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Alt.horror.werewolves

Alt.horror.werewolfs (AHWW) was a public, unmoderated Usenet group formed on November 16, 1992. It began as a division of the Alt.horror Usenet group where many would go to discus werewolves and werewolf related movies. Over time its original directive changed and became more of an identity discussion board regarding werewolves. AHWW is considered to be the birthplace of modern therianthopy.

Founding

AHWW is considered to be the first known appearance of therians online. AHWW started out as a place on Usenet for fans of WereWolf movies, but soon, admins noticed that people had begun to discuss personal matters. For example, many claimed to feel an unusual connection with wolves and other animals. Some of the posters were just playing along or joking, but others were serious. This was the first known appearance of Therians on the internet.

"AHWW was originally grouped November 16, 1992, as a logical extension of the alt.horror heirarchy. As such, it was intended for discussion of horror-genre movies and books dealing with werewolves. It received very little traffic; on the order of 2 or 3 posts a day, if that"[1] .

These conversations drew many people to the group and over time caused it to deviate from it's original intent. Many of the members began drawing on old myths and legends involving creatures such as werewolves. Overtime the concept of therianthropy was formed. The basis for the belief was that in some way, shape, or form a human could have a connection to, identify as, a non-human animal. This caused much discussion among the members and eventually caused the number of posts per-day to skyrocket.

Gradually, the conversations shifted to discuss what werewolves meant to these people personally, and how they entered into their worldview. Some of the original posters resented the change and left while others embraced it and further developed the topic. They came to adopt the term therian in defining those who felt a strong connection to a non-human animal.

Schism

As the discussions became more and more based on personal identity and werewolves, many people began to claim that they could transform, or shift, into a werewolf or non-human entity, This puzzled many of the group members and eventually there became a sort of schism in the community. Despite the fact that many people came to believe different things the group still remained organized. Everyone was willing to accept their differences. This led to many people giving unclear answers in regards to what therianthropy is.

"You'll find that there is no one answer to any question on AHWW. The concept of lycanthropy is held by some to be just an interesting myth, and to others as a means of explaining their worldview; with many gradations of belief inbetween. I personally have never seen a man transform physically into an animal, and cannot do it myself; but I'll never rule that possibility out. When folks here call themselves werewolves, they generally mean that they find the characteristics of lycanthropy intriguing and see examples of such in themselves. What those characteristics are and the extent to which they manifest themselves are, again, very personal and will no doubt vary from individual to individual. The next section will deal with this in more detail... patience!"[2]

During this time, although many of the members were cooperative, there still remained some tension between the two different parties. Many chose to remove themselves from this and simply left the choice to anyone who wished to join the group. It was around this time that many more users joined the group. AHWW is considered to be the first therian website. They often referred to themselves as a cyberpack. Many users browsing alt.horror.werewolves, used a special "form" called the Werecard, which was a very easy and ideal way to tell the rest of the group about your own self, and your beliefs/experiences/etc. of therianthropy. Although the sub-headings related to specific ideas and questions. AHWW was also the first website to host a howl in 1994.

"The first "Howl", the 1994 Harvest Howl, was organized by Smash Greywolf in Ohio. A Howl is basically a gathering in the flesh (or fur) of readers of AHWW to socialize, get to know one another, howl at the moon, leap over raging bonfires, and to generally share the camaraderie that exists amongst members of the cyberpack. Camped out in the woods, as far from civilization as possible, watching the full moon dance over shimmering heat waves from the bonfire, surrounded by folks of a like mind... it's truly a recharge for batteries drained my mundane human existence. Howls are organized by whoever has the land and time to put one on. ask on the group when and where the next one is; they're worth it, no matter the distance traveled to attend." [3]

For a very long time all of the members within the community were able to communicate thoroughly and develop the concept of therianthropy even further. As more and more ideas about it and it's origins were developed, many people segmented from the website and made their own pack-websites.These actions also led to a decrease in site traffic. Although it was not a very large decrease, many of the members went in search of their own personal beliefs.

The Winter of Our Discontent

As things evolved the many members began to debate on who was the most correct or who had the right definition of therianthropy. Many people believed what it was a physical process while just as many saw it as a spiritual process. This developed into utter chaos. Things from this period of AHWW are not very well known considering how much confusion and problems it caused. This period of time came to be known as The Winter of Our Discontent.

In 1999 many new members became a part of the group who did nothing but contribute to the chaos by trolling and purposely posting things just to get a rise out of the more serious members.

"Sadly, however, since 1999 or so, the group has become infested with what to people on Usenet are known as Trolls and Spammers - people whose only intention is to post so much irrelevant rubbish to a group that eventually its members leave and the group dies out. This is what appears to have happened to the group now, so any newcomers are more likely to get a harsh insult from one of these people than they are a welcoming post from anyone still left." [4]

This action eventually resulted in the ultimate disbanding of the Usenet group. Many of the members either gave up on the development of therianthropy or simply left to pursue it in some other fashion. As time went on many people affected inspired others and this lead to the rise in pack-websites and therianthropy-based forums.

Google Groups

In 2010, Alt.horror.werewolves became a public, unmoderated Google Group. There is very little activity, but it is still possible to make new entries. Most of the previous messages are available to read and search through. Posts by trolls and spam can not be deleted, and it's easy to understand why other websites and forums become more popular with the community. See alt.horror.werewolves.

References

  1. http://www.firelion.org/raven/ahwwfaq/ahwwfaq01.html#part1
  2. http://www.firelion.org/raven/ahwwfaq/ahwwfaq01.html#part1
  3. http://wolfden.critter.net/community/corefaq.htm
  4. http://wolfden.critter.net/community/ahww.htm

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