arrived a few years later. IRC is still going strong, though, and that’s mostly due to the way it works. Chatting on IRC usually requires a client (program); once installed, the user can connect to an IRC server and start chatting in specialized “chat rooms”. Although user-to-user chat is available in IRC, it still uses the “room” paradigm. And in many ways, IRC is superior to instant messaging software, especially when you want to chat with several people (and especially if all those people use different IM programs).
The only downside to IRC is that it’s pretty complex for non-technical users to grasp. Installing an IRC client is pretty easy, but configuring it can be complex. And once the user has signed on to an IRC server, they’ll probably be overwhelmed by the arcane commands IRC uses (for example, to join a chat room, the user has to type /JOIN #CHATROOM; to change their “nickname”, you’d type /NICK NICKNAME).
Wouldn’t it be great if someone offered an easy way to use IRC?
Well, as you might guess, someone has. The site is called ChatMaker, and it couldn’t be easy simpler: just click the link to go to the site, and then enter the name of the chatroom you’d like to create. You’re then given a URL to give to your friends; once they click on the link, they’ll be taken directly to your chat room.
Neither you nor your guests have to register for anything at the site; in fact, there’s no “registration” at all on ChatMaker’s site! And since it’s all done via web browsers, no client is required on anyone’s end. Old-school IRC users might not like that only two IRC commands are supported by: /NICK and /ME. But for a quick and dirty chat room solution, ChatMaker can’t be beat!