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Active Worlds is a social environment. From chatting to building in groups, the application is designed around interaction. Within Active Worlds, you will meet people from a wide variety of places. Knowing the various ways to talk with people is important to forming relationships.


Chatting with other people is an important part of the Active Worlds experience. When you enter a world, after the scene loads you may see avatars around you representing other people who are near you in the same world. Depending on the world's settings, you might also notice that avatars have names above their heads when you get close to them, or after that person has said something while they are in your chat range. When other people talk, in most worlds, what they say will generally also appear above their avatar's head. Eventually, the above-head messages might disappear or be replaced, but the names will remain. You can either read what people say as it appears above their heads, or in the Chat History frame which also displays messages from people who are behind you or off to the side, as long as they are within your chat range. The Chat History will also display whispers, and messages from parts of the system such as the Immigration Officer or the Building Inspector, and console messages.

The Chat Window

At the core of this social interaction is the chat window. After first arriving in Active Worlds, the chat box is shown at the bottom of the screen.

The top portion of the chat window is where you will see most of the chat. This chat contains text from users as well as bots and system messages. Some of the things that you will encounter include:

  • System Messages: These are the first messages that appear in the chat window when first entering. Occasionally they may appear during system maintenance. Usually, these messages contain important information from Active Worlds.
  • World Messages: These messages usually immediately follow the system messages, and appear after you first enter a new world. These messages are from the world owners and may contain a welcome message, the name of the world, and other information that the world owners think you may need. World messages also appear in a green colored text.
  • Public Speakers: Public speakers appear in bold text and serve various functions.
  • Public Speakers in Private Worlds: These consist of world owners and individuals that the world owners have given the authority to speak in bold.
  • Bots: Bots are computer generated characters that serve a function in the world. Bots are usually created to add functions to the software. Functions could include games or chat additions, like colored chat. The bots are always identified with brackets surrounding their name in the "whisper" section at the bottom of the main chat window, as such: [bot]
  • Users: These are other users on the program. Their text may appear black, brown, or blue, according to your listening settings. In worlds where chat bots are in use, users may appear in a variety of colors.
  • Whispers: These are private chat that only you can see. It is always in blue italics.

Local, Global, and GZ Chat Options: In the Active Worlds browser, there are two sections immediately under the main chat area that consist of “Talk to” and “Listen to” options. The drop-down box to the right of “Talk to” provides three options: Global, GZ, and Local. Global allows you to talk to anyone within the world, regardless of distance. GZ restricts chat to those who are located at the “Gatezone”, or landing area. This is a certain distance from the center of the world. Local restricts chat to those who are near you.

Similarly, the options located next to “Listen to” define who you can hear. Checking “Global” enables you to hear anyone else who is on global chat no matter their distance away from you. Local restricts listening to only those who are near you.

Some worlds offer further options that enable you to listen to or chat with certain parts of that particular world. To find out which areas they cover, you would have to contact the world owner for those details.

To talk to other people: Under the “Talk to” section is the chat input area. This is where you can type to send chat messages to other users. What you type appears in the Message box, also known as the Chat Entry box, which is located just below the Chat History. After typing your chat message, pressing the Enter key sends your message. Then you'll see your message appear in the Chat History window, and other people that you are within chat range of will see it also.

To mute other people: If someone is speaking that you would rather not see any more chat messages from, you can mute them. To mute someone, right click on that person's avatar and select Mute from the avatar pop-up menu. You can un-mute them again later by repeating the same procedure.

Whispering: The bottom section of the chat window is for private text, called “whispers”. The whisper box is not shown by default and must be enabled. To enable whispers, select Show and then check Whispers. With the whisper box, use thedrop-downn to select the person that you want to whisper to and then type the private message in the message box to the right.

Resizing the Chat Window You can resize the chat window by changing the border between the main 3D-view window and the Chat History frame. Just position the cursor over the border between the 3D-window and the chat window until you see an up-down arrow, then hold down your primary mouse button and drag the border to the desired position.

Reading Past Chat You can also use the scroll-up and scroll-down buttons next to the chat history to look at messages that have scrolled off of the screen. These buttons move the text in the window up or down one line at a time. You can also click either above or below the 'slider bar' divider between the scroll buttons to move the text up or down one 'page' at a time.

The Chat History window displays any error messages you may get while building, for instance, if you try to build too many objects in one place, or change someone else's property. These errors are given to you as a message from the all-powerful "Building Inspector".

Avatar Pop-up menu

Right-clicking on an avatar brings up additional options. These include:

  • Mute on Sight: This silences all chat coming from this person.
  • Whisper: Activates the avatar in the Whisper box below chat.
  • View Home Page: If the user has defined a home page, this enables you to visit the website they have designated. The home page can be designated by your Citizen Attributes. Click on Options in the menu, then click on Citizen. When the Citizen Attributes box appears, type in the URL of your home page with he label "Home Page".

Joining Using the Contact List, you can join other people in Active Worlds, wherever they happen to be. To join someone, right-click on their name and select Join. You will be teleported to their current location.

A successful join requires that the join be allowed by the person whom you are trying to join. It also requires that you have Enter privileges in the world in which that person's avatar is located at that time. Don't take it personally if people fail to accept your join requests. They may have left their computer unattended briefly and missed the request, or they may have set it to auto-reject join requests during a private meeting and simply forgotten to change it back. In fact, there are many possible reasons why a join request may not be accepted. It's generally a good idea to establish communication through telegrams before attempting to join someone. You can control who can join you with the Privacy dialog box.

If the person you are attempting to join has set their privacy options to block join requests from you or from all people, your join request will automatically be rejected. If the person does not accept or reject your request within 30 seconds, the request will expire.

Contact List

Over time, you’ll make many new friends within Active Worlds. To keep up with these friends, you can add them to your contact list. From your contact list, you’ll be able to see when they are online, you can send them telegrams, and you can join or invite them to different locations.

There are three ways to add a new contact to this list:

  • Right click on their avatar, then click “Add to Contacts”, or
  • Right click on their name in chat, then click “Add to Contacts”, or
  • Right click in the contacts tab and click “Add New Contact”. From there, type in their name exactly as it appears.


Telegrams are instant messages that you can send to people for them to read at a later date. To send or receive a telegram, you must add the person to your contact list as shown above.

Telegrams can be found in the Telegram Tab. The telegram tab consists of a simple list of telegrams sent and received. These can be sorted by name or by date by clicking on the top row. New telegrams appear with a notification in the chat window, and they will have a red telegram icon in the telegram tab. To read the telegram, simply click on it and it will appear in your chat window. To reply, right click on the telegram in the telegram tab and select reply. To send a new telegram, open the Contacts tab, right click on the person you want to send a message to, and then click on send telegram.

In the telegram tab, when you right click on a telegram you also have the option to delete the message or to block the user.

Sending Files

Sending files is accomplished by right-clicking on a name in the contacts tab. A confirmation window opens for them and once they agree by clicking ok, a file transfer window opens up. You select the file folder and the file or files to be sent. The other person has another window where they select the destination folder.

If either person is behind a router, the port that is used for this (port 3000) has to be forwarded to the computer where the AW browser is running. If this is not set the file transfer will fail.

This option is disabled in some universes running the Active Worlds software.

Public Speakers See: Public Speaker

Some Chat Tips For Beginners

General Tips

Talking to other users, or "chatting", in Active Worlds is similar to chatting in any other Internet chat environment. Simply type whatever it is you would like to say and hit the ENTER key. Your words will be broadcast to everyone else nearby. Similarly, whatever words other people type will be sent to you and will appear on your screen.

If you are new to chatting over the Internet, you will quickly discover that chat has a unique set of rules and jargon (sometimes referred to as "netiquette") that can be confusing to a newcomer. But never fear, in just a few minutes you can familiarize yourself with some basic guidelines and in no time you will be chatting like a pro!

Here are some basic tips to keep in mind if you want to have a positive chatting experience:

  • Never type in all capital letters. WHEN YOU TYPE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE SHOUTING! People generally find this very annoying.
  • Be polite to strangers. If you don't know the people you are talking to, it is appropriate to be as polite as if you are meeting someone for the first time in real life.
  • If someone doesn't want to chat, don't harass them. There are plenty of people in Active Worlds to talk to. If one person doesn't want to chat with you, just move on, don't pester them.
  • Don't be offensive. Offensive behavior is totally inappropriate unless you are in private and among good friends who have indicated that they do not mind. Otherwise, you will just annoy everyone and you will wind up getting muted. Also in certain worlds and areas within worlds (such as Ground Zero in AlphaWorld) offensive behavior may be grounds for ejection.

Some common terms

Over the years, Internet chat has adopted some shorthand equivalents for common terms. Here are a few of the most common:

  • LOL - Laughing Out Load
  • ROTFL - Rolling On The Floor Laughing
  • BRB - Be Right Back
  • IMO - In My Opinion (also IMHO for In My Humble Opinion)


"Smileys" or "emoticons" are special combinations of characters that people sometimes use to indicate emotion. Most are intended to look like a smiling face turned sideways. For example:


There is an almost infinite number of variations on this simple theme.