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This is the history of a merger between activist information and commercial information.
Beginning in 1985, myself and other animal rights activists were storing information on the internet both pro and con to the animal liberation movement. For the ensuing decade there was a scarcity of information -- search engines didn't find small sites, and a lot of information came and then disappeared forever.
Around 1994, Mr. Craig D. Burton found some of our information useful in his research for a fictional comedic detective novel "A Hatful of Pain" (the novel's protagonist was a member of the ALF).
From 1994 thru 1997, Mr. Burton contacted folks on the Internet (who claimed to be) affiliated with the ALF. He was interested in their stories, true or false.
Based on what he knew about me, "Ann Berlin" became a character in his novel. Another ALF contact was Virginia Haven, an English woman.
On a website about "Hatful of Pain" Mr. Burton placed historical data and articles about the ALF. Then around 1998 he purchased the ALF domain name. The commercial concept was for anyone searching for information about the ALF to learn about his novel (published around 1999).
As the internet grew Mr. Burton was besieged with questions about the ALF that he forwarded to me.
In 1999, Virginia contacted Mr. Burton and asked if she could have the domain name so she could consolidate and organize the ALF information. Mr. Burton turned over the website's password, which Virginia changed with his permission.
The first ALF webmaster was Virginia. She enlisted 5 trusted friends (in Korea, Singapore, Canada, the United States, and to me (also in England)). Her instructions were to give the password to anonymous trusted friends.
Virginia died in 2003. We don't know the identity of most of the webmasters, but we monitor the site to ensure its content reflects the ALF's credo and mission statement.