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Posted by / 26-Jun-2017 20:38

The system which became AOL established the Community Leader Program officially in the early 1990s, and discontinued it in 2005.At the peak of the program, it is estimated that AOL had approximately 14,000 volunteers, Community Leaders had a wide variety of responsibilities, ranging from hosting chat rooms, monitoring message boards and file libraries, providing customer service, teaching online classes, and particularly creating and managing forum content.Without unpaid volunteers, the company would have to hire employees to manage and post online content and run effective online communities previously done by Community Leaders.

AOL offered volunteers 12 months of free service in compensation for their services.During these years, AOL tried other things to hold on to users like the short-lived AIM Pages, but the moment had passed and users were flocking to Facebook Chat and other, younger competitors.No matter how hard it tried, AOL couldn’t revive Running Man’s lifeless body.In May 1999, Kelly Hallisey and Brian Williams, two former Community Leaders, filed a class action lawsuit against AOL, claiming that AOL volunteers performed work equivalent to employees and thus should be compensated according to the Fair Labor Standards Act.The plaintiffs argued that the Community Leader position required a significant amount of effort and detail to qualify the position as having an "employee relationship" with AOL.

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AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), the last remnant of the original AOL’s walled garden, has officially signed off after 20 years.