Type of site
|Created by||Simon Wright|
|2047 (December 2013[update])|
Whirlpool is an Australian broadband user web site, started in 1998 by founder Simon Wright. Since then, it has grown significantly with over 518,000 registered accounts (as of September 2012) while remaining independent.
Whirlpool started off as a pun on the name of Telstra's BigPond cable Internet service. However, it soon expanded to cover Optus' Optus@Home (now known as OptusNet) cable internet service, ADSL-based services, and other forms of broadband ISPs in Australia as they became available.
On 11 September 2007, it was announced that 2Clix Software was commencing legal action against Whirlpool founder Simon Wright for posts made by users in the Whirlpool forums that 2Clix claimed were "false and malicious". 2Clix claimed it had lost approximately A$150,000 income per month between January and July 2007 and sued for this amount plus legal costs. Whirlpool users responded immediately by sending PayPal donations to assist with the site's legal costs, with some users claiming they had sent donations exceeding A$1,000. The co-founder of PIPE Networks personally pledged a donation of A$10,000 towards the cause.
Broadband Choice allows a user to find options available to them and to filter them by features such as price, speed and usage limits. In most cases, details about internet service providers (ISPs) and their plans are maintained by staff of each ISP, which are then editorially approved by Whirlpool. A few ISPs, such as Telstra, are maintained by Whirlpool. Small or niche ISPs who are unaware of the website or are uninterested in submitting their plans may not be listed.
The purpose of the forums is to provide a place to discuss broadband and related areas (such as networking). Representatives from many Australian service providers, hardware vendors and merchants use Whirlpool as a strictly non-official support and communication channel.
Some features present on other message boards such as signatures, avatars and in-line images have been excluded by design to keep the site "clean". Many of the long-term users agree that despite some shortcomings, Whirlpool's differences are beneficial to the forum, and set it apart from "pre-written" forum software.
Whirlpool uses an "open moderation" policy, so when threads and posts are deleted or moved, placeholders are left allowing users to see the moderation that has taken place. This is different from other forum software, where deleted threads may simply disappear from view, and posts may be edited by moderators unbeknownst to users. As a result, any moderation is more obvious than on most typical internet forums, which use off-the-shelf software like phpBB or vBulletin.
The moderation has been criticised for applying the rules in an inconsistent way. An example is the "Open Source Job Search" project which was denied the publication of a thread for being in its early stages, but before that, the publication of a thread about it was allowed when it was in an even earlier stage.
The forum also has very few off-topic areas (known as "lounges"), which are generally only available to long-standing or highly active members of the community.
Until recently, Whirlpool's servers suffered from capacity issues, which were handled by "cooling down" the server when load exceeded capacity. The cooling down message was affectionately known as a "TSOD" (Teal Screen of Death, a play on the Microsoft Windows' BSOD) and became part of the forum culture. Whirlpool now has ample server capacity, consigning TSOD messages into history.
Whirlpool has its own Wiki. It is an accumulation of information put together by forum users in "sticky threads" over time, with the hope of cutting down forum clutter while also allowing more collaborative content development. It includes information that is difficult to find aggregated into one place elsewhere, such as the Australian Exchange Guide (a guide to the locations of Australian telephone exchanges), a list of Australian computer shops and a list of Australian VoIP providers.
The people behind the site
Previously, Whirlpool existed with no revenue stream. Unlike many forums, Whirlpool had no banners nor paid advertising. Recently, the owner has begun using Google AdSense in pages that result from Google searches, for users who are not logged in.
Most day-to-day administrative tasks are conducted by a team of unpaid volunteer members, who have been given varying degrees of moderation privileges in the forums. All moderators have been picked from a pool of long-standing members who have been noticed by the site administrators as being level-headed and trustworthy.
Relationship with ISPs
One property of Whirlpool is the degree of participation from industry players.
- Best Technology Media Website, Sun Microsystems MediaConnect IT Journalism Awards
- Best Technology Title, Sun Microsystems MediaConnect IT Journalism Awards
- Winner, 2004 
- Most Popular Website, News and Media - IT Media, Hitwise
- #1, October–December 2002
- #2, January–March 2003
- #1, April–June 2003
- #2, July–September 2003
- #1, October–December 2003
- #2, January–March 2004
- #3, April–June 2004
- #3, July–September 2004
- #1, October–December 2004
- #1, January–March 2005
- #2, April–June 2005
- #1, July–September 2005
- #2, October–December 2005
- #1, January–March 2006
- #1, April–June 2006
- #1, July–September 2006
- "Whirlpool.net.au site info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "2Clix sues Whirlpool founder". Whirlpool. 2007-09-11.
- "Firm sues forum to silence critics". smh.com.au. 2007-09-12.
- "Whirlpool in a legal spin as founder gets sued". iTNews. 2007-09-12.
- "EFA condemns Whirlpool lawsuit". www.efa.org.au. 2007-09-12.
- "2Clix scores own goal with Whirlpool case". www.zdnet.com.au. 2007-09-13.
- "A Whirlpool of Legal Risk". Dilanchian Lawyers & Consultants. 2007-09-13.
- "2Clix sues Whirlpool founder (Part 2)". Whirlpool. 2007-09-12.
- "2Clix claims case withdrawal". Whirlpool. 2007-09-19.
- "EFA welcomes Whirlpool lawsuit back-down". www.efa.org.au. 2007-09-19.
- "2Clix backtracks on Whirlpool lawsuit". iTNews. 2007-09-19.
- "Setting up broadband internet (archived) - Availability and choice". Australian Consumers' Association. February 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-19.
- "What makes Whirlpool Forums So Unique?". Whirlpool. 2008-03-28.
- "Whirlpool's Operational Transparency". Whirlpool. 2006-05-07.
- "Thread deleted".
- "About an Open Source Job Search Engine".
- "Normal User Titles and Private Lounge Access". Whirlpool. 2008-02-23.
- "Whirlpool Architecture". Whirlpool. 2007-05-04.
- "WIKI FAQs and Guidelines". Whirlpool. 2006-04-26.
- Various. "Australian Exchange Guide". Whirlpool. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- Various. "Australian PC Shops Guide". Whirlpool. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- Various. "VOIP Providers". Whirlpool. Retrieved December 28, 2012.
- "New media hands power to the people". smh.com.au. 2005-10-17.
- "ISP threat to Whirlpool over posting". smh.com.au. 2005-08-09.
- "Forum Feedback - Advertisements". Whirlpool. 2008-10-04. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
- "Whirlpool.net.au migrates to Bulletproof Networks". http://whirlpool.net.au/news/. 2011-07-12.
- "Whirlpool Moderation Team". http://whirlpool.net.au/wiki. 2011-07-12.
- "Whirlpool takes top awards". Whirlpool. 2005-04-10.
- "Whirlpool wins again!". Whirlpool. 2006-04-30.