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Part of the problem is Variable Ratio Rewards, or random rewards. MMOs use them intentionally to get people addicted, but they're also inherent in social news sites.

Sometimes you find real gems, either in the articles or the discussions (on HN often the latter as much or more than the former), and sometimes just noise. But you never know which will turn up on the front page and when, so you keep checking back over and over.

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