For Witchypoos, though, BingoPort is about ‘more than just free bingo… it’s a social community’. ‘We are classed as family’, she says, and it’s clear that the close bonds that have formed between players are hugely important in their lives. Players who have lost a partner, or are housebound, are often able to find solace and friendship in the chatrooms. The friendships that develop mean that people have an outlet to share concerns and worries, and chat about personal issues and family matters. While these topics are usually kept to private messages, rather than being shared publicly in the main chatroom, it’s clear that they are common topics – a sign that BingoPort’s players really do care about one another’s lives.
I asked Witchypoos about the relationships between BingoPort players, and she told me that ‘fantastic friendships blossom with quite a few of the roomies’. Players sometimes meet up, sharing coffee, or even a weekend together – a special experience that the players really value. ‘I have attended them myself,’ says Witchypoos, ‘and it’s fabulous putting faces to names’. Some have found love online – Witchypoos says that some players have even got married after having met on BingoPort! Even for those who never meet in real life, being involved in BingoPort means many people, some of whom may otherwise feel alone, can find community, company, and comfort.
'Now that is online friendship!'
She recalls a time in her CM career when a player was burgled; her laptop amongst the items stolen. A fellow roomie upped and offered a spare one of her own. Several hundred miles later, and the chat host had collected the device from one player and delivered it to the other. ‘What sticks in my mind was that when we opened the laptop to get her back online, there was a £20 note tucked in there ! Now that is online friendship! These people had never met each other and are never likely to…’ It is moments like these that truly illustrate the basis of such relationships; defined by kindness and a sense of belonging.
It’s a rewarding role, too. CMs are often unpaid, but Witchypoos says she takes pleasure in helping. Her favourite part of the job is ‘chatting to everybody… helping newbies with all aspects of the site and also answering any questions that may arise’ – and, at any rate, the job is fun. ‘We’re not doing it for any reward other than because we love it,’ she told me, and her aim in every game is ‘having happy roomies’. This approach certainly seems to be working: players even trust her to ‘pass on messages from one roomie to another, if the roomie in question isn’t online at the time’.
'I cannot think of anything bad about being a CM if I am honest...'
And there are plenty of opportunities for celebration on BingoPort. ‘I do try to personalise [the chat games] a little bit’, Witchypoos tells me. ‘And giving roomies the extra points for winning is lovely.’ She says that players ‘clap and cheer’, with virtual fireworks reserved for progressive jackpot wins. One of the best moments as a CM is ‘when a roomie wins one of the fabulous prizes we offer… it makes them so happy and they can’t believe it!’
Her favourite BingoPort experience of all time? It happened ‘just recently, when 2 sisters separated as small children were finally reunited, after chatting to each other for years… on BingoPort! And, unbelievably, there was a 3rd sister who they have found… they are all together now’. The story hit the headlines on national news, as well as here on site; Take a Break magazine also covered the amazing story.
It’s fair to say that Witchypoos is ideal chat room moderator material: passionate, fun and extremely helpful. She clearly loves her role – and, judging by the response of the BingoPort community – it would certainly appear that they love her too.
Want to become a CM like Witchypoos? Check out our handy guide to see if you have what it takes.