Different types of online discourse include both verbal and textual forms of communication, though text is often the preferred method. There are many forms of text discourse that can take place online, including the use of forums and similar websites that allow multiple people to post comments and ideas. Other types of online discourse include text messaging programs that allow people to directly communicate with each other, and chat rooms that create an environment for ongoing group communication. As bandwidth and technology have improved accessibility to the Internet, other forms of discourse through verbal chat and visual webcam communication have increased in popularity.
Some of the most common and prevalent forms of online discourse are conducted through text communications. Internet forums are among the most popular ways in which different people can come together to share ideas and engage in conversation and debate. These sites allow people to create and post various topics that consist of different messages in text form. Others can then post comments based on those messages and create their own topics.
Instant messaging programs are also an important form of online discourse, allowing multiple people to communicate with each other instantly. These programs can typically be run quite easily, and allow people to send and receive messages between each other. This is accomplished through identifiers such as email addresses or screen names, depending on the type of messaging program being used.
There are also chat rooms that can be used for online discourse. These “rooms” are websites that allow multiple people to communicate through text instantly in a way that every other occupant of a chat room can see. Many of these sites also include instant messaging functionality, allowing members of a room to send messages to a specific person, as well as providing commentary seen by anyone.
As bandwidth has increased for many Internet users, new and more unique forms of online discourse have become possible. Audio communication has been facilitated by high speed Internet that has become available for a wide range of computer users. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software and similar programs can be used for online discourse through microphones and speakers. Such programs allow participants to communicate quickly and efficiently through voice chat.
Video chat and communications programs have also become increasingly feasible and effective means of online discourse with these improvements in bandwidth. Multiple people with webcams and microphones can see and hear each other, allowing for instant and effective communication between multiple parties. While these methods of communication require greater technological assets, they also do not have the potential for miscommunication or inadequate expression that is sometimes created by the limitations of text.