Her name was Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way: vampire, witch, time traveler, sex bomb. When she first appeared online in 2006, she was wearing a black corset, a leather miniskirt, pink fishnets, black combat boots, red eye shadow, and had purple streaks in her hair. In time, she would come to represent the best and the worst of online fandom.

Five years after the turn of the 21st century, fan fiction had long since migrated online, and many writers had coalesced around the sweeping FanFiction.net archive, thought to have nearly 1.2 million accounts in 2006. While strict about banning overly graphic stories or fiction that used copyrighted songs, the archive’s sheer size and lack of curation meant thousands of terrible, cliché-ridden stories were stored along with their higher quality counterparts. Following these were inevitable parodies in the tradition of “A Trekkie’s Tale,” which created and skewered the wish-fulfilling “Mary Sue.” And then there was something more enigmatic: fiction so bad it was barely readable, created by authors who straddled the line between fictional characters and real-world trolls.