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"Murder" Online

By DeadBaby in MLP
Mon May 21, 2001 at 08:26:37 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)

The Register is running a story about a popular computer hardware enthusiasts site, AnandTech, that basically comes down to:

  • A sad & lonely man creating a female persona
  • This above mentioned sad & lonely man becoming sexually and romantically involved with this persona off line and making it public on AnandTech's forums.
  • Killing her off
  • Receiving large numbers of donations and sympathy from the community that posts to the sites forums.

  • I think this is a perfect example of why online communication is never really going to mature until its users do. Why would anyone believe a story like this? Outside of the fact it takes one sick mama-jama to make something like this up? Sending money? It appears they donated a LCD monitor to him to sooth his pain. How can online community exist if people use it for petty financial and perverted sexual gains? This raises an interesting problem for Kuro5hin too, if the users who moderate this site don't do fact checking who will?


    Other resources:
    NOWHEREMOM's Memorial
    AnandTech Forums - NOWHEREMOM: my confession
    Donations for NEO


    Voxel dot net
    o Managed Hosting
    o VoxCAST Content Delivery
    o Raw Infrastructure


    This act of online "murder" is:
    o Sad 22%
    o Funny 22%
    o Concerning 10%
    o A major blow to community online 0%
    o Makes me want to kill off my online female persona for profit 45%

    Votes: 80
    Results | Other Polls

    Related Links
    o Kuro5hin
    o story
    o NOWHEREMOM 's Memorial
    o AnandTech Forums - NOWHEREMOM: my confession
    o Donations for NEO
    o Also by DeadBaby

    Display: Sort:
    "Murder" Online | 37 comments (31 topical, 6 editorial, 1 hidden)
    Sympathy for the nonexistant (4.42 / 7) (#1)
    by jasonab on Fri May 18, 2001 at 01:53:02 PM EST

    I'm not sure the summary is totally accurate, based on Reg's reporting. Apparently, he didn't initally intend to have a relationship, but invented it when his female persona started getting "hit on."

    Having said that, I think this poses an interesting question of grief for people we don't really know. It's somewhat like the Diana and Kennedy deaths -- why do people overreact to the deaths of people they do not know?

    Certainly, this was somewhat different, given that the posters did converse with the "deceased," but even so, why is it good to treat someone you've never met like a member of your family? Does that not trivialize the grief of those truly effected by the passing?

    It's sad that someone had to abuse the trust of others in this way, but I question "caring" so much about someone who is merely text, when there are so many people near us that we hardly notice.

    reg/diana (none / 0) (#33)
    by pallex on Mon May 21, 2001 at 09:39:10 AM EST

    "I'm not sure the summary is totally accurate, based on Reg's reporting"

    I cant even be arsed checking! Too much indirection! "This guy on this site here says this guy from this site thinks this guy whos pretending to be...." etc!

    But its funny when people get attached to fictional (or in the case of Diana, almost-fictional) people. People send flowers to tv studios when people are killed off, offer them jobs (remember Arthur Beale, pre-breakdown - who ARE these employers?! Makes the dot com crash easier to understand!)etc.

    It wont be long until an actor playing the part of a bad guy in a soap, or of a rapist/murderer in a real-life crime reconstruction program (Crimewatch in the UK, `Americas most wanted` or whatever in the states) gets beaten up/killed.
    I can imagine the estate of the dead person suing the BBC, big(ger) warnings onscreen saying `RECONSTRUCTION, obviously this isnt the actual crime you MORONS!`

    [ Parent ]
    Wouldn't be anything new (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by fluffy grue on Mon May 21, 2001 at 10:30:39 PM EST

    When the guy who provided the reflected photons for the sprites which comprised Johnny Cage in the Mortal Kombat games died in a car accident, quite a few people I knew said, "I'm glad he died. Johnny Cage was an asshole." Now that is a lack of grip on one's reality. (Especially considering that the "characters" in Mortal Kombat weren't exactly developed beyond being a bunch of fighting moves and blurbs of text.)

    There was a very good episode of Night Court where this one woman was trying to get her husband out of jail for a crime he didn't commit. It turned out that she couldn't tell the difference between a soap opera character and real life. Then again, look at how many real-life people can't tell the difference between Richard Moll and Bull, or Jaleel White and Urkel (talk about two quite capable actors who have been unfairly typecast into horribly one-dimensional roles).
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]
    [ Parent ]

    +1, Bizarre (3.50 / 2) (#2)
    by DesiredUsername on Fri May 18, 2001 at 01:55:38 PM EST

    I have to admit, I voted this up solely based on the originality. I didn't even follow the link (and even if I had, it's at The Register - Bastion Of Nonsense). But that doesn't matter, because it's still a neat idea even if it never happened.

    The whole thing is weird enough, but why on earth would I send someone an LCD monitor even if his SO *really had* died?

    Play 囲碁
    Horrifying and intriguing... (3.75 / 4) (#3)
    by Office Girl the Magnificent on Fri May 18, 2001 at 01:59:46 PM EST

    The idea of somebody doing this is horrible, but it must have started out so innocently. I mean, I once assumed a male persona, and a young lady found me in a chat room and after a brief chat, thought we were soul mates...she kept saying, "I've never met a man like you..." (Gee, I wonder why?) But I didn't kill my character...I just let her down as easily as I could, and told her I was sorry for having lied to her, but I was married. (I know, I'm scum.) But like this Denalfloss guy, it all started out completely innocently. I can definately see how it would get out of control, but faking a death is a lot worse than just coming out and saying, "I lied." There comes a point where you just can't be deceptive any more...or so I hear.

    The Experiment: Beginnings

    It's easy to get backed into a corner (none / 0) (#23)
    by John Milton on Fri May 18, 2001 at 08:35:50 PM EST

    I know what you're talking about. Not convincing someone I'm a woman. Just getting into a situation like that. You give people a little false information, and it escalates. To make up for the little "misunderstanding," you tell a "little white lie." Eventually, you're backed against the wall, and you either have to confess or run. Sort of like Meet the parents.

    You have my sympathy. Take heart though. She may have been a he looking to play with some guy online. I know plenty of men do that for fun. Partly because there are so many guys looking for dates online. You did the right thing. Telling her you weren't a man would have made her feel even more embarrassed than telling her you were married.

    Someone said, "the internet is a bunch of 13 year old boys pretending to be 21 year old co-eds."

    "When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

    [ Parent ]
    How is this different than Real Life? (4.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Anonymous 242 on Fri May 18, 2001 at 02:00:18 PM EST

    In my little corner of the univese, I frequently hear about one scam or the other like this. It's been a common con game for as long as there have been gullible people. The advent of civilization has allowed the escalation of the game to afflict first insurance companies, and now online communities.

    There is nothing new under the sun. . .

    It's no different from real life. (4.00 / 1) (#24)
    by John Milton on Fri May 18, 2001 at 09:50:56 PM EST

    If you watch America's Most Wanted from time to time, you'll hear even more shameful stories than this. The perfect neighbour who suckers the whole community into giving him their pensions. The man who marries a woman, impregnates her, steals her parents life savings, and leaves right before the baby is born.

    There's no way you can get around this. Unless you live in a small village in tibet, you're going to have to trust a stranger at some point. At some point in your relationship, that person stops being a stranger. Are you married? (rhetorical question) Have you known your wife since childhood? If not, you've just given all of your trust to someone who could be a mass murderer. Or more commonly, a cheater. Want to hear some horror stories about trust gone bad? Go to MyExSucks.com.

    I'm ashamed to tell this, but it is directly related to the topic. One of my relatives prides himself on his ability to scam churches. He goes to a few meetings and tells them a hard luck story. Of course, they respond by helping a new member. After he gets all of the donations, they never hear from him again. He also prides himself on how many video games his children can carry out of a store without being caught. Someone please tell me you have relatives like this. Am I the only one?

    "When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

    [ Parent ]
    Are there police in your town? (3.00 / 1) (#26)
    by brion on Sat May 19, 2001 at 01:22:02 AM EST

    Does your relative also mug grandmothers and drown kittens? Are you okay with this? Do you realize you're an accessory after the fact by knowning about the con schemes and the stealing and not doing anything about it?

    Oh wait, they're just liberating proprietary software and making philanthropic people feel like they're helping someone in need? Hey, they're the good guys! Never mind, carry on.

    This message brought to you by brion's rationalization service. First time's free - after all, everybody needs a little help to get started!

    Chu vi parolas Vikipedion?
    [ Parent ]
    I don't know him first hand (none / 0) (#30)
    by John Milton on Sat May 19, 2001 at 04:18:56 PM EST

    I don't really know him personally. I just hear about him every now and then from my cousins. I've honestly never met him in real life. It could all be rumours, but knowing my family, it probably isn't. You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family.

    "When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

    [ Parent ]
    Human nature (4.50 / 4) (#5)
    by weirdling on Fri May 18, 2001 at 02:01:16 PM EST

    'Grow up?' This is fundamental human nature. As long as people can get away with it, they will do these things. I don't think any extra maturing will help. If you don't believe me, watch late-night TV.

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    Rise And Fall Of Nowheremom (3.00 / 3) (#7)
    by straysan on Fri May 18, 2001 at 02:06:00 PM EST

    The memorial site to the fake dead online acquaintance is a good snapshot of the story... The genuine sorrow, updated with genuine anger towards the protagonist.

    Anyway, I think the story is a good starting point to think about and discuss online vs. real life communities again.


    This happened in school a lot. (4.00 / 3) (#9)
    by theboz on Fri May 18, 2001 at 02:07:22 PM EST

    There was always the loser that when his friends started getting actual girlfriends, he felt inadequate. He came up with the idea of the "girlfriend at the school across town" and such so he wouldn't look like such a loser. Of course, nobody generally believed those people, and they tend to not try to kill off their fake s/o, but it's a very similar situation to begin with. Killing the fake person off is a little harsh though to the people that cared for that persona. A better way would have been to simply have her get pissed off and leave there, or something less dramatic, unless the guy's goal was to get the free stuff out of it, which makes him even more of a scumbag for toying with the emotions and lying to others. Just because it's online doesn't make a lie any less wrong than if he did it to these people's faces.


    Do you mean... (4.50 / 4) (#17)
    by Rocky on Fri May 18, 2001 at 04:31:06 PM EST

    ...something like this?

    If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
    - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
    [ Parent ]
    Come on, now.. (3.50 / 2) (#10)
    by ignatiusst on Fri May 18, 2001 at 02:17:06 PM EST

    Before you call this guy a loser, look at the number of people on kuro5hin who maintain multiple accounts to speak to the community with a wide variety of voices..

    It really isn't that different, except by degree.

    When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

    kezdeth (4.00 / 4) (#11)
    by dram on Fri May 18, 2001 at 02:18:23 PM EST

    This takes me back to thoughts of a guy named kezdeth....

    Sorry, just the looking for/getting sympathy on a web site like this...there were just too many similarities. Dead make believe love interest, cancer. It's all the same thing.


    Fortunately I'm safe (4.50 / 6) (#13)
    by dennis on Fri May 18, 2001 at 03:14:40 PM EST

    I don't believe any of you actually exist.

    Well.... (4.33 / 3) (#14)
    by Elkor on Fri May 18, 2001 at 03:36:12 PM EST

    I don't believe you exist either.

    What if we are both right?

    "I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
    -Margo Eve
    [ Parent ]
    What do you mean by "what if"? (3.00 / 1) (#19)
    by error 404 on Fri May 18, 2001 at 05:10:56 PM EST

    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    [ Parent ]
    Then Neither of you would exist! (none / 0) (#36)
    by AndyL on Mon May 21, 2001 at 09:03:17 PM EST

    And I would be right!

    [ Parent ]
    We exist, just not in meat form (4.33 / 3) (#18)
    by roystgnr on Fri May 18, 2001 at 05:01:19 PM EST

    You do realize we're staging that whole Artificial Intelligence discussion just to screw with your head, right?

    [ Parent ]
    Alternate personae ... (4.40 / 5) (#15)
    by Kellnerin on Fri May 18, 2001 at 03:42:36 PM EST

    Wow, anyone who complains about the S/N ratio here, oughta take a look at that forum. Can I enter a feature anti-request to scoop never to have those cheesy emoticons? Or the avatars that look like refugees from the Cartoon Network?

    Coming back on topic, this isn't all that unique; I've heard of variations on this story before, the gender-bending, the manufactured relationships, "deaths" of online personae, etc. It's not all that surprising, either. It's trivial to make up an online character (every one of us has done it, at the very least when we clicked "Create account" here). You make decisions about how you'll represent yourself, which parts of yourself you're willing to reveal, which bits you'll fudge or ignore altogether, and so on. Few of us are completely, utterly honest and open online -- and IMO would be foolish to do so.

    What may be more surprising is that, knowing this full well, we still react so strongly to people we "meet" online. We're stuck between knowing this is all fake, and knowing that there's also a real person behind every userid. We'd like to believe there's some similarity between the persona we know and its creator. We'd like to believe we are good judges of character (no pun intended). We often extend our online relationships beyond the forum we first meet in, to IRC, ICQ, email, phone, or snail mail interactions, and the more this happens, the more we think we know the "real" person. People fall in love online. Sometimes it works out in RL, sometimes it fails spectacularly, or fizzles quietly.

    Though a person is more than just his accounts on various web boards, forums, massively multiplayer online roleplaying games, and so on, I think it's a perfectly natural reaction to be shocked, and perhaps slightly grieved, when someone who has established a persona for himself suddenly decides to kill it off. A lot of time and energy -- often emotional energy -- has been invested in that character. Do we find it sad that streetlawyer got fed up and quit? (Well, perhaps that's a bad example ...) As sick and twisted as this dennilfloss/nowheremom guy may be, it really is a sad story. He got himself too deep, and couldn't find a good way out. As one of the saner posters on that board advised him, "I think you got a little to [sic] wrapped up in this imaginary persona you created. I suggest you start thinking about taking a little bit more time away from the boards."

    --Stop it, evil hand, stop it!--

    didn't the photo tip them off? (3.88 / 9) (#20)
    by Seumas on Fri May 18, 2001 at 05:31:53 PM EST

    Come on. The photo is of what looks like a 14 year old kid. And the text beneath it mentions "... and daughter". Someone should have done the math.

    The deception was brilliant and the idea itself amusing. He could have proven a very good point to the average over-trusting goober who doesn't have the common sense to seperate reality from the internet. Too bad the guy had to be such a dick and use this as a chance to extort people (although, a nice big LCD monitor would be pretty tempting).
    I just read K5 for the articles.

    um. (none / 0) (#21)
    by ODiV on Fri May 18, 2001 at 06:42:08 PM EST

    The photo is of what looks like a 14 year old kid.

    The photo is a cropped image of a porn model.

    And the text beneath it mentions "... and daughter".

    That's because the guy didn't put up the memorial site, some other user of the forum did. The memorial site was put up by a grieving forum member after the "death" of the pretend woman and her daughter.

    [ odiv.net ]
    [ Parent ]
    Oh my God! (1.50 / 4) (#25)
    by John Milton on Sat May 19, 2001 at 12:43:06 AM EST

    The resulting teary message on 5 January 2000, in which Dennilfloss said Nowheremom - real, fake name Lili Marlene - and her daughter Agnetha had been run down and killed by a car taking a downhill corner too fast.

    Lili Marlene!? WTF?

    Oh shit, I just shit my pants. This is the funniest thing I've ever heard of. Little Lily Marlene just didn't know how to deal with those big city cars. Hee hee hee! Oh God! I can't stop laughing. These people deserve to be swindled. Would K5 ever fall for Lily Marlene?! BEING RUN OVER BUY A CAR. Damn, I did shit my pants. Excuse me while I go to the bathroom.

    LILY MARLENE What is this? The internet or Kentucky?

    "When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton

    no big deal. (4.33 / 3) (#27)
    by chuqui on Sat May 19, 2001 at 02:20:11 AM EST

    This kind of hack isn't new. I played female personas on line 20 years ago, when most of you were still in diapers...

    And it's not unique to the online world, either. People have played this game since the first cunieforms were carved into a wet clay tablet. It's a time-honored tradition in the publishing industry to change genders to fit the material you're publishing (I know any number of male romance writers who write under female house names; and then there's James Tiptree, Jr, who was female, to name just one SF writer who's gender change went public)

    Killing the character off? also not new; and the collecting of money, frankly, simply makes it yet another bunko scheme if that's what he planned. That stuff's gone on forever...

    I didn't kill off my female persona, although I did end up having her move out of state with her boyfriend when I got tired of the pimp....

    -- Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com> <kuro@chuqui.com> "The first rule of holes: If you are in one, stop digging"
    The Donations wer NOT for the guy who did this! (3.00 / 2) (#28)
    by nospoon on Sat May 19, 2001 at 08:26:15 AM EST

    I looked at the Donations Link you provided and it seems to be for some Office Max employee who got fired for giving out information on pricing mistakes and good deals at Office Max.

    Here's a small outtake:

    Backround-- Neo would post once or twice a year any big Omax clearances in the hopes that it would help Officemax sell some OLD (sometimes 1 to 2 year models) stuff. This year when he posted some monitor clearance info... there was a snag in the officemax systems which delayed the prices to update at the store level... One can only imagine the 2,000 to 15,000 people nationwide questioning employees and MGR's on a daily basis (THE DREADED ANANDTECH EFFECT!!!) Some individuals even went so far as to print out lists (just not a good idea). I've even heard one individual who made the mgr look up the site on internet!!! Long story short.... Corporate became inraged and decided to make an example of him and summarily fired him on the spot. He had been with them for over 8 years.... All this because some overzealous individual(s) brought detailed lists and his forum profile along.

    "Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth."
    "What truth?"
    "There is no spoon."
    It happens more than you think (3.00 / 1) (#32)
    by codemonkey_uk on Mon May 21, 2001 at 07:16:22 AM EST

    A notable figure in the Creatures community faked her own death (of cancer).

    I often wonder if those I know online would ever find out if I died, and if they were told, would they believe it.

    But I guess it stems from the desire to be at ones own funeral to see who turns up, or to read ones own obituary.
    "The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell

    Hm (none / 0) (#34)
    by fluffy grue on Mon May 21, 2001 at 07:22:53 PM EST

    Sounds interesting...
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]

    Moshi-moshi! (none / 0) (#35)
    by enani on Mon May 21, 2001 at 07:25:49 PM EST

    Hello fluffy grue-chan! I hope you are doing well today!

    You are looking at me funny! Oh, I see you are holding a knife! I wonder if you are making my happy Japanese soup!

    Please stop looking at me that way!
    --=* Moshi-moshi! *=--
    [ Parent ]

    "Murder" Online | 37 comments (31 topical, 6 editorial, 1 hidden)
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