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. Re: AOL Message Boards closing fiasco: Welcome to the new AOL Message Blogs!
    There WAS notice that the UK boards were shutting down. It was up for several weeks prior to 3/31, and was copied and circulated among UK and US boards.
    I do wish AOL would let us know the time-frame for boards coming back up in the new format. I get the feeling even THEY don’t know what’s going on.
    (comment moved from original thread by )

  2. Re: AOL Message Boards closing fiasco: Welcome to the new AOL Message Blogs!
    Well, OK…I did a Google search and couldn’t find a thing about it. As recently as two weeks ago UK members found out only by contacting someone at AOL named Sumit who would reply with some version of the following when asked:
    “AOL Message boards will be shutting down at the end of March 2009.”
    I gleaned that from reading Google’s cache of an AOL UK board here:
    http://74.125.93.104/search?q=cache:SyMcQHb-MV4J:messageboards.aol.co.uk/aol/en_gb/articles.php%3FboardId%3D441995%26articleId%3D627979%26func%3D6%26filterHidden%3Dtrue%26filterUnhidden%3Dfalse%26filterRead%3Dfalse+site:aol.co.uk+message+board+shutting+down&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a
    I’m not sure how AOL notified people in the UK…did they? Or did they just leave members to contact them by email or telephone to find out? Did they use this page to let people know before turning it into a message that the boards were already closed?
    Being based in the US I don’t follow AOL UK news as closely as I should, I suppose, and AOL runs a different platform entirely for us – the US version is like the dumbed-down version that’s hard to find anything out about (which is why I try to stay on top of any news about it) while the UK version of AOL seems much more “intelligent” overall and has better help and communication systems in place – but please, correct me if I’m wrong.
    BTW, since I see on that cached UK board that this blog is mentioned as an authority as to what would happen to the message boards both in the US and in the UK: Please don’t take me as the last word on anything about AOL. I can only report what I know, and what I know and what AOL isn’t telling anybody are sometimes two different things. I don’t have anyone feeding me inside information that is not available to the public through the very same channels that I use – at least, I don’t have anyone like that yet. :)

  3. Re: AOL Message Boards closing fiasco: Welcome to the new AOL Message Blogs!
    anti_aol:”I don’t have anyone feeding me inside information that is not available to the public through the very same channels that I use – at least, I don’t have anyone like that yet. :)”
    Maybe you could communicate with Joe who got pink slipped by good old AOL. Joe was one of the good ones and knew his stuff. He might still have some contacts who know what’s going on. His blog is:
    http://www.joemanna.com/blog/

  4. Re: AOL Message Boards closing fiasco: Welcome to the new AOL Message Blogs!
    I already know Joe. We haven’t met in person but we’ve emailed each other a few times and comment on each other’s blogs – we’ve even gotten a few ideas from each other for our own blogs in the last few months – but he’s been pretty much incommunicado lately. He hasn’t updated his blog since March 17th; he hasn’t written about AOL in longer than that.

  5. Re: AOL Message Boards closing fiasco: Welcome to the new AOL Message Blogs!
    Marah didn’t we know this day would come? HAHAHA.
    But how it’s going down is worst than I ever thought.
    What a way to get rid of your existing customers, eh?
    -Mike

  6. Re: AOL Message Boards closing fiasco: Welcome to the new AOL Message Blogs!
    The UK boards had a pop up message to say they were closing March 31st. I emailed to ask why but the answer was ‘improvements.’ Similar to when Live Help disappeared…that was ‘improvements,’ as well.
    Oddly enough many of us in the UK used the US addon because the format was easier to use than the UK one.
    The only problem was you couldn’t type the pound sign, it came up as a hash key.
    AOL never does anything well and simply continued in the same vein when closing the boards.

  7. word
    well that little trick i mentioned about searching for friends and flirts on google and clicking that “cached” link under the description below the link doesn’t work anymore.

  8. Thanks for confirming the main notification system used by AOL for UK users seemed to be a simple pop-up when they visited the boards sometime in March – so much for emailing you folks to notify you of what was coming.

  9. Re: AOL Message Boards closing fiasco: Welcome to the new AOL Message Blogs!
    I always knew they’d close more boards than they hinted at last fall and again this March in the People Connection post. The loss of the UK boards surprised me, though, in spite of everything. What did you do to your blog, BTW? Don’t get off-topic (email me) but I noticed recently it’s gone.

  10. Boycott AOL advertisers
    AOL has made it clear over the past 3 years or so that they just don’t give a shit about AOL users. As if the horrible customer service wasn’t bad enough, now they are dismantling the old AOL and taking away the only things that keep users coming back. The removal of the message boards was the last straw. I wonder if AOL realizes that advertisers won’t hand over advertising revenues if there are no users here to read the ads.
    The time has come to cancel our AOL accounts and make them suffer the consequences of their stupidity. If they want to fuck with us, they’ll get fucked right back.
    Bye, AOL!! We’ll be waving as the bow of your sinking ship slips beneath the surface.

  11. sime received pop up warning some not
    Wuth regard closing of uk bopards, it started as a rumour sometime in early march…. one or two people on the boards I used stated they had pop ups, most were oblivious and were not sure if it was going to happen….
    It did happen on the day of the 31 st march…
    as ithers have said, with all the services that have been lost, there is little left for users of aol… time to move on…

  12. some tiny news
    Beta staff does not know much about whats going to happen to the boards, they do say they expect the beta boards to be upgraded to the new format.
    People connection blog finally turned comments back on after April 6th. Whats very peculiar is that they have yet to address whats going on with the message boards. There’s about 80 negative comments, so there’s no way they couldn’t have seen it.

  13. Please help!
    Hello! Can you please tell me how I can find the AOL Molly Maguire message board at:
    aol://5863:126/mB:415656
    My computer only recognizes http:// !
    I use Mozilla, and don’t have AOL service.
    What does the aol:// mean, and how do I find things that use it?
    If you can please give me the http: equivalent, I can plug it into on Archive.org!
    The forum has alot of important history information that is not available elsewhere. Can you please help?
    Hal Smith
    Pennsylvania

  14. Re: some tiny news
    Thanks for the update. I just went to the URL for the Beta boards and got a message saying the page could not be displayed, so I’m not sure what the deal is now.

  15. Re: Please help!
    Your question is more or less answered here:
    http://travel.aol.com/travel-forum/topic/2743035312c44aa6b04b29bca923a8bd/88b33b0108c4493985f8de5d3db04c32#focus
    One of the AOL people gets real snitty saying there isn’t one sort of message board “experience” for some people and another for the rest of you all…I think she means there is no version of the Molly Maguire board on the Web, but she never quite got around to actually saying that.
    She did say that any remaining boards that can be accessed only through the AOL software (such as Molly Maguire board you’re looking for) are all being “sunset” soon. God how the people at AOL love “sunsets”…what a romantic bunch they must be! :[
    I looked but I don’t see any information on the Web about the Molly Maguire board so I don’t see how it could be in archive.org, either. Sorry but that’s all I can tell you for now… :)

  16. Re: Please help!
    Anti,
    Thanks for writing back!
    Someone told me that this is the equivalent to aol://5863:126/mB:415656:
    http://messageboards.aol.com/aol/en_us/articles.php?boardId=415656
    Archive.org says old databases aren’t archived on their program. Do you know of other sites like archive.org that keep snapshots of old websites?
    Yes, Anti, I think the sun has set since she posted on the Travel Forum.
    It makes me sad, I missed the research on the forums by less than a month!

  17. Re: Please help!
    http://web.archive.org/web/*sr_31nr_10/http://messageboards.aol.com/*
    ^^ you may find some intact versions of old aol boards in there, I browsed around a bit and found a few.
    aol boards disappearing, it all sounds familiar, the same thing happened with MSN groups, less than 2 months ago.
    Maybe you could start fresh and try http://yuku.com they are hosting a lot of the msn groups now.
    I am a very unhappy aol user myself, you have no idea! I once tried to get AOL as an ISP, that installation cd put over 80 files on my computer, and at the very end, after installing all those files, it asked me for my credit card number although it said on the cd that no credit card was required. Here I sat with all those files installed on my computer and no connection. Getting help was impossible, because you have to have an account first before they help you. Oh my, the misery. Twice in my life have I screamed on the phone, one of those times was at the AOL service rep. Couldn’t help myself.

  18. Re: Please help!
    Looks like the AOL message boards are back. I found most of my boards. The People Connection page has a much larger listing of message board subjects. Hope they stay.

  19. Re: Please help!
    Yes, it looks like they are. Good for you guys. Computing is back, Rants & Raves, and many more that went MIA recently. They’re more or less in the old format, too – at least they’re not in that horrific blog format, which doesn’t work for message boards at all.

  20. Re: Please help!
    No. Sorry I didn’t make that clear in my above reply to someone who said the message boards are back; we were talking specifically about the US boards that went AWOL last week.

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