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Abstract

Chat rooms are a relatively new phenomenon. They provide a unique experiential locale, much like a community. They have become a popular replacement for oft-diminishing communities of yore. Qualitatively building on three overarching themes, chat rooms are put at the nexus of three diverse theoretical themes: community, flow experiences, and image management—the latter two being explored in this article. Chat rooms provide flow-like experiences to participants and allow chatters to manage and enhance their images. Given that chatters are highly involved and frequent visitors to their online community (specific chat rooms), they provide a unique opportunity to study this relatively new phenomenon, which has far-reaching, multidisciplinary implications. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.