Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Best and Worst of Chat Rooms

There has been some discussion lately in various online selling venues about the merits of allowing "chat" or chat rooms, where people type to each other in real time. I have used chat rooms a bit and found they have both pros and cons.

The benefits include being able to really get to know other people on the selling venue and getting help from experienced sellers right away. People often get help with questions about selling, about a current product, or ideas for a new product. A large venue filled with hundreds of thousands of other buyers and sellers in intimidating, but a chat room can narrow that and make it feel very inviting. Frustrations can be vented in a safe environment and solutions to things that aren't appropriate to forums or boards can be found. People also make connections and sometimes sales to the other people, and that can't be bad, right?

The primary negative to chat rooms is that people can say whatever they want, and it's not always nice. Usually, a more experienced chatter will take charge and moderate a little when people get out of hand, and this is a fairly rare occurrence. I have found that this usually happens between just two people, who usually have had some kind of issue with each other previously and have somehow found themselves in the same room at the same time.

What do you think? Should all selling venues offer the opportunity of live chat for its members?


  1. I'm not really sure if it's necessary. I tend to find one means of chatting (google chat right now) and stick with it, and even then I only talk to the people I know. So if i'm already chatting in another tab, I don't need a new chat spot.

    One thing I do find helpful is when companies offer live chat with an associate for customer service. I've used that a few times.

  2. I've never used chat in a seller's forum. I use it sometimes with my friends. I find the conversation sometimes gets to an awkward stage when it is time to sign off. People just keep posting one more thing to avoid ending the conversation too abruptly.

  3. I like chatting specifically on etsy and am sad they are shutting it down :( I think, for the most part, it's a nice way to interact with people who have similar interests.

  4. Thanks for the comments, everyone! I appreciate your interest in this topic.

  5. I have really mixed feelings about the need for a chat option on a selling site from a buying/selling point of view, but from a system resource view, I can understand why Etsy made their decision to only offer the helpline chat. I love the immediate interaction of chat and the ability to get to know people on a little more personal level, but I guess that's what groups and forums and (on Etsy) non-promotional teams are for!

  6. Very interesting - I didn't know this existed, thanks for bringing this up.

  7. I didn't know Etsy had a chat either. But I generally keep all chats off unless I want to talk to a friend or something.

    Seeing how rude some are in various other forms of communication I don't think I'd particularly like to chat anyway...But thats just me I'm not a "chat" person normally....

    Found you through the Etsy blog team =)

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