During special chats with guest speakers, a host may institute protocol. Protocol is a special system which allows the host, guest speaker and guests to make the most of the chat or conference. Without protocol, chaos reigns: Extraneous chat hides and scrolls the guest speaker's words out of sight, general questions/comments are confused with those intended for the speaker, and topics drift out of reach before the speaker has been able to catch the first wave. Protocol is not difficult, but a basic understanding is necessary to be successful.
Protocol is a bit like raising your hand and waiting to be called upon before talking. Guests are instructed by the host to type a ! (exclamation point) if they have a comment to make, or a ? (question mark) if they have a question. The person managing protocol keeps track of these and places them in a queue which may look much like this:
Queue: ! Shadow, ! Chip, ? Ara, ? Gandalara
This Queue line lets everyone know who is waiting and in what order. Specifically, it tells us that Shadow and Chip want to make comments and Ara and Gandalara want to ask questions. People making ! (comments) always go to the end of the list of comments, but before the list of questions. Comments have priority because they usually pertain to the topic being discussed. People asking ? (questions) go to the end of the entire list.
The host will prompt members waiting in the Queue to make their comment or ask their question. While you are waiting for your turn, you are encouraged to prepare your comment or question in advance. When you type, use ellipsis (...) to indicate continuation and the "/ga" abbreviation at the end of your line when you are finished. This will keep everyone tuned in and deter accidental interruptions.
If someone accidentally "breaks" protocol by typing a question/comment before your turn, they will be asked to wait their turn by the host. If this is done too many times it can disrupt the room. The host may take corrective action to keep the chat from being disrupted.