Anandtech community member Dennilfloss has dramatically confessed to the murder of another member, single mother Nowheremom, on the tech site's forum.
Dennilfloss developed a relationship with Nowheremom over the Internet and arranged to meet her in real life. He did so and the two hit it off. Members were shocked, however, when Dennilfloss announced the death of her and her daughter on the site in January last year. He claimed they had been knocked down by a car in bad weather.
However, following some detective work by other members on the site, it soon became apparent that the truth was a lot darker and Dennilfloss confessed to the murder on the site earlier yesterday.
The twist is that Dennilfloss was in fact Nowheremom. In his confession, he said the creation of a female alter-ego started as a joke because he wanted to see what it would be like for a woman to post on the forums. Nowheremom made her first appearance in October 1999. But it all started getting out of hand when he started getting approaches from other men on the forum, so he created a relationship with Nowheremom and himself.
Forum members were completely taken in and the situation became more and more involved over the course of the two-month romance. Dennilfloss said though that when one member mentioned marriage, it all got too much and so he decided to kill her off.
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.
With hindsight though, it all got a bit twisted. "Agnetha was killed instantly but that Lili Marlene survived for a little while and that she died on the way to the hospital. Too many internal injuries, she haemorrhaged internally," he wrote.
He went on a bit and then received hundreds of genuine expressions of sorrow while pumping out red, angry emoticons.
Dennilfloss' snivelling apology yesterday has found few supporters however. "You Denis, have lost all of my respect," said one. "Wow, you're a sick dude. Get a life buddy," another. "Jesus man, that is intollerable," another.
Denis cropped a picture of a soft porn star to use as Nowheremom's picture on the site - leading to the frankly hilarious confession by another member that he had seen others pictures of "Nowheremom" in porn mags but was worried about getting flamed if he mentioned this on the site.
The same picture was used on a memorial site set up for Lili Marlene by forum members. Since Dennilfloss' confession, the original text in which Nowheremom was described as "a treasured friend and respected member of AnandTech Forums" has been superseded by an angrier message: "We all cried for this woman, who doesn't exist. We showed our sympathy for this worthless person we call a 'man'. I am very upset I am sad that Denis did this, and I don't know if we can forgive him."
We don't have time to get into the virtual/real emotional mix-up that the Internet has made possible - instead we'll leave that to Julian Dibbell and his excellent "A Rape in Cyberspace" article.
It's easy to understand why members are angry and hurt, some of it genuine, some of it pride. And you do have to worry about Denis' mind. It was quite an extraordinary piece of deception - he even introduced consistent spelling and grammatical errors into Nowheremom's postings. Had he been a writer/novelist though, this would be applauded. Perhaps he should write a book about it.
And, apart from all that, the whole situation is simply hysterical - both in humour and reaction. To build a female persona, make her go out with yourself, continue a relationship for several months and then announce her death to strangers who had become friends is certainly warped. But then we like warped.
Oh, and all the best to the poster that wrote in the discussion "I bet The Register will have something on this scandal tomorrow. They always report on crap like this". We aim to please :-).
We've just noticed a posting by an Anandtech moderator, informing forum goers that Dennilfloss has been banned from the forums. The moderator has also told users that any future threads on the issue will be locked. This is because "he made a grave error in his deception, but since he can no longer post here, we will not allow any further attacks on him". ®