While the chat room in game can be useful, I recommend starting a skype chat (text only) for you and your alliance friends. We do most of our dealings in SOL on skype chat. Most of our members are on there. It helps us to get to know each other and coordinate efforts. It also lets you know who is currently online which is a feature not provided in game. Easy to set up the skype chat. First, set up skype account. Second, add other players via add contact feature. Create an IM with one of those members and begin adding players into the IM. There is no limit to the amount of people you can add.