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Friday, October 6, 2017

An AIM-less Era: AOL Instant Messenger Ending This December

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - We are eminently qualified to comment on this story, since we're literally the most affected organisation in existence.

This afternoon, when I logged into AOL Instant Messenger to talk with my Koopa compatriots (thinking that the worst thing to complain about today was my new Miiverse violation relating to Sexy Poker), I got a disturbing AOL system message:
“Hi there! We wanted to let you know that AIM will be going away on December 15, 2017. Until then, you can continue to use AIM normally, but as of December 15, AIM will be discontinued and you will no longer have access.

Thank you for being an AIM user - we loved working on this product for you. Learn more here: https://help.aol.com/articles/aim-discontinued.”

I also received an e-mail saying much the same thing, though a bit longer with more details. It started off with this:
We see that you've used AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) in the past, so we wanted to let you know that AIM will be discontinued and will no longer work as of December 15, 2017.”
Now, I have a lot of problems with these messages, and, of course, a very big problem on my hands. KoopaTV does ALL of its communications via our storied [Koopa Keep] AIM Blast, which has been in operation since January 2011. There is a massive amount of history there. Perhaps we should have seen this coming, with what AOL did to AIM Version 7.5.

I'm irritated by a lot of this. Let's start with the system message saying that “AIM will be going away”. Going away? That's how moms talk to their kids when their dad goes to prison for murdering someone; or when mommy accidentally dropped the fishbowl down the toilet, and flushed it, while the kid was at school.

Everyone that still uses AIM is waaaay past being a kid. You can at least tell us straight-up that you're removing a legacy product. Everyone else is doing that. Adobe with Flash. Nintendo with Miiverse and the Wii Shop Channel. Microsoft with MS Paint... well, until that got reversed. Or something.

AIM is the most successful product that AOL ever produced. I'm pretty sure this is Verizon's idea, since they bought both AOL and Yahoo! (and put them in one division called Oath) and want to actually get something out of that. I don't know what Verizon is thinking with spending billions in lame-o washed up companies instead of continuing to deploy fiber-optic cable across the United States.

I say that, of course, using AIM and receiving the e-mail that AIM is discontinuing on a Yahoo! e-mail address. (Which is assumed to be hacked.) 

AOL Instant Messenger was the most capable text-based instant messaging service on the market, which is another issue I have with AOL's message: They didn't love working on AIM with me. They haven't made any new developments for AIM in half a decade. That's why it was so good: Every other product in its market has gone through a series of updates and revisions that only make the product worse. AOL Instant Messenger had a “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.” model. That is, until they went ahead and broke the best version of AIM half a year ago (as hyperlinked before the pagebreak).

Seriously, think about it. All of the big tech companies do this. They roll-out major design revisions that everyone ends up hating. You've complained about those before, haven't you? And you don't get an option about going back? You're forced into crap. Well, for many years, AIM let you download what version you wanted and they were all relatively compatible with one another, and you weren't under awful terms and conditions.

We've heard from several people, including KoopaTV's own Wendy O. Koopa (who basically refuses to interact with us while we still use AIM), that KoopaTV should move to Discord for staff communications.

I'm not sure if this screenshot will be revealing information that should actually be private, but here's our first go:

KoopaTV private Discord server AIM replacement
The text you get to read in the screenshot also explains why Kamek only rarely appears.
Yeah, we have a great working relationship among all of us!

I have a lot of concerns with Discord, chief among them is that the left sidebar is not collapsible or can't be moved to the top or something. It takes up a lot of monitor space, even at the minimum size you can put the window. Also, there's a lack of customisation options that I loved AIM a lot for, such as fonts settings. This is because Discord is meant for voice chatting and not text chatting, but text chatting is our main priority at KoopaTV.

We also don't know how capable the chat-logging is. AIM let you save all of the chat logs you've ever had to your computer hard drive. What about Discord? Those logs are very important for archival purposes!

It's very typical of me to see new technology and only point out the negatives. You, the reader, probably know more about Discord and stuff than I do, so perhaps you can fill me in on relevant positives that could help KoopaTV out as we have to navigate through this new AIM-less era. 


KoopaTV's relatively unchanged design from its inception is not because of a “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” philosophy, but rather KoopaTV's staff lacking competent designers. If you are a competent web designer AND are willing to help KoopaTV at no cost to KoopaTV (in other words, you're a saint willing to help a site ran by gaming villains), check out KoopaTV's jobs page! (Now just updated to no longer have an AOL Instant Messenger account as a job requirement.) KoopaTV is going to need someone to straighten out its attempts at using Discord, after all. KoopaTV is also open to non-Discord solutions. Skype is out of the question, however.

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