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Chat Basics
Emoticons | Acronyms | Avatars


The word "emoticon" is a combination of the words "emotion" and "icon." They are shortcuts that add zest to the often flat text of chat or instant messaging. They are used anywhere in sentences - before, after, or within, and can also stand on their own. Here are some of the more common emoticons:
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:-) smile
:-)) big smile (double chin)
:-D laughing
;-) wink
:-( frown
:-/ smirk
:-P sticking tongue out
:-x kiss/my lips are sealed
:-0 surprise
8-| confused/concerned
!-( black eye
!-) proud of black eye
#:-0 shocked
%*} inebriated
>>:-<< furious
>:-( annoyed
>:) mischievous

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Acronyms abound in chat. Since chatting is so inherently text intensive, it's understandable that chatters would find shortcuts for the most commonly used phrases. Here's a list of common chat acronyms - it's the G-Rated version.
LOL Laughing Out Loud
ROFLOL Rolling On Floor Laughing Out Loud
TTYL Talk To You Later
TTFN Ta Ta For Now
BRB Be Right Back
AFK Away From Keyboard
TY Thank You
TYVM Thank You Very Much
YW You're Welcome
YVW You're Very Welcome
mhm not really an acronym - more of a sound effect
HB Hurry Back
WB Welcome Back
NVM Never Mind
GMTA Great Minds Think Alike
NP No Problem
IMO In My Opinion
IMHO In My Humble Opinion
IMNSHO In My Not So Humble Opinion

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Chat Avatars
Avatar is one of those words that different sites use in different ways. Some chats allow you to choose from a pre-defined set of icons that are associated with your user name. The icon sits next to your chat name or in your instant messaging windows. Other chats let you use a customizable avatar that actually represents your persona graphically while chatting. Some communities, such as there.com allow you to customize your avatar with different clothing and physical attributes. Others, such as VPchat.com and the Palace, let you create your own avatar. These chat avatars don't necessarily look like people - they might be pictures or illustrations of animals or places or just about anything you can think of. Each chat service has its own specifications for creating custom avatars.
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