But here are my thoughts on the matter.
The Web is brought up for the first time in #15 High Code as a place where the most vicious society of Code Masters resides. We hear it mentioned in passing by one of the binome CPU guards in #18, Painted Windows. He has heard that the Web is growing out of control and taking over other systems, but a fellow officer cautions him not to believe everything he hears. Another officer innocently asks what the Web is and the others burst out laughing. However, the young CPU officer’s confusion doesn’t seem to be terribly out of place. If he can Fax Modem are any indication, it would seem that the majority of cyberspace does not believe in the Web as an actual, physical place (#22, Trust No One).
However, the rumor about the Web invading other systems is frightening in its accuracy. Hexadecimal’s looking glass proves to have a link to the Web (#20, Nullzilla) and serves as a means of escape for a native creature. That creature later takes up residence in the deepest area of Level 31 and feeds off the energy of captured sprites in order to remain stable in an unfamiliar system (#22, Trust No One). However, it escapes the CPU’s attempts to capture it and forms a portal back to its home. Fax finally has physical proof that “the Web is out there,” (#22, Trust No One).
The Web, originally shown as only a huge and pulsing portal, appears to be a highly hostile environment. Only search engines such as Ray Tracer have the natural armor to withstand the corrosive nature of the raw data of the Web’s environment (#33, The Edge of Beyond). In order to survive, the crew of the Saucy Mare constructs a covering for their ship as well as a suit of armor for Matrix from the cast off skins and shells of Web creatures (#33, The Edge of Beyond and #34, Web Riders on the Storm).
While we have several examples of highly unusual creatures that reside in the Web, we know little about the sprite culture there. Mouse, originally hypothesized as a Web native by Fax Modem due to her fangs (#22, Trust No One), may or may not be a valid example of an unadulterated Web sprite. She certainly differs in physical appearance from the rest of the cast with her brilliantly orange hair, static eyes, and over-prominent eyeteeth, but Bob disagrees with Fax’s theory and insists that Mouse is trustworthy (perhaps implying that a Web sprite is not). During the fourth season, Mouse is labeled as a “Hacker”, though this title seems to be vocational and not an indication of nationality or ethnicity. Whether or not Mouse actually hails from the Web is never concretely defined.
The only inarguable examples of Web sprites are the Web Riders encountered late in Season III (#34, Web Riders on the Storm). They do not speak the same language as the citizens of the ‘Net and by all accounts seems to have a much rougher quality of life. The Web riders appear to be cowboys of sorts, riding one type of web creature while herding others as if they were cattle. Perhaps some creatures are raised for food since eating the little slug-like creatures shown in #35, Mousetrap is neither appealing nor enjoyable to either Bob or the native cow-punchers. One can assume that the donuts and energy shakes served at the victory party aboard the Saucy Mare were a rare treat for the Web Riders. Aside from slugs and the animals they herd, we have no idea what the Web citizens do for food. However, the Web Riders and their herds of creatures would imply that there is a larger population somewhere that needs feeding.
Though the Web riders wear protective armor similar to Matrix’s scaly plate mail, the prolonged exposure seems to have been hard on their physical appearance. Captain Capacitor is both shocked and horrified by this, exclaiming “By Gar, they be degraded sprites!” (Capt. Capacitor; #34, Web Riders on the Storm) when the lead Rider’s helmet is knocked off. In this case, “degraded” seems to imply damaged as opposed to devolved; the harsh Web environment having eaten away at the Rider’s exteriors until they are barely recognizable as humanoid. Only the leader’s face is shown, the other Riders’ helmets remain intact at all times, even within the shelter of the Saucy Mare’s shields. The lead Rider is a huge and portly sprite, though whether his bulk is due to snacking on too many slugs or the Web wrecking havoc with his frame is unknown. His facial features have certainly been affected; his head is little more than a rounded lump atop his shoulders with opaque blue orbs for eyes, no nose to speak of, and long jagged teeth protruding from his lips. His left hand too has suffered, degenerating into a tentacle-like appendage without fingers or thumb.
Bob is the only other Rider we see sans-helmet and it is clear that the Web has not been kind to him either. Even with his admittedly damaged Guardian programming to protect him, he has not survived his sojourn unscarred. His skin has faded to a sickly slate and is flaking off in patches across his face. Unlike the head Web Rider, however, he’s become lean and wiry on the Web’s unappetizing food. Even Megabyte did not escape without a physical change. During his own adventures in the Web, he acquired Trojan Horse capabilities and a fearsome appearance (#47, Crouching Binome, Hidden Virus). One reason why Megabyte did not change any more than he did is probably due to Bob’s stolen Guardian code.
Because of the corrosive nature of the Web’s environment, one wonders why anyone would venture into it? Are there no cities sheltered within an envirosphere like MainFrame and the other individual systems of the Net? Do all web citizens instead live like pioneers on the fringes of civilization? Are they all as damaged as the Riders or are there others who can afford to keep their physical integrity? We know Code Masters exist in the Web, but whether they look more like Lens or Old Man Pierson is unknown. We do know, however, that they are exceptionally vicious, even among the notoriously ruthless Code Master society. Despite the numerous variables, one constant Web inhabitants undoubtedly share is a gift for survival. One can safely assume that life in the Web requires a hearty amount of tenacity in order to survive both the harsh environment and the bloodthirsty residents.