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!