close encounter
A man I had never seen before came up to me at the bus stop and said “Hello Peter...”
>>more
your call game
Your friend has met someone online but needs your help. Take the quiz and help her with the choices she has to make.
>>more
what happened to one family
In February 2000, a 33 year old man made contact with a 12 year old girl in a chatroom. This first contact led to emails every day over a two-month period and then to regular conversations on a mobile phone. In this way the girl was groomed to the point where she actually met the man offline and was sexually assaulted...
>>more
stay safe
Find out what you need to know to keep safe in Chat...
>>more

what is a good chatroom?

Thinking of setting up your own chatroom, or wanting to know what chatroom providers should be doing to keep their users safe?

If you are thinking of setting up a chatroom, then you must put user safety as a top priority.

You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Provide the user with information about how to keep safe while chatting/using your service. The more visible this information is to the user the better – think about putting it on the front page or in the chatroom itself. Design your own safety messages, or you can download the SMART rules banner from this website which will rotate the safety messages, take up less room on your site and act as a link to the Chatdanger website.
  • Provide links to other safety guides, so any user interested in finding out more about keeping safe can do so.
  • Make it clear to the user the type of service being offered and the audience at which it is aimed. Explain for example if it is moderated or not, and what ages your chatroom is aimed at.
  • If there are personal profiles attached to the chatroom, encourage users not to post personal information.
  • Put block or ignore buttons in an accessible place for users, and make them easy to use, so users can stop seeing messages from a particular person if they want to.
  • Provide an easy and accessible method for users to contact the chatroom provider or moderator to report bad stuff or bad behaviour, and provide information about what sort of things should be reported.
  • Look at how the chat could be moderated, and think carefully about who the moderators are. Moderators are in a position of trust over the users.
  • If there is a registration process, explain why information is gathered during registration and what it is to be used for. The information gathered should be limited.

There are some guidelines on what is good practice in chatroom provision, and these were issued by the Home Office of the UK Government in January 2003. The actual good practice model is available here:

  • Good Practice models and guidance for the Internet industry on: Chat Services, Instant Messaging (IM), and Web Based Services (pages 12-15 cover Chat)

Some good practice guidelines for the moderation of interactive services were published in December 2005 by the UK Home Office, and this is available here.