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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.
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.
ike Riccardi would spend hours in chatrooms hosted by America Online as a teenager.
When he heard the sound of a door creeping open ring from the speakers of his desktop computer, he’d perk up because the sound meant a friend was online, and they were free to chat.
“Auditorium” chatrooms could hold hundreds or thousands of users and had a moderator.
Users could also create private and public chatrooms and host scheduled events.
Initially, mostly tech-minded people joined AOL chatrooms, since at the time, it wasn’t as common to own a home computer.
“It was really cool, because even if your parents were in the next room, they couldn’t hear what you were talking about because you’re typing on your keyboard.”At AOL’s peak, more than 100 million AOL screen names existed, and users spent over a million hours chatting a year.
Of course, celebrities were involved in this new way to connect with the fans.