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I'm tired of seeing all these community leaders, remote staff being treated that way and not being paid."When Aol first started the program, however, it was not such a bum deal.In return for acting as community leaders and helpful Virgils to the virgin Internet, monitors received free Internet service.As happens to many growing Internet companies, Aol’s users turned against the company when its behavior took on a decidedly corporate feel.In 1999, during an online meeting with all community leaders, Aol management announced that volunteers would no longer receive free Internet service; instead they would receive a discounted rate.
In September of 1993, however, America Online (Aol) of a civil, relatively singular Internet culture.
(Just ask the legions of American who work for peanuts in the hope that it will lead to a real job offer.)The workers had a strong case.
Not only is the law skeptical of volunteers at for-profit companies, but Aol management often treated the monitors like employees.
At the same time, Aol began to monetize its chat rooms and message boards by introducing advertisements.
Suddenly Aol felt like the for-profit it had always been, not the community that had since its early days.
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At the time, Aol charged by the hour, so monitors who were heavy Internet users saved hundreds of dollars each month.