I guess I branch off of Language on Vacation, which first made me want to join, though I didn't actually join until years later when I kept seeing it mentioned in places like GAMES and 4-Star Puzzler.
Source: npl-folk email from Treesong, relaying information from Qaqaq.
First Issue: Jul 1986
I get asked all the time about my nom's origins. I have a bunch of different explanations, and the one I proffer depends entirely on whim:
(1) It stands for Questions and Answers;
(2) I nommed myself after renowned Inuit artist Qaqaq Ashoona;
(3) I wanted to pick a nom no one else had probably ever chosen;
(4) I wanted to create the coolest word ever.
Of these, (4) is closest to the truth. I remember sitting on my bed with a clipboard and a sheet of paper and doodling all sorts of possibilities: my #1 choice for a long time was DENARIUS (my real name, Norman Payne, transposes to “a Roman penny”). But early on I had doodled QAQAQ just as an interesting letter combination, and no matter what nom with a real meaning I considered, my eye just kept going back to QAQAQ. Eventually I realized I wasn't likely to come up with anything I liked more. It has a pleasing look and sound (I think, anyway), uses cool letters, and is a palindrome. It is a cool word.
The only other nom I ever considered was a suggestion of Hudu's in 1988 or so: JET LAG (a “trip pain”). I thought that was so nice, I almost decided to change my nom.
So now you know the truth, unexciting as it is. And now when you overhear me explaining my nom to some newcomer at a convention, you'll know I'm lying.