Since 1985, CompuServe has been one of the premiere places for the exchange of anime ideas and information, as well as friendly chatting. Once frequented by such people as AnimEigo's Robert Woodhead, Streamline Picture's Carl Macek, and more recently, AnimeWorks president John Sirabella, the anime forum is now locked out against any real-time communication between its members, save its moderated Sunday night discussion group.
The reason for this is that those participating in real-time role-playing (RP'ing) have become out of hand. Verbal fighting and abuse has ensued recently, and forum Sysops have decided that closing all public chat rooms is the best thing to do. As a side effect, on all versions of CompuServe software except for the recently released 4.0 version for Windows 95/98, all real-time interpersonal communication in the forum has been severed, reducing the forum to only a file library and bulletin board.
Rather than open one room back up and simply temporarily ban RP'ing, as many users have urged, sysops have stuck to their decision, and are waiting to find a fix while at the same time keeping chat at a standstill. Real-time communication in the forum has been closed since early Saturday morning, and no estimate as to when the ban will be lifted has been announced. (Assistant Sysop Jeanne Hedge is quoted as saying that the forum is mainly file libraries and messages, calling chat abilities "cake".)
Those behind CompuServe's Anime forum, owner Doug Pratt and well-known sysops Tom Mitchell, Jeanne Hedge, and Chris Swett, have had a history of rash decision-making in terms of forum security. During one particular crack-down in early 1997, several newbies were ejected without warning when attempting to role-play during the sunday night discussion group, and at least one victim complaining of harassment by another member was instead ejected himself, and was only allowed back in after dealing with the sysops personally.
Forum sysops insist that the measures are only temporary, but do not let on to any conditions that will see to the forum's reopening. (UPDATE 9/7/98: The forum's chat functions were restored the next morning, but the gathering room remains off-limits during non-supervised hours.)