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These, with the IRC networks Fur Net and Anthrochat, form a key part of furry fandom. Fox, was first published on Compu Serve in 1986, predating the World Wide Web by several years, The phrases furry lifestyle and furry lifestyler first appeared in July 1996 on the newsgroup furry during an ongoing dispute within that online community.

Usenet newsgroups such as furry and alt.lifestyle.furry, popular from the mid-1990s to 2005, have been replaced by topic-specific forums, mailing lists and Live Journal communities. The Usenet newsgroup alt.lifestyle.furry was created to accommodate discussion beyond furry art and literature, and to resolve disputes concerning what should or should not be associated with the fandom; its members quickly adopted the term furry lifestylers, and still consider the fandom and the lifestyle to be separate social entities.

A University of California, Davis survey suggested that about 40% of furries had attended at least one furry convention.

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There are several webcomics featuring animal characters created by or for furry fans; as such, they may be referred to as furry comics. They have defined and adopted an alternative meaning of the word furry specific to this group: "a person with an important emotional/spiritual connection with an animal or animals, real, fictional or symbolic." In their 2007 survey, Gerbasi et al.

examined what it meant to be a furry, and proposed a taxonomy in which to categorise different "types" of furries.

An earlier survey, conducted from 1997 to 1998, reported about 2% of furry respondents stating an interest in zoophilia, and less than 1% an interest in plushophilia (sexually aroused by stuffed animal toys).

The older, lower results, which are even lower than estimated in the general population, were due to the methodology of questioning respondents face-to-face, which led to social desirability bias.

" was the first piece of journalism to be nominated for an Ursa Major Award, the main awards given in the field of anthropomorphism. Samuel Conway, CEO of Anthrocon, said that "For the most part, people give us curious stares, but they're good-natured curious stares.