qanon goes dark

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QAnon’s repetitive posts are alienating even his most ardent supporters

A new flurry of posts wasn't enough to renew interest.


Mike Rothschild


Published Feb 19, 2019   Updated May 20, 2021, 6:45 pm CDT

Longtime watchers of the QAnon conspiracy theory are used to fairly long periods of time when the mysterious avatar known as “Q” goes silent. He will often spend days at a time posting his trademark brand of cryptic nuggets of “intel,” predictions for events to come, rhetorical questions, memes, out-of-context pictures, and riddles related to an upcoming violent purge of the deep state; only to vanish for weeks.

As Daily Dot previously reported, the last disappearance by QAnon was his longest. From Jan. 13 to Feb. 8 he posted just twice, with one of those a stock photo of fighter jets. It appeared as if the community that had developed around deciphering Q’s posts was on the verge of either moving past the need for Q to exist, splitting into different factions, or possibly even of descending into violence at the idea of “the Great Awakening” not taking place.

Whatever Q had built looked like it might be collapsing. And when that happens, Q tends to return with a long run of posts.

So like many other times, either in spite of or because of the movement starting to get out of control, QAnon returned with a vengeance, starting on Feb. 9.

It began with a long, cryptic post full of references to “blockades,” “stealth bombers,” and “optics;” after which Q unleashed over 130 posts in the past week. This has sent QAnon social media reeling, with the Q-decoding site enjoying its highest reader counts in months and the QAnon forums on Voat full of decoding threads.

In the last few days, Q has even been subtly hinting at the final act in his big story, with posts about “preparations” and “placeholders” being “activated.”

Of course, anyone versed in the Q story knows this stuff is all part of the game—teasing a great big event that you know will never come, then concocting an elaborate reason why it never came.

Whenever Q disappears for more than a few days, the movement starts to drift away from the specific narrative Q has laid out, that of a mass of sealed indictments being revealed through the large-scale arrest and field tribunal of prominent Democrats and accused pedophiles.

The movement also tends to get more violent and more racist without their leader. Those are things that keep new followers away, not grow a lucrative movement that buys T-shirts and mugs by the score.

To get the conspiracy back on track, Q will usually return with a slew of patriotic glurge, shoutouts to individual Q followers on Twitter, and references to major movement in the preparations for the big indictment unsealing.

There’s always “something big” about to happen “soon” or “next week,” and plenty of cryptic questions and pictures to keep followers busy until that day. All of these things keep followers interested, keep the story growing and changing, and let the faithful know that their patience is being rewarded. What could be cooler for a Q fan than a mention by Q himself, after all?

His first major absence was in July, where Q disappeared for 20 days, only to return with a post proclaiming “from sea to shining sea,” shoutouts to cool memes and a Q fan who held up a sign and got a honk from President Trump’s motorcade, and references to John Huber, the U.S. Attorney in Utah tasked with investigating the Clinton Foundation.

The next few months saw hundreds of QAnon posts, full of the usual promises of “something BIG” about to happen, more references to Huber dropping some big bomb on the Clintons, cryptic clues that the people behind Q “have it all” and head pats to followers on Twitter. Of course, nobody got arrested and there were no massive field tribunals or executions. But Q followers kept busy (and out of trouble) decoding all of it. But then Q vanished again, from Oct. 9 to Nov. 1.

What did he post when he came back? A message claiming “Do not let them DIVIDE you. TOGETHER you are STRONG. TOGETHER YOU WIN.” Then came a whole bunch of predictions of a “red wave” swamping the midterm election (which didn’t happen), more memes, more shoutouts to Q fans, more Huber hope, and more cryptic questions. Posts on Nov. 11 and 12 promised “a week to remember” with “the unsealing” and “declas” about to begin; with a bunch of other posts devoted to “tracking indictments.”

What happened next? Indictments? Unsealing? No, another QAnon disappearance, with just two posts between the 12th and 29th. Two more long absences followed, including the most recent one. And through it all, no arrests, no “declas” (Q’s code name for the declassification of FISA warrants used against Trump associate Carter Page) and no perceptible movement toward “the Great Awakening.”

This kind of repetition without result is what made Q so popular among the small group of core believers that dissect each post. But it’s also getting lazy. With Q’s new posts, it’s impossible for longtime followers not to notice the rehashing of old material. Or at least, it is if one is being honest.

One set of posts was a set of out-of-context pictures of a city in China, leaving followers busy to decode why they were posted.

Q has done this many other times, even using China on a few occasions. There were references to “suicide weekend” of deep state criminals taking their own lives—an event Q has predicted three other times. There were long lists of links of pieces written about QAnon and proofs that the “coincidences” between Q posts and Trump tweets are “mathematically impossible”— all of which Q does to justify his existence.

He even repeated memes he’d already used before, such as one about voter ID posted in drop 2463, then repeated in 2689. The posts are also getting sloppy, as Q corrects typos and errors that didn’t actually exist, and attributes it to being “on the move.”

The last few posts do hint at something changing, finally, promising updates to the long-ago posted “placeholders” for sealed indictments, ”activation” of sleeper agents, and hinting at James Comey and others facing “traitors justice.”

It’s likely nothing will happen other than Q vanishing again, only to return when his movement needs a shot in the arm.

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*First Published: Feb 19, 2019, 3:36 pm CST