Back in the day, #rpgnet was the official chat for RPGnet. In fact, there's still a "legacy" page on RPGnet linking you there. The fact that the applet requires "using Netscape Navigator 4.0 or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or greater" should give you some idea of how long ago we're talking, here.
When Skotos Tech purchased RPGnet in 2001, they wanted their own browser-based chat room to be the official chat, and the relationship to the IRC room effectively ended. The fact that said browser-based chat is no longer with us, and hasn't been for a very long time, comes as no surprise to me, as in my experience, it was a browser-crashing monstrosity.
In any case, #rpgnet continued to exist, vanishing only temporarily one day when the previous channel owner had been gone long enough for the channel's registration to expire. I happened to sign in that day, found the place unregistered, registered it myself, and the rest is history.
As things stand now, there is no official relationship with RPGnet. We do have at least one regular who has since become a Mod on the RPGnet forums, but that gives him no authority in the chat; likewise, the #rpgnet Ops have no pull on the forums.
In terms of moderation, I would say that #rpgnet is modded at once more and less heavily than are the forums: more, because we lay down fairly strict (but simple) rules on the front end, and less, because we seldom find the need to discipline anyone. The rules are designed to prevent flamewars before they start, and I would say that they've been hugely successful in that regard. They are as follows:
- No pro/con statements about real-world religion. Factual statements are fine, as are discussions of gameworld religions.
- No pro/con statements about real-world politics. Again, factual statements are fine, as are discussions of gameworld politics.
- No flaming. Debate is fine, but if things start getting heated, cool it down, or we'll cool it down for you.
- Keep the language kid-friendly. Anything that would pass muster on U.S. network TV is acceptable.
- If someone is uncomfortable with a topic and asks for it to be dropped, please respect that request. This right should not be abused, however.
The easiest way to join the chat if you don't have an IRC program is to go to http://tinyurl.com/rpgnetchat. Select your nick, log in, and enjoy!
Related chats include #rpgnet2, which is mostly used for general chat while Q&As are in progress, #rpgnet-politics, in which the aforementioned rules do not apply, and #rpgnet-therapy, wherein chatters can related their real-world problems away from the "noise" of the main chat.
See you there!