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What's the formal chat thing about, anyway? Rachel, our lead moderator, gives you the low down

rachel and jenniby Rachel B., our Lead Forum Moderator & Mid-Tern (pictured left, with Editrix Jenni in Chicago) ...BTW, she's @TailsofRachel on Twitter

You may see it mentioned in the Chronic Bits sidebar, or in the weekly Goodie Bag newsletter, though you are confused as to what formal chat is.

The first thing to do, if you have not already done so, is become a member of the ChronicBabe forums. Only other members will see your activity here, though it is important to remember this is still part of the internet, and you cannot be 100% assured of privacy. Occasionally there will be issues with spammers, though they are caught rather quickly and banned quickly.

Once you are a member of the forums, take a look around at all the groups that are offered. Some are condition-specific (anything from fibromyalgia to diabetes to rare diseases), others unite several conditions with a specific interest (such as Chronic Mamas), still others are just plain fun (think book club, think photography, think humor!). There is also a main page for discussions to take a topic forum-wide.

Finally, there is the chat room. While chatting is encouraged anytime, a set time with a set topic allows for greater interaction between forum members. Sometimes you will enter chat outside of formal hours, and "hear an echo" to what you type, even if you see that other members are online. 

Formal chats not only provide a dedicated hour toward real-time conversation, there is a sense of privacy. There have been chats where secrets have been spilled and revelations recognized—something that may not happen in a setting like a Twitter chat where the entire internet-savvy world can see what you are writing.

A few topics already covered in the past six months include religion and spirituality, S-E-X, and managing chronic conditions during seasonal changes. Just a few weeks ago, the first condition-specific chat was held for women with diabetes in coordination with Cherise, the founder of the #dsma Twitter chat.  After that early success, chats just for fibromyalgia and anxiety are each in the works, so keep an eye out for dates and times of those.

The current date and time slot for the main formal chat is Thursday evenings at 8pm Central (6pm Pacific, 7pm Mountain, 9pm Eastern, 10pm Atlantic), which is 11AM on Friday mornings in Sydney and Melbourne. Soon, we will be bringing back a Sunday evening chat for the UK and Europe members—and certainly anyone else in the US/Canada who finds Sunday afternoon works best for them.

If you have not done so already, please consider taking part in the intelligent, intimate, supportive, and sometimes even hilarious formal chats soon. And for those who stop by now and again, thank you for participating!

Posted: 10/4/2011 in Announcements

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