The AOL simming forums is a generic term for several simming-related forums or portals that America Online ran on their network during the 1990s. Similar to web pages, each forum was accessible to members of America Online via a keyword and housed chat rooms, message boards, file libraries, pages containing text and graphics.
Each forum was an official creation of America Online, ultimately overseen by individuals within the company. Any member of AOL could access the forum, post to a message board, or take part in a chat room. Only those granted permission by the company could program the forum itself including edit information, create new boards or police the chat rooms. The bulk of this work was performed by volunteers, known as Community Leaders, who received free access to America Online in exchange for their service.
The rise of webpages in the late 1990s ultimately made the forums obsolete. As part of cost cutting moves and in response to lawsuits, almost all were abolished by AOL between 2000 and 2003.
Online Gaming Forum
The Online Gaming Forum (OGF) was the central gaming forum on America Online, with offerings that ran the gambit from chess to simming. All other simming and gaming forums on AOL were under the authority of the OGF, with the OGF itself under the Games Channel content management.
Official Sim Clubs
America Online ran a series of sim clubs, including in the area of Star Trek, Star Wars, and X-files. Although for copyright reasons these names were never explicitly mentioned in most cases, legal action occurred in other places. One of the largest and most successful was SpaceFleet OnLine (SFOL), the Star Trek sim club.
The RPG Forum was established as a place for traditional offline role-players to gather. Before the creation of the Non-Affiliated Gaming Forum, the RPG Forum was also often used by simmer as a place to engage in gaming activities. Structure within this area was not as strict as what might be found in other forums.
Non Affiliated Gaming Forum (Diaspora)
The Non Affiliated Gaming Forum (NAGF), and later known as the Diaspora Forum, was established in 1995 when America Online recognized the need to establish a forum for private sim clubs, separate and apart from the RPG Forum.
The NAGF was instrumental in the development of simming, for it provided a home for the simming community on America Onilne. Any club - apart from clubs that were officially ran by AOL - would, upon request, receive a message board at the forum, and could schedule a slot in the NAGF conference room. However, as slots were few, most clubs ran their sims in private chat rooms. Clubs could also upload content to the NAGF file library.
The NAGF was first led by MartialLaw, also known as Vice Admiral Data for a short period. OGF Havran was then placed in command of the forum in 1996, with Admiral Andy B. Clements (OGF Andy) serving as the assistant supervisor. Clements was able to secure "Mini Forums" for well established groups, although he had to build them himself using AOL proprietary forum building language, resulting in a six month waiting period for a Mini Forum.
OGF Havran moved onto to be a coordinator (paid position) of another gaming area on AOL, and OGF Andy was promoted to supervisor of the NAGF. Several other United Space Federation personal were assigned as hosts within the forum including Vice Admiral Anders of the USF as OGF Will.
Following a reorganization of America Online's gaming forum, the NAGF was renamed Diaspora Games, and was later dissolved when AOL dissolved the OGF and its other forums beginning in 2000.
The NAGF was accessible via Keyword: NAGF between 1995 and 1999.