AOL Message Boards closing fiasco: Welcome to the AOL “Message Blogs”!

Upset about message board closings? Tell us about it here!

Readers tipped me off today that something is wrong with AOL’s Message Boards: in fact, most of them are missing. The UK Message Boards were shut down with no warning whatsoever.* (See the end of this post for my UK boards disclaimer) Many UK chat rooms were also shut down. No one knows where the US Message Boards have gone. When you click on the “Is this the last board left?” topic which is found one-off from AOL’s Message Board home page you’re taken to…I kid you not…Yahoo!, where a board exists for AOL members to wonder aloud where AOL’s message boards went. It’s a bizarre situation.

Some message boards remain – but they’re hard to find – and now many look like blogs – when they don’t look like pea soup!

On March 31st all of the AOL message boards disappeared. According to Bumped Tek, “On April 1st, the old format boards re-appeared for a few moments then quickly vanished.” Even when some of the boards returned later today, they were no longer reachable from search engines (when you click the results link for the Travel Board, for example, you’re brought to the main Message Board page). The only way you can access AOL’s remaining Message Boards is by visiting them directly from the Message Board home page since the links used up until March 31st (which are still shown in search engine results) no longer work.

Incredibly, most of the newly formatted Message Boards are unusable because the body copy on the Topic Lists is jamming together in clumps.

Welcome! You’ve got angry customers!

Once you find top level posts on the remaining boards, you’ll see that many of them now look like top-level blog posts followed by comment sections. The posts look like articles on AOL News – the format is the same. If you scroll to the bottom of the “boards” a comment form is there. You’re not exchanging messages anymore; you’re just leaving comments. The AOL Message Boards are now the AOL Message Blogs! The changes have so disturbed AOL users that they’ve turned the AOL Auto Board into a rant zone.

According to Bumped Tek, “It seems AOL will be moving some message boards over to their blog network…”

Between being unable to find their favorite message boards and unable to recognize them once they’re found, I think AOL has done themselves in in the eyes of their users, who seem confused, frustrated and angered by the changes. To be fair (if not too balanced!) AOL gave some warning – a single blog post on People Connection three weeks ago. Still, it seems nothing could prepare AOL Message Board users for this.

Three boards (just a small sample – there are many more) that are no longer accessible from their old web addresses or from search engine results:

Comments from AOL users:

AOL is a FUSTERCLUCK !!!

So their idea of “changes” is annhilation??

I am clicking my heels three times and reciting ‘There is no place like home’. I am so lost.

I didn’t get to tell anyone good bye…

…this is the ONLY reason i have kept AOL and if they are going to just force us to use yahoo then why even keep it any longer?

This is a prime example of what happens to American business when it’s outsourced overseas. It goes down the tubes!

I’m on Yahoo from an AOL link? Say what???

Me too mona! I signed into my AOL and for some reason got re-directed here…ugh! ugh! ugh! what’s even more weird I logged onto my vegasmermaid sn and it came up dragonflie63 which is my account on yahoo! I don’t get it!!!

It certainly seems that AOL doesn’t give a rat’s backside about people looking for intelligent conversation about politics and serious news.

post a link if you find some [AOL] board still open.

Today a quote on this blog about the closing down of the AOL UK Message Boards and chat rooms: “I think AOL have made the decision that they don’t really want customers.”

Angry about the loss of the message boards? Have any tips on when things will smooth out for AOL users on remaining boards? Want to start an official page on boards that are still open? Want to petition AOL to change the remaining boards back to their old style? Reply below.

* My UK Boards disclaimer: Initial comments left on my blog from people in the UK show some users reacted as though they had no warning whatsoever of the UK Message Board shutdowns, but later comments (below) and even a tip I received – but did not read in time – indicate AOL UK users were given some sort of warning two weeks to a month in advance – every fact is still in dispute as of this writing, though. 4-5-09: So far all I can find on the web is a cache of a board that says UK users were notified by pop-up when they clicked on a “Community Board” link.

4-5-09: Did AOL know five months ago that they were closing the UK boards this year – but forgot to tell CarPhone Warehouse call reps who work for AOL not to leak the information? The message board linked to shows what appears to be a cover-up that went fairly well. AOL simply blamed the Carphone Warehouse call rep who emailed this AOL customer for not understanding how AOL works. Interesting stuff!

By the way, to my new visitors and long-time readers…thanks for mentioning this blog (oh, and good job hijacking the Basketball board)!

Postscript, 4-15-09: AOL restored most of the missing US message boards yesterday, saying “you spoke, and we listened”. Well, it’s about time, isn’t it? A complete list of resurrected boards is here. Folks, it always pays to complain when you don’t think you’re getting what you deserve – how this story ended is perfect proof of that. Keep on fighting!

57 thoughts on “AOL Message Boards closing fiasco: Welcome to the AOL “Message Blogs”!

  1. I wish the AOL idiot squad would post a message on the Welcome Screen saying exactly what is going on with the boards. If they are not coming back, I for one, do not need this piece of junk software on my computer. The boards were the only thing that kept me interested in AOHell.They took away our web pages, they took away online storage, they took away photos and gave us that bebo crap. All for what??? In all the years they have been catering to their advertisers rather than members, I have never clicked on a single ad.
    Board users need to find new places on the web … the old AOL is no more.
    Withdrawal is always tough, but we can do it!!!

  2. This is it for me. They took away my Board and I am quitting AOL forever. I look forward to reading about their demise and Yahoo’s lost revenue.

  3. If they dont have a partnership why are AOL message boards on Yahoo?
    Why is Yahoo letting AOL put AOL message boards there?
    bebo is the dumbest thing yet… They have ruined a good thing.. to many good things…

  4. I dumped AOHELL A LONG TIME AGO.
    The only thing I kept, was one e mail account, and that’s only because a lot of people already had it.
    My guess is, that’s going to go next.
    Time to start letting the important people in my life, use a more stable ISP to e mail me.
    Glad I never put the rest of their garbage software back on my computer.
    It runs much better, without AOL on it.

  5. AOL UK message boards have been operating for years, not just two weeks. UK users had some notification about a month ago that boards were going. Some of them came to US boards.
    We did read the AOL blog that said some boards would be closing. Now all we get on AOL US under Community, Message Boards is Travel, Black, Auto, Sports, and Money & Finance categories. No computing.

  6. I knew someone would ask me that. At some point AOL programmers might have decided to set up a board on Yahoo! for folks to get through the message board closings and transitions, or at least included a link for it on the main Message Board page after they discovered the Yahoo! board existed – perhaps they just stumbled upon it by accident.
    There is no partnership between AOL and Yahoo!.
    If you included a link to this blog on your website’s message board, would that make us partners? If I created a message board for Yahoo! users on the AOL boards and linked to it from here, would that put AOL and I “into business together”? No.

  7. Fixed the UK message boards part. Thanks! My Google-fu isn’t working right now so I can’t pin down exactly where I read that UK message boards were open for only two weeks, but maybe just some of them were and I misinterpreted.
    According to AOL users the Religion boards were closed, too. It’s kinds of painful to hear that, since a lot of people met in person after meeting on those boards and I can’t see how having them hurt anyone.

  8. you can also access the boards by typing “aol message boards friends and flirts” into google, and when the results come up, click on the cached page link below the main link. not much good though since there are no new posts, obviously…

  9. Need research
    I wouldn’t say there hasn’t been any partnership with Yahoo, because apparently they have one in order to redirect AOL users from their AOL account into a Yahoo account. Establishing a “board on Yahoo” for AOL users for a transitions phase wouldn’t do that; if that was the case. users would have been given the link and then asked to create an account with Yahoo to participate in the discussions.
    AOL, which is now under the management of Google Senior Vice President – Tim Armstrong, have been engaged in on-again, off-again discussions of varying degree with Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and News Corp. over the past two years, many of which have focused on AOL’s advertising business, where it would make the best fit and how much it’s worth.
    “Armstrong will be responsible for the future form of AOL — and who owns it. A spin-off of some or all of AOL’s parts is likely in the future, said a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because a personnel matter was being discussed.”
    Ref: Art. dated March 13, 2009 – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/12/AR2009031203090_pf.html
    It appears that AOL is being pieced out as AOL employees are being laid off and AOL departments phased out; Bebo got the profiles…now Yahoo! has the messaging community.

  10. A lot of the people on the pet boards became tight also and will miss the sense of community that AOL *used to* provide. As far as Yahoo boards go, uh, well they stink.
    What could these AOL execs be thinking? If they think Bebo is going to save their butts, they are sadly mistaken. Not everybody who uses the internet is 16.

  11. How does AOL still exist?
    They sucked 15 years ago. The sucked when I worked for them. And they suck now. This is a surprise?

  12. Some of the Chat Rooms are still open. I posted on here how to get in. If AOL are so out of touch that they don’t realse what effect the loss of message boards means to their customers, I’m not sure if anything will work.
    I rang AOL Tech today to ask why the boards had gone. He didn’t understand the question because he didn’t know what message boards were! Just about says it all.

  13. Just to let you know AOL Message Board Friends and Flirts has been blocked. The ‘enemy,’ must be reading this website! You get thrown back to People Connection.

  14. aol message boards
    I knew this was coming and I had two weeks to prepare for the end of the boards.I will sorely miss them since they have been a big part of my life since I got my first computer in 2001!Now they have turned the boards into blogs and ruined a very good thing for me.

  15. Yes, the ‘enemy’ reads this blog. I’m the only person who writes from anything like a purely Anti-AOL perspective anymore so of course they think they should tune in. How much they’re willing to change because of that, though, is another matter. I happen to know their management (any of their management – I’ve been writing about them since Steve Case was around, after all) is indifferent to popular opinion. No matter what you say, how you say it, how popular and well-broadcast your complaints become, every issue is swept under the rug as quickly as possible or after a period of time given minimal acknowledgment at best, while nothing changes. AOL is managed in the most opaque, stubborn, secretive, uncooperative, unhelpful way that anyone could imagine.

  16. Re: How does AOL still exist?
    Re: How does AOL still exist?
    I would love to hear more from you as to why it sucked to work for them. Drop me a line at my email address or you can use my anonymous contact form (both can be found in the sidebar) or you can reply here.

  17. Yes, you can still access quite a few boards that way, but as you said, it’s useless to do so – unless you just want to catch up on past posts that way – since those boards are no longer at the same address.

  18. Re: Need research
    I should have realized that, since quite a few users mentioned that when they visited that board they were automatically logged into Yahoo! from their AOL accounts. Thanks for waking me from my inexplicable stupor.

  19. Mine does, too! Every time I remove any of the AOL products that I test and/or review for this blog my computer speeds up – even without cleaning out the leftover AOL registry entries, or running Disk Cleanup, or dumping the Recycle Bin.

  20. Got an anon tip about the UK message boards from an AOL user on April 1st (probably still March 31st where he or she lives). It pretty much repeats what other AOL users are saying so I’ll just post it here:

    Yesterday the UK and US message boards were wiped. In the UK we knew it was March 31st but assumed midnight giving us time for our last goodbyes. We were after all a community. Not always friendly but always informative and certainly never dull.
    The boards disappeared in the afternoon. No hour’s warning….just gone.
    Thousands of people all over the world are unhappy with this as for many it was their only link to others but AOL just don’t care. They have always treated their customers with disdain, have often lied and are a perfect example of how NOT to run a company. So after many years I think I will be leaving…enough is enough.
    Thanks for this website. I will find it particularly useful over the next few days.

  21. Re: Need research
    I can explain why AOL is linking to Yahoo though.
    The Top Headlines section under People Connection Message Boards is just linking to several different message boards not owned by AOL. The message board AOL is linking to in particular is the ACC Basketball message board. This is because North Carolina is a part of the Atlantic Coast Conference and is participating in the NCAA final four. So originally posts there were only about the ACC but since AOL members hijacked that board, people are assuming AOL is sending everyone there when in fact all AOL is doing is showing the latest post by RSS feed.
    Thanks for the link, I’ve linked back to you in my post.

  22. Depends on how quickly Google updates each web page’s cache. That’s determined by a number of factors, including how popular each board was in the first place, how many clickthroughs it got, etc. It’s a pretty hit-and-miss way of finding stuff.

  23. Re: Need research
    You’re welcome. As to AOL linking to the Yahoo! board you’re missing the weirdest part of it- just as I did until my readers woke me up – when they click the link on AOL that takes them to it, they’re automatically logged into Yahoo! with their AOL credentials. That’s what they say, anyway; haven’t tried it myself.

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