AOL pulls the plug on CompuServe forums

A chapter of online history is closing, as CompuServe Deutschland GmbH & Co. KG shuts down its long-standing user forums, one of the oldest online-communities, in existence since CompuServe was founded in Ohio in 1969.

Volunteer coordinators in Germany have been notified that the forums will go dark on April 30, said Stefanie von Carlsburg, a spokeswoman for CompuServe’s parent company AOL Deutschland GmbH. The forums will continue to exist on CompuServe’s U.S. service for the time being, she said.

Von Carlsburg said the company had decided to replace the volunteer-run forums with professionally moderated boards, which can be set up and modified more quickly in response to new discussion topics. “We’re not letting (the forums) die, we’re simply switching them over to a newer technology and renaming them,” she said.

The company had already reduced the number of remaining forums from 12 to five last year, combining overlapping topics such as “love” and “erotic,” she added.

Under the new model, a link from the CompuServe home page will take users to a “community center,” with boards, groups, chats, and “e-home” (user Web pages).

CompuServe has been active in Germany since 1991, but has seen its star fade since its takeover by AOL in 1998.

CompuServe Deutschland, based in Munich, can be reached at AOL Deutschland, in Hamburg, is at