MicroChats is an interesting free service that lets you create free moderated chats on Twitter. You can specify the topic of chat, and choose whether everyone can participate in it, or just a chosen few. Then, tweets from all of them that relate to you chat are nicely displayed on MicroChats website.
Before we proceed further, let me explain how MicroChats works:
You start by creating a new Twitter chat on MicroChats website. You can provide a name, description, and icon to your chat, and also choose whether it is public chat or private chat (that I’ll explain later). Most importantly, you provide a hashtag for your chat. Your whole chat conversation will be identified from this hashtag. (This reminds me of another interesting service ToDoTweet that nicely uses hashtags.)
So, whenever somone will post a tweet with that hashtag, MicroChats will include that tweet as a chat message, and will show that as a chat conversation. Because MicroChats searches for public tweets with that hashtag, it can include only those tweets that are public.
If anyone wants to participate in your chat, they just need to send a tweet with that hashtag, and MicroChats will show that tweet in your chat communication, in the order in which it was sent.
To make MicroChats even easier to use, MicroChats has been integrated right into Mixero Twitter client (MicroChats come from same house as Mixero).
MicroChats has 2 basic type of Twitter Chats:
Public Twitter Chat: In this, anyone can participate in your chat. However, you have an option to block anyone, and their tweets will never appear in your chat timeline.
Private Twitter Chat: The name of this type of chat is pretty ambigous. It is not really private chat. Basically, you are allowed to specify upfront who can participate in your chat, and tweets from only those will be visible in your chat communication. However, everyone will still be able to see all those tweets on Twitter. Also, anyone is free to use your hashtag to send tweets; it’s just that MicroChats will not show those tweets in your chat timeline.
For a really true private chat on Twitter, I would recommend going with GroupTweet. That service keeps all your tweets private.
MicroChats is a pretty good idea, and is a nice use of hashtags. I see it being used for tracking keywords of your choice, to see them nicely in form of a chat communication in order they are received.