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DataLounge

The DataLounge is an Internet forum for LGBT news and gossip with approximately 6.5 million page views each month according to its Webmaster (). Mediapolis, a New York City-based interactive media company, created the site in May 1995.

The DataLounge's opinionated and witty sensibility stems from a core community of predominantly anonymous posters who share news, opinions, gossip, personal histories and political views from a gay and lesbian perspective. While the forum guidelines formally require posters to respect others, much of the site's fun revolves around its appreciation of cutting wit and satire, as well as its shared history and in-jokes.

History and site policies

DataLounge was launched by Mediapolis in May, 1995. During the site's early years, content included GLBT-oriented news, gossip, links to other sites/services, and editorial content that made for an all-around gay Web portal. Content contributors included New York drag queen Trudy and journalist Chris Barillas. DataLounge affiliated itself via the DataLounge Network with other Web sites such as the gay dating site Edwina.com, gay Web guide Homorama, and GLBT health information site Gay Health, offering information and services to GLBTs. A weekly e-mail was also offered to users. The site evolved to have several discussion forums covering a wide array of topics such as lesbian, religious and sexual issues, and also created a "Flames and Freaks" forum to house threads that site administrators determined to be disruptive to general forum discussion. Forums created for subpopulations such as The Lord of the Rings fans and US daytime drama aficionados were subsequently closed (see below). The most popular forum of all, however, was the Gossip Forum, which dwarfed all others in both traffic and number of discussion threads created.

A portion of DataLounge and the DataLounge Network's content came as a result of the integration of some of the 1995-97 content of Out.com from Out Magazine, who announced in March 1997 that it was closing its Web site to focus on print content. Out.com users were redirected to DataLounge, and DataLounge administrators adopted Out.com's discussion forums, dating service, and weekly survey.

In 2003, DataLounge instituted a subscription service which blocked all Web banner and pop-up advertising for what a $12 annual fee (this fee was subsequently raised to $15, then to the present price of $18).

In 2005, DataLounge was given a major redesign. All forum topics were collapsed into one general discussion forum called "The DataLounge Forum," and all news content, most references to the other sites in the DataLounge Network, and other features were discontinued. Editorial commentary discussing current events continues to appear on the site regularly. Users were also given the option to control certain aspects of the site's layout, including filtration of political, gossip, and/or "Flames and Freaks" threads.

Along with this redesign came a policy change that limited access to the DataLounge Forum during high-traffic "primetime" periods to fee-paying subscribers. This move was met with controversy amongst DataLounge users, as non-subscribers were in effect blocked from the DataLounge Forum during these periods. Though Mediapolis has received complaints about the policy, specifically that "primetime" periods are irregular and can often occur at times when site traffic should be at its slowest (e.g., North American overnight hours), DataLounge administrators assert that the "primetime" is necessary to prevent slowdowns of the other sites which Mediapolis hosts on the same servers, and preserves the existence of the DataLounge forum by generating revenue to cover DataLounge's hosting, bandwidth and maintenance expenses. The subscription fee was raised from $12 to $15 in 2006, then to $18 in 2007.

In the summer of 2007 Datalounge also instituted a policy that only paying members can start a new thread. It is said that anyone can still contribute to existing threads, but non-paying members postings often find that their postings do not show up on the site. Many posters have complained on the site that this limits the number of new threads.

Moderation and rules

The DataLounge forum is largely self-moderated via debates amongst posters, and since most posts are anonymous viciousness does occur, though face slapping is discouraged. Many DataLounge posters become violently pedantic where matters of improper grammar, punctuation and spelling are concerned. Some threads are locked by the Webmaster, however, and a few are deleted outright, particularly those which are overtly racist or homophobic. DataLounge has a unique system of "redtagging" trolls. When posters are tagged, each of their previous and subsequent posts are tagged with a number in red text so that they become publicly identified. This prevents the majority of trolls from stirring flamewars by, for instance, "talking to themselves" (e.g., posting anonymously on their own threads while pretending to be different individuals). As with most such web sites, arbitrary applications of deleting, blocking, and presenting prime-time screens to selected posters is done by junior staff filling in as site administrators. This practice greatly reduces the openness and sense of fair play on the site.

DataLounge has few written rules, but a number of implicit standards have evolved. Daytime drama (or soap opera) discussions are completely verboten due to earlier soap discussions devolving to flamewars, rampant homophobia and for taking up too many site resources. Right-wing propaganda threads, particularly those written by so-called "freepers" (members of the Free Republic Internet forum), are also often locked or deleted. Threads incorporating detailed discussions of certain bodily functions tend to be locked quickly as well, as do those that dissolve into flamewars or chatter between a small number of posters. Threads are automatically locked when they reach 901 posts, or are locked at the discretion of site admnistrators.

In an effort to encourage paid membership, non-paid visitors can no longer post comments.

Posters

Over the course of its history DataLounge has enjoyed, and fiercely debated, posts from dozens of named posters, many of whom became lightning rods for controversy. Some named posters are authenticated, meaning that they have verified their username and obtained a password so no other users can post under their name.

Anonymous visitors can insert any arbitrary name into the "username" field. This is often used to great comedic effect.

DataLounge has a wide variety of trolls, too numerous for specific examples to be meaningful. The term "troll" is used on DataLounge to describe posters obsessed with a certain subject, even when it's benign, as well as the classic kind of Internet troll.

Sayings

Many of the common sayings and quotes used on DataLounge quickly become so ubiquitous that they are met with flames and derision. Listed below are a few examples of the more commonly used ones:

  • Corn? When did I eat corn? - attributed to Carol Channing after a baffling bowel movement.
  • Damn, Damn, DAMN! - phrase of anguish first popularized by Good Times matriarch Florida Evans.
  • EST! or Elaborate Scenario Troll - posted in response to an implausible-sounding thread seeking advice, implies that the poster is a troll fabricating an elaborate scenario just for the sake of reaction.
  • Get some sleep, hon. - sarcastic response to posters who are irrelevant, boring, or inconsequential.
  • Graxy, Cak and Cooked Not Event Toast - humorous food product typos that became overwhelmingly popular.
  • Hausfrau - the German word for housewife, often used to dismiss another poster for writing from an "unsophisticated heterosexual" perspective.
  • He's got crazy eyes! - phrase referring to eHarmony's Lee of Lee and Anne Marie.
  • I eat old people's excrement - a mocking, fake post, made in association with the poster number it is aimed at in the author line (eg. "by: r2", when in actuality it won't be poster "r2", rather another poster disparaging them), this saying is usually used to undermine posters who have said something that has offended the general consensus of the thread.
  • Jealous, bitches? - mainly used by thread starters trying to brag about something.
  • Julianne Moore, seriously. - based on a thread in which that phrase had to be the answer to any question. It's now commonly used in many actor gossip threads.
  • Just smoke copious amounts of pot, silly. - useful as a response to almost any thread requesting advice.
  • Miss, with all due respect, I have my own problems. - apocryphal quote attributed to Mariah Carey.
  • My pussy stinks! pronouncement usually attributed to Cheryl (see Collaborative Characters) but often used to mock trolls or posters with a smug or nasty attitude.
  • PUNCH AND DELETE!! - common advice given to posters with interpersonal dilemmas. Originated in a thread where someone had a falling out with a friend, punched him in the face and deleted him from his cell phone.
  • There, I said it! - often used (in jest or not) after writing something potentially controversial.
  • Unclutch those pearls, Mary! - used as a virtual slap-in-the-face to prudish or hysterical posters who seem to be getting overly worked up by the thread topic (variations on this phrase also occur)
  • You're a whore, darlin'. - a slightly bastardized quote from the character Cristal Connors in the film Showgirls, used when a poster starts a thread regarding sexual intimacy outside of the confines of a marriage or relationship.

The Tinhats/Prancing Ponies

The Tinhats or Prancing Ponies (after the Inn of the Prancing Pony) were a group of The Lord of the Rings fans obsessed with the idea that the film trilogy's various male stars were sexually involved with one another. The duo subject to the most rumors was Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan. The Lord of the Rings related posts became so abundant that the DataLounge Webmaster segregated them to a Prancing Pony subforum. The tinhat phenomena also spread elsewhere on the Internet. Several communities were created on LiveJournal, and the flamewars grew so prolific that even meta-community Fandom Wank created a spin-off community to handle them. With time the tinhat threads on DataLounge increasingly dissolved into endless flamewars and, ultimately, the subforum was deleted and discussion of The Lord of the Rings severely curbed.

The Marcia Cross incident

DataLounge achieved a fair share of infamy in February 2005, when a "friendly spy" claiming to work at the ABC television network, posted that actress Marcia Cross would come out as gay in an upcoming issue of The Advocate. Within days the rumor had spread like wildfire and garnered mentions in several mainstream news outlets, including CNN and Fox Television's Los Angeles affiliate, before Cross denied the rumors in an interview with Barbara Walters on The View. The Advocate subsequently published an article chronicling this incident.

Drop the Chalupa

During the seventh season of the hit tv show ER the character of Kerry Weaver came out of the closet as a lesbian and began dating staff psychiatrist Kim Legaspi. The storyline exploded on the internet and developed a cult following from lots of lesbian fans. A message board called Drop the Chalupa , maintained and organized by a moderator named Dax, became the gathering place for all of the Kim and Kerry fans. When DataLounge caught wind of the site, posters began copying and pasting details of the Chalupas' conversations in threads. Shortly after, Drop the Chalupa became a private forum. That forum split, however, when a fan named Maddog, and her partner Tina, created the website KimandKerry.com. During this whole ordeal, posters at DataLounge encouraged the rabid infighting and enjoyed watching the drama between the two sites leaders-- Dax and Maddog. Threads on DataLounge detailed the drama and the storyline. The main thrust of conversation centered on the actress Elizabeth Mitchell, her ER contract status and sexual orientation.

Posters of note

Mrs. Betty Bowers - "America's Best Christian." Betty has her own widely-read satirical Web site, but also posts periodically on DataLounge. For a time she had a son, or rather protégée named Benny Bowers who was a huge fan of sub-pop boyband O-Town.

Gay writer and critic David Ehrenstein used to post on DataLounge using his authenticated name. He has since re-joined DL after a long absence.

Michael Musto has openly posted on DataLounge in the past, and has used items from the forum in his Village Voice column. He has also used his column to refute rumors posted on DataLounge, including the purported romantic relationship between "Queer as Folk" stars Gale Harold and Randy Harrison. Musto first learned of right-leaning gay commentator Andrew Sullivan posting an advertisement on the site Barebackcity.com via a thread on DataLounge before breaking the story in his column in May, 2001

Rosie O'Donnell has mentioned visits to DataLounge in print magazine interviews.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS CEO Tom Viola has posted when there has been gossip surrounding events involving his organization.

Author and MSNBC gossip columnist Jeannette Walls openly posted on DataLounge, but ceased doing so after being harassed for using DataLounge-sourced items in her columns.

Collaborative characters

Some unauthenticated pseudonyms have come to be used by multiple anonymous posters and have taken on a life of their own, a form of collaborative characters. A few of the most established shared characters are:

  • Cheryl - Originally a vocal, legitimate persona who would "tattle" and call for the webmaster (a.k.a. "Editor") to "red tag" a fellow poster when the conversation didn't go her way. The moniker is frequently used to satirize prurient content, especially as a parody of blanket objections to gossip about celebrities being gay (the real Cheryl earned derision for interjecting herself into threads discussing attractive male celebrities to declare that they were straight). Catchphrases include "My pussy stinks!" and "Editor, Flames & Freaks please!" (see above).
  • Nan Michiganwomyn - Nan, a militant lesbian separatist, has several compatriots who post occasionally, including Sayer We'Moonsdaughter, Aphrodite Powervag, and pussylips, Nan's angry (and dyslexic) protégée. Her name and persona is a take on the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival.
  • Dakota Fanning - Child actress who, on DataLounge, is a precocious and very self-assured little diva. She is also heavily into drugs, referencing a joke by Kathy Griffin. She is also more than willing to destroy the career of anyone she perceives as a threat, particularly Academy Award-nominated actress Abigail Breslin.
  • peg - Originally a legitimate poster who raised the ire of many DL regulars for her frequent and snarky criticisms of the Democratic Party (in particular Howard Dean), peg has morphed into a collaborative parody character who reflexively praises all conservatives and demonizes all liberals. The real peg, who still posts occasionally, has never explicitly claimed to be a Republican or a Bush supporter, however, despite her trollish posting style. She has claimed to be a partnered lesbian living in the Pacific Northwest but is believed by some DataLoungers to be Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Guerriero.
  • Bonnie Mace - A perverted lesbian who delighted in sharing stories of her repulsive sexual escapades, among the most memorable being her erotic initiation by her high-school volleyball coach, a locker-room encounter with Martina Navratilova, and an assignation beside a dumpster with Dolly Parton. Also notable for her creative synonyms for female genitalia and their associated secretions, including "lady ham," "pork chop sandwich," and "girl mayo".

References

External links

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