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Alexis P.

4 Level 4 Contributor
  • 25 Reviews
  • 44 Helpful Votes
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Experience: Computers & Technology, Entertainment, Reference

Member since July 2018

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25 Reviews by Alexis

This site can be useful if you're looking for coping strategies for stressful times during your teen years, often the advice given on the site lacks the nuance or the awareness that sometimes there are no positive solutions to your situation.

It's a good thing that the site knows that it's not a replacement for actual therapy, as people on there will often tell you to seek psychological help if you're concerned about your well-being or showing signs that you should be.

During the couple of years that I frequented the site, the biggest drawback was that the forums would be redesigned every couple of years. Often they'd be hosted by a different site, so often you would have to sign up for a new forum account every two or three years once this happened. The last time I checked, they'd seemed to have seen the error of this practice though and have had the same set of forums since 2012.

Because this site is mostly aimed at people in their teens and their very early twenties, you'll often find that the people on there cycle out of the forums every couple of years. So while a large part of the forums hinges on the idea of there being this tight-knit online community, it often lacks a strong enough old guard for anyone to really believe this is the case.

Generally though, if you're in the site's target audience, this isn't going to be too much of a problem for you. But the people who run the site did find a way to skirt around the issue of there being no real old guard on the site: often the moderators and administrators are active in the community, acting as a guiding force for some of the more serious discussions on there. Some of the mods and admins seem to be from the same group of mods and admins that were around when I signed up for the site in late 2009 or early 2010.

Unfortunately, there's rarely enough nuance to the conversations for it to be worth using if you're hoping for any kind of in-depth understanding of the issues being discussed, or even for a perspective more nuanced than the high level of optimism that pervades the site.
Students of the World is a site that I used when I was in high school. It's a lot like Interpals in the sense that it's for finding pen pals and epals, but it's mostly geared towards kids. At the time I thought it was pretty good, but that was mostly because I hadn't really used any other sites like it until years later.

Here's the pros: It's fairly simple to use, and there's enough people on there that you're bound to find at least a few people on there who you (or your kid) will find interesting. Plus because the site has a mailbox system, you're never actually required to give your contact information out to anyone.

Because the site's explicitly meant for kids, there's not a whole lot of adults on the site. Those who are are typically parents looking for a pen friend for their kid, or they're teachers looking for a class exchange, or they're people in university/college. So if you're a parent reading this, I don't think you have to be too worried about the people on there being creepy adults because, with only a couple of exceptions over the course of three or four years of using the site, I didn't encounter too many through here.

Here's the cons: The site seems to be perpetually stuck in the '90s when it comes to website design. Because of this, I'm not entirely convinced it's the best when it comes to web security either, so I guess there's a certain degree of buyer beware when it comes to the site.

Plus due to what I'd assume are server limitations, most messages you had in your Students of the World inbox would be deleted after a year. It was unfortunate if you'd been talking to someone on there for a while and suddenly lost all of your early messages.

Here's a neutral point: You didn't really get a whole lot of room to say stuff on your profile, so it's not like you can have a huge wall of text on your SotW profile like you can on an Interpals profile. This can cut both ways, depending on how you want to look at things--if you're someone who doesn't really like long profiles, it's fine, because it forces people to be succinct; but if you're someone who wants to make sure the other person has something in common with you before you talk to them, then you're screwed because it's hard to summarise all your interests into two or three lines unless you're the world's most boring person.

While the site is good for what it is and it does carve out a niche that I don't think would be catered to otherwise, I think it suffers from its very dated looking, '90s-style layout and apparent lack of budget to produce any real updates for the site. But I think this could be a matter of you getting what you pay for, because it's free to use like Interpals but also lacks any adverts like Interpals does.
I think there's some tiers to email servers. At the top, there's stuff like Gmail that generally have a reputation for being fairly secure, and then there's some of the B-team servers like Outlook, Yahoo, etc. that aren't always the most secure sites or try to integrate weird features that don't add anything to the user experience.

The bottom tier would be stuff like GMX which are barely passable as throwaway accounts. I can see someone using GMX maybe if they wanted an email account to set up an account somewhere that they were only planning to use for a week or two.

While it takes less than a minute to sign up for a GMX account, there are certain benefits to having a backup email address ready for these accounts. Hell, there's even a reason why you'd want to have a phone number attached to your email address. But none of this matters here because GMX doesn't really give a $#*! about your account security.
When it comes to penpal sites, this is a fairly typical, bland site. Its use isn't intuitive enough for it to be worth using as often as Interpals, and while there are some features you can get if you're willing to pay for them, I don't see why anyone would want to hang around long enough to sign up for that stuff.

I know the free features might seem generous to an outside observer, but consider this. Pen Pal World is extremely strict with the number of messages you're allowed to send per day on a free account--that number is three. While there might be limits on the number of messages you can send on similar sites like Interpals, that limit is high enough that you probably won't ever reach it unless you're just carpet bombing everyone you see with messages (and I believe with Interpals specifically, the limit is based on the number of individual users you can contact in any given day rather than the number of overall messages you can send).

While you might be inclined to pay for an account, I don't think there's any real reason to do that. You can get similar kinds of services on different sites that do it better and won't charge you for it.
Let me tell you the reasons why this site sucks.

The first issue is that there's no real moderation team. Because of this, every single other complaint I and others have made about this site often are as bad as people make them out to be, if not much worse. While the site is relatively small and obscure, it desperately needs an effective moderation team to clean the house.

However, this is not the worst issue. The worst issue is that there's an overabundance of pedophiles on the site, many of whom seem to have been using the site for a number of years now without consequence. Maybe Chris Hansen should be using this site for his Hansen vs. Predator show, because he could have a field day with it and get enough content to keep the show running for a few years.

It's honestly a wonder that there hasn't been any kind of huge sting operation based around the site. A large number of the adults who use the site are pedophiles or are so close to it that they're only not pedophiles because of a technicality in the dictionary definition. A large number of the teens on the site are really just adults pretending to be teens so they can solicit sexual conversations (and possibly even nudes) from actual teenagers.

There's no truly effective safeguard to keep a pedophile from contacting a child on this site. While a minor's profile will initially be set on a safe mode that prevents anyone over a certain age (that age is calculated with the half your age plus seven rule in mind), this safe mode is easily turned off and there's nothing preventing an adult from sending a message to a minor if the safe mode is turned on.

While you might consider this a petty complaint, consider this: back when MySpace was a thing, anyone under 16 or 18 would automatically have their profiles set to private. If memory serves me correctly, it'd be difficult for anyone to get into contact with you if your profile was set to private on MySpace, and this was back in 2008 or 2009. Hell, even for a site that's arguably still relevant today (and, even though it's not necessarily mainstream, still a lot bigger than Chat Hour), Interpals prevents anyone over 18 from contacting someone under 16.

There's no reason why, in 2018, Chat Hour couldn't have a similar set of safeguards in place. If the people who own the site want to make the argument that the site is primarily for people to set up hookups and flings and stuff of that nature, that's fine; but if they want to make that argument, there's absolutely no reason why kids should be able to use the site to begin with.

Of course, to enforce any kind of age limit would require the site to have some sort of effective moderation team. As it stands, and as I mentioned at the start of this rant, there is no effective moderation team on this site--even the stuff that does get reported is often left there for weeks or months after it was initially reported.

Even something as simple as the 13+ age limit in place is sometimes left unenforced, which means there is the occasional profile belonging to someone claiming to be 10-12 (or, in once case that I was unfortunate enough to encounter, someone claiming to be 7), is left there. I do have to wonder what the credentials of the moderation team is, given how poorly they enforce this one simple rule.

If you happen to be a furry or someone with an incest fetish, don't worry; because Chat Hour has heaps of people into the same stuff as you. I suppose once you know there's a bunch of pedos on the same site, that picture of an anthropomorphic wolf doesn't seem so weird after all.

That's kind of the story of Chat Hour, really. You end up running into a bunch of bizarre fetishes you wish you hadn't heard about.

A few paragraphs ago I touched on adults sometimes claiming to be children on the site. The problem of fake profiles is also hugely prevalent. Many of them are quite obviously fake, too; using pictures of models, porn stars, or of the scene queens that were popular ten or twelve years ago. You would think that this practice would go away in the long term because people would call them out on it, but the culture on the site seems to largely turn a blind eye to this.

I should point out that, at least in the last year or two, people have been less inclined to use pictures of the scene queens from the '00s. I don't think this is reflective of the culture on the site getting cleaner as it is the people on there realising that people are going to recognise a scene queen more or less instantly now. There's still a lot of people on there with emo in their username, so I guess if you're looking for someone to talk about your love of Paramore and My Chemical Romance with, Chat Hour has you covered.

There's no real limit to how many accounts a person can have on here. It really only seems to be limited by the number of email accounts you have, so a dedicated person who's been on the internet long enough to have accumulated a large number of email addresses can set up a dozen accounts today if they're so inclined.

Because of this, it's difficult to really assess how many people are actually fake on the site. You know a lot of these people probably have multiple accounts, so it could be ten people who have fake accounts or it could be a hundred. You'll never know for sure unless you buy the site and start limiting how many accounts can be associated with a single IP address.

Unfortunately, even a lot of the real people on the site are only on there to discuss sex. So when you do find someone who you can have a decent conversation with, it's like finding a diamond in the rough--you just don't see it that often.

A lot of the time, even these clean chats will disappoint you. Either they'll turn sexual after a while, or it'll be some weird dude like brocleanchatonly who seems to have a weird fetish for LGBT+ women to the point they're the only people he'll talk to on the site, or the people aren't anywhere near as smart as they'd like to pretend.

I'm honestly not sure what's worse about the site: the number of fake profiles on there, or that the people who aren't there to just talk about sex are often pseudo-intellectuals who want to talk about stuff they only have the most basic understanding of. Word to the wise, guys--if you want to debate politics or religion on a chat room, you probably don't have enough of an understanding of the subject o be doing that.

Of course, the pedophile problem is the worst problem; but there are a lot of other issues there.

While there may be some argument to be made that if anyone tried to impose some level of decorum onto the site it'd go out of business, it often amazes me that the site has remained in business for as long as it has. How the site hasn't been the target of any kind of lawsuits or police investigations that I know of is beyond me, because I think a federal-level police team or lawyer could have a field day with this site.

Alexis Has Earned 44 Votes

Alexis P.'s review of GoodReads earned 5 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of PenPalWorld earned 2 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of Kids in mind earned 2 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of Global Penfriends earned 3 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of earned 6 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of ChatHour earned 4 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of Omegle earned 4 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of Tumblr earned 3 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of GMX earned 2 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of Christian Forums earned 2 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of Netflix earned 2 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of IMDb earned 2 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of Atheist Foundation Of Australia Inc earned 2 Very Helpful votes

Alexis P.'s review of Take This Life earned a Very Helpful vote

Alexis P.'s review of earned a Very Helpful vote

Alexis P.'s review of PENPALS For Kids, Students, Fans Of World Cultures... The Biggest Kid earned a Very Helpful vote

Alexis P.'s review of ReachOut Australia earned a Very Helpful vote

Alexis P.'s review of Kiwi Farms earned a Very Helpful vote

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