AOL’s Top 5 Blunders of 2008

AOL's top 5 blunders of 2008.

Asking why AOL screws up nearly everything they touch is like asking why the sun shines on a clear day, but I’m a sucker for tradition, and for two years running I’ve done so, so why not a third? It’s reasonable to expect this is the last Top 5 I’ll ever do on AOL since the company is dying. With no further ado, AOL’s top five blunders of 2008:

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The AOL Classic desktop client: Welcome back, AOL 9.0 SE.

Updated 2-26-09 with a separate review of AOL 9.5 and again on 2-28-09.

An AOL Classic: The messy interface.

AOL has a new desktop client in Beta called AOL Classic. What’s exciting about it is…tabbed browsing! Do I hear you ask, “What else?” That’s it. What else do you need? Don’t tell me you “need” stuff like browser skins and add-ons…hey, I remember when people used Gopher and Archie to surf the Web…this is really modern compared to that. AOL even did something with the menus. After I got down rolling around in strong spasms of tremendous joy at the thought of being able to open…new tabs…in a classic AOL client, I installed the damn thing. That ended even the flimsiest notion of AOL Classic offering me much more than deja vu of why I canceled AOL three years ago.

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How to Uninstall AOL 9.0 VR (Vista Ready), AOL 9.1, AOL 9.5, and AOL 10.0 From XP and Vista

Uninstalling AOL 9.0 VR, AOL 9.1, AOL Desktop.

Republished 12-30-08. Last updated 12-03-09.

If you are getting error messages when you try to remove AOL from Vista, please see this post, or see this post for error messages on Windows 7. If AOL won’t shut down before you remove it, or if keeps running after you remove it, see this FAQ.

Note: This tutorial will also help you remove AOL OpenRide, AOL Desktop Search and AOL Explorer 1.5. Unfortunately, I can’t fit that many versions of AOL into the title of this post, or into the sidebar.

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Ficlets creator fights AOL to save his brainchild – and loses.

This is interesting: Joe Manna happened to catch a comment on the PeopleConnection blog from the Ficlets creator, Kevin Lawver, a long-time AOLer who left the company in May. Kevin wrote about Ficlets:

I knew this was coming, I just didn’t know the day. I tried, with the help of some great people, to get AOL to donate ficlets to a non-profit, with no luck. I asked them just to give it to me outright since I invented it and built it with the help of some spectacular developers and designers. All of this has gone nowhere.

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AOL selling off/closing down International Operations? And AIM Phoneline going-going-gone.

Just got a comment on my blog from “Frank” saying:

I just found out – not sure if this is true – that AOL has sold off (is selling off) all its international operations. This has already happened to the Uk and Australia. If you use webmail or have set up a free webmail post box (as suggested on every AOL home page) – and are not an AOL paying subscriber, you will suddenly be ‘cut off’ leaving you with a sign in screen message saying that you’re not in the US and your account has been cancelled. This applies to everyone who has a .com email address originally outside the US (about 50M people). They will now be moved to (for the UK) and (for Australia).

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Some AOL message boards shutting down – remaining ones moving to “new platforms”.

4-2-09: Many more AOL message boards closed on March 31st and April 1st, 2009- read about it here.

This is what I get for not checking my backlinks more often: a post that is one month and six days old.

Unbeknownst to me, this blog was mentioned on an AOL message board on Nov. 1st in relation to whether or not AOL is shutting down its message boards. AOL has since deleted the very board that their discussion took place on (oh, the irony), so this is the cache.

AOL user PGroot wrote in response to a message board titled, “Re: AOL closing message boards?”: “Read the response to Alley Insider: “AOL Hit List” Examined“.

AOL user SGW7011, aka “Sharon” replied:

“Well, that’s nice, but she’s only explaining what each is, known statuses on some, that have already had a resolution and guesses on others.

Regarding message boards, it’s just a guess. While probably reasonably accurate, it’s no offical word.

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AOL is on fire! Circavie and Ficlets will die on Jan. 15th, 2009.

Updated 12-7-08 with more information for Ficlets users and 1-13-09 with new information on importing Circavie timelines to Dipity.

OK, I’ll admit it: I feel bad for my readers. Some of them are already feeling down over the loss of their small but beloved community and their old photo, video and storage sites. Breaking more bad news for them all the time – which is all I do anymore – is not fun for me, either.

The title of the post was inspired by Twitter’s mringlein, who does not give the phrase “on fire” too pleasant a connotation.

The latest victim’s of AOL’s cost-cutting and streamlining measures are two AOL-branded websites: Circavie and Ficlets, which both have devoted, if not huge, fan bases.

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