Zoom on the cat label | Confessions of a dean of a community college

What is the correct etiquette for the “chat” feature in Zoom meetings?

I don’t mean this as some sort of exasperated sarcasm, or a “gotcha”. This is an honest question.

A label is starting to develop, but my kids sometimes tell me that whole new rules have been widely understood before I even noticed them. For example, they tell me that ending an SMS with a period is imperative. I thought of it as a way to end a sentence that wasn’t a question. God only knows how many people I have offended without having a clue, a trail of unintentional grammatical destruction in my wake. So I ask the question on the chat.

I’ve seen a few different uses for the chat so far, although this list is far from exhaustive.

The simplest is the direct individual message. I’ve been known to send them when someone’s chat makes an unexpected appearance onscreen. (This is usually a variation of “awwww.”) This genre is also useful for quick asides, whether it’s the joke variety or the “you got spinach in your teeth” variety. Just keep in mind that written humor can be picked up later by people who don’t see it the same way.

Sometimes the chat serves as a bibliography: “I have the link. I’ll put it in the chat. It’s pretty straightforward and the utility is clear. It is a form of virtual footnote.

In webinars or public presentations, organizers will often use the chat as a place for questions and answers or as a de facto feedback channel. This can work very well as long as the speaker is not also responsible for monitoring the chat. I’ve learned the hard way that when the crowd is over a few dozen it can get unwieldy.

In meetings, however, where everyone is allowed to speak, I’m not sure when questions should be asked and when they should be typed in the chat. This is where I hope my wise and worldly readers can shed light.

Is there a generally accepted rule? Has anyone codified this?

I can be reached on deandad (at) gmail (dot) com, or on Twitter @deandad. IHE also accepts letters to the editor, if preferred.

Thank you!

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