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A chat room is an online forum where people can chat online (talk by broadcasting messages to people on the same forum in real time). Sometimes these venues are moderated either by limiting who is allowed to speak (not common), or by having moderation volunteers patrol the venue watching for disruptive or otherwise undesirable behavior.
Chat systems include Internet Relay Chat (or IRC, where rooms are called "channels"), Jabber, and several proprietary systems on the Microsoft Windows and Java platforms.
Chatrooms are often confused (especially by the popular media) with Internet forum (or discussion groups), and even with the various I(nstant)M(essage) systems being used; all are similar in some ways but different in significant ones. Forums in particular do not take place in real time and are usually run over the World Wide Web, while most chat rooms are independent of the Web, though there are browser plug-ins for many systems.