While a closure of Bigpond Chat been expected for some time (I'll explain that soon), my initial thoughts of Bigpond Chat closing were due to one of the loyal Bigpond IRCops (IRC Operator) indicating on Facebook that they were moving to another network.
So - is Bigpond Chat really closing?
I returned to Bigpond Chat when I had arrived back home in Sydney to find so much FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) among the users, as many were unsure about the prospects of being able to communicate with each other. I'd noticed the closure message in the MoTD (Message of The Day) during my initial connection to Bigpond Chat that day, which confirmed my thoughts about Bigpond Chat closing.
I instantly started receiving messages asking me where I would be moving to, if Bigpond Chat was really closing, and questions about why people had been posting links in private messages to other chat networks.
I looked at some of the links people were posting to other IRC networks, some of them being new or inexperienced networks, and others that had been around for a while. I decided not to make the move to any of them, and instead to just move one of the channels I ran on Bigpond over to URChat, a network I co-own and administrate.
The new Sydney room
Initially I started just telling a few users that I've known online for quite some time that I would be moving to URChat. I later decided to ask in the official Bigpond Chat help room whether it would be possible for me to display a link in the Sydney Room on Bigpond Chat, to the new Sydney Room that I had created over at URChat. I was met with a very welcome "why not?, go for it!" from a Bigpond Chat IRCop, so I created a link in the topic, which the users would see on-join, and I also set up an automated message that would display mid-conversation to all of the users in the Sydney Room.
We immediately started to have people showing up at the new Sydney Room on the URChat IRC Network, and grew a small userbase very quickly. I'd been keeping an eye on the size of the other networks to see which one(s) had picked up the majority of Bigpond Chat users. My mind was instantly drawn to a single network (known as ESSX) that had done the same thing that the Sydney Room had done - creating an identical room on another network.
The demographics of the two rooms (Sydney and 40s) were certainly very different, but the size of both networks were very similar.
URChat and ESSX decided to trial a link, to improve users experiences on both the URChat and ESSX networks. The link had immediately created some hostility between the other networks, perhaps in fear of the idea that the URChat/ESSX partnership would become the primary location for the Bigpond Chat users.
For matters I don't think need discussing here, we (URChat) decided to de-link the two networks as the network link wasn't working as originally intended. Immediately after the-delink, the 40s rooom decided to move over to URChat, this left ESSX with a very small userbase, most of whom later decided to also continue to URChat, this had caused URChat to become the dominant location for Bigpond Chat users, and led to the creation of many other Bigpond Chat chatrooms.
The end is near - final moments of Bigpond Chat
The 31st of October, 2009: All the users on Bigpond Chat have been forced into an exit room called #Exit.31Oct2009, The network operators have all had their access removed - with the exception of the chatmaster, The channel operators have also all had their access removed.
IRCops have been removed (except for the chatmaster).
Everyone expects that Bigpond Chat will close late in the evening, Boy were they wrong.
At 1:23AM AEDST Bigpond Chat's Victorian server is forcibly shut down, disconnecting about 18 users.
There are 14 messages sent to the exit channel immediately after, by: Scarlet, Sinister, BobbaFett, MudStuFFin, tipsy, MrTheToad, hotaussieguy31, JD, and BluFudge-net.
At 1:24AM AEDST Bigpond Chat's Queensland Server is also disconnected from the internet, causing the many remaining users to receive only the following message:
[01:41] * Disconnected
I must say that I was rather disappointed with the end of Bigpond Chat, there was no final Goodbye, Thank-you, or any other messages from Bigpond Chat staff, very unlike what was seen when MSN Chat closed down their IRCX Network on October 16, 2006.
By this time, it had become rather clear, that there were only two IRC Networks that were likely to take over the role of Bigpond Chat; URChat and Induced. Both networks are well known, and have been around for many years, unlike many of the IRC Networks initially in the competition for Bigpond Chat users.
Where did everybody go?
It's now several days after the Bigpond Chat Network has closed, It has since become quite clear that the majority of the Bigpond Chat users (and Bigpond Chat staff) ended up moving to URChat. URChat added an additional IRC server on the day that Bigpond Chat came to an end, in anticipation of supporting Bigpond Chat's rooms, staff, hosts, and users.
I'm not going to give reasons as to why URChat is the best, as I think it would seem very biased, but I have quickly learnt that at the end of the day, users follow users, not links. With so much competition of the playing field, the users need to be happy where they go.
What is IRC?
Internet Relay Chat - known as just 'IRC' to many, is a protocol that is nearly as old as myself. IRC began in Finland in sometime around the middle of 1988, so it's not surprising that large companies such as Bigpond are starting to end the use of IRC. Bigpond Chat has been using the IRC protocol on ConferenceRoom servers located accross Australia for over a decade.
How many servers did Bigpond Chat have, and what were they?
Bigpond Chat ran on Microsof Windows servers, using Webmasters ConferenceRoom software, the official Bigpond Chat server list is as follows:
- Victorian Server: vic-chat.bigpond.com
- Queensland Server: qld-chat.bigpond.com
- New South Wales Server: nsw-chat.bigpond.com (has been offline for approximately a year)
- Western Australia: wa-chat.bigpond.com (has been offline for many years)
Note: The location defined where the server was situated - You could connect to any of the servers above from almost anywhere in the world