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A MUCK is a computer-driven, text-based `world'. Users, or `players', log on to the MUCK computer via the Internet, and may then interact with other players. The program running the MUCK and the computer it's on are both called the `server'. Each player controls a `character', a virtual person or creature inhabiting the world of the MUCK. Your character might be very much like you, the player, or she might be very different. MUCK is one member of a group related servers, including MUSH, MUX, MOO, MUSE, and MUD; collectively, these servers are often referred to as M*'s, MU*'s, or M***'s.

Everything is in text; there are no graphics. You will `see' things from the perspective of your character: whatever place you're in will be described, in words; people and things around you will also be described, and you can look at them. Succinct commands let you say and do things, interacting with other people on the MUCK (on a small MUCK, this might be six other people; on a large one, it might be 300). Some people view the text-only aspect of MUCKs as a limitation, others as a very positive feature. While a screen full of text lacks the instant impact of well done graphics, the world that comes alive in your imagination can be more vivid and colorful than anything computer graphics can produce. Just as the words on the page `disappear' when one is immersed in a novel — and one instead imaginatively experiences the world described in the book — the words on your computer screen can `disappear', and you imaginatively experience the world of the MUCK. Here, though, you are an active participant rather than a passive observer.

MUCKs can be constructed to model any sort of world imaginable, on any scale: a droplet populated by microbes, a one-room bar, an undersea kingdom, or a far-flung stellar empire. By (recent) historical accident, many MUCKs are worlds populated by furries. A furry is an anthropomorphic animal, an animal with human characteristics. You might meet an accountant or a college student on a MUCK, but you're more likely to meet a suave wolf who likes to quote poetry, or a tiger with a weakness for chocolate truffles. So, yes, furries are inherently silly. But they are also inherently noble: protean and indestructible, they embody who we might be in a world where anything is possible.

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