Vrave, the "virtual rave" chat server, was shut down June 19, 1998, after a 6-year run.

While it was a tremendous success in many ways, facilitating many positive relationships (even marriages, in some cases), there were times when it also made possible some severe cases of abuse, things beyond simple harrassment and personality conflicts, things that threatened the mental and physical health of victim and perpetrator alike.

There was not one single person or event that led to the decision to put Vrave out of its misery; rather it was a succession of unrelated events, on and off of Vrave, instigated by several different people over a significant period of time.

The patience of the administrators was tested many times, and eventually it became apparent that neither a hands-off nor an iron-fist policy would be sufficient to stop the kinds of abuse that were occuring, that the good no longer outweighed the bad, and that people needed a "forced vacation" from Vrave so that things could calm down.

Vrave Alternatives

In hindsight, this fragmentation of Vrave into semi-private microcommunities was a healthy and necessary development. It has been more or less successful, but has left the door all but closed to most newcomers.

Since Vrave's closure, several former Vravers started their own telnet-based chat servers. Most of the administrators of the servers that are still running do not want to repeat what happened on Vrave, so they are reluctant to advertise their sites, preferring instead to rely on word-of-mouth.

Some of the Vrave spinoff chat servers are semi-public though, including:

Will Vrave Return?

The decision ultimately rests with Hyperreal's Brian Behlendorf. To date, he has not had much interest in reviving the service, at least not publicly. The main problem is that there is no easy way to ensure that the problems we had with Vrave will not return. It requires a lot of dedication and patience on the part of its caretakers, not just for technical matters but for dealing with the petty and not-so-petty disputes and issues that arise among the participants in the chat.

The Server Code

If you're curious to inspect vrave's code, which is written in C, you can't; the vrave code that was running on Hyperreal is not in the public domain. However, you can view the source of a related server called Telechat. Vrave and Telechat are both based on a very old application called Unix-CB. The actual lineage went: Unix-CB -> Unix-CB w/modifications (the original Vrave) -> Vrave (when the Unix-CB author said it was OK to change the name) -> Hotwired Chat (with proprietary features) -> Telechat 1.0 (with Hotwired's features removed).

Constantin Kaplinsky is leading a project to stabilize and improve Telechat. Visit the telechat-ng project home for more info.

Last updated: Friday, 14-Mar-2003 15:22:34 PST