BoyChat (or BC) is the longest-running boylove forum on the World Wide Web. Started on 29 December, 1995, at Kasper's Free Spirits web site, it remains today largely unchanged: a single web board to which anyone can post under a nickname.
Unlike most BL forums, BoyChat is based on a traditional threaded structure which compliments the other Free Spirits resources, none of which (apart from BoyWiki) are based on modern content-management software. What is perhaps most imposing when one visits the website is the retro-style blue/cotton background and large banner at the top of the page, incorporating a BLogo and the famous "you are not alone" slogan. An extensive listing of posts, use of horizontal rules, lack of images, buttons or font formatting (defaulting to Times in most browsers) completes the main index's vintage look. Largely unchanged since the 1990s, this index was only brought in line with present day CSS standards under the management of Webmaster Dylan Thomas in 2008. There now exists a grey bar linking BC to other FS resources, including alternative language boards.
Any topic is allowed as long as it conforms to the Seven Rules, which are meant to keep BoyChat unambiguously legal and protect the privacy of its users.
BoyChat grew from under 20 posters in the first two days to around 250 posts each day in 2005. With the appearance of numerous modern BL fora such as the more active Boylover.net, participation has fallen, although the site is still very popular at around 100 posts a day. BoyChat has had a profound effect on the boylove community. Free Spirits grew directly out of it, and the goals of "security, legality, and usability" guide the internal policies of each Free Spirits resource.
Under its slogan "you are not alone", BoyChat aims to provide a climate for personal support to boylovers experiencing difficult times. For many, BoyChat is the first introduction to the online boylove community and a realization that they are, indeed, not alone.
Although BoyChat's focus on staying clearly within the bounds of law and safety has helped make it the longest-running online boylover resource, some posters find the resulting climate uninviting, overly self-referential and paranoid. These users find new homes on other boards with differing cultures.
BoyChat is run as a Free Spirits resource by a webmaster and a team of cogs. The cogs make sure that any inappropriate post is either edited or deleted, as they go about enforcing the posting rules and guidelines. Examples of posts which are edited (or cogged) are posts by new users which reveal too much personally identifiable information, contain links to illegal material, or are spam.
Boards of BoyChat
Although the main index is by far the most popular, the BoyChat community consists of several more active boards.
After several suspected fake boys began to take up a large portion of BoyChat's resources in 1996, Sean007, then webmaster, created a board for boy participation called ChatHaven. It was the first auxiliary board of BoyChat, turning it from a single board into a community of boards. He removed ChatHaven after a few months because he believed it was making the problem of fake boys worse, not better.
In February of 1998, Alexis, then member of the Free Spirits Committee (FSC), opened MetaBoyChat in order to free BoyChat from administrative debate and to provide a forum for participants to bring their questions and concerns to FSC members. MetaBoyChat was the earliest auxiliary board to BoyChat that is still in operation today. MetaBoyChat was offline for a time during the posting script change over in 1999-2000. It returned again in late 2000.
The Treehouse was started by then Webmaster Asa to accommodate one-line and silly posts, which take up space and spark annoyance in the main index.
It was originally named The Little Boys Room (or LBR). This name brought much controversy from posters as to its innuendo that boylovers should hide out in a Little Boys Room to have fun. In North America the term Little Boys Room is associated with a washroom or toilet which might have given a rather poor impression on BL's. One poster in particular referred to the board as The Catbox. During the term of Webmaster Ford Prefect a vote was held on BoyChat to rename the board to its present name, The Treehouse.
The name may have harkened back to a message board created in 1996 by TPKA Green. Green's Treehouse board was not officially part of BoyChat, but it did serve as a heavily-attended meeting place for regular BoyChat posters.
Troll posts, flames, and other submissions that break BoyChat rules but do not endanger the community are moved to You Can't Do That On BoyChat, also known as "the slime board" due to its slimy decor. The title of the board is a play on the name You Can't Do That On Television, the 1980's television series broadcast on the cable channel Nickelodeon.
In late 2001 flame and off-topic threads were starting to dominate the BoyChat main index. Most prominent was one poster with strongly-voiced opinions on how BoyChat should be run. Webmaster Ford Prefect thought that moving the offending threads to another board would reduce disruption of the main index. Ford was right and BoyChat has remained a place to discuss boys.
After the World Trade Center catastrophe on September 11, 2001, BoyChat was overwhelmed with political and debate threads which had little to do with boys. During the next few months the need became apparent for another board for political discussions.
On September 10, 2002 OtherChat was born as a place for discussing "hot topics and current events" and it has remained popular ever since. It is currently the second-most-active board at BoyChat after the main index. Indeed, some posters eventually drifted away from the main board entirely and now only post on OtherChat.
The current background was designed by FoX.
The BoyChat Digest was a collection of notable posts from BoyChat, published monthly. It was started by TPKA not in 1998, but until recently, the Digest was compiled by a team of cogs and other posters (the "gesters"). There has been no digest published since Jun 2007. A member, martirwithacause, appeared to make an unofficial effort to document posts after this period, seen in the external links.
List of BoyChat webmasters
- Kasper (December 1995 - April 1996)
- Jongen (April 1996 - May 1996)
- Sean007 (June 1996 - July 1997)
- Jimf3 (July 1997 - September 1999)
- Robbie (September 1999 - October 1999)
- Camper (October 1999 - November 2000)
- Asa (November 2000 - June 2001)
- Ford Prefect (June 2001 - November 2001)
- Curtis (April 2002 - November 2003)
- Dylan Thomas (November 2003 - *)
- Anonymous (Summer 2008 - *)
*As of 2022, there is no replacement for "Dylan Thomas" who after being arrested in Mexico, summer 2008 - is now imprisoned in the United States. There is growing consensus among the community, that today's BoyChat needs an anonymous committee management system to match its secure hosting arrangements.