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Questinia On May - 21 - 2010

The Huffington Post has gone Vegas.

It has instituted a clever way to have commenters engage in what can only be seen as a form of slot machine gambling.  I noticed this  after learning HP had started some kind of  “badges” system.  I visited the site and saw a curious form of differentiation occurring amongst the commenters.  Now there were  symbols next to the individual members which served as an additional set of descriptors.  It gave the promise  of  a member becoming  something of a  Huffington Eagle Scout skilled in all sorts of communications Huffington.  As far as I could tell, if you tweeted Huffington, Face Booked Huffington, networked Huffington by smoke signal and semaphore, you could obtain a badge of some sort.  As Questinia, I saw I had a badge.  A level 1 badge of some sort.  It meant something. Although I found out what it meant in the badge identifying page, I  forgot what it means.

BUT! As I was observing the merry calvacade of HP all-stars, trolls,  data plodders, the marginalized and the up and coming, I saw my badge had been taken away! What had I done?  I reviewed my comments as tried and true Questinia and saw nothing that merited the  demerit of  badge removal.   I promptly inquired HP as to why my badge had been taken away with a modicum of feeling pathetic.   But,  as a “good girl” with my reinforcements of yore including a brief stint in Catholic school,  I responded to this virtual punishment with pique;  without explanation, I was duly given back my badge.  It was odd, but I realized they had gotten me to modify my  behavior (caring to ask what happened) by tapping into my school-girl’s deeper parochial brain. Now, I was intrigued.

A parallel phenomenon appeared to be taking hold at HP:  That of whirlwind fanning.  Members were now fanning one another in declaratives “I Fan You!”.  “Faved and Fanned!”, etc…  giving the site an air of part boy’s High School locker room high fiving after a big team win and a ceremony of title bequeathing.  It seemed partially gratuitous, as genuine appreciation, as a new form of LMAO, at times as a form of barter, as a way to give a message, as a way to get back at someone.  Even as sex.   I saw one fanner write “I am fanning you SO HARD right now!!”.  My only hope was that the person getting fanned wasn’t getting fanned in the fanny.

I thought HP was engaging in some sort of blog site social experiment while possibly driving up it’s membership and number of comments made.  Some moderator in the backroom must be earning a PhD.  So I thought of conducting a simple experiment of my own.  I began to play with socks to see how people would respond to various personae.  What came out of it was somewhat interesting.  All the socks attracted different people.  Although I tried to keep the tone of my posts similar, it was clear  that different personae attracted different people and they were duly fanned and faved.   Then, for some reason, I found myself wanting more fans.  I wanted to hit a payload of fan accolades.  I wanted to see if I could increase my odds of getting repeatedly fanned, good and proper.  I wanted an all out gang-fan. I wondered why I was feeling this way.  What became clear to me was the site is now set up as a smoky Vegas slot hall with intermittent reinforcement keeping posters more or less compulsively commenting.  Now, HP was always that way to an extent, but one couldn’t overlook the muted mid-brow frenzy of fanning, and faving and flagging.  All in the presence of croupier moderators.  But, in the olden days a fan was hard earned and was more or less disconnected from the comment timewise.

You remember intermittent reinforcement.  It’s what gets people searching for that high, it’s what keeps gamblers hoping for that big win, it’s what certain unscrupulous men use on women as “fractionation”:  That deadly and effective psycho-strategy of paying incredibly focused  attention to the objects of their desire then suddenly and without warning withdrawing.  It’s the push-pull.  It gets women into bed in a heartbeat.  It’s all based on that form of learned responses called operant conditioning.  An operant is a modifying condition which changes a behavior.  With positive reinforcement, the desired behavior is always matched with a reward, say a rat always gets the pellet.  It is an easy behavior to extinguish since the rat begins to always expect the reward and therefore becomes a bit blasé to begin with.  When the reward ceases to be forthcoming the rat goes “meh”.  The negative reinforcement schedule is essentially one where the desired behavior is reinforced and learned by averting a punishment, say an electric shock to a rat’s front privates.  These types of paradigms are continuous.  That is to say, a behavior is always met with a reward, either a positive one or a negative/averting unpleasantness one.  Each of these forms of learning are fairly easy to extinguish.  Simply uncouple the behavior and the reward and the behavior decays over time.

However, with intermittent reinforcement, there is discontinuous rewarding.  It is intermittent.  It can occur after every fifth attempt at obtaining a reward, or tenth , under certain light conditions, after different amounts of lapsed time.  The most important feature of intermittent reinforcement is that it is very difficult to extinguish.  It provides the foundation for obsession and compulsive behaviors.  Under continuous reinforced learning, the behavior to be extinguished is never given the reward. Therefore it is easy to stop.   However in intermittent reinforcement, the subject has become used to going for periods of time without a reward so they will continue to engage in it.

My goal was to make the intermittent reinforcement a more positive continuous one by making me more irresistibly fannable. One in which I would  nearly always get a fan.  For that, I had to strategize what name, avatar and type of comment I should use.  I chose a furry, cute, dysmorphically dwarfed,  creamy orange kitten with  parted red Clara Bow, blowing-kisses-lips on a baby blue blanket.  It’s name was to be a shamelessly manipulative play on pity-fuck.  I named it Pity-Fan Me.  As to type of comment,  I chose humorous, punny or sarcastic.  Sometimes abstruse and esoterically knowing.  Occasionally precious.  The name and moniker alone gave me a shower of fans.  Nearly everything I wrote was faved.  Mostly,  people commented on how cute my avi was.  I increased my odds by leaving overly serious main threads and  by repairing to posts like “Tokio Hotel Band member OD’s on Viagra”.  It worked.

I decided then to have a goal which would make the entire fanning system appear absurd all the while earning me more and more fans.  I declared to the bloggers that I wanted to accumulate more fans than Hume Skeptic.  That I wanted to initiate a “Fan Drive”.  At least I wanted to outdo Rich Misty or Thunderclap Newman.  I even went up to Hume and taunted him  by saying I was on his heels  ( I SHOULD have said fanny!)  and I had only 2, 243 more fans to go.  So…he fanned me.  To make things fair, I fanned him back.  I got a few fans from people who evidently had some hidden animosity toward  Mr. Skeptic.  Even though I obtained many fans that way, my trifecta winning moment came when I composed a poem about oil fuck-up Oynes called “Oynty Doynty”.  I got about five fans in a single swoop.  I was batting .500.  I had roughly 50 fans at 100 comments, but then lost a few for some reason when I got cocky and wrote “Hello my name is Pity-Fan Me and I am a fanaholic”.  Maybe I was hitting too close to home.  In keeping with my shamelessness,  I then shored my fan number with a reinforcement of my old socks just to pad the numbers.  So what?  I cheated.  I don’t run any NIH studies so don’t worry.  The point is, I found myself commenting more and more. When the magic seemed to be  wearing thin,  I commented more foolishly and desperately.  Saying things that Pity-fan wouldn’t write.  After eight un-fanned comments, I noticed I was on a losing streak.  Since I am by nature not an addictive person I quit while I was ahead and didn’t waste any more of my time.

And because I am also very familiar with the power of  intermittent fanning, I got bored.

Pity-Fan Me.

Written by Questinia

In the medical arts in NYC

110 Responses so far.

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  1. AdLib says:

    First of all, I don’t need HP’s stinkin’ badges, I use my own:





    Second of all, I hear that HP’s Fanning system is actually tinged with crack cocaine…hoping that the addictive qualities of fanning will rub off on crack and bring its popularity back up.

    I think one could draw a comparison between fanning and porn. Each can provide one with instantaneous gratification via one’s computer, each is addictive and makes one want more and more, each has no intrinsic value in one’s life, each makes one feel more desirable by others than one likely is and each requires keeping one hand free.

    The only difference between the two that I can think of is that one leads to excessive masturbation while the other…hmm…

    • Khirad says:

      Actually, I’d love to be able to wear some of your badges and my own, instead! The possibilities are endless!

      And hey, I resemble that latter part. 😳 😆

      • AdLib says:

        Y’know, if you could also display your badges on your TPS report, that would be great!

        • Questinia says:

          Delightfully spot on. I love your additional insights. I do think it’s for people who need gratuitous ego and schwanstucke stroking, for those who have schwanstuckes, and for women, why, it just makes us feel like we are having better hair days. Better hair days can lead to other things… as you know, women do tend to be indirect.

          Masturbation, however, is a stress reducer. I think posting that much on HP, ultimately increases stress, cause there is no release. There is no physical correlation to orgasm. The longer you stay on, the more apt you are to get into arguments without that “happy ending”.

          • AdLib says:

            As I enjoyed your clever post!

            What I find most annoying about such things is that they turn something meaningful into something ultimately worthless but retain the facade of being meaningful.

            And people so easily conform and adopt the sensibility they’re given permission to have, “Oh! It’s okay to act like a kid and collect badges! That’s called political blogging too! Yay!!!”

            As for your salient point about HP, you are absolutely right, it is more tease than happy ending.

            The badges are the equivalent of going to the Champagne Room at a strip club. It feels like you’re getting something gratifying but you never really get anything…while putting more money in the stripper’s hand.

            Yuk! The image of Arianna as a stripper…one should get a badge just for enduring that.

            • Questinia says:

              Well, you know, some people just need to escape. It beats booze and a spike in the arm.

            • Khirad says:

              It’s a joke at AA the amount of nicotine and caffeine consumed.

              Lesser of evils.

              As to badges, I’d just as soon the whole debate on HP ended forever. The more it’s talked about the more it’s an issue of division.

              I already see past them -- whether one has them or not. I just don’t care -- sometimes you roll with it.

              How about treating people based on their comments and personality -- not badges or lack thereof?

              I don’t think that’s too much to expect.

    • javaz says:


      You are such a computer genius, AdLib, for your ability to run this site and then post the images that you did, and you were in France most recently, Cannes, and somehow your computer genius and Cannes for the film festival is related, and I’m trying to figure it out.

      Do you work for the movie-makers?
      Are you somehow involved in special effects or animation?

      Are you a script-writer or critic?

      Am I getting hotter in the guessing game or colder?

  2. choicelady says:

    I got a new badge!!!! I have no idea why or what it means, but I can claim it if I want it! My day is MADE!!!!


  3. LiseLives says:

    Another great post, Q!, one that might conjure up opposing opinions & that’s okay !
    This one DID make me take a look at why (with regards to blogging) I choose one venue, rather than another, on a given day --
    When I’m busy (weekdays) focusing on biz, I like Huff quite a bit, because I can click once & comment & the thread usually moves so fast that it doesn’t matter who ‘engaged’ with what I wrote -- it’ just gives me a chance to weigh in quickly.

    Fanning & ….my own LOL -- 😀
    I fan.
    I sometimes fan like crazy (depending on the topic & the sense of passion I feel towards it) --
    I have even “soooo fanned” …..’nother LOL -- :mrgreen:

    I took a look at why I indulged such a silly system & realized it was no different than going to a ball game & hearing everybody cheer for “their team” & feeling the need to look around at the crowd & give some “home team” fans the old *wink, wink* -- in short, like watching sports, it’s a P/T pastime.

    I pay zero attention to the badges or what they mean and, in fact, don’t even ‘see’ them anymore --
    Comments are quickly made & then they just as quickly disappear & dissipate, but you feel satiated for letting it out’ !
    It’s a release --
    So, I think (for me) Huff fits the bill on busy days the same way a cheer or comment does, when one is on the side lines, occupied in something else at the time, but capable of leaving the occasional voice to add to the overall home-team (Dems.) sentiment ….

    • Khirad says:

      I wonder how many people are older or something… no offense.

      I’ve been on my share of forums over time, you know, those BBS ones?

      They often have silly made-up ranks based on number of comments, and they appoint their own mods.

      It’s no big friggin’ deal. There’s such a thing as harmless fun.

      I don’t even see the HP ones anymore, either. Or at least, wish I couldn’t. Actually another problem I have, is purely aesthetic. They’re way too hokey.

      I really think that for all the legitimate criticism that can be read into it all -- and yes -- it was a marketing ploy considering the Facebook and Twitter tie-in (which is HP also desperately trying to be hip), that some are making it into a tempest into a teapot.

      Like, how sad is your life when your cause c

      • Questinia says:

        I started there in August of ’08, after lurking a bit. I was drawn to it because I had ideas and I thought I could share them. I quickly realized that wasn’t what it was all about. It was about personalities and also the personalities who posted. Namely VolvoBirkenstock etc… and trolls. I found it kind of amusing as I had never seen that before. It was all done upon the framework of the election.

        But I began to see my comments becoming more plays on words and humor. I believe that’s valuable, actually, and it led me to writing first of all, and more or less humorous pieces second of all. The serious pieces I had written have been way too dense. For example a piece I wrote about Democratic irony and elitism. It was like chocolate mousse cake smothered in chocolate fudge sauce under a thin crispy chocolate shell drizzled with chocolate fondant and a side of bittersweet ganache.

        Retch yet?

    • Questinia says:

      Definitely. I think it’s great for that. The stadium analogy is perfect. Some of my most favorite online moments were at HP. Like during Obama’s election when the pages were moving so fast, I felt like I was part of some huge cyber-human wave.

      The badges were just my entry into the new HP atmosphere.

      HP is a good place for a “quickie”.

      You seem to fan me, btw, regardless of my sock. You and wts. Hmmm… I should study that too….

      • LiseLives says:

        Sooooo fanned for telling me that I was consistent in my fanning you :))
        I think it’s prob. something inherently obvious with the likes of us, Q -- that once fanned, always a fan !
        We must recognize that ‘je ne sais quoi’ in mere seconds !
        & yes, the quickie analogy is perfect --
        I do get that heightened adrenolin feeling when I see so many people just having to put in their 2-cents’ -- it makes me feel not at all alone in my outrage or fervency toward the topic & they’re always flush with topics --
        Here it’s more like : ahhh ….. 😉

        • Questinia says:

          It’s that “Hey, I know YOU!” factor. Like from a past life, or something…

          • LiseLives says:

            For me, there’s a quality that exists between certain people (and even w/ ‘blogger pals’) :
            “a mutual simpatico” that’s not fickle, not prone to change, pretty steady.

            • Questinia says:

              Yes! We be steady. Ever since our Hair Bump days!

              Girls with big hair stick together….or something!

              Probably cause of the hair-spray.

    • LiseLives says:

      Oh, and my Enzyte_Bob usually fills in for me, when I feel a post needs some levity -- he’s good with that.

      Besides, he’s an all-round *swell guy 😀

  4. KQ says:

    Q I signed myself up as your grad student and am doing and experiment of my own, supervised by my mentor of course. Well that’s if the names stick. I’m trying positive and negative progressive statements depending on the names and images I picked.

    One name is WhatAreYouSmoking with an icon of Bob Marley (an obvious pro-legalization statement). The other name is YukFouAIPAC with an icon of the US flag morphed into a star of David (my negative “progressive” statement). I hope I did not offend anyone but I was going for highly emotional positive and negative themes. We’ll see if the names and icons stick. I’ll discuss my testing methodology if they do.

    ” alt=”gh” />

    ” width=”300″ height=”300″ alt=”dftt” />

    My hypothesis is that my outraged Huffy lab rats will respond more intensely to my negative statements.

    • Questinia says:

      Since when did “positive” messages get the message across?

      Love the star and moniker.

      A+ and… need I say, Fanned and Faved!

      • KQ says:

        I don’t know if I’ll get the graphic or the AIPAC in the name through.

        I’ll probably try a anti-capitalism theme later. Would do big oil but it’s too skewed by the spill and anti-Obama will appeal to trolls and I only want to test the level of “progressive’s” nastiness.

        • Questinia says:

          What HP doesn’t know is that we could use HP as a subliminal message mule for messages of our choosing.

          Subversion! Don’t you just love it? It’s so American. What happened to us?!

          Say, if tea bag people call themselves tea bags why don’t we call big business and anything rank and oppressive, Redcoat.

          Redcoat Republicans.

    • KQ says:

      Well I’ll try later. YukFouAIPAC was a bridge too far.

      I’ll try another sock later.

      I think I’ll try PropertyOfAIPAC next.

  5. msbadger says:

    OMG- Questinia- this was SO utterly perfect, I am just debilitated after laughing myself silly! I have seen this badge thing the exact same way! That’s why I went so nuts around it, and lobbied vociferously against it; and it took me three tries to get them to remove mine! Thanks so much for doing this- and that little kitten av was just DESPICABLE!!! LOL!!! I wondered who was doing it, had NO idea whatsoever. Other posters, I agree with you, especially Khirad, escribacat and Pepe! This is a keeper! Barb/msbadger

    • Questinia says:

      Pity-Fan me, next time you see me alone in your woods 😉

      Pity instead, because Pride is not for the humble. Trying to be more humble, less needing to be super successful, thinking one can do it all without needing something occasionally from someone else.

      We all need to ask for pity, be dependent on the kindness of others. Otherwise, look what happens in the world. It’s not really dependency but interdependency.

      Dependency can feel yucky to some. Like it’s gonna drag them down. But, it’s really the thing these people hate most in themselves. That they fear they have to be dependent on a world that could easily deprive them. A world that could give them pain, instead of a world of bounty and wonder and endless excitement!

      • msbadger says:

        I will be sure to do so, and that whole idea really makes me ROFL! I have been very counter-dependent my whole life, and it’s no way to be. I’m learning, the hard way, how to change now. It is very hard to be dependent, and those folks really are filled with pain and self-hatred, especially our “friend” Brownie, who I genuinely feel sorry for. He really is just to the brim with pain and rage…. so sad. Anyway, again, loved this post. I used to tell my son that when he was in a bad relationship/marriage- “Don’t peck your beak off.” I told him about the whole intermittent rewards thing. Even when you know about it, it can still get you! I never took any psych classes but I have read about it and studied people my whole life, out of self-defense- BAD family! Great stuff, friend.

  6. PatsyT says:

    Vegas Baby Yeah!

  7. TheRarestPatriot says:

    HP is simply using a scientific method perfected by what’s known as a ‘Skinner Box’ technique.
    It is employed in places where online groups gather for attention. It is well in place on FaceBook with their cutesy, in app games like Farmville and Mafia Wars. It is also the trending model for video games (MMOGs)that have expansive realms with ‘quest and reward’ scenarios…think World of Warcraft, Everquest and the like. They know precisely the technique to lure one into a cycle of games that have players complete mindless tasks for ever decreasing rewards(sometimes increasing). This is the same method casinos use on those dollar games that simply has a player pushing buttons in a hypnotizing orgy of color and pleasure. People will undertake these ‘quests’ for hours upon hours in hopes of getting a ‘pellet.’ People overseas have let their OWN children die of starvation while they play endlessly online to…wait for it…take care of the needs of a VIRTUAL child. (this just happened in Asia)
    HP now has employed this insanity and will no doubt become a mecca for those people craving that kind of attention and will now gloss and glaze over reality there, too. The end is nigh….LOL

    • choicelady says:

      Oh Rarest -- you are right! (As in correct, of course.) A Skinner Box for grown ups -- or approximations thereof.

      My problem with HP is that outside of KQuark, I never actually knew who I had fanned or who were mine. After the first four or five, they stopped being people unfortunately. Sure I like the numbers, because I take it as a testament to the fact I’d said something people found useful. Period. I think I never went back to look at a single reply because scrolling through the pages just was not worth it.

      I don’t understand the badges -- I don’t have mine plastered to the post even though some pop up cheery huzzah once occurred telling me I had reached some milestone in something that I also did not understand. Was I supposed to claim it? It never got attached, then or now.

      I think I’m not a good HuffPostian -- I don’t think I know how to play the game. Back to my tree leaf merit badge -- that I understood. These things? Not.

    • KQ says:

      TRP you could not me more correct. HP is a huge digipet on steroids. But at least games are honest and don’t hide the fact that they are about entertainment value and not serious journalism. The real problem I have with Huffy is they try to have it both ways. They lack intellectual sincerity. I have no problem when the lines are well defined. You can be serious and have fun on the same blog. The problem with Huffy is they try to mix the two on serious issues. They want to be appreciated as serious journalists yet they set up a kiddie pool.

    • Questinia says:

      Superb analysis, Rarest patriot!! So true. It really struck me as I went back to HP just HOW it could do that, and HOW people could justify what they were doing. I have seen the destruction it can cause.

      I “lost” a face book friend to all of those silly games. Especially “Farmville” He didn’t want to face the pain in his own life nor have to speak to me about the fact that he didn’t want to face the pain. Not that I expected that he should. So, feeling deprived to begin with, he sought the pellets of virtual crops and livestock while “feeling” like he was doing good for others. The REALLY sad thing is that he knew he was doing this but couldn’t stop!

      So, I am not at all surprised that a real child could be starved for a virtual child. But, the fact of the matter is, the real child is the one who is doing the starving because they are starved themselves. It is a variant on the transmission of abuse.

      Fanned for truthiness!

  8. dildenusa says:

    Being a tired technician (retired technicians are just tired twice) I’m not up on all this psychobabble although I do know when someone is being manipulative. And it seems to me that Huff Post is one of the most manipulative message boards I’ve seen.

    I really like the part about

  9. kesmarn says:

    Q, this is hilarious.

    I grudgingly admit that “there be geniuses” over there in the game of manipulation.

    I hadn’t visited in weeks, but was seized by the inexplicable urge to check out the dark side (this has gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion) this past week. Lo and behold, I had accumulated three badges! Just as on Wall Street, the less I did that had any value, the more I was rewarded.

    Is that a great site for Americans, or what?

    • choicelady says:

      THREE badges, Kes? You are GOOD. I have only one but never claimed it, and it was never added. A point I find in my favor. Either that or I pissed someone off and they took it away. Since you never claimed yours but have them, how DOES this work? I’m still without my putative badge, and that’s fine, but I’m puzzled by it all.

      I was very proud of my leaf identification badge in Girl Scouts. Think I did another but forget what. Since then badges, gold stars, and other honorifics have meant very little. I know the tree leaf badge was honorable since about 30 years later I instantly identified the Horse Chestnut without a twinge of doubt. Can’t do better than having your childhood knowledge stand you in good stead.

      Being able to ID trees -- $0.
      Owning a bird book -- $15.
      HP badges -- worthless.
      Childhood memories -- priceless

      It’s all in what you value.

      • Questinia says:

        Ah, CL. You reminded me of how I learned to identify tulip trees as a little girl!


      • kesmarn says:

        Yes, c’lady, somehow I became a Level 1 Mod, a Super User (even though I virtually never go there??) and a Networker, whatever the hell that is. I don’t remember ever being given an option on all these “honors.” Kind of like being given the keys to a city that you don’t like — because Sarah Palin is the mayor or something. Gee…..thanks….I think….

        There was a nun who taught biology at my high school who was crazy for leaf/tree identification. We had to find actual LEAVES from 50 {{{COUNT ‘EM 50}}} trees and then — through some complex use of carbon paper (does that even exist any more?) and a hot iron, transfer their images onto pages in a notebook, complete with info on that particular tree. Oh, how I detested Sister Dorothy for that tedious assignment. What’s more — my parents were furious with Sister Dorothy because they had to drive me around to various parks to get the more esoteric, weirdo trees. Gingko, Sassafras, Horse Chestnut, Black Walnut… There was a thriving black market among the students for the scarcer leaves, with lots of trading and bargaining going on.

        But I still have my leaf book. (After all that, you couldn’t have pried it out of my possession with gold bullion.) And, like you, to this day I can identify a lotta trees.

        Poison ivy? Now that’s another story.

        • choicelady says:

          Oh Q and kes -- how funny we all had such similar experiences! Kes -- I had totally forgotten the carbon paper thing, though that was for biology class, not Girl Scouts. For the GS merit badge, we put tracing paper OVER the leaf and went back and forth with pencils. Then we named them and yes, kept them in a book.

          When I was a freshman in college, my mother called one day to say she had given away my piano, all my books (complete set of pristene Nancy Drew included), and yes -- MY LEAF BOOK. That she threw away. All because “you don’t need these anymore.”

          I’m in therapy for this. Especially the leaf book. I am so in awe you have yours! Can I come over and look at it sometime?

          Fanned, faved, badged to both of you!

          • kesmarn says:

            And in true HP style, I fan, fave and badge you right back, c’lady. And, yes, you can come over any time and leaf through my leaf book.

            In reference to Q’s comment below, though, I have to confess that I am too good at holding a grudge to be able to transform Sister Dorothy into Saint Dorothy, even at this late date. She may well be one in fact, but the memory of leaf-book angst lingers on. And when you throw in the fact that our dissecting kits had scalpels so dull they couldn’t have cut margarine much less frog skin (did they think this would make it LESS likely we would cut ourselves?), well, I still have biology PTSD.

            PS C’lady, did you know that the author of the original Nancy Drew books was Millie Benson, from Toledo, Ohio? She had an amazing life. She ghost-wrote those stories and then worked for decades as a reporter for the Toledo Blade newspaper — a real pioneering feat for a woman back then. She even got a pilot’s license in her geriatric years. I think she was over 90 when she finally retired. She was pretty much a real life Nancy Drew. If you’re ever bored, take a minute to google her. Fascinating person.

            • choicelady says:

              Kes, Q, and KQ (is this a cabal? Cute!) I have to come back up to reply.

              I DID know about Millie and loved the idea she WAS ND. It made the whole experience of reading those books even more meaningful. I know my feminist inclinations started with Nancy as an independent girl/woman.

              I don’t think you’re too artsy fartsy -- anyone who can use natural items to create interpreted beauty is just fine. I have no such talents, so I respect those who do.

              KQ -- I know you’re not into this stuff, but I bet you REALLY don’t pass judgment either! You’re very kind.

              Thanks Kes -- I’ll be over soon to see the leaf book.

            • Questinia says:

              I think KQ is a closet artsy-fartsy.

              Come out KQ! Come play with the finger-paints and Elmer’s!

            • Questinia says:

              Hey you two. You both need to turn over a new leaf! :)

              I think I used some sort of clear plastic gesso-lke material which I used to paint the leaves. Then as they dried they were mummified. It kept them individual and I could arrange them like a fan.

              I’ve done it lately with enormous leaves and then used them to wrap gifts. Don’t tell KQ, he thinks I’m too artsy-fartsy to begin with.

            • Questinia says:


              I learned it myself. I’ll get the name of the stuff for you next time I’m up in the attic. It’s particularly good on pressed leaves from the Fall.

            • kesmarn says:

              Q, that sounds amazingly cool! Did you invent that technique or did someone teach you? Muy artisty!

              Don’t worry; I won’t say a word to KQ.

            • KQ says:

              I heard that.

        • Questinia says:

          She’s Saint Dorothy now. It’s funny how that happens.

  10. whatsthatsound says:

    Great article, Q. I wondered what you were up to with all that sockery. We had some fun together in that way, I think it can now be admitted, and I pride myself on being one of the first posters to fan “Pity-fan me”, and then withdraw it. I fanned you before I didn’t fan you. Is that fractionation? If so, I apologize for fractionizing you.

    Yesterday an obnoxious right winger at HP complained that nobody had fanned him that day. So I wrote that I would fan him and then unfan him later. I decided on a good, Warhol-ian time frame, and gave him his fifteen minutes.
    I see the fanning thing as a ripe area for mischief, but I haven’t taken it to anything like the level that you did.

    • msbadger says:

      Hi, friend! Isn’t this an absolute HOOT! Love your comment. It is a very ripe area for mischief, and I don’t really care about it anymore. I did for the first 100 or so, now it seems gratuitous in the extreme. I have almost 1,000 fans and I’ve only been on for a year, and half of those people I have no idea who they are! It’s a joke! What keeps me coming back are the very real friendships I’ve developed there, much to my surprise! I’m in email contact with several really good, core people. I’m very isolated, and most days it’s my only social contact- how sad is that! I love the entertainment factor. I get my NEWS elswhere, to say the least, but HP fills a lot of needs for me and it’s special. AND it IS addictive! No joke! See you here or there, ferret friend!

      • whatsthatsound says:

        Hey, MsB. I’m still waiting for you to check out my art posts here at POV. We keep missing each other.

        • msbadger says:

          Sorry about that! I forgot, to be honest. Will look for them now- if I can’t find them I’ll let you know. I’m an insomniac Left Coast person, so mornings for me don’t really exist except as late nights! If you need to leave me a message, I always check my previous night’s comments before I log on to HP, so you can leave me a reply to my last post and I will always see it. I only come here once in a while, but will try to do so more often. I like these folks!

    • choicelady says:


    • Questinia says:

      You have a good point. But, you fanned, then unfanned, then fanned again. I guess that would be whole-ination.

      BTW, wasn’t that YOU getting “fanned SO hard right now?”. I hope it wasn’t in your fanny! 😉

  11. PatsyT says:

    O, Q,
    so little time, so many fans.
    When you step away from that pool
    you find so many useful ways to use your time
    I have found that going to the local paper and posting as Hmmm and LadyGodiva and PTAMom
    is a much more effective way to use your time.
    There are some total amateurs on those newbie newspaper sites and they are ripe for the picking.
    They can not win my arguments
    I out fact them and out site them
    and so on and then the local community can figure a few things out for themselves.
    Local communities need to hear from all sides and I find that they are willing to think about things.
    When the local paper is being a mouthpiece for a large corp. that is time to get out the youtubes.

    • Questinia says:

      Yes Patsy, but you’re presuming people want to actually be effective! An erstwhile poster at HP used to say that commenting there was like “farting in the wind”.

      But, the way posting at HP was effective for me was that it initiated my writing. I virtually never wrote before I wrote virtually.

    • choicelady says:

      Patsy -- isn’t that picking on the frail? The people who write “opinions” on the Sacbee electronic mail are really too stupid to live, and it seems very unsporting to overwhelm them with reality, facts, and insights. We are picking on the 98-pound weaklings of the old Charles Atlas ads. You could mop the floor with ’em, and I have no doubt you’re leaving ’em in the dust, but you are SO outclassing them. Just doesn’t seem fair. There really has to be a medium for the sheer stupid among us.

      Oh wait -- it’s here. They have it. It’s FOX.

      Never mind, Patsy. Carry on.

      • PatsyT says:

        You know, CL, spending even a few months in the trenches at HP and you can learn some slick stuff. Not that I would use those techniques :-)
        So maybe I am putting some of that HP time to use but it all for the good
        I assure you.
        Like Javez had a hot topic going at the AZ papers,
        in the OC there are some total wack jobs.
        So if you are the voice of reason you can truly win the day.
        The Orange County Register is notorious for it’s RW slant.
        It might be kinda fun to go in ‘gangs’
        to some of these sites and kick some RW booty.

  12. escribacat says:

    I love this article, Questinia! I googled “fractionation” (in psychology) but didn’t get much. So the definition is the intense focus/sudden withdrawal? Gawd, it sounds like someone I would get addicted to (having a very addictive nature myself). Sounds like some men I’ve known, as a matter of fact.

    I find myself going through periods where I can’t stand it over there and other times where I look up and realize I’ve just spent two hours entering comments on the same thread! Wow. I find it relaxing somehow…in a way that PPOV isn’t relaxing. I don’t think that’s an insult. I think it’s just more work here whereas at HP you can just have fun entering quips and getting a few laughs. (I’m overloaded with a couple projects right now and brain dead by the end of the day.)

    I admit I find the social aspect at HP to be endlessly fascinating. The jealousies over Hume, the clique fights and temporary disappearances, the loons, the brilliant, and the plodding. My own behavior as well. I’ve learned some interesting things about myself just by noticing which posters make me really mad (the extreme lefties) and which ones I can ignore with little effort (rightwing trolls). I can’t say why but maybe I’ll figure it out someday. The whole fan thing is totally addicting as far as I’m concerned! I’m convinced that’s the only reason that otherwise lame and unreliable site is so popular.

    • PepeLepew says:

      Like E’Cat said, I find the cliques on the site fascinating. Sometimes the behaviour is straight out of junior high school. The jealousies, the weird loyalties, the “our clique vs. that clique.”
      In a weird way, I find that other site less exasperating than I did a few months ago, when it was inundated with what appeared to be a lot of paid trolls … and the site seemed to be catering to those trolls with its outrageous headlines.
      What I’ve noticed is that the badges, after the extremely ugly adjustment period (I mean extremely ugly. I could barely even log in for a couple of weeks, I found the constant whining so pathetic), do seem to have put a bit of a chill on the debate. Maybe a bad thing, maybe a good thing. People are definitely behaving better.
      Now, the site seems darker though, creepier, to me, however. Maybe because of my bad personal experiences with psychopaths. I can’t quite put my finger on why that site seems to attract so many crazies.

      • Questinia says:

        Pepe, it’s interesting you should say psychopaths. I definitely feel there is that element of un-bridled narcissism. I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences with psychopaths!

        I think the potential for psychopathy exists in many ways in all of us, coming out under different conditions. Generally, it isn’t the main personality by far, but can exist in a frustrated form under the right conditions. HP may be that kind of condition.

        When you think about all the people whose narcissism is consistently injured and how angry they are, what better place than HP to crow and get stoked with faceless recognition? Because, in the end, it’s not WHO is appreciating you, it’s just that you’re being appreciated and validated. It’s food, fast food, but food nonetheless.

        • PepeLepew says:

          Oh, this goes beyond narcissism. I know what you mean by that.
          To me, a typical troll goes on a site like that just for attention; just to have their egos stoked; to antagonize and tie up a thread for hours on end, to see who they can piss off, who they can get banned.

          Then, there is a different kind of troll. Self-loathing, one that comes to genuinely hate the other posters, one who hates the social aspect of the site; one who doesn’t separate the cyber-world from the real world. They stalk and harass specific posters, usually women, make personal comments about people’s families, and most of all, make threats about digging up people’s secrets, showing up on people’s front doors, destroying people’s lives, etc. They leave nasty, foul sexually explicit comments under other people’s posts at 3 and 4 a.m., so the next time people look at their profiles, they find these horrible comments. THAT’S a genuine psychopath.
          Honestly, I think the badges appear, at least for the time being, to have made a dent in that behaviour.

          • Questinia says:

            You are right about the troll behavior seeming to have dissipated somewhat, maybe relating to the badges thing.

            But, the obvious troll behavior, once it’s gone, well, the anger once directed toward them will have to go somewhere. Maybe another social study of HP is in order. Luckily, I’m not that bored!

            • PepeLepew says:

              It could be the badges … it could be a health care reform bill passing. I noticed the height of the troll inundation was during the health care bill debate. Once it passed, the troll numbers seemed to drop. That makes me think a lot of them were paid to be on those forums.

            • PatsyT says:

              You are ‘right on’ about that troll behavior, I noticed that too.

          • choicelady says:

            When I first joined during the presidential jousting, I loved it and hardly could wait to read what people said. It was fun and fascinating then. After the election it went to hell, with the paid trolls I gather, but also with the immediately disaffected left (of which I thought I was a part.)

            The first person I fanned was KQ -- such intelligent commentary! He later disappeared, and I thought he’d UNfanned himself from my list over something or other. I still don’t know how that works, but when I saw him refer to the Planet, I came on board here.

            I am another who finds a lot about HP creepy and weird, and I also don’t go much to the religion page. I collect fans (but never look to see who they are) but really don’t care. Honest dialogue and commentary just are too often missing. Yawn.

            I’m happy on the Planet. So be it.

            • Questinia says:

              How funny! The first one who fanned me and I fanned back was KQ. Bless KQ!

              People like KQ were truly the best things HP had to offer as far as I’m concerned.

    • Questinia says:

      About the rest, e-cat, I concur. it can hone a certain part of the brain. But, i think there IS something self-referential that develops. it really stops becoming about the issue at some point.

      I guess it’s like a cocktail party.

  13. Khirad says:

    That was hilarious. Apparently, I’m still a little more careful in fanning, but you’re right. Basically, I treat HP mains as my chill out time. Political snark, nusic and such, but if I want a real discussion, I get off the main into a serious topic, or usually, back here, of course.

    But, I’m not gonna claim to be above it all, and am quite conscious of the same things you were noticing in yourself. What bothers me, is those that don’t, and then those that do and claim to be above everyone else as a result (that’s also its own deal). Like, ooh, I’m so pure and transgressive and you will never “get” me bullcrap. They’re like the teenagers stayin’ true to themselves while shouting it to anyone in hearing distance.

    I decided to keep mine. Getting called Nazi and saying “screw you then, I’m keeping it,” has a rebelliousness all to its own (I’m a level 2, you see). I wear my badge like an ironic Winger t-shirt. If some badgeless etheric embodiment of all that is just calls me on it, they can defan me. I don’t judge them by their principled choice. Maybe if they weren’t such douchenozzles I would have followed suit. It may be a ‘kick me’ sign and I may want to get rid of it badly, but dammit, I’m stubborn and will not be bullied into the decision.

    Anyhoo, I don’t recall seeing you or fanning you, but that was all a hoot (especially the avi)! I also dig the psycho lingo and women tips (catch and release). 😉

    • PepeLepew says:

      Good for you.

      Honestly, when the trolls whine about the badges, it cracks me up. I was more disappointed at the reaction of the some of the longtime people on the progressive side; not so much a problem with the badges, but attacks on people with the badges. Very childish.

    • Questinia says:

      Khirad! Don’t you dare! Psycho-strategies like that are lethal. Besides, you’re probably already a Svengali.

      There is an occult parallel agenda there. I do think it was a business ploy to keep people in a trance and keep saying whatever comes to mind while spinning the pages. It never really gets that interesting, never that surreal or outr

  14. Kalima says:

    Q, it just took all of 5 minutes to pick myself up from the floor, limb by limb, after sliding there in a fit of LOL.

    That was an absolutely wonderful read and so darned close to the truth, it actually stung.

    I have to admire your fortitude, I too have a badge or maybe even 2 and was deciding on whether or not to write to tell them where to stick it. Decided instead not to answer their email, hoping that the next time I was weak enough to check, it might have disappeared altogether from my profile page. Las Vegas indeed!

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