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To this day, Garden Chat appears to be one of the most active chatrooms on AOL.But now the room is completely different.“We got invaded,” Bird tells ).But much of the time, the conversations are much more colorful — in that they’re splashed with expletives.“Lately my favorite room has gotten a bunch of pervert-nasty people,” Bird says.She calls them “disruptors.” When I ask her what the disruptors do, she says, “If you were reading Garden Chat right now, you would see. That’s not fun.”Bird misses the days when people would talk about growing annuals and perennials.A 1993 Associated Press story even describes how then-President Bill Clinton was considering holding a town hall on AOL.His screen name was “Clinton Pz.”Clinton’s team of “young, high-tech specialists” were “pondering new ways of communicating directly with Americans,” reported the AP.
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.
User-created sexual fantasy rooms are also popular.
On Garden Chat, sometimes people still trade tips for gardening and cooking, messaging back and forth in different fonts, font weights, and colors.
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.