This is one of the basic (written and unwritten) rules of online communication; it is called netiquette.
Direct addressing, also known as "addressivity" (Werry 1996) or "cross-turn reference" (Herring 1999), opens up the possibility of taking part in more conversation at the same time for the participants.
The results of the discourse analysis are described in Section 5. Nicknames can be viewed from various aspects like psychology, sociology or linguistics (Morgan/O'Neill/Harré 1979; Reid 1991; Bechar-Israeli 1995).
It helps us to know, in channels with a lot of traffic, who is talking to us.
The following work focuses on the IRC, originally written in 1988 by Oikarinen/Reed.
One of the pioneering studies regarding IRC nicknames was done by Bechar-Israeli (1995).
260 nicknames from four different IRC channels were analyzed from the perspective of a content analysis.
Thus, impersonating someone or stealing a nick just for fun are quite simple (Mutton 2004b).