I am wanting to write a hangman program that works with aol 7.0 chat rooms (reading from and posting to). Where should I start to be able to do this (the aol part)? I know all the basics of C++ fairly well, and don't have much programming knowledge beyond that.
I'm not going to try and scare you but I'm going to be brutally honest. First you'll need to write some basic socket io functions (very easy to do with some of the libraries and there) for communicating between the chat server and your program. Here is where things get difficult. You'll need to learn the protocols used by the aol server which are proprietary and will have to be reverse engineered. After that it will be a piece of cake. It would actually be easier to write a hangman game using a scripting language that is ran from the server like tcl or perl or asp or whatever the server uses. Or you could just write your own online hangman game which is an afternoon's worth of work.
AOL released its network protocol a few years ago under the GPL; you can find a description here. Otherwise, search Google for the AOL TOC protocol.