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Dictionary of Online Interaction

Nancy White - 4/01

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Archive - (or archived topics) Topics from an online interaction that have been closed for participation, but kept as a record of the interaction. Chat archives are often called transcripts.

Asynchronous Interaction Online discussions occurring independent of time or location. Participants send messages to a central location (discussion forum) where they are archived for later retrieval from other participants. Examples of asynchronous interaction are web based bulletin boards and email.

Back Channel - electronic communication (email) sent to one or more individuals to their personal email mailboxes as opposed to a public conferencing forum.

Bulletin Board - A name for web-based online conferencing spaces. Bulletin boards are asynchronous tools and can be organized in linear or threaded formats.

Chat Same time (synchronous) web-based text interaction. Typically fast moving, chat can be used for large "auditorium" events where there are presenters and audience, smaller group work meetings or social interactions, or small, one-on-one sessions. Some chat applications are now integrating voice as well as text chat.

Checking Subscriptions - In Webcrossing, you can subscribe to any or all folders or topics in the online interaction space. Then, when you log on, if you click on the "Check Subscriptions" button, you will be taken to each of the new posts. This is a good technique if you want to read all the new materials.

Computer Mediated Communications (CMC) - Communication done via online tools such as email, web pages, online interaction or conferencing.

Conference A collection of topics or threads, generally organized around a theme or subject matter. Online interaction spaces are sometimes a collection of conferences. Conferences create a sense of "space" and help users decide where to "go" or read in the online interaction space.

Cybrary An electronic library or document repository.

Download Copy files from the web space to the user's hard drive for later, offline use.

Drift (topic drift) - When a conversational thread or topic gets off topic.

Edit a Post To go back and change a posting in an online conferencing space. In the WebCrossing software environment, users can edit their posts for up to 30 minutes after their original post. Posts cannot be edited after that time except by the conference manager(s)

Email List - (or listservs tm) group email where people join and can then send an receive messages among the entire group.

Emoticon - Also known as smilies, they are keyboard characters used in combination to produce whimsical symbols representing a range of emotions. Examples are happy :-) and sad :-( . Emoticons are used in electronic communication to show humor and express emotions that are difficult to communicate in a text-based environment. For a comprehensive list of emoticons, follow this link: http://www.chatlist.com/faces.html

F2F - Short hand for "face-to-face" to mean offline interaction.

Folder - In webcrossing a folder is the default term for a conference or collection of topics.

Freezing a Topic - An administrative function where the software is set to stop allowing posting in a topic. Often used to close a topic or discussion, but still making it available for reading.

Internet Terminology - for more Internet related terms (including technical) see http://medialab.di.unipi.it/doc/SEHTML2D/1.htm and http://www.devry-phx.edu/lrnresrc/dowsc/glossary.htm

Instant Message A synchronous personal message sent between two users. Examples of instant messaging tools include ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger, Microsoft Messenger and Jabber.

Interaction Tools - See also the article, tools for online interaction. http://www.fullcirc.com/community/connecttools.htm

Linear or Conversational Conferencing Posts appear in chronological sequence, one after another, within a topic. Creates a sense of "conversation" and lends itself to building group interactions, but does not allow response to a particular post.

Listserv - See Email Lists An older technology, listservs are essentially mailing lists that enable you to send multiple copies of e-mail by send a single message to a central address. Some listservs are very useful; some not so.

Log-in The process of going to a web site which requires the user to input a user name and password to get access to that space. Most online conference spaces require logging in. This allows posts to be attributed to unique users and to track user progress through the discussion space.

Lurking - Someone who reads in an online interaction space, but rarely or never posts. When they DO post, it is said that they are "de-lurking." Also known as "readers". Depending on the purpose of the interaction space, the facilitators may try and engage "readers" to begin responding and posting.

This term sometimes carries negative connotations so in some settings, using the term "reader" is advisable. Lurking can be seen as negative, but in some cases, people who read only can have a significant impact in a community's purpose -- let's say the purpose is to share information. If I read, you have reached me. If the purpose is to generate new information, then there is a stronger reason to get everyone to post -- and generate. Readers provide an audience, they provide page views -- they are an influence, albeit unseen and sometimes hard to understand. Readers can be CONVERTED to posters.

Message - Text added by a user to an online discussion space. Also known as a "post."

Netiquette - The set of online "manners" generally known as netiquette, or etiquette on the Net. For a comprehensive list of rules for a variety of forms of online communication, see Arlene Rinaldi's User Guidelines and Netiquette at Florida Atlantic University: http://www.fau.edu/rinaldi/netiquette.html which also includes some translations.

Post A message added to an online discussion. Also known as a "message."

Registration A process of providing some set of information to get a user name and a password to an online interaction space to enable logging in.


Seeding - Posting an initial message or series of messages in a discussion space to get the discussion started.

Slip When two users in an asynchronous online interaction space post at the same time. The importance of being aware of slipping is that on some conferencing systems, you can miss messages from other users if they were posted at the same time.

Synchronous Interaction (Real Time) - Online discussions occurring independent of location, but at the same time. Participants must agree on a time to log into the discussion forum and messages are received at the moment they are sent. This form of electronic communication is also called "chatting," and can include audio and/or video.

Terms of Service - (TOS) The written rule of an online interaction space. In commercial or public online spaces, TOS usually refers to the legal agreements commercials sites require of users before they either access and/or post in an online interaction space.

Thread (or thread) A series of posts on a single topic. This term is used in a variety of ways. When the topic starts drifting from its original intent, sometimes people suggest starting a new "thread." See also Topic.

Threaded Conferencing web based text interaction where posts follow a branching "tree" structure. Replies can be appended to particular posts. This format is good for technical question and answers or for organizing large amounts of information.

Topic (or topic) A series of posts on a single theme or idea. See also Thread.

Upload To copy a file from a user's hard drive to the web based interaction space, thus making the file available to other members of the online interaction space.

WebCrossing The software tool we are using for this online event. You can read more about Webcrossing by clicking on the Help buttons on the site, or check out their website at http://www.webcrossing.com

Who is Live? A simple instant messaging service in Webcrossing that allows an individual user to send a live message to another individual user.



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