There was little trolling.“It wasn’t a troublesome space,” Weger says.“I have to imagine moderating spaces online in 2017. It was more often you had to remind people what the values and norms of the room were.”Schober recalls that at AOL’s peak, AOL would sometimes gain over 70,000 users a day, causing chatroom communities to rapidly evolve.
That was the 1990s, and Riccardi was into grunge and metal music, video games, and computers.
He’d chat about Nirvana, search for guitar tabs, trade shareware, and find opponents for . That year, AOL Instant Messenger launched, born out of the Buddy List feature in AOL.
A press release from 1997 promotes a calendar of events that included an online chat with each of the Spice Girls and a downloadable audio greeting from Oprah Winfrey (in honor of Mother’s Day).
Others weren’t so impressed: “Any performance skills you have go out the window,” complained comedian Jay Leno in a 1995 Now, some twenty years later, the once-vibrant chatroom communities of AOL have nearly disappeared, but they are still there … About 1,500 people can be counted in all of AOL’s public chatrooms today, a number that in the ‘90s wouldn’t have even matched a large “auditorium”-style room where celebrities would hold court.
Along with this product came the away message, buddy icons, a personal profile, and eventually voice chat, file transfer, and chat bots.
“It was a different time, because in the ‘90s, no one gave their real personal information on the internet,” says the now 35-year-old web developer.
User-created sexual fantasy rooms are also popular.
On Garden Chat, sometimes people still trade tips for gardening and cooking, messaging back and forth in different fonts, font weights, and colors.
The most popular chatrooms on AOL today have names like Widows and Widowers, Garden Chat, and Sixties Plus.
Also popular, a chatroom for Republicans, along with chatrooms called Beliefs Christian and Born Again.
A 1993 Associated Press story even describes how then-President Bill Clinton was considering holding a town hall on AOL.