|Dates:||1991 - present|
|Type:||E-mail, Web Browsing, Web Hosting|
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AOL, originally known as America Online, is a web portal and online service provider, it was very popular in the 1990's and early 2000s.
AOL Hometown was a web hosting service offered by AOL, it offered 12 megabytes of server space for AOL subscribers to publish their own websites, that began in 1998. Fans often used the service to create fan sites dedicated to their favorite media and fandoms, or as personal fanworks archives. When the service was shut down in October 2008, a great many sites were lost.
AOL hosted chat rooms where people could have discussions online anonymously. These spaces were often used by fans to discuss their favorite media and find other fans with similar interests.
AIM or AOL Instant Messenger is a major realtime chat client. It eventually became available for non-AOL subscribers and was a major platform for fannish group chats in the 00s. Its major rival during this period (at least among fans in the US) was Y!M (Yahoo Messenger). AIM continues to be used, but it has increasing competition from gtalk and other platforms for fannish chats.