I've always had an obsessive sort of personality. I never seem to do things in half measures. When I was collecting magic cards, all I was interested in was collecting magic cards. When I was collecting anime, I had craploads of anime that I never so much as watched. Heck, I still have dozens of playstation games I haven't even tried to play more than once, some even not at all.
The same sort of thing applies to online things. When I first got online I was an IRC junkie. I spent almost every hour of the day it seemed on EFnet on a channel I started named #fantasy. In the beginning it was just a couple of friends and the people who would wander by, and it never grew into an overly large channel. It was just a small community of people I got to know very well over the years. Heck, we seemed to spend most of our time booting people who thought the channel was for sexual fantasies rather than the genre than anything else.
When I wasn't on there chatting with friends, there were always wars to be waged. The net back then must seem so laughably rinkydink to anyone who grows up now in the age of viruses and hacks and all the sorts of truly nastycrap people can do to one another using a computer. Back then it was all about botting (creating additional connections to the net) and using them to try to crash people off or sending flash code emails to annoy. Efnet was like the wild, wild west back then. No rules and people generally ran amok. I still remember spending a good chunk of my time fighting with some finish guy on a channel named #lud(or something like that) because we both wanted the name 'henry' as a nick. He would try to knock me off the network so he could take it and I would return the favor, with the conflict sometimes spilling out to generalized warfare.
After IRC started to wan, I got swept into MUDs. A Wheel of Time mud to be exact. I was a big jordan fan at the time and I'm not sure exactly how I even stumbled over A Moment in Tyme to begin with but I certainly settled into it pretty quickly. It looks to be defunct now, and frankly, who is really surprised by that considering the games and entertainments people have avaliable to them today, but at the time it was a large thriving community. It was a roleplaying mud where you basically played a character set in the world of the books and then interacted with others. While the focus was on roleplaying, there was also a code aspect. You could level your character for instance by killing things and otherwise improve it with equipment or skills or whatever. The focus was supposed to be on roleplaying, but when conflict came, people usually broke out the code.
I was a massive code monster on that mud. I basically managed to create a goliath of a character or two and given my penchant for fighting for the underdog, I eventually made them whitecloaks, who were the most despised and hated group in character. Since channeling (the equivalent of spellcasting) was so overpowerful from a code standpoint, my character was almost unique in being able to stand up to the really powerful ones, or at least survive long enough to run away. I played for so long asd so often that I had a good chunk of the place memorized. I would be able to walk its streets blindfolded, and sometimes had to when some channeler blinded me.
I had many friends with whom I would spend the hours RP'ing with, and of course even more enemies. No one likes it when someone plays evil and then has the stones and ability to back it up. Almost everyone wants to be one of the 'good' guys. I more than admit that's how my characters started, but what's the point of playing a character where you know you'll get support just because everyone knows from the books that you're 'good' rather than because of anything in particular you've said or done.
When I poofed off the mud it was on to forums and the one at sissyfight was where I set my cap and took up residence. A couple years of non-stop arguing and wrangling and posting about whatever came up. I think I had near 9,000 posts on the darn site and while I wasn't the most prolific I was certainly in the top 5 or so. And again, there as most places it was either good friends or blood pact enemies. It probaly didn't help that the political spectrum there rangerd from moderate to full blown hippie. Any other viewpoint was almost non-existant. That certainly caused no little bit of conflict. Not to mention the site had a no holds barred sort of bent that basically allowed people to do their best to flame the tar out of others, and that no doubt remains one of its mainstays and why many stick around.
Lastly, when my days at SF declined, I started to pour everything into the gencon forums. The same mixed bag and the same sort of thing. God knows when it would have waned and swapped onto something else. With a few very notable exceptions, I liked the people there quite a bit and it does sort of disturb me a little that they might have taken joking as not-joking. The problem really is that IMO some people are just overly sensitive sometimes and others of us are overly, err, the other direction. Intent and sarcasm and even jokes often come through the net muddled and hard to interpret sometimes. That opens all sorts of doors for misunderstanding. It's always better when the people you hate know you hate them and that the people you don't know you don't. Heh, maybe some sort of smiley/frowny toggle somewhere or a sliding scale.
Anyway, I sorta wonder what's next really. There's another sorta more depressing and pointless side to this, but I think I rambled on enough about history for the time being. I take up the rest some other time.