The Frankie Roberto Interview

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The Frankie Roberto Interview

Frankie meets... Mina

on her garden, the volunteer groups, and being Muse of Bondage.

I first met Mina at the London summer-meetup last year. It was only a very brief encounter, and the main thing I remember from it was what admirable dreadlocks Mina has. I was hoping to interview her during the Alton Towers Meetup, but unfortunately Mina was eventually unable to make it.

Mina recently completed her Wildlife Gardening University Project, which was displayed prominently on the front page for a week or so. Completing a University Project is no easy task. I ask Mina what it was like to write it.

'It can be hard work, but it is easier to write about doing
things, like teaching someone, rather than my Paris project which was a lot
harder. Checking facts and finding the infomation I want can be time

I'm not a big gardener myself, but my dad always keeps our back garden with its small pond looking quite nice. Mina tells me about her garden.

'My garden is at the beginning of its life. It's only this year that I've
really got into making it into MY garden, rather than living with the plants
the previous gardener left behind. I've got a lot of the habitats which I
wrote about, although on a very small scale. A tiny container pond, a small, but growing, woodpile, a few small 'meadows' filled with seedlings. Hopefully next year they will be plants. Most people think that my garden is full of weeds; creeping buttercup, dandelions and nettles are chased down and killed, but I let them grow. They
are good for all sorts of things, and native too, so they don't need looking
after. I make drinks from them, feed them to the rabbits, use them for compost; the
list is pretty endless.'

Mina has no less than three volunteer-group badges on her userspace, being heavily involved in the community. I ask her which group she finds to be the most rewarding, and which is the most hard work.

'I like being part of the Gurus best. It's the thrill of being a know-it-all
I think. I became an ACE almost by accident. When Douglas Adams died and
h2g2 was filled with newbies, I told Galaxy Babe that I thought I might become an ACE temporarily
to help out, and what did she think? Before I knew it, she had e-mailed Peta
with the suggestion and, in a matter of days, the badge was on my space. I
decided to keep it in the end.
On the other hand, there are only eleven Uni badges, so I know I got that one
through hard work. With the others, the hard work comes after the badge.
Guruing can be more tiresome in its way, answering the same questions time
after time. But that's what customer service is all about, and at least it's
not the same person asking it. I've also applied to be a Sub-editor, but there is a waiting list.'

I ask Mina how she discovered h2g2 and became involved with the community.

'I remember being in Holland, in an internet cafe
and I did a search for the 'Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy' as I was killing some time. I found the site,
and discovered that I had already registered 6 months previously and had
forgotten about it. I began using it, and have never looked back.'

'At the time I was single and, being at home alone with a child night
after night, I got bored with the passiveness that TV demands, and so
preferred to be online. At least I could talk to my real life friends on
ICQ, and gradually make new ones on h2g2. I got more involved with the Guide side, rather than the community side
after the BBC took over. I realised what I had nearly missed - a chance to
help me with writing and maybe get out of my career rut - and made more of
an effort to write entries and become involved in the running.'

As Muse of Bondage, Mina has written some very interesting entries on The Torture Garden Fetish Club and the more recent Story of O, and also owns her own dungeon1. Amongst the regular h2g2 community, Mina is affectionatly known for her 'unusual' interests. I ask if the guide offers you a good place to discuss and talk about these things.

'I wouldn't say that it offers a good place to talk about it, as I have to be
aware all the time that there might be young teenagers reading, if not
younger children. I wouldn't want my small son reading certain things on the
net. I have had conversations about my likes and dislikes on h2g2, but there
is always something that keeps me from being as open as I can be on an adult
site. But I'm happy with that. It is a place, though, where I can be myself, without worrying what people think
of me. I like the idea of being able to write factual entries on things
slightly out of the ordinary, as it educates others, and hopefully makes
them realise that everyday people can enjoy something unusual without
reacting to it with fits of giggles or 'dirty old men in flasher mac'

I ask if Mina thinks h2g2 is generally quite an open-minded community.

'Yes, definitely. I've come across a few people on here that aren't, but
it's very unusual. Most researchers seem to have a very laid back 'live and
let live' attitude. Even if they don't fancy what someone else does, it
doesn't seem to affect the way they interact with each other.'

'The Story of O' is currently in Peer Review, the forum where h2g2 Researchers provide comment and feedback on other Researchers' entries. The Guide is a great place for writers and writing holds quite a strong common interest for the h2g2 community (plus of course Douglas Adams). I ask Mina if she has any writing ambitions.

I'm not sure I have any particular ambitions for writing. I'd quite like to
make some money out of it though! I used to write a lot of short stories,
and never thought I would enjoy writing anything other than fiction. Gaining
compliments and feedback for my work from the community has been the biggest
support. If I hadn't received any feedback from my entries I might not have had the
confidence to keep going, and keep learning more about writing. Having a
place like h2g2 where things happen so quickly is a good way to learn.'

I ask if the h2g2 community can be improved in any way.

'That's a very difficult question to answer. Everything I can think of that would improve it is actually in the
pipeline at the moment, or are things that the BBC took from us that we are
hoping to get back some day. I think the main thing, apart from that, is to see more of the italics on the
editorial side get more involved in the community. I know they are very
busy, but we see Abi and Peta all over the place, and it's great! But the
others all seem to like keeping their heads down.'

I agree. It would be nice to see Ashley, Chris and the others around more. Finally, with the January Meetup getting ever closer, I ask Mina how many meetups she has been to so far and what she thinks of them.

'I've been to two London meetups, and have just got back from the Dutch meet, so
that's three. I've also made some good friends on h2g2 that I see in real life as
much as I can. For a community driven site I think meetups are essential; fun, hard work,
and bloody great. Meeting people in real life that I haven't spoken to on h2g2 can be
fun, and searching for people I do speak to on h2g2 is often an eye opener.
People can be so different in the flesh, and yet others are just how they
seem online. Sometimes there are things that are not easily said online,
either because they are too personal, or it's hard to talk about in plain
text with no emphasis. The meetups give people a chance to talk face to
face. They bring together people from all walks of life, and often from
other countries. Who wouldn't be proud to be part of something like h2g2?'

And indeed who wouldn't? I'n can't wait for the next meetup, and am looking forward to meeting Mina again, and of course everyone else going. See you there!

Frankie Roberto

Next Week: The Willem Love Collective on their reggabwoW project...

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