Saturday, January 2, 2010

Where's Your Webcomic?

Hello, my name is Rob, and I am utterly incapable of producing anything creative at all. This is why I criticize things! You see, critics cannot write anything of their own. All they are capable of doing is write negative reviews of things. This invalidates all of their negative reviews! (Positive reviews are, of course, unaffected by this.) It makes it very difficult to be a critic, because you have to write a best-selling novel in order to criticize fiction, a smash hit film in order to be a film critic, a platinum album in order to write music reviews, and, of course, a successful webcomic in order to write webcomics reviews. So why don't we all just focus on that, if we hate it so much? OH RIGHT it's because we are incapable of producing anything.

Not every cuddlefish who makes this attack demands that we make our webcomic as successful as Randall's, of course. Some seem like they would be content if only we produced something--I think the implication being that you are only capable of either writing or criticizing; never both. I guess that means that if only we were to produce something--anything!--this blog would immediately go away.

I will start with the assumption that none of us produces anything creative, because it is easily dismissed. This is not true! Several regulars create their own webcomics. I write morose microfiction on my blog nearly every day. Some others write fiction of their own, and I expect there are other artists I'm not aware of in our midst.

With that said, let's continue: do critics need to be experts in the field they are criticizing? (Spoiler alert: no, no they don't.)

That is certainly a question! Unfortunately, the skill required to read something is not the same as the skill required to write it. Ditto art, music, film, et cetera. The job of the entertainer is to entertain an audience. If a member of the audience did not like it, the entertainer has failed in this regard. This does not automatically make their art a failure, but it does mean that the person who failed to be entertained is entitled to express why it is they disliked it. Even--no, especially--if they are not experts in the field. Most of us are not.

So! XKCD. We mock it regularly. It is pretty terrible these days. The regulars here--a diverse cast, all!--routinely dislike it. Routinely! And we derive pleasure from mocking it. Am I somehow more qualified to write about XKCD because I'm a writer than someone who doesn't write? Because they are quite capable of disliking it just as much as I am, and they might have a different perspective.

I can envision scenarios where being a writer would make me like something more, and situations where it would make me like something less. Similarly, mathematicians and scientists are often equipped to find things they like or dislike that I simply wouldn't notice in XKCD.

This particular cuddlefishism confuses me, I think because it is pretty much the textbook definition of an ad hominem argument--if I point out, for instance, that Randall is too wordy and that if he tightened up his dialogue he would produce a much sharper comic of higher quality, and some cuddlefish comes and says "yeah I don't see your webcomic," he is doing nothing but ignoring the argument by attacking some quality of mine--in this case, that I am not a popular webcomics artist. Does this somehow make Randall less excessively wordy? No, it does not. Does it somehow mean that his comic would not improve if he trimmed it down a bit? No, it does not.

And for the record, literally everything that I have ever written, including the terrible stuff that I don't let anyone see from middle school, is better than the average XKCD.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/
GUYS it's carl here! look over on the left I made a WHOLE LITTLE AREA with links to these recent posts Rob made! that is so special. i hope he writes more. I also linked to them from the FAQ (the "lame" faq) in the answers to the relevant questions. Keep an eye on Rob guys, he is an up-and-comer on the blog.

120 comments:

  1. Thank you, Rob, for going all meta on us.

    I wanna add that it doesn't take any effort at all to make a webcomic these days. Maintaining a webcomic, with good art and great writing, on a tri-weekly schedule, is very hard. Especially when you have zero readers.

    So, if all you draw is stickfigures 3 days out of the week, it shouldn't suck this much.

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  2. I have made fun of the comic. I humbly submit my crap so I can continue to do so:

    http://pegasusfortnight.com

    Although its not really a webcomic but more of an idea dump. It's just so happened that lately most of my ideas have been comics. Also yes, shameless plug.

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  3. ROB STOP MAKING AD HOMINEM ATTACKS.

    everyone else: ignore what rob wrote, it must be wrong because he made an ad hominem attack

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  4. I have been enjoying these posts of Rob. They deserves a side panel (though not one up so high, especially above the sacred "Angriest Rants section).

    It doesn't seem like the art has ever been addressed directly as whole. Is there a post on that?

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  5. What happens when Rob runs out of all the forms of Cuddlefish attacks (he's already covered 99% by volume) to rant about?

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  6. Landon: I don't think there has, but I'm not sure exactly what you're asking. Could you clarify?

    Adam: There are a few options! Either I stop ranting entirely or I do some more meta-commentary about things besides Cuddlefish attacks.

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  7. 'It doesn't seem like the art has ever been addressed directly as whole. Is there a post on that?'

    What does this mean?

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  8. Also 12:16 Anon and anyone else who is enjoying these: thank you!

    Jay: I think he means have we written any posts discussing the (visual) art style of XKCD broadly, or just posts which broadly attack things that Randall does in his writing.

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  9. well who the fuck is going to read all of that?

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  10. Alternatively, simply demand to see your detractor's critique-blog.

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  11. You bash that strawman, Rob. You bash that mother fucker as hard as you can.

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  12. Come on Rob, if the trolls are able to bait you like this, they win. Rational people already know the arguments you're making, so why waste your breath on the intentionally irrational?

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  13. You might wanna learn what a strawman is before you make a fool out of yourself again.

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  14. So uh guys have you ever read any of the comments on this blog? Rob's not exactly pulling these things out of his ass, people say them all the time.

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  15. Guys. You've repeated this self-aggrandising nonsense so often I'm concerned you're starting to believe it. We don't think have to be artists to be critics: you just have to be better critics. Y'know, get articles published in journals or magazines, maybe identify a second or third target for your phenomenal critical faculties. I think what people dislike about you is less the fact that you don't create anything (apart from microfiction, a discipline for people who lack the attention span for Twitter) and more that you seem to think of this blog as something to be proud of. You're not a community of critics. You're a couple of nerds who are jealous of the success of a talented nerd. This would be fine, but let's not try and dress it up, okay?

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  16. Well technically, I don't give jack shit about if you can't make a webcomic, but it's hard for Randall to make a comic that you people would like, especially 3 times per week.

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  17. Ooh, there's a comment I can respond to.

    Short version (for people who lack the attention span for Twitter): you're a dumbass.

    'You've repeated this self-aggrandising nonsense so often I'm concerned you're starting to believe it. We don't think have to be artists to be critics'

    Guys, did you know that Jeff is the official xkcd fan spokesperson? He speaks with the authority of all!

    Plainly, people do think that we have to be artists to be critics, because that argument is made with annoying frequency on this blog. Just because you don't think that - well, clearly Rob's post wasn't addressed to you, was it? It's not like he called out you personally and said, "JEFF, THIS IS WHAT YOU THINK."

    This is really pretty simple and I shouldn't have to explain it to you!

    'you just have to be better critics. Y'know, get articles published in journals or magazines, maybe identify a second or third target for your phenomenal critical faculties.'

    Wait, what? You can certainly disagree with the criticism on this blog, and disparage our critical abilities - justifiably, in some cases. But this is an asinine reason for doing so. It's just a different version of the ad hominem argument Rob mentioned in his post - "you are not a respected critic, therefore what you say is invalid." Do you think you have to be published in a magazine to publicly criticize anything?

    'I think what people dislike about you is less the fact that you don't create anything (apart from microfiction'

    Retarded.

    'a discipline for people who lack the attention span for Twitter)'

    More retarded. Yeah, let's disparage an entire discipline of writing, why don't we. Despite an obvious ignorance of the strengths and history of that discipline. Also worthless: all short forms of poetry (especially haiku, UGH) and songs shorter than 3 minutes.

    'and more that you seem to think of this blog as something to be proud of.

    Where are you getting that idea? I don't think any of us think we're changing the world here. I think we look at this blog as something diversionary and fun.

    I do not randomly accost people in the street and say, "I am the proud author of not one but SEVEN xkcdsucks guest posts." I would imagine that holds true for most of us.

    'You're a couple of nerds who are jealous of the success of a talented nerd.'

    Dude, you can't use the word nerd as an insult when you obviously are one (and don't lie and say that's not what you were trying to do.) I can say with 100% pure unfiltered honesty that I am not jealous of Randall Munroe. I don't actually dislike him or even think about him much at all.

    'This would be fine, but let's not try and dress it up, okay?'

    That wouldn't be fine, it would be pathetic, but that's not what's going on here.

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  18. 'Well technically, I don't give jack shit about if you can't make a webcomic, but it's hard for Randall to make a comic that you people would like, especially 3 times per week.'

    Apparently!

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  19. Actually Jeff, we're jealous of the success of a talentless nerd who keeps putting out a shit webcomic time and time again and makes a comfortable living from it.

    Wouldn't it make you jealous if I had a TV show that only showed a literal piece of shit for its entirety, and if I'd make a living out of this TV show and get praise for being a talented intellectual? You're just fucking jealous of my cleverness.

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  20. You know, you guys have every right to criticize XKCD. Seriously, it's a Web Comic, and while I do enjoy reading it, I have from time to time found myself agreeing with (though not all) a few points that you've brought up in some of your posts. Really, I only have a few problems with this site, ones that are not addressed in either of your FAQs, but right now I'd only like to focus on one main one that's popped up a number of times (Since this post is focused more on criticisms than an individual comic, it seemed like the most appropriate place to say this):

    You have, on occasion, gone out of your way to specifically single out and mock posters on the XKCD fourms; ones who have quite possibly never even heard about this blog, let alone said anything bad about it. It is one thing to defend yourselves against people who are criticizing you. It also one thing to perhaps mention how the forum "as a whole" is reacting. It is another thing completely to go in there and make sniping comments about complete strangers who are just expressing their opinion. I've seen this in both main posts and comments (meaning it hasn't exactly been discouraged by the community.) And please don't say that you're just treating the fans of the comic how they've been treating you. The fact that some members of the XKCD community have come here and been uncivil in their comments does not give you or anyone else the right to go there and trash completely innocent people in front of what appears to be a growing number of readers. Besides the fact it detracts from what this site is supposed to be about, (The comic, not the forum) it's mean, it's uncouth, and if you want to be taken seriously by people who would otherwise actually listen to you with an open mind you should stop doing it. (and at least actively try to encourage your fanbase to stop as well).
    If you contest ever having allowed this to be done in the main posts of your site, I'd be happy to provide examples.

    I do have other criticisms, ones which I would like to civilly and politely bring up at some point, but this has been bugging me for a while, and I feel it should be addressed before I mention anything else.
    Thank you.
    -Sgore

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  21. Well first of all I think it's totally okay to make fun of specific forum posters because they represent the XKCD community, and he's making fun of the XKCD community. Would you prefer if he sent them an EMail telling them that he made fun of them on his blog?

    Second of all, I think you guys _should_ make a webcomic, not to prove that you're better than Randall, but because it would be hilarious.

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  22. 2 things:
    1. It wouldn't solve the problem of the fact that these people are being attacked for just innocently expressing their opinion, in many cases without any idea such an attack would happen, and that regardless of who it may represent they didn't DO anything to personally deserve such ridicule, (as I've said, I respect your right to criticize XKCD, and as a whole if you feel the fandom is doing something, you have every right to say so, but targeting specific people just because they like the comic is as bad as people targeting you because you don't. I don't condone either.)

    2. That being said, yes, if it is still for some reason felt to be necessary that you single out individual posts/posters on here, it seems only fair you let them know about it so that they can defend themselves.

    In fact, even better, if you absolutely have to quote individual posters from XKCD's Fourms, why not just quote them anonymously, not link to the post, curtiously send them a message saying that you've quoted them, and then allow them the opportunity to reveal that they were the ones that posted the quote/defend themselves if they want to. Mind you anybody with a search function could still go there and try to find the post in question (which is why I'd still prefer if you could avoid from the practice entirely) but at the very least it will make it much harder for people who just want to read and express their opinion about a webcomic not have to deal with being unfairly mocked.
    -Sgore

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  23. 1.

    'And please don't say that you're just treating the fans of the comic how they've been treating you.'

    So now you can only criticize someone if you've been criticized by them previously?

    'Besides the fact it detracts from what this site is supposed to be about, (The comic, not the forum)'

    If anyone would go and make a blog called "xkcd individual comic forum threads suck" the internet would collapse because it's actually true. So this is the best place to complain about the xkcd individual comic forum threads.


    2.

    Now you just have to make up some whimsical acronyms with which to link to the rants whenever a fellow cuddlefish presents you a strawman (this seems to work for Wikipedia). I'd suggest DUMB and PAIN.

    - Anon 11:43

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  24. Randall doesn't have to make a comic that I like, three times a week. I'd wager that no comic in the world is funny, all the time, to everyone. Personally, I'd be happy with a laugh from xkcd even once a month or something, as long as there's stuff that really stands out like the earlier work. Right now, his comics are utter mediocrity at the absolute best.

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  25. *Typo: I just noticed my miswordings in the last sentence there. It should read "at the very least it will make it much harder for people who just want to read and express their opinion about a webcomic to be mocked." Darn my misuse of double negatives. (Anyway, I'll respond to the anonomyous comment above me in a moment.)
    -Sgore

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  26. Anyway, to that anonymous poster, I'm pretty sure only your first point was directed at me. (If not please elaborate further, as I apologize but I appear to have misunderstood.)

    If I am correct, To that I would like to say:

    A. Clearly you know that is not the point I am trying to make given the fact I've already stated I have no problem with you criticizing XKCD. My problem is that there is certainly a difference between criticizing a work that has been put into the public eye for judgment, and criticizing someone expressing an opinion on said work. (and then not even having the common courtesy to let them know you are doing so.)

    B. Your facetious suggestion not only sidesteps my original argument, but isn't valid. The best place to complain about individual XKCD comic forum threads, is the XKCD forum, not a blog for criticisms of the comic.
    -Sgore

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  27. How is a post on an Internet forum less "put into the public eye for judgment" than a webcomic? Sure, less people are liable to see it, but everyone still can see it.

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  28. 'I'm pretty sure only your first point was directed at me.'

    Yes, I started to write my reply before you wrote you your second.


    'Clearly you know that is not the point I am trying to make given the fact I've already stated I have no problem with you criticizing XKCD.'

    Yes. I meant that you seemed to imply we should only criticize XKCD fans if they addressed this blog somehow.

    'and criticizing someone expressing an opinion on said work.'

    As that anonymous Anon said at 12:09, public forums are still somewhat public. But I guess you'll counter that forums should be somehow protected.

    'Your facetious suggestion not only sidesteps my original argument, but isn't valid.'

    Of couse it is not.

    'The best place to complain about individual XKCD comic forum threads, is the XKCD forum, not a blog for criticisms of the comic.'

    (I've hoped you'd say that!)

    I've enough common sense to understand that registering to the XKCD forums just to bitch about their comic threads would probably be regarded as trolling there. I also understand that it's not regarded as trolling here, to some degree. (BTW I didn't criticize any XKCD forum individual yet.)

    - Anon 12:24

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  29. Because the intent behind someone who has a comment on a creative work someone else has made differs from that of someone who has created and uploaded said work. Yes, they are both just as available to look at, but while the latter may be aware they're opening themselves up for possible critiques, the person commenting does not necessarily realize this is the case.

    True, you are certainly just as physically capable of criticzing said people. If that is the point you are trying to make, I see no reason to argue with you there. It doesn't much address the fairness of it though, which it isn't, and which as I've been saying is why this is a practice that should not only be stopped, but discouraged.

    Criticize XKCD all you want. Seriously. But if you were told there were a group of people out there that took innocuous statements you wrote regarding something you happened to enjoy (or for that matter did not enjoy) and then began laughing at you without your knowledge, you probably wouldn't have the most favorable view of them. Even if you did for some reason, you probably wouldn't consider it very fair.
    -Sgore

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  30. If you don't realize you're opening yourself up to potentially be criticized by posting on a forum that anyone can view, that's your own fault.

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  31. In order:
    A. I apologize if that was the message I had gotten across. I was preemptively trying to brace for the possible argument that because certain members of the forum have come here to do such a thing, it justifies doing it do other certain members of the forum who have not.

    B. ...Well for the most part yes, I did argue that. (See above post.)

    C. If you have a valid critique of a comment someone makes on a forum, I don't know of a single message board that would consider you a troll if you actually make a post regarding such a comment. Yes, you may have to defend yourself against those that disagree with you, but so you would have to on any message board.

    Now if someone were to go on a message board and completely blatantly and rudely insult a forum member, that might be considered trolling. Whereas if someone politely brings up a problem someone has with a certain poster's comments, (And makes it clear they are not doing so just to provoke an angered response, but because they are genuinely troubled by a post.) then the fault lies not with them, but with those who would then accuse them of trolling.
    -Sgore

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  32. 'Because the intent behind someone who has a comment on a creative work someone else has made differs from that of someone who has created and uploaded said work.'

    Right. It /is/ important that we don't criticize one of them for what the other did.

    't doesn't much address the fairness of it though, which it isn't, and which as I've been saying is why this is a practice that should not only be stopped, but discouraged.'

    Exactly as I predicted, you want to protect forum content from being criticized.

    'and then began laughing at you without your knowledge, you probably wouldn't have the most favorable view of them.'

    I'm sure someone will do exactly this with what we've written here. Someone will read this and laugh at how stupid I am. (Oh, hi there!) Only I doubt they'll comment on how stupid this particular "xkcd sucks" commenter Anon 12:47 is over on "xkcd sucks sucks". (Or will they?)

    Look, maybe you're right and we should all send gift cards and best wishes to all the people that don't respond to being criticized somewhere on the internet. I just don't care as much as I should.

    So long,
    - Anon 12:47

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  33. "If you don't realize you're opening yourself up to potentially be criticized by posting on a forum that anyone can view, that's your own fault."

    So, your argument is that it is alright prey on the obliviousness of other people?
    Once again, just because you are capable of doing something does not mean you should. You can do this, of that I am not arguing with you. You shouldn't because it is unfair. Hold yourselves to a higher standard than that.
    There are people out there that want legitimate criticism, but don't want people who happen to disagree with them mean-spiritedly turned into targets.

    And again, if you feel you absolutely must do this to people, at least have the common decency to let them know.
    -Sgore

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  34. Randall does know. He doesn't want to, though.

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  35. Life is unfair. Then you die. It'd be nice if the world ran on rainbows and kitten farts like you seem to think it should, but it doesn't. When someone in a public forum is being an idiot, I will call them an idiot. It's my right to speak freely about such things - there's a little amendment in our Constitution (hint: it's the first one) that guarantees my right to do so. I'm fine with you expressing your opinion that it's mean to make fun of people, but we are entitled to our opinions, and we are entitled to express them in any way we see fit so long as it does not break the law.

    tl;dr QQ, nubcakes

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  36. On an unrelated note, while my artistic talents are severely lacking, if anyone wants to write a webcomic with me, I'd be happy to offer input.

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  37. A. Thank you, we agree there.

    B. Well yes, basically I do want to protect forum content from being criticized, at least in the sense that it is somehow just as justifiable to go after those people that have something positive to say about XKCD as it is to criticize XKCD. I don't see what's so wrong with that. It is a strange kind of logic that assumes the best course of action to take when confronted with an opinion a person disagrees with is to single out said person for ridicule in front of a number of other people and not even make the attempt to let the person in question know this is being done even if there are reasonable methods by which you could do so. So you have predicted of me sir. So you have...does that at all invalidate my point?

    C. If somebody does this to you or myself or anyone else who has enough stamina to respectfully express their opinion (Of which I do sincerely thank you for.) then it shows a complete lack of caring or tact, one which I am trying to ask this blog avoids appearing to have.

    It appears you are leaving, but again, I thank you for respectfully debating with me. Hopefully I can get a response from either Carl or Rob. Somebody who regularly writes posts for the blog.
    -Sgore

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  38. 'Randall does know. He doesn't want to, though.'

    Because that totally matters. Because we didn't talk about Randall at all.

    'It's my right to speak freely'

    Sure. The point being: you don't /have/ to use it to make life even more unfair.


    A. It cannot be!

    B. No but I sure like to predict people.

    C. Yeah..

    BTW guess I'll be still staying a bit here. Don't believe anything of what that filthy liar 12:47 said ;-)

    - Anon 13:27

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  39. Adam,
    I'm not sure you were following the argument. Obviously Randall Munroe knows about this blog. That wasn't even what I was discussing. Again, I believe you've got every right to criticize XKCD. I've got no problem with that. Please re-read my arguments.

    The_P,
    I find it odd that whenever somebody tries to point out a flaw with the way in which somebody is conducting their rhetoric, the basic response is that they have the first amendment right to say whatever they want. Of course you and anyone else has that right. I am a huge fan of that right. (For goodness sakes, if it were possible, I would buy that right a ticket to Disney World and go on Space Mountain with it. It is sadly not.) I'm not arguing with your legal right to do anything.

    I'm saying you should stop making people into unwitting targets because it's wrong. There is nothing that says you HAVE to treat people with at least the barest level civility. There is nothing that says you HAVE tell them you are doing this if you still feel it is absolutely necessary to do single them out.

    But you should. On a level of basic decency, you should. On a level of having enough compassion and respect for the right of those people to express their opinion (even if not respecting the opinion itself), you should have those standards.
    -Sgore

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  40. Aw man, I get a comeback from Jay? Not even one of the good guest eds? Okay, real quick then:

    I think what people are getting at when they say "where's your webcomic", a specious argument by itself, is that you appear to think that what you're doing here is somehow worthy in and of itself. As for the idea that you don't really think it matters that much, from you FAQ section:

    "it pains me to see lousy humor, and, like genocide, I simply cannot ignore it and have the problem go away."

    Yeah, you guys are really keeping things in perspective.

    But you're right, that's just my opinion, and I shouldn't have used the word "we". Maybe we could take a vote on why people think you're a retard. Would you mind just taking a show of hands from your immediate family?

    Defiant: Perfectly reasonable point. I can understand why success you feel is undeserved would be irritating and cause jealousy (up to a point - I think some on here overdo it). What a shame that Jay completely undermined your argument by not only saying that he isn't jealous of Randal, but actually putting it in bold so no-one could miss it. So you were also wrong to use the word "we": you've underestimated the stultifying lack of self-awareness of Jay and his ilk.

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  41. If people keep complaining that I'm letting the trolls win I'm going to have to start making meta-meta-commentary. Just stop it.

    Sgore: First, thanks for being coherent and intelligent!

    Let me just say that in quoting commenters on internet forums and linking to their posts, we have more journalistic integrity (NOTE TO ROVING CUDDLEFISH: I AM NOT SAYING WE ARE A JOURNALISTIC WEBSITE) than some television news networks, who have a tendency to treat user comments on places such as Wonkette as something that the website itself wrote, and don't bother to provide any citation besides "Wonkette said they were 'mad, mad, mad.'"

    We are doing them the favor at least of linking to their posts in context. People can go read them and see for themselves if we are singling them out to mock them, if we took them out of context, or what-have-you. They can read the whole thread if they like.

    The problem with informing them politely is basically: I feel like that's a lot more of a dick move (seriously--"hey, I used your comment as an example of how stupid I think people are" is not a nice email to receive). They probably don't want to know about this website existing.

    I mean, there's no real way to do it politely, but this way, I think, is generally more considerate.

    Having posted a few "read the forums to see what they say" comments (though not often because the forums make me cringe) in the past, the intention has generally been to capture the spirit of the response, or, intermittently, to see if Randy gets his desired "GOOMH" reaction. It's hard to do without specific examples.

    And the thing is I view forums as a public space. Of course, here this turns into one of those messy internet and privacy discussions, so here I'll stop.

    Oh, and to "microfiction is for people who don't have the attention span for twitter" dude: pretty sure you don't know what microfiction is! Mine tend to be about 250 words--that is a page. Twitter is less than 140 characters, which is a little more than 20 words. I write it because I like having a discrete story every day, as well as various other reasons.

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  42. "I think what people are getting at when they say "where's your webcomic", a specious argument by itself, is that you appear to think that what you're doing here is somehow worthy in and of itself."

    We don't. We think it's fun.

    "As for the idea that you don't really think it matters that much, from you FAQ section: "it pains me to see lousy humor, and, like genocide, I simply cannot ignore it and have the problem go away." Yeah, you guys are really keeping things in perspective."

    The internet is for hyperbole. Maybe you have heard of it?

    w/r/t jealousy, please see here, you illiterate prick.

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  43. So you're criticising television news networks for being unscrupulous now, eh? Where's YOUR 24/7 journalism channel?

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  44. If their opinion is stupid, I'm not doing them a favor by lying and acting like it isn't. If you never inform someone of their ignorance, they remain ignorant. Your attitude is everything that's wrong with the American educational system - if the kid's an idiot, fail him. If people aren't ashamed of their idiocy, they are doomed to remain idiots.

    In other words, you are the one doing them a disservice. You are the bad guy here. You just like being the "nice guy" because it makes you feel better about yourself. You don't actually give a shit about the people you're defending. You are a white knight of the worst kind.

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  45. Rob, I thank you for responding.

    You make a good point that linking to the post in question allows it to be read in context and more fairly. I will have to concede that part of my argument to you.

    On the front of not informing them however, it is true there is no easy way to let them know you are doing it in a polite manner, but, keeping in mind the idea of journalist integrity, if you were quoted in a newspaper or television broadcast, doesn't it seem right that you should be at the very least notified of this? (I'm sure there probably have been reporters that don't notify people they're quoting, but if there's a reasonable way to do so, and reasonable to expect the person might not otherwise know they're going to be quoted, it doesn't seem right not to try and let them know.) It is possible that people would take offense at being mentioned in this blog. Even if you make it abundantly clear that you are not criticizing them specifically but using them as a representative of a specific viewpoint, they very well may still take offense. However, I would hope they would at least draw some respect from the fact that you informed them of this, that you gave them the opportunity to defend themselves in what I would hope would be a calm and well thought out manner. (I know, unfortunately, that not everybody would respond like this, but given that they are fans of the comic it's not impossible they'll end up reading this blog one day, and definitely not impossible to assume they'll come across a post in which they are mentioned. At least knowing you had the courtesy to inform them beforehand will give them some level of reason to comment respectfully.)

    Yes, it wouldn't make things easier, and yes it may be inviting some offense (meaning it would certainly have to be made clear as possible to the person in question that no offense was intended), but it would show to those that might otherwise disagree that this blog has the aforementioned respect and civility to allow those it's criticizing a fair chance to respond.

    In the end it is a policy decision, and definitely one for you to make, but I again thank you for listening to me, and certainly hope you will at least take the points I have brought up into consideration for future posts.

    Thank You to all Those that have been kind enough to respectfully Debate with me!
    -Sgore

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  46. Don't see how it's relevant, Robbie.

    You don't think he's talented.
    He's successful.
    You're jealous of his success.

    Is there something I'm missing in your longwinded and unlettered essay? You talk about talented people you admire, and then say you're not jealous of them. But that's because you think they're talented. Come on, Rob, you understand why that doesn't work as an argument. Again, this is just vapid self-deception from someone who seems like a moderately bright lad.

    I was going to add that I genuinely don't believe you've ever had sex, and recommend you give it a try. But the internet is for hyperbole, not undeniable fact.

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  47. The_P,
    Your comments might be more valid were I to be advocating not telling the people being mentioned this blog that they are in fact being mentioned. I am advocating the opposite of that.

    Also, thank you for tying my argument for civility to the downfall of public education and a malicious intent to make myself feel warm and fuzzy inside at the expense of others. It was all completely relevant to the argument at hand and totally not at all insulting on a personal level...

    ...
    -Sgore

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  48. @Jeff - Nobody who makes the claim "Rob/Carl/Aloria/Jay/etc. hates XKCD because he's just jealous of Randall!" can possibly mean what you've been saying. Because if you're right, the extent to which Rob is jealous of XKCD is the extent to which XKCD sucks. That is, if he's jealous, it's BECAUSE he thinks XKCD blows. He doesn't somehow think XKCD blows because he's jealous of Randall.

    @Sgore - We have no obligation to protect the feelings of the idiots who post stupid shit on the XKCD forums. If they say stupid shit in a public space, what's wrong with linking to it and saying "Look: This is some stupid shit"? I suppose you should say we shouldn't do it because then it might hurt their feelings, so we should just pretend nobody says anything stupid.

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  49. You're kinda new to this whole Internet thing, aren't you Sgore?

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  50. Sgore: Look at it like this: if you cite a book or paper in something you write, you don't generally need to notify the writer unless you would like them to read it. I can see where you're coming from, I just am not entirely convinced

    Jeffy: "Is there something I'm missing in your longwinded and unlettered essay? You talk about talented people you admire, and then say you're not jealous of them."

    s/talented/successful and you have the point you have missed, because apparently you are an illiterate fuck.

    These people are all just as successful as Randy, if not, in the cases of Gaiman and Pratchett, significantly more so. If I were jealous of people who are successful, then I would also be jealous of them. (Here is the part where you say "it is because he is successful and lacks talent that you are jealous," which also fails to ring true, since that would imply that I am jealous of the surviving writers for the New York Times, or Stephenie Meyer, or directors of shitty-yet-successful movies, and I'm really not.)

    Why is it so difficult to comprehend that sometimes people legitimately dislike something, not out of jealousy, but because they are constantly exposed to it and it is terribly written? Why is it so difficult to believe that we are having fun mocking a comic? Sometimes people dislike something you do, without any ulterior motives. You should probably learn to come to terms with that.

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  51. Rob, I am happy you can at least see where I am coming from. I suppose the difference here is that unlike an academic paper, much of the activity of this (And many other) blog(s) comes in the form of its open commentary system, and not just the initial posts themselves. If the posts were something that stood on its own, that would be one thing, but given the interplay between bloggers and commenters, a blog such as this turns into a conversation of sorts. Not inviting someone mentioned in the start of this conversation to be a part of it still strikes me as unfair to them.

    Femalethroth,
    I fail to see the problem in asking for civility. I've already concieded that I can understand the necessity of linking to the posts if it is still felt absolutely necessary to bring them up in order to make an argument, but I don't like people being made into defenseless targets, completely unaware they're being ridiculed in the next room and completely unable to defend themselves.

    Anonymous guy who asked me if I'm new to the internet,
    Nah, but I've been around long enough to appreciate anybody who asks me that. ;-)

    Thank you.
    -Sgore

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  52. Sgore: I guess part of it is we don't exactly want them to be part of the conversation. I am not trying to be a dick here, but most XKCD fans are not going to participate in intelligent discourse here. They're going to post the arguments that I've been writing about. They're going to ask why we're so jealous. They're going to say that no one is forcing us to read it. They're going to demand to see our webcomics. The odds they will actually defend their mentality coherently is pretty slim. It's not impossible--it's happened several times and I appreciate each and every one of them--but it's unlikely. Encouraging them to come is going to lower the discourse here. Hordes of indignant cuddlefish are never pleasant.

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  53. Bobby,

    "Here is the part where you say "it is because he is successful and lacks talent that you are jealous,"

    Theeeeere we go. You spotted it. That's what you didn't mention anywhere in your initial piece. Actually, the part where I say that was three comments above your last one, but we'll let that go. You're jealous of his undeniable success and his perceived lack of talent.

    As for not being jealous of Meyer et al: you don't care about Stephanie Meyer! The president of Bolivia is successful - just because you're not jealous of him, doesn't mean you're not jealous of anybody! Randall's success affects your life because you're a nerd (as am I, as is Randall), and because you can picture yourself in his position - highly regarded for his cultural output, being offered publishing deals, having sex with hot nerdy chicks. To steal a phrase, Randall Monroe is living in Nerdvana. And you think he sucks. You're telling me that you're not even a tad jealous about any of this? You're actually saying that your dislike for this comic is concurrent with the amount of time you spend writing about it? You're right. It's difficult to believe.

    The Meyer argument would only be valid if you were also a middle-aged woman desperate to impress teenage girls (not that you're NOT desperate to impress teenage girls, but you see what I'm saying). Randall has cornered your market, and that's what you can't stand.

    And again, I know you can follow this, you're being willfully pig-ignorant because you don't want to admit you're jealous, you don't enjoy losing arguments, and you're a tad insecure.

    I know that you've made friends on this site, friends you probably badly need. I wouldn't dream of impinging on your free speech - go right on writing what you want about who you want. Call me anything you like. But do me a favour and ask yourself - is this actually the thing that you enjoy doing most in the world? I know I made an uncalled-for dig before about your lack of sex life, but honestly, wouldn't you rather be doing that?

    There's so much to do, so much to learn, so much to create, people all over the planet are fizzing, buzzing, overflowing with ideas and ambitions. Your jealousy (I really hope we've got to the bottom of that now, please don't come back and say "He's not talented, he is successful, he has everything a nerd like me could possibly want. But I'm not jealous", it's beneath you) is made worse by the fact that you could do something like that too. If only you weren't spending your time doing this. Here's the part where you say "it's just one of the things I like to do, I also write kick-ass microfiction and have a insane porn collection". Do whatever turns you on, Roberto. Just don't expect anyone, apart from your buddies on here, to care, ever. We are in serious danger of becoming a generation so keen to be critics, we're not going to create anything of value.

    Which make my hypocracy obvious. If I believe in what I say, what the fuck am I doing on here? Well, don't worry, I won't be back. Peace out, baby!

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  54. Man do you really mean to tell me your dislike of Robs jealousy is proportionate to the amount of time you spend writing these comments? Oh, you addressed that, and clearly lampshading flaws makes them untrue or something!
    Also see: what Mal said
    and "But do me a favour and ask yourself - is this actually the thing that you enjoy doing most in the world? I know I made an uncalled-for dig before about your lack of sex life, but honestly, wouldn't you rather be doing that?" What I enjoy most in life is making music, so it's a good thing my guitar is plugged directly into my computer, negating the typing noises, and that I've mastered the art of typing with my penis, and am a brilliant multi-tasker, or I might have to stop for a moment while I respond to you! But I just finished recording and have to get on to mixing, which I cannot do with this page open, so goodbye.

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  55. Aw c'mon you've just reached a new level in smug cudddlefish argument you can't leave now.

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  56. Jeff, you are aware that people have these things called hobbies, right? Just because your only awareness of Rob is on this blog doesn't mean he actually spends all his time here.

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  57. Honestly, I don't know why people are even bringing up "Okay, but what if you're REALLY jealous because of Randall's DISPROPORTIONATE success?"

    Let's just track the claims.

    1.) When we say XKCD sucks, our commentary is invalid, because we're just jealous of Randall's success.
    2.) We're jealous of Randall because XKCD is so awful and yet Randall is so successful.

    Come on, now. The thing is, even if we were jealous as described in 2.), it wouldn't do anything to invalidate our criticism.

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  58. "As for not being jealous of Meyer et al: you don't care about Stephanie Meyer!"

    That's not actually true in the least. Each of the examples I mentioned are examples that are perfectly culturally relevant to me.

    "Randall's success affects your life because you're a nerd (as am I, as is Randall), and because you can picture yourself in his position - highly regarded for his cultural output, being offered publishing deals, having sex with hot nerdy chicks."

    That really doesn't affect me in the least. I might be jealous if he had talent--I don't particularly want to be famous for writing a shitty webcomic, if it's all the same to you.

    "You're telling me that you're not even a tad jealous about any of this? You're actually saying that your dislike for this comic is concurrent with the amount of time you spend writing about it? You're right. It's difficult to believe."

    Let's recap, shall we? One: I do not spend that much time writing about it, and I am generally doing other things while writing about it. Two: I enjoy mocking XKCD, the same way I enjoy mocking bad movies. I could spend a very long time mocking most bad movies. It is enjoyable.

    So, yes. I am not jealous, and my dislike for the webcomic is concurrent to the amount of time I spend writing on it. Indeed, I kind of pity Randall, as I explained in the comment thread on my previous post.

    "Randall has cornered your market, and that's what you can't stand."

    Except he hasn't. I don't want XKCD fanboys to be my fans. He hasn't cornered my market in the least. He's cornered a market I'm not particularly interested in--the one for nerds who think they are the greatest people on the planet and like feeling smug and superior.

    "And again, I know you can follow this, you're being willfully pig-ignorant because you don't want to admit you're jealous, you don't enjoy losing arguments, and you're a tad insecure."

    I admit, I admire the tack you're taking of "you're intelligent and deceiving yourself." Unfortunately for you it isn't working, but it would probably work really well on your average XKCD fanboy, who's really desperate for any kind of approval.

    Alas, in this case (me talking about what I feel), I am, in fact, entirely confident that I'm right. There is no insecurity involved. It turns out that you don't actually know me better than I know myself. I'll do you the favor of not making assumptions as to where you're getting these bizarre conclusions about me--I will only observe that they are entirely wrong, and suggest that you might consider examining yourself to see what might cause you to make such inaccurate assumptions about someone. An unexamined life and all that.

    "I know that you've made friends on this site, friends you probably badly need."

    Tch. You should probably avoid the anti-social tack in the future. It really detracts from an otherwise brilliant "come on, you're too intelligent to actually think the things that you think" argument, which is really my favorite way to troll someone.

    "But do me a favour and ask yourself - is this actually the thing that you enjoy doing most in the world? I know I made an uncalled-for dig before about your lack of sex life, but honestly, wouldn't you rather be doing that?"

    I have a perfectly fulfilling life outside of the blog here, thanks. The blog amuses me, as I've said. Are there other things I could be doing? Sure. Some of them are currently impossible or impractical for various reasons.

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  59. "If only you weren't spending your time doing this."

    This is not preventing me from doing other things. If all I did was write the blog maybe you would have something, but all it does is gives me something to do when I am bored. It requires very little effort and keeps me entertained and even helps sharpen useful skills.

    "Just don't expect anyone, apart from your buddies on here, to care, ever."

    About the blog? About the other things I do?

    "We are in serious danger of becoming a generation so keen to be critics, we're not going to create anything of value."

    Except for all the things of value I've already created, of course.

    "Which make my hypocracy obvious. If I believe in what I say, what the fuck am I doing on here? Well, don't worry, I won't be back. Peace out, baby!"

    Color me dubious.

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  60. I have a question. Which has been brought up in the past but has failed to receive an answer from the xkcd fans.

    We're not allowed to criticize xkcd and Randall's work because we don't have a webcomic.

    Okay, if we accept that statement at face value...

    Why is it okay for Randall to criticize the Star Wars Holiday Special? I haven't seen him make a TV holiday special. Doesn't that mean he has no right to criticize it?

    Why is it okay for Randall to criticize Michael Bay? I haven't seen him make a multi-million dollar movie blockboster. Doesn't that mean he has no right to criticize?

    Why is it okay for Randall to criticize Orson Scott Card's "Xenocide?" I haven't seen him make a full-length novel. Doesn't that mean he has no right to criticize?

    So why does Randall get a free pass on things he criticizes in his comics, when he hasn't done those things, yet we're not allowed to criticize a webcomic unless we create one? It seems hypocritical at worst and ignorant at best.

    Or do you only have to create something to criticize it if you don't agree with the criticism? So if we don't make a webcomic, it's perfectly okay to say xkcd rules and is awesome. But if we say it sucks, now we have to make a webcomic for our opinion to have weight?

    So now we come to another problem. If one cannot say xkcd sucks without having a webcomic, then one also cannot say xkcd is great without having a webcomic.

    In short, saying we cannot criticize xkcd without a webcomic produces two problems: 1) Randall is prohibited from criticizing anything except other webcomics (no movies, books, TV shows, or games allowed), and 2) xkcd fans are prohibited from saying "xkcd is the best webcomic ever!" without having their own webcomic.

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  61. Rob,
    I appreciate your honesty.
    Like I've said, this is really more a policy decision than anything else, and one that of course isn't my decision to make. I hope at some point you come across enough trustworthy and civil fans of the comic enough to change your mind in that respect.
    I will make my leave from this discussion for now. I may not have changed your mind, but I certainly hope I've brought up matters that you will at least consider in future posts.
    Thank you again for hearing me out! I sincerely am glad I was able to have such a mututally respectful discussion.
    -Sgore

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  62. Sgore: Always glad to have intelligent people stop by. I wish they were not so rare. There is really nothing I enjoy more than having a legitimate, intelligent discussion with someone who disagrees with me on some point--unfortunately this sort of discussion is rare.

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  63. If you want to piss off cuddlefish, keep reverting the xkcd link out of this wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Centrifugal_force_%28rotating_reference_frame%29&action=history

    And make a bitch comment on the talk page about how we don't know xkcd in every fucking science article (randall gets all of his material wikipedia anyway).

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  64. Jeff, your use of diminutive nicknames is a cunning rhetorical strategy.

    'And again, I know you can follow this, you're being willfully pig-ignorant because you don't want to admit you're jealous, you don't enjoy losing arguments, and you're a tad insecure.'

    Thing is, when you try to make a psychological evaluation like this, it's hit-or-miss. If you guess right, then I guess you make your opponent feel bad about themselves or whatever, and sometimes they lash out angrily and look the worse for it. If you're wrong, then you don't accomplish anything. You just look stupid in their eyes.

    Self-awareness doesn't mean believing the worst about yourself. I can be very petty in some ways, but this is not one of them. So nyah!

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  65. I like Jeffo. He uses the same trolling techniques I do. He is just using them on someone who sees them for what they are. He is also a little too smug.

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  66. Sgore, you're pretty cool!

    I basically agree with you, actually. I don't think it is necessarily OK to treat people like that ("this comment is stupid" is fine, but some of the things people say cross the line.) Really though, I can't bring myself to feel bad about it, because it's such a minor thing. I don't think I've ever seen someone criticize a forum poster and run with it for more than a few lines, and most of the insults are pretty tame - nothing really vicious. I think people make a few mean throwaway jokes and forget about it the next day. This really bothers you? (honest question)

    re: inviting them into the conversation, I don't agree. I am pretty sure that would not be welcome on the xkcd forums. And I think anyone who made a habit of that ("look man someone insulted you on the xkcdsucks blog") would be made to stop pretty quick.

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  67. I don't like him because I am pretty sure he believes his own shit. Which, interestingly, is the same reason he doesn't like me. (us)

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  68. Nate - I like your point about when xkcd criticizes other things, but I think I know what loophole the cuddlefish will use: xkcd makes fun of things, but it does so once or twice and then stops. It doesn't harp on the same topic, like I do, for ever.

    Still, I'd like to see how some people react to that...

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  69. In case you were still caring Rob, what I meant is: Has there been an article in which the main thesis was to address the poor quality of art in XKCD?

    Carl said he doesn't harp on that because he knows that Randall actually CAN draw. But isn't that all the more reason to be angry about it? He CAN draw good but he doesn't! Sloth! Right?

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  70. I really hope this doesn't hurt my business.

    Look, I know xkcd sucks.

    I really do.

    But the fact is, it's making me money, good money. Why should I give that up? Because it's bad? Apparently others disagree, but I don't see why I should put myself out of business with the pictographic blog, being that people generally are not willing to make purchases to represent a blog. It's fine if you don't like it, neither do I. It is just what I do to make a living.

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  71. RANDALLLL WHY DON'T YOU RESPOND TO MY DAILY E-MAAAILLLLLLSSSSSS

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  72. Not that I'm aware of. I'm not a visual person; the only time I complain about the art is when he does something really weird with it.

    For the most part I don't mind the art. It is better than most stick figure comics. He tries to make the medium do things that most people would assume it can't, and some times he does a pretty good job of it. It's just sometimes people hover over chairs and have disconnected heads.

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  73. Keep up the good work, Rob!

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  74. Yeah, I do have to say, they are awfully pretty stick figgers. Most of the time he does pretty well with them. Sometimes, though (such as in the Harriet the Spy comic), he seems to be completely loony.

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  75. Carl, you need to get an avatar of some sort, so I can scroll down quickly and still notice when you comment. Get on that, eh?

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  76. So now that the record is hopefully set straight about expertise requirements to express criticism, I'd ask what your thoughts are on expertise required in giving semi-constructive feedback (especially that in the vein of "this/that would make xkcd better" or "post punchline dialog is bad for this/that reason"). Don't worry, I understand that most of what goes on in the "this would make xkcd better" vein is just for fun, I was merely curious what you thought.

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  77. Good question! I'm not sure I have a terribly good answer here: I think that it helps to have a background in creative writing to help with some of his fixable tendencies. Look at this one, for instance. I liked this one a lot and still think it is pretty good, but looking at it critically, it has way too many words. He could cut out most of the first panel (just make it "every morning, we tell the robot to kill"). It would be a lot cleaner and more concise. Especially given that this is an ASW pastiche (this is not a parody), the less the better.

    But that doesn't mean you need a creative writing background to give constructive feedback, you know? Even if you needed it to really notice that the verbosity is unnecessary--you probably didn't.

    When it comes to giving suggestions to improve instead of just finding fault, it helps to have some expertise in a relevant field so you can spot errors or areas that could use improvement as more than isolated incidents--you are usually better equipped to point out why something is wrong, and thus point out how to improve. But this isn't always the case.

    (In my specific case, I can think of several things Randall could try to fix some of the problems with his writing. It's often just a matter of sitting down and doing some exercises.)

    Obviously, since Randall is primarily a writer, and it's usually the writing that gives Randy problems, I think the best expertise you could have in order to give him the best feedback is some background in language, either in writing or in literature or something. But there are other fields that he dabbles in, and sometimes all you need is a well-developed sense of humor.

    Sometimes the best tool is just a critical and creative mind!

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  78. Anon 10:31 again...

    I agree overall with all of that. As a natural science person I feel very out of touch with what even makes an expert in creative fields, sort of like in xkcd #451 (minus the condescension -- I'm more likely the person who could be fooled by the person in the last panel given my lack of knowledge). But I agree developed creativity and sense of humor go a long way in a good/fun discussion of whatever is being criticized.

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  79. life is a neoclassical pastiche,

    would you not agree that life is a neoclassical pastiche?

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  80. Walls upon walls of text, all because of a blog about a harmless webcomic on the internet.

    Wait crap now you'll analyze my post about how the webcomic is actually kinda sorta maybe a little harmful. Please don't do that.

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  81. xkcd killed my family when i was seven

    not cool, not funny, not a good comment.

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  82. Shut the fuck up you jealous nerd.
    Despite what you say you are obviously just jealous you couldn't create a good webcomic. XKCD>you forever.
    Posts like this only make it more obvious.

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  83. I really don't understand how anyone can think xkcd is a great comic. Not even when it was at its peak.
    It's just horrible self-referential humour that panders to the predictable tastes of its fanbase. It inserts itself into internet culture, and has somehow succeeded.

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  84. It succeeds precisely because it has made itself synonymous with internet culture. It started as just Randall Munroe, The Everynerd, doodling in his sketchbook. He was, like many nerds, interested in everything, but he was mostly just trying to entertain himself. Simple puns, pretty drawings, some cool concepts.

    Other nerds saw these and found them charming, because at first it basically was the Randall Munroe Illustrated Picto-Blog. He was ambitious, and at the very least he was not merely rehashing old internet culture. His references, such as they were, were reasonably intelligent. He was making observations about the world that weren't just trying to amuse his fans yet.

    This, then, was a webcomic by nerds, for nerds. And nerds love the internet and passed it around with more enthusiasm than most webcomics ever get. His fame and influence grew, and he started worrying about his audience. His audience was the internet: the types of people who would be part of the internet culture, and not merely browse it.

    So he wrote comics to the entire generation and culture that was reading. And Randy is clever, creative, decent at drawing, and at least reasonably intelligent. He was pretty good at becoming a part of that culture.

    I think it was probably about the time that he was on a panel at ROFLcon with moot and Ryan North that he became a pillar of internet culture, rather than simply a notable example thereof. (Why Ryan North did not become one is another story entirely.) It may have been earlier. He engaged his fans with fan meetups encoded in the time and coordinates, and with geohashing. He encouraged his fans to think of themselves in an active way as XKCD fans, and he made it so that being a fan of XKCD was being a fan of the internet itself.

    As XKCD commandeered Digg and Reddit (do other comics do this with such regularity? I never use either site) its influence grew to other internet luminaries, and since his comics are creative commons and he talked about subjects a lot of geek blogs talked about, suddenly he became a common way to illustrate blog posts.

    In essence, Randall's career was one that made him in many ways appear synonymous with internet culture, and so to hate his comic is to hate internet culture--in the eyes of the fans. This is why the "target audience" jab is so common. To the fans it is inconceivable that anyone who is a fan of internet culture could not like XKCD.

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  85. Carl, you send Randall daily E-mails?

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  86. rob i hear you badly need friends

    can i be your badly-needed friend

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  87. No! Noodle Buddy gets to be Robbies funfun!

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  88. Applications for Rob's Badly-Needed Friends are now open. Please form an orderly queue.

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  89. Noodle Buddy Apply. Here is my application - http://silvercode.net/home/dhitch/wp/content/eggnoodles.jpg

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  90. Ah yes, the ad-hom fallacy. The most commonly misused term on the interweb, normally used whenever someone disagrees with someone else. But ya definitely nailed it, Rob. You may be one of only 5 people I've ever seen point out an *actual* ad-hom on the net.

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  91. I am glad someone noticed! I almost felt compelled to point out that I was using it correctly as an educational tool.

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  92. mr. oxford jackass, i know you are pretending to be long gone but i will have you know that i have plenty of sex and still have time to go on this blog. i also go to school! and, believe it or not, i do go out with my friends! if your life is so simple as to have sex and sleep and clearly post comments on this blog that you do not deem worthwhile, then you sound like a common whore.

    rob i feel like your story about how randall+xkcd has become so successful will one day be found by internet historians, it will become a sort of internet fairytale too. the sequel will tell how ryan north lived on forever because he stayed true to himself instead of pandering to his audience

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  93. So Rob, are there any webcomics that you consistently like? Or are you just spending you internet time pissing on something that you don't like? (Not judging you if you are, it's a time honored internet tradition)

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  94. Yes, I like lots of webcomics. A Softer World, Dinosaur Comics, Hark! A Vagrant, Gunnerkrigg Court, Bad Machinery are my favorites, but I read a lot of other ones that I mostly enjoy.

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  95. I happen to like Xkcd, not all the time, but most of time I find it at least mildly amusing. You don't? That's cool. There is nothing everyone likes. The only question I have is the comment about you taking pleasure in mocking it. Taking pleasure in insulting something on a regular basis is generally regarded as a rather antisocial character flaw of someone with very little to offer in support of their existence. You really view repeatedly mocking someone as a good use of your time? Since there is absolutely no reason why Randall should ever give a crap about your opinion, this all just seems like an incredible waste of your time (yes, I know, my opinion doesn't mean crap to you, but this is two minutes of my time, how much do you spend pissing about xkcd?).

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  96. no rob! it's not ok! this man has struck at the very core of this blog's existence! SHIIIIIT

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  97. I'm curious why he thinks that taking pleasure in making fun of something is "generally regarded as an antisocial character flaw [?] of someone with very little to offer in support of their existence." I don't think I've ever met an intelligent, well-adjusted person who thinks that--intelligent, well-adjusted people think it's a lot of fun and also think that it has no bearing on what you have "to offer in support of [your] existence." Whatever that means. Are people supposed to justify their existence now?

    And you're calling us anti-social. Fucking sociopaths.

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  98. I feel like I wouldn't ever be gaining anything from actually posting on this. It's not like there will ever be an eventual change of mind and I'd feel all happy that I've changed someone's opinion. If you hated xkcd, then it'd go on your tombstone (not literally, of course. It seems like some people don't understand what people write and takes pleasure in making fun of something they're not getting).

    But I'd like to point out that when someone says, "Oh yeah? I'd like to see you do the same," it actually means they are asking for you to prove your merit. It's an example of ad hominem, true, because without your "merit", no one would ever believe you until you get any merit. But then again, it's a logical reasoning that's usually true. If your opinions are right, then how do you compare to others in terms of validity?

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  99. i frequently post suggestions for how to make comics better. I think that's pretty good. you may think they aren't good suggestions, but they are.

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  100. Not even going to bother reading the comments to see if anyone else mentioned this, but a reason why critics of any medium are rarely people who create in that medium is that if you are busy being creative etc, you probably don't have time to see the products of others all the time to have a basis for your criticisms.

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  101. I think it's more that there's the idea of a community of artists, and if you criticize others then you risk alienating the community. but authors, at least, have a long and glorious tradition of writing scathing insults about each other.

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  102. It's spelled "cuttlefish" by the way, unless you're making a bad pun.

    Belittling those who disagree with you isn't going to get you anywhere in life. Honestly, go to hell.

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  103. "It's spelled "cuttlefish" by the way, unless you're making a bad pun."

    it would be if I were talking about the cephalopod. I am not. I am talking about cuddlefish, which refers, depending on context, either to the legion of anonymous commenters on this blog, or whole the corpus of commenters of same. but thanks for playing!

    "Belittling those who disagree with you isn't going to get you anywhere in life."

    well, nobody here is belittling those who disagree with them. we are belittling those who produce something shitty--be it a shitty webcomic, or a shitty argument about why the shitty webcomic isn't shitty.

    but that's just semantics. is it going to get us anywhere in life? I guess you could argue that making a successful career out of it is "not getting anywhere in life," but you'd have a hard time of it. of course, this blog doesn't generate enough to make a sustainable career, but it does generate enough ad revenue that Carl is able to offer a hundred and forty dollar prize to people who have done nothing more than remix an XKCD comic that he found amusing.

    so, apart from generating a significant number of pageviews, comments, and far more money than most websites will ever see, and criticism being a legitimate career for a large number of people, as well as a pastime that many individuals find enjoyable, and a way to contribute to the eternally ongoing artistic conversation, yeah, I guess you're right. how's commenting pseudonymously on old blog posts working out for you, by the way?

    "Honestly, go to hell. "

    aw, what's that you said about belittling those who disagree with you?

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  104. Rob, i really hate to be the one to break this to you, but all you're doing is pulling out all the "big" words you can think of to win an argument, hoping against all hope that the assumption is true that everyone else on the internet will just stare blankly at them with a dumbfounded look on their face and nod and agree, thinking that it's "big" words, so his logic and argument must be infallible. Yeah so to you, all the vague generalizations that you've learned about life make sense. You're hardly the expert here, and it's just drab you're spitting out. if you don't enjoy xkcd, well that's life for you.

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  105. wait, I was using big words? really? like, you honestly think that the things that I've written contain an abnormal amount of big words? that's the most tragic thing I've ever heard.

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  106. what's tragic is you're assuming that every thing you spit out is applicable. You're entire blog is based on your assumption that everyone else out there is stupider than you, way to connect with your audience. I'm very sure that i could pull out hundreds of examples of more complicated ideas and logic, but the problem is, you don't know what you're talking about. All of your refutes is just insulting the next guys intelligence. I don't know why you think that you're enlightening the masses and have it all figured out, you are one of the masses and have no more of a clue of what makes humor than the next guy.

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  107. actually when I write I assume that my reader is just as smart as me and is just as disdainful of idiot fucks like you.

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  108. probably one of the most intelligent responses i've ever gotten too, you really know how to win an argument

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  109. I really only waste my time with real responses on people who have two braincells to rub together. you are not one of them. sorry.

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  110. you're too clever for me Rob, too too clever. You've given a whole new level of understanding of this for me: "Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience". Come on, the argument Rob, refute the argument.

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  111. oh, you had an argument? I thought you were just stringing together a bunch of inapplicable insults. apparently the argument is actually too stupid to be perceived! maybe you could point it out for me?

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  112. I just wanted to point out 'critics cannot be creative' = bullshit. Charlie Brooker, one of the most famous and unrepentant critics of just about anything in the UK wrote a successful, excellent zombie satire of Big Brother. He writes four different shows of his own, which he also presents, often including his own sketches, jokes and material, as well as running his own production company. Maybe you're just not trying very hard? :p

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  113. ...yeah, that's, uh.

    the entire point of this post.

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  114. I think he misread your rant as saying that critics are incapable of producing any art, not just that they don't have to. I can understand how you'd be confused, though, because that's not what you said at all.

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  115. One-sentence shot-down of a one-sentence mindless troll:

    You don't have to be a chef to know when food tastes bad.

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  116. so where's your webcomic, then?

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