the official alt.spleen
- Frequently Asked Questions -
by Andrew Stellman

version 5.8
last modified 8/17/98


Part I: Basic Spleen Facts

Q: What is the purpose of alt.spleen?

alt.spleen is used to DISSEMINATE very IMPORTANT information about the SPLEEN. Spleen care, maintenance, entertainment, sport, history, music and pop culture are all discussed, as are all other spleen-related topics.

Q: Can I vent my spleen on alt.spleen?

This is, perhaps, the most-asked question on alt.spleen. Tom Mary Dobrowolsky ( has an answer:

"Well you can certainly talk about it here on this here NEWSGROUP. However, proper spleen venting, unless you are absolutely certain you know what you are doing, should be done by a duly certified spleen mechanic.

"I shouldn't have to tell you the humorous but really dangerous stories of 'armchair mechanic' spleen owners venting their spleens and ending up with leftover parts afterwards.

"Whatever you do, please make sure to have a pressure gauge handy. There's nothing worse than a over/under-inflated spleen."

Q: Are these questions *REALLY* frequently asked?

Surprisingly, yes. Many of these questions are truly frequently asked questions. A lot of the traffic on alt.spleen comes from new visitors, and many of their questions are the same. At times like this, the regulars take much pleasure in posting: "It's in the FAQ!"

Q: Is this the only FAQ?

Well, yes and no. Yes, this is the only FAQ. But no, this is not the only periodically posted document that answers frequently asked questions. There is an infinitely more useful and far superior document than this. It's called the obalt.splobeen FOBAQ, and it's posted in an ancient language called "ob", currently only spoken by a mysterious group of people. There is more speculation about these people in part III, but from the little of it that I could decipher, it looked like it contained invaluable information.

I hope one day to discover the Rosetta Stone of "ob", and hopefully unlock the secrets of the FOBAQ. Until then, we'll all have to make do with my inferior FAQ.

Q: Did you really write a script to convert this FAQ into HTML?

Yes, I did. That probably makes me a hopeless nerd. On the other hand, it saves me some time. I wrote the script in perl5, and it can be found at <>.

Please note: due to a horrifying accident, I lost the old version of htmlify, which made me really unhappy. I recently rewrote it, and it's probably the most readable perl script I've ever written. It's even (somewhat) documented! You definitely don't see that every day, kids.

Special thanks to Benjamin Elijah, without whom my regexps would be slightly irregular.

Q: So what is that spleen thing, anyway?

The easiest way to answer that question is to consult the dictionary:

     Word         SPLEEN (SPLEEN)  n.
     Definition   --n.  1. a. One of the largest lymphoid structures in human
                  beings, a visceral organ composed of a white pulp of lymphatic
                  nodules and tissue and a red pulp of venous sinusoids in a
                  framework of fibrous partitions lying on the left side below the
                  diaphragm, functioning as a blood filter and to store blood.  b.
                  A homologous organ or tissue in other vertebrates.  2. Obs.  a.
                  The seat of emotions or passions.  b. A whim; caprice.  3.
                  Archaic. Melancholy.  4. Ill temper.
                  spleeny --adj.
     Etymology    ME splene < OFr. esplen < Lat. splen < Gk splen.
     Domain       Everyday conversation

As everyone knows, the spleen is more than just a part of your lymphatic system. When properly cared for and coddled, a spleen can lead to a more fulfilling, and often more interesting life.

And, according to linguist Matthew Messner (

     Word         SPLENDID (SPLEHN'-did)
     Definition   --adj. of, or pertaining to, the spleen.

Q: Do I have a spleen?

Yes! Unless it was removed, you have a spleen. Some people are even born with more than one spleen. The spleen is a wonderful thing, and you should be aware of your own spleen.

Q: How do I care for my spleen?

Your spleen requires just a little care and love. Remember to follow these easy rules:

But that's not all! According to Nobel prizewinning surgeon and hygenist Tom Whelan (, you should always do the following things to make life better for your spleen:

Q: Where did the spleen get such a beautiful name?

Etymologist Brian Youmans ( came up with the following etymology. According to Brian:

"[the word 'spleen'] has very ancient roots, going back to the Middle English, 'splen', the Old French 'esplen', the Latin 'splen', the Greek 'splen' (long e there), and the Indo-European 'sphelgh', from which the Sanscrit 'plihan' (long i) and Old Slavic 'slezena'."

Q: Are the rumors of spleen violence true?

Oddly enough, yes. Researcher Daniel Martinez ( has discovered these alarming facts:

"Apparently the widespread adoption of the stiletto as a weapon of murder in southern Italy during the late Middle Ages was an indirect consequence of the swampiness of the region. The low, wet areas were ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and as a consequence Malaria was quite common there. The disease was generally accompanied by an enlargement of the spleen, which had to purify the blood of additional toxins and other by-products of infection. Any rupture of the organ, in that state, could quickly cause a victim to bleed to death. That, it seems, is exactly what the stiletto was meant to do. Long and thin, it's more suited to piercing than to slashing; supposedly the spleen of the average citizen in those parts was of sufficient size that a solid thrust anywhere in the abdominal region had a credible chance of success."

Q: Does the spleen change size or shape? Like, does it get big?

Yes. Slight enlargement of the spleen is normal during and after digestion, and the size of the spleen in human adults usually ranges from 100 to 250 grams (3.5 to 8.3 ounces). Abnormal enlargement, or splenomegaly, may occur in the course of a number of diseases. For some of these diseases, and in the case when the spleen ruptures, surgical removal of the organ (splenectomy, as horrible as the thought may be) may prove to be beneficial. Splenectomy is not recommended except in the very worst cases, since severe depression generally ensues, and suicide often follows.

Q: No, I mean *REALLY* big. What happens when the spleen gets *REALLY* big?

This is a very difficult question, and for the answer it was necessary to consult Nobel prizewinning surgeon Tom Whelan ( for an educated medical opinion. Here's what he had to say:

"The human Spleen is capable of expanding greatly when under the influence of certain hemodynamic situations. In chronic portal hypertension (with poss. assc Rt heart failure), there may be portal fugue present, and the blood backs up to the the most compliant organ available, usually the Spleen. Since the spleen is compliant, it can engorge itself with blood and expand greatly. Some Splenamegaly reaches wheel-barrow proportions!, then, of course, the serum in the blood begins to leak into the peritoneal cavity (ascites), when the splenic volume is at its max. These poor souls with large spleens are usually found counting gum wrappers in the gutter, with a bottle of Mad-Dog in one hand. You may even find them tending a 7-11, or occupying a public office."

Q: Who is Faisal?

Ask Geoff.

Q: Does alt.spleen get a lot of traffic?

alt.spleen has always been a relatively low-traffic newsgroup. It used to be that every year a new wave of freshmen "discovered" it, and it got a lot of activity for a few days from a single source, and they always said to themselves, "we should just claim this as our own, since we're the only ones who post here", and as quick as it started, it was over. In retrospect, it's clear that this was just a momentary infatuation with spleens -- as is common with newcomers to the Internet -- but they soon realized that the spleen is just too complex and issue-laden for all but the most splendid and spleen-hearty individuals. This is what sets alt.spleen regulars apart from mere mortals.

Recently, this hasn't been as apparent. College freshmen are usually familiar with the Internet by the time they enter, usually because they have accounts in high school. Another relatively recent (i.e. in the last year or so) occurrence has been a constant "background noise" of spam posts for sex sites, psychic hotlines and get-rich-quick schemes. Oh well, there goes the neighborhood.

Q: Was this FAQ really featured in Internet Underground magazine?

Not exactly -- the FAQ maintainer was, and if he may say so himself, he interviewed dazzlingly well. It's worth picking up!

Make sure you check out the alt.spleen FAQ home page! <> Do you have any questions, comments or additions? I'd like your input! Contact me (, and I'll be happy to help you in any way that I can. Please do not send me medical questions, though, since I am not a doctor and have no medical knowledge. Have a splendid day!