The Gathering (official title: "The First Annual Starmen.Net Gathering!") was an Interactive Fiction posted on the now defunct IF forum of Starmen.Net. The story was originally posted by the poster and beloved IF moderator PSI322 on April 9, 2000, and its phenomenal run finally concluded on June 16 of the same year.
To say that the likes of the Gathering had never been seen at SM.Net before would be to say northern Siberia is 'chilly'. The thread caught on and grew like wildfire, with responses being added at its peak so quickly that by the time a person typed up a post of a few paragraphs to add to the story, five other replies would already have been posted ahead of it, generating confusion galore. Originally intended as a half-IF, half mingling of the IF forum crowd, it very quickly spiraled into a tangled-spaghetti mess of a dozen or more intermittently-crossing storylines, each carrying half a dozen or more characters (and this despite a swiftly instituted one-character-per-writer rule).
Two weeks and about 500 posts after the thread began--and 500 posts was twice the previous record at SM.Net for longest thread at that time; the site was still smallish then--it became so large that it broke the forum, invoking the infamous and dreaded 'Forum Mini-Ghost' that caused all kinds of weird happenings, forcing the commencement of a new thread. And that repeated itself five times over.
In all, the Gathering comprised five threads, at least a hundred writers, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,800 to 1,900 posts. Given that, by 30% through the story, most of the posts were several paragraphs long, often taking up an entire 800x600 screen (that was standard resolution in 2000), in terms of sheer word count it may have been the longest continuous thread in the history of internet forums at that time, for all I know.
It would take me years to finish annotating this entire beast, and I sincerely doubt I'll get very far. I'm doing it because... I can. :P The Gathering, as you will shortly see, was written by a particularly socially awkward, smart and hyperactive teenagers, and therefore it was loaded to the gills with insanity, gud gramers, violent bickering, complaining, overwrought angst and drama, and hormonal charge--in short, looking back at it now at age 27, it is one of the great unintentional comedy gold mines of our time.
And did I mention that I personally was a writer of this? I was 18 in 2000, which made me one of the oldest writers in the story. I was just as full of angst, hormones and drama as everybody else, as we will see. I'll be making fun of pretty much everyone here. It's all in good fun, and I'll be heaping plenty of it on myself as well, I assure you...