We are looking at better chat software for this site (I know we've been threatening to upgrade it for a while---but it's really coming!).
You certainly can set up some kind ichthyosis chat room in one of the free areas (on AOL, MSN, Yahoo, etc...they all have them). My only issue with those rooms is that they're not as private as I would like, they're hard to administer (they don't have much administration capability at all), and they're sometimes hard to join for "newbies." You'd be surprised how many people find us that are total newbies to the internet, and have a hard time just registering for this bulletin board! One of the top criteria we have for the chat software is that it's easy to use.
ICQ is a great product--we're on their. But you have to download the software, install and configure it. Not a big deal...but it is for some people. Same with AOL Instant Messenger. Same with most of those types of messengering solutions. The problem with this type of stuff is that you need to "join" the group, or be invited. It's very easy for a "newbie" to the internet to end being excluded. That's why I personally prefer open chatrooms to messengering stuff--there aren't that many people with ichthyosis out there, and I'd hate for any of them to be excluded from our chats just because they had a hard time with the software.
So, we're still looking for chat software that's relatively easy to use, but still has all the additional functionality we want. In the meantime, you've got our current chatroom. It's crude, it's not always totally stable...but it works, and it's easy for 'newbies' to get into.
But you may find some other solution. Best of luck looking!
[This message has been edited by Laura Phillips (edited February 20, 2001).]