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A chatroom ethnography: Evolution of community, norms, nonverbal communication
Unformatted Document Text:  A Chatroom Ethnography 17 participants specifically naming those to whom they were speaking at the initiation of the conversation, and then later dropping that demarcation. In the example above, RrayRay69 indicated that he wanted to talk to Lokn4daSun by abbreviating the participant’s handle with the request to talk to her. Other topics of conversation here included: people’s jobs, sports, related age comments (e.g., how young or old a particular member of the room is), the weather, and sex (through out the conversation). Here, however, there were also expressions of community membership. For example, an “Aggie” 3 entered the room and several ‘Hook ‘em horns 4 ’ comments followed. Numerous interpersonal relationships. In contrast the conversation in the observations where there appeared to be many interpersonal relationships was substantially different. More online only relationships and the other was characterized by a mixture of on and offline relationships. In the former, there were few ritual introductions, which had marked a substantial portion of the exchanges in the few relationship observations. In fact, one participant noted, “we are above those age sex checks.” However, there were ritual introductions evident here that reflected people unfamiliar with the group chatting were trying to get into the conversation. These attempts were not successful when they occurred in the middle of an ongoing conversation. The differences here reflect that with increasing prior relationships, there are emergent norms that appear and varying degrees of conformity to those norms. The conversations here were characterized by a series of small and relatively well-definable interactions with multiple chatroom members, with a high degree of sexually related conversation. Greetings here took the form of chatroom members greeting newcomers using the newcomer’s first name—suggesting familiarity with participants in the conversations. This 3 As in a self-identified student at Texas A&M 4 A slogan for University of Texas-Austin sports cheering

Authors: Diers, Audra.
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A Chatroom Ethnography
17
participants specifically naming those to whom they were speaking at the initiation of the
conversation, and then later dropping that demarcation. In the example above, RrayRay69
indicated that he wanted to talk to Lokn4daSun by abbreviating the participant’s handle with the
request to talk to her. Other topics of conversation here included: people’s jobs, sports, related
age comments (e.g., how young or old a particular member of the room is), the weather, and sex
(through out the conversation). Here, however, there were also expressions of community
membership. For example, an “Aggie”
3
entered the room and several ‘Hook ‘em horns
4
comments followed.
Numerous interpersonal relationships. In contrast the conversation in the observations
where there appeared to be many interpersonal relationships was substantially different. More
online only relationships and the other was characterized by a mixture of on and offline
relationships. In the former, there were few ritual introductions, which had marked a substantial
portion of the exchanges in the few relationship observations. In fact, one participant noted, “we
are above those age sex checks.” However, there were ritual introductions evident here that
reflected people unfamiliar with the group chatting were trying to get into the conversation.
These attempts were not successful when they occurred in the middle of an ongoing
conversation. The differences here reflect that with increasing prior relationships, there are
emergent norms that appear and varying degrees of conformity to those norms. The
conversations here were characterized by a series of small and relatively well-definable
interactions with multiple chatroom members, with a high degree of sexually related
conversation. Greetings here took the form of chatroom members greeting newcomers using the
newcomer’s first name—suggesting familiarity with participants in the conversations. This
3
As in a self-identified student at Texas A&M
4
A slogan for University of Texas-Austin sports cheering


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