But a few, a brave few, perhaps one in ten newly registered researchers, do get engaged by the intercourse of these conversations. They then realise they can participate in literally hundreds of conversations on thousands of topics. The site is huge, it allows freedom of expression, and there are always a few thousand semi-active researchers.
Those who stay, become very active. If access is available at school or work or they have the time at home to be online regularly for long periods, they find they can continue posting or reading what has already been posted and never see light at the end of the chunnel. Their committment, in terms of time and energy grows exponentially and within a very few days they are completely addicted.
This addiction will, in a very few days or weeks, lead to a 'loyalty' and 'identity' crisis which brings about secret desires to wear badges and uniforms and a compulsive need to line all the ducks into rows. Psychologists call this an anal obsessive behavior, it is the quite common and predictable behaviour of those who grow too fond of any single basket in which to gather duck eggs.
Several months ago, two such addicts (it seems silly to name them now) engaged each other in a mutually supported plot to organise the history of the site for the convenience of newbies. Perhaps they envisaged a sort of 'onsite museum', an 'information centre / tour guide service' or 'addicts archive and handbook'. They proposed a gathering of enthusiastic volunteers (other addicts) whose lives would then be totally consumed with these organisational details.
A call for volunteers was made and at least 42 fellow addicts announced their intentions to support the project which was then named Area 42, an amusing allusion to the famous real-life Sci-Fi Conspiracy-Theorists' "Area 51".
However, just as in electro magnetic experiments where unlike poles attract and like poles repell, the assemblage of 42 'positivists' created an enormous feedback wave and with alarming speed and a mysterious lack of informational detail, the 42 researchers suddenly found themselves 'cured' of their addictions. A few of the leaders had sufficient residual habit of form to make small announcements like, "I have found work. Will write again soon."
Of course most of them haven't posted since. It seems that the discharge of so much positive energy has literally propelled them all back into the real world where (hopefully) they are now earning a respectable living or are otherwise occuppied with purposeful activity that precludes all this online folly.
A pattern of addiction, followed, after a few months or even a couple of years, by a cold turkey withdrawal (often in anger or frustration) is quite normal for individual researchers. Many famous players have just simply disappeared, often offering some petty and irksome excuse that they were 'offended' by the Moderators or the rudeness of a fellow researcher - but that is all just dissembling. The fact is, very few minds can sustain the full time addiction for more than a few months. There seems to be a burn out factor that acts as a saftey valve for the real-life people behind the h2g2-addicted online personae and one day they just say 'screw this lot' and are gone.
What is unique and curious about Area 42 was the simultaneous release or collective discharge of h2g2 addiction by 42 very focussed and addicted souls. It was a singularly rare phenomenon. My theory is that once such a group of rabid activists came within close proximity of each other there was an almost explosive dissipation of their addictions. It reminded me of that scene in Pinnochio where suddenly all the jackass heads just 'pop' and the Lost Boys are returned to 'normal'.
We may never see the like again.
The only other possible explanation is that all 42 of them were spirited away by agents of the real Area 51 and are currently being probed. Somewhere.