Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Guess What? I Am Imagining If Something Living Had Qualities Of Machines, or Vice Versa!

This theme gets old fast. So you can tell what it is. "What if I had to talk to a computer the way I talk to a person? Wouldn't that be CRAZY??" or "What if I could solve a human problem by dealing with it as though it were a computer problem? That would be HILARIOUS!"

218 (not that it's bad in this case - I like this one a lot)
I'm not going to count 237 because he might be talking to a person on the other end. If it were a computer, though, then it would be on the list.
285 (also pretty funny)
327 - as I've stated elsewhere, one of my least favorite of all time.
329, but any joke about the Turing test would be on this list so I can't hold it against him.
371 - textbook example of this category.

DAMN that's a long list. I had a fairly broad interpretation but still...damn.

Like all these collections of worst offenders, I actually wrote it way after the date it says, but I didn't want it on the main page.


  1. Just curious, what do you do for a living? As a developer, I looked at the ones you disliked the most, and thought, "hey, these aren't Randall's worst comics!"

    I actually enjoyed the one about the Mom naming her son something that would delete the Students table from the database.

    I agree some of his comics could be better...but I'd choose different ones to dislike.

    It's like the Far Side, or Dilbert...as time goes by original humor gets very hard to keep up. Sometime in the future, like all comics, xkcd will end. I don't think the time has come yet though.

  2. It's a fair question Aaron but I hope you don't mind if I'd rather not answer it. Just an privacy on the internet thing. I am not, however, a computer programmer. I don't think it affects my judgment of the comics as much as some people think, but you are not the only person to tell me that Bobby Tables is very very funny.

    I agree of course that it's hard to keep up the humor - but I think that rather than keep going, Randall should just stop and be happy with what he's done, and not force himself to keep going.

  3. I have to agree with Aaron. I've really liked a lot of these - though I understand that the repetition can become droll.

    Then again, I'm also a computer scientist, so I suppose I'm in the target market.

    Overall, though, I agree with some of what you're saying. xkcd has become less entertaining, is certainly repetitive, and I'd love for Randall to fix it.

    It's good that someone speaks up - xkcd is too often treated like a sacred cow.

  4. I object to 174 being put on this list. It's completely irrelevant to computers or machines, as far as I can tell.

  5. Huh - yeah that is a mistake. It is gone...now!

  6. Shouldn't this list include the gyroscope and the toaster with a knife?

    How about the mutant sporks going crazy and killing people?

  7. I'm not sure those really fit the category - gyroscopes strikes me as more like just a wacky robot (not particularly human, for a robot) and the sporks are just deadly. Close though. I can see why you suggested them.

  8. why is this not on the repeat offender list?

  9. Because you touch yourself at night!

  10. It was, but you'll note that he actually has stopped doing it that much - only 2 in the last 200 comics or so. So it seemed a little unfair to leave it there. Not to mention that it would look kind of pathetic to say "Argh he does this ALL THE TIME let me prove it" and then have my data here prove that he doesn't do it all the time anymore.

  11. Dude, bashing on xkcd for "People as computers" is like reading Cyanide and Happiness and saying "Gee, a horrible pun and characters with a complete lack of morals or social taboos. Where have we seen this before?", followed by a link to every single C&H ever.

  12. I'm confused by the accusation of unoriginality. Yes, there's lots of human-computering going on here; it's a nerd comic. But there are a variety of jokes about lots of different computer-related stuff. Putting the Wikipedian Protester, Python Guy, and Arcade FPS guy in the same box for the sake of calling Randall uncreative is disingenuous. It's a theme, not a straitjacket.

    ...Also, you didn't understand the zealous autoconfig strip? I barely understand how my computer connects to the Internet, and I laughed. That strip's a pretty good example of what's wrong with your groaning about reused themes; yes, you have a computer talking, but the joke is about taking autoconfig to its illogical conclusion, not about the theme itself.

  13. Nun, Math - the some of these are good comics. I'm not saying they are all the same, and I'm not saying they are all bad. I'm just saying that it seems like he returns to this fairly narrow theme pretty often. In fact, on this one, I don't even think he has been doing it that much recently, that's why I stopped linking to it from the main page. No need to get defensive on this one, it is merely here to be a catalog of which comics do this.

  14. Ok, I can see that position. I just reacted badly to the combination of your comment on the subject in 612 and the "this gets old fast" comment at the top of this page. Sorry.

  15. It's not a fairly narrow theme. It's an extremely broad theme, unless you think that "Wall-E," "The Matrix," and "Frankenstein" are similar premises. In fact, it was really Mary Shelley who made that a principal question of the last 2 centuries with the publication of her novel in 1818. Go back through these comics and see how incredibly different they are in theme and style. And good work proving the two truisms: "some xkcd comics are good; others, not so much" and "there is something really lacking in polish about this art that is purposely lacking in polish."