Thursday, May 20, 2010

Comic 742: Horror Story

wish i could still see Are You Afraid of the Dark

"The call is coming from inside the house!" is one of the most cliched lines in American scary story culture. How cliched is it? The very first Simpsons' Halloween Special features Lisa ending a story with it (Bart is not scared in the least). That's from nearly 20 years ago. Now I'm not trying to say that Randall is actually trying to be scary here - of course he's not - but I'm just saying that all he's done is take something incredibly cliched and add some nerd cred to it.

I actually think the easiest way to explain why this bothers me is to do it with a different medium telling the same joke.

This comic is nearly identical to the shirt which reads "There's no place like" (a slogan thinkgeek likes so much they sell not only the shirt, but a bumper sticker and a doormat too), which I dislike equally. All it's doing is taking a word, "home," and replacing it with a computer nerd phrase that essentially means the same thing. Wearing this shirt is akin to saying "I know that means 'home' " -and nothing more- and laughing at it means saying "So do I," and no more. In short, it's a way to signal to others that you have a piece of knowledge. Nothing else. As such, I find it incredibly obnoxious.

[a quick note: contrary to what some people will say, you do not need to know exactly what 192.168/16 means in order to get this joke. the "it's coming from inside the house" line is so strong a cliche that any reasonable person, like myself, can figure out what 192.168/16 means exactly]

All that aside, this is the second comic in the last three that has cooler than usual art - it doesn't make up for bad jokes, of course, but it's better than the same thing with lousy art. I hope it represents a new direction for the comic.

i feel like I should link to this old comic but I can't quite say why, besides the fake-horror-story connection.

Problem Sleuth review should be up later tonight.

Does anyone know if you can still buy gift certificates at TopatoCo? I know you used to be able to but I can't find it anymore. I am trying to get contest prizes but it is difficult. I may have to switch to some other form of prize.


  1. i did know exactly what 192.168/16 meant and did not get the joke.

    just puttin that out there

  2. then you are retarded.

  3. To be fair, it's not directly comparable to the "no place like" joke, since that one is grammatically incorrect. "It was in the 192.168/16 block" is something someone could plausibly say. There's also the joke that not only is someone taking an old cliché and substituting it with a networking concept, but that everyone else is taking it seriously.

  4. I have no idea what 743 is about. Is there supposed to be some sort of ironic connection between using a closed-source word processor and everyone using Facebook? I mean...what? Someone explain to me what the 2003 stuff and the 2010 stuff have to do with each other.

  5. They're all in the same general area of trusting your information to a proprietary piece of software. The 2003 guy is trusting Microsoft not to be "Evil" and suddenly stop supporting the format, making the newer versions not compatible with the old ones. The only reason you can trust Microsoft not to do this is because it is not in its best interest.

    But, with Facebook, you now see that, if it is in their best interest, a proprietary company will do something you don't like. The same people who have been touting open source software have been pointing out that Facebook was selling people's information. They offer an open source solution, where you can see exactly where your data is going.

    I agree that the connection is tenuous, but the joke is not lost on the target audience. (which is the whole point of xkcd.)

  6. ^Which leads me to actually discussing the article. If you're going to make fun of the strip, surely you can come up with bashing xkcd's entire purpose for existence.

    It's like making fun of an episode of Star Trek when they trek through the stars. That's the whole point of the show!

  7. Latest comic: Randall is annoyed that people who evangelise about open source to their friends all the freaking time are labelled as lacking perspective and has been watching the Internet eagerly for the last 8 years waiting for a chance to say he told us so, thereby making him feel smugly superior.

    There's so much wrong here I don't know where to start. How about the fact that convincing his friends about open source stuff wouldn't have stopped the rise of Facebook? (unless you're friends with most of the West's population and are pretty damn persuasive). Or how about the way that he compares using MS Office to willingly handing all your personal information over to a social networking app, as if they're even remotely the same thing just because they're both proprietary closed-source programs? Or the way that the comic is just an excuse for him and all the other enlightened ones to lord it over the sheeple once again. Or the implication that it's ok to feel smugly superior if you're right.

    ok, stopping now, before I find other stuff in the comic to get angry about.

  8. The worst part is you are reading along getting all these weird feelings about how Randall is admitting the nature of open source superiority complexes... and then you hit the next panel and...


  9. See, I hate Facebook's approach to privacy, and I like the concept of open source. I just can't see how the two are related.

    (Though anyone just now complaining about Facebook's privacy issues is a little behind the times.)

    The better equivalent would be copy-protection and rootkit installation etc, but that's not topical.

  10. The connection is tenuous because if you don't say anything, nobody can contradict you. He's asking people to fill in their own connection that makes "Open Source is important" the logical conclusion.

    Document formats are not directly related to Open Source and neither is related to data privacy (well, maybe document formats, incidentally). He's confusing three different issues and acting smug about it. The tenuous connections are poor indeed: for instance, the 9:38 anon poster's falls apart when you realize that having your private data made public is not similar to breaking backwards compatibility in a document editor.

    He managed to get my hopes up for this one and then dash them in the last panel. That's pretty much the opposite of how comics should work.

  11. I had no idea that was a cliche.

  12. 743: the smuggest XKCD ever? I think so. It reminded me of this:

    "We need to be open source--oh, crap, I forgot to tell a joke!"

    The recent facebook thing is annoying, but I don't see how open source will solve it. I can still set all of my facebook settings to "friends only" if feel like it, and it's always possible that the open-source masses will also decide to remove everyone's favorite films, etc.

    I've never had trouble opening a .doc. OpenOffice supports .docs, so it's possible that the first guy created a .doc in OpenOffice. Even if he used Word and MS took out .doc support from Word 2010 (highly unlikely) and stopped providing free document viewers on its website (again, highly unlikely that they'd completely and unexpectedly drop support for their flagship document type), the file could still be opened with OpenOffice. It's not like open and closed source are mutually exclusive. So get over yourself and stop evangelizing.

    In Randall's world, men with beards get to have their heads attached to their bodies. Clean-shaven men do not. (Also, the bearded man has hair on his head (as have all of Randall's women), but the other guy does not. I guess most of Randall's characters are really bald old people or going through chemo or something. It's the only logical conclusion. If I spent 7 years in chemotherapy, and some prick started lecturing me about open source, I'd punch him in the face).

  13. 743 is obnoxiously pretentious, but I think Randall got dangerously close to self-critical again. Maybe he's learning how to be self-deprecating in a non-back-door douchey way?

    Ignoring those last two panels, I think the line "You have no sense of perspective and you're probably autistic," is one of the most well-written and actually funny lines I've read from xkcd in a long time. Though Randy probably wears his lack of perspective and probable autism as some kind of nerd medal of honor.

  14. One of my friends who like XKCD showed me the comic to prove that the only reason that I don't like it is because I don't appreciate the best jokes. I pointed out that it was probably a play on that old "the call is coming from inside the house" line. He insisted it wasn't.

    Seriously, what's wrong with cuddlefish?

  15. And here I was, thinking 743 was mocking the open source guy the whole way. Since you actually get the same crazies who went on about "be more open source!" going "haha, facebook are selling your details!" - quite a nice "man, they just don't get it" deal, in my view. Just making fun of the autistic OCD self-diagnosed aspergers kids who're always trying to be "different". As to the beard, I'm guessing it's meant to be a neckbeard, cause those faggots have them.

  16. Please get to "Infrastructure" it's fuckin HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!

  17. 743... dear lord the smug.

    I just couldn't help being reminded of

  18. Sure is /g/ in here.

    Anyway, I'll repeat that one guy's words: So much wrong with 743, I don't know where to start. Hell, to continue with the theme, I'm starting to feel my troll sense tingle.

    1) The comic is perfectly correct and I couldn't agree more, up to the last panel. Nothing has changed. The OSS evangelists who whine about docx are still the people who don't actually need to use docx, and who do not exist in a world where everyone else uses docx. Sometimes, you need a document format that supports everything, and supports it well, and not just a few features which a few basement-dwelling nerds with literally too much time on their hands thought were "cool". And it's very rare for "things you need to do actual work" to be a subset of "cool stuff".

    By the way, "Yeah your essay was good but the file format", what the FUCK? This is like asking your professor about your thesis, and they would prefer it to have a dark brown cover as opposed to dark blue, and you should have used the American English spelling of "criticise" in that one bit, and they offer NO input about the actual thesis.

    2) Docx has NOTHING to do with facebook. What the hell? Docs is a document format. It doesn't invade your privacy. It doesn't secretly send all your credit card numbers to MS whenever you use it, and I guess "if it did you wouldn't know, because closed format" but that is a retarded thing for a document format to do, and the same goes for suspecting it. By the way, if someone did suspect it, a court order would easily make MS reveal all the details. Besides, if they decided to add that, there's nothing stopping you from just using doc

    If facebook opened its source, would that somehow prevent the loss of privacy? Lol, OSS people. You must be smoking good stuff. It's not even "thinking about the infrastructure you use". Facebook is for making your private information freely and easily available to everyone. That's the whole point. That's why people use it. They consciously, deliberately do not want their privacy, in that they want everyone to know what their name is, where they live, what school they went to and so on. Because that's useful to them! It makes it easy to find and contact people!

    Now facebook changed its privacy policy over time, sure. But how is that different from, say, you staying in a hotel for two weeks, and after five days the manager says "lol, we decided your room shouldn't have any locks anymore and strangers can come and go as they please". You got scammed by the guy (hotel manager or Zuckenberg), duh. Is this new to you, that when you make a contract scammer can sometimes not follow it? Did you not realize precautions besides the understanding of contract alone should be taken? Please.

  19. 3) So OSS nerds wanted us to think about the implications of the tech stuff we are doing, in case something like "facebook" happens... Cool! But then how come in these 5 years they kept raving about docx and linux as opposed to, you know, facebook?

    4) What's so evil about facebook, anyway? What did they do? I know some people were cheating on their girlfriends, and were stupid enough to do it on facebook, so it was and for them when facebook got them caught. And there were the people who acted like douchebags, had pictures taken, posted on facebook, and then this employer who doesn't want douchebag employees wouldn't hire them. Huh. Oh, there's the guy who escaped from prison, and he was trying not to get caught, but kept posting updates on facebook so the cops got him. Damn, that's cold, facebook!

    I mean, yeah, selling your name and list of hobbies to marketers so you get ads about what you might buy instead of viagra (unless you are Carl, SUCK IT CARL) is sort of annoying and obnoxious of them. But evil? Evil is when you start a war out of the blue, then round up some people because of their race and burn them in ovens. When some "friend" of yours runs around telling everyone your name and what you like, that's not evil, that's being an asshole. The solution is simple; stop talking to the asshole.

    I just don't get this recent trend. First that one about blog content, now this. Randall seems to try to criticize something, but he does it so bad he ends up being a very convincing argument to the contrary, and I don't just mean in the idiot creationist makes you reconsider creatonism way. His strawman of the opposition is not actually made of straw, it's much more effective than what some of the opposition uses, and his own smug, clever quip is horrid. You know how a pro-skubber would say "Anti-skubbers are so dumb, they say [distorted, caricaturized strawman of an anti-skub argument]. How come [well presented pro-skub argument]"? It's like somebody who disagrees with Randall did that, and then reversed the order.

    God, I hope this becomes an angriest rant.

  20. Wait, isn't facebook actually BUILT ON OPENSOURCE TECHNOLOGIES? What the fuck.

  21. Okay how the heck is Facebook being made open-source meant to stop a hundred thousand people from joining a "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day" group?

    Or is Randall so incredibly out-of-touch with the world and internet that he actually made a comic about Facebook giving away personal information the same day that Facebook was banned from Pakistan?

    God, this comic is my definite worst in a very long time:
    1: It's another comic about something that isn't funny, so he tags a unrelated-to-the-comic punchline on the end.
    2: The punchline is completely lacking in humour.
    3: Fanbase pandering - Open-Source is good, Facebook is bad.
    4: Strawman. I would like to say that it was an actual attempt at a realistic character, but real people don't add "You are probably autistic" on the end.
    5: It's a comic about how great Randall is.
    6: Alt text. Not funny. More fanbase pandering.
    7: ...which it fails at, because it's /supposed/ to be .com, meaning the address doesn't even work!
    8: Art. If you're going with stick-figures, you can't just draw one as a regular stick-figure and the other with facial features. Unless the first stick-figure is meant to be bald, which I doubt.
    9: The being-oblivious-to-what's-actually-happening thing I said at the start of this comment.
    10: What the hell is the title meant to do with the comic anyway?!

  22. It's funny because "See this? It's the world's tinest open-source violin" is probably the most 'smugly superior, perspectiveless and probably autistic' statement ever.

  23. What the fuck? I mean really, what the fuck?



    I mean really- what does facebook have to do with open source.

    it's like, OH some unshaven cockholster in the street has told me to use a different document editor, I'd better do as he says because it makes such a difference to how I work.

    Then three years later- OH because I used openoffice facebook isn't selling my details! LOGIC ERROR.

    I mean I dont even USE facebook- and I use MSoffice because it came with the fucking laptop- but I use GIMP for image editing- and a variety of other open-source tools but I till feel horribly fucking offended by this shitty peice of authour insertion.

    this is smug GOOMH bait- and nothing more. I can't read code, I spend my productive time in a lab (doing science) so the only benifit of open source for me is the cost. SO can you read code? are you a computer scientist? HAVE A BACK PAT FROM ME. THAT IS ALL THIS COMIC IS SAYING.

    I mean, if I made a comic about all the things white middle class males did, and how awesome they were, WHO'D HAVE THE ANGRY MOB AT THEIR DOOR?

    This comic is fucking disgusting.

    MS word probably isnt going to rape my kids while I sleep.

    A self important, sex-obsessed, self-proclamed, leader of nerd culture with incredibly apparent social problems, on the other hand, is much more likely to do so.


  24. Linux is a superior OS, for superior people.

  25. Randall is faintly touching on valid points with 743 but frames it in an obnoxious non sequitur.

  26. I don't know guys. I have been back and forth on this one. I did not like it at first for the reasons you guys said about it being preachy, etc.

    Anon @1:56AM got me thinking about it more though with his comment "And here I was, thinking 743 was mocking the open source guy the whole way." While I don't think that is true based on his smug reaction in the last panel, I do think there is an interesting dynamic surrounding this in the alt.

    "The heartfelt tune it plays is CC licensed, and you can get it from my seed on whenever that project gets going."

    I thought that was a nice crack/comment on open networks. Because it is harder to monetize something that is open (especially earning enough to advertise), projects often have trouble getting off the ground or die in development. Additionally they are often plagued by server problems because of inadequate bandwidth, etc. I mean, certainly it is a bit problematic that FB gives out your social networking data in ways you might not have expected, but just like Google, they are really in the advertisement business. Everything else is just a method for them to gain control of your eyeballs and collect data for the purposes of improving the advertisement aspect. Without advertisement, they would not make money and without money they could not pay their server bills and the sites would either cost money or not exist.

    Just my 2 cents. Incidentally, FB uses a lot of open source software and contributes back to the open source community in many important ways with contributions to projects they offer. If anything, they are overly considerate of your privacy requirements as they severely restrict access that 3rd party apps have to your data even if the user using the app could have publicly seen that data if they just visited your profile.

  27. The new one isn't a comic. It's lines. Lines and words on a page. They are arranged deceptively - one could almost be fooled into thinking there was a joke there. But no. There isn't.

    Carl: maybe you'll just have to send the contest winners nudie pics of you, like last time.

    Most folks on The Forumz are just going "man open source software is so awesome"; there are some "I think I 'get' the comic, for everything up to the part where .doc is related to Facebook. Someone explain, please? Yeah, I might be ignorant and naive, we can skip that part.", which is good.

    Best comment ever: "Some files that I deal with are strictly to be kept in .rtf at all times. These being application version release notes.

    I don't really care about FailBook or violins."

    Violins. Pesky violins. That's the REAL moral of this comic.

  28. @Marshman: no, Randall wasn't trying to say that those projects don't work from funding. is, as they say on their front page, fully funded!

  29. has nothing to do with "home". So the "There's no place like" is even worse.
    See, is the computer your currently working on. Related to buildings, it's the building you're currently in. So when at work, work is When at home, When driving on the road, would be... the road? Not sure.
    Anyways, my point is, is that "There's no place like" doesn't translate to "There's no place like home", but rather "There's no place like where I am right now this instant!".

    Got to suck when you're on the move.

  30. Randall, you have no sense of perspective and are probably autistic.

  31. Well I guess we know Randall's not autistic, because no autistic person as smug as he is could handle being called "autistic" as if it's (gasp!) a bad thing without getting all righteously indignant about how it's not a disorder it's just that they can't fit in with society how do you know it's not society that has the problem you don't so shut up!

  32. 742 makes me rage. Many companies use the 192.168/16 address space and the other private address spaces on their corporate networks, fully routeable, often chopped up & spread across the world. I.E. 192.168.1/24 might be an office in Australia, 192.168.14/24 might be in New York, 192.168.233/24 might be in Siberia, etc. Maybe we're specifically discussing someone in a residential environment, but do we suddenly live in a world without VPN? If you're VPN'd to your company to work from home, you're liable to end up talking to 192.168 addresses on the other side of the planet.

    Randall strikes me as someone who has just learned of the existence of NAT after getting flamed for posting his private home LAN IP on some web forum. If he'd actually ever had a real job in IT, he'd realize how stupid he is.

  33. [a quick note: contrary to what some people will say, you do not need to know exactly what 192.168/16 means in order to get this joke. the "it's coming from inside the house" line is so strong a cliche that any reasonable person, like myself, can figure out what 192.168/16 means exactly]

    But the fact that you're determining what it means is (part of) what makes it unfunny. Or, well, what takes away the little "heh" of recognition that is what passes for funny in XKCD.

    The worst part is you are reading along getting all these weird feelings about how Randall is admitting the nature of open source superiority complexes... and then you hit the next panel and...

    This. I hate it when he does that.

  34. 743: I laughed, but only because the straw mans statements in panel 2 are proven completely right by bearded stick figure in panel 4.

    Also goatkcd has a much more realistic depiction of how such an exchange would play out.

  35. 743 is one of the worst XKCDs I think I ever read. There's just no way it works. First off, situation A and situation B are entirely unrelated. Hating Microsoft/closed formats has absolutely nothing to do with privacy concerns connected to a social network. If Facebook were a popular site using entirely open source tools to build its infrastructure, it could still use those tools in dickish ways. And a company could build an entirely proprietary/closed source social network infrastructure and still respect the privacy of its customers.

    Further, .doc as it was used in 2003 is almost completely transparent to conversion by open source tools today -- I can't think of a free/GNU public license word processor (or even free alternatives like Google Docs that aren't innately open source) that can't open the traditional .doc format, so the guy in the first panel was entirely right -- the 'infrastructure' of that era is entirely accessible to people using other tools today.

    So, the bearded Open Source advocate simply comes across as a monumental dick, because 'suddenly people care about whether or not companies do evil stuff' when they didn't give a shit about his cause seven years before. Which means the Open Source advocate is the personification of the worst kind of Linux/free os user -- the ones that make Debian's community utterly poisonous and promote a sense of 'ideological purity' over all other considerations.

    And we're supposed to agree with that figure and find him sympathetic.

    Oh, and there's absolutely nothing funny about the comic, either. It's not even trying.

    Oh, and there's no such thing as an 'open source' violin. The basic design of a violin is in the public domain. It requires no license of any sort to build one. The statement is nonsensical. It's like people who put 'cyber-' in front of everything remotely technological in 1996, only worse because said Open Source advocate has been presented as an expert rather than a marketing dilettante.

  36. Is it me, or did Randall completely botch the violin idiom? Usually people say something like "Hear this? It's the world's saddest song played on the world's tiniest violin." In any case, the important thing is the sound it plays, not the violin itself.

  37. You're trying too hard to hate this one. Your connection to the "There's no place like" shirt is weaker than the connection from this joke to "The call is coming from inside the house". A lot of the time, you're spot on with your assessment, Randall is not consistently funny, sometimes he puts out a completely awful comic (Which is why he has one of the slower update schedules in webcomics), but that happens with SMBC too, there are plenty of SMBC comics that don't make me laugh.

    I can't count how many of your blogs have torn into Randall for having badly drawn art, I realize you have more writers than your readers care to keep track of, but some standard standards would help.

    This comic is well drawn and funny. Deal with it.

  38. Mark, you're trying too hard to like this one.

    The connection between "There's no place like" is perfectly legitimate. The T-shirt replaces "home" with a computer term that means, roughly, loosely-speaking, "home". Ranadll has updated "The call is coming from inside the house" with "The IP address is from inside the house." It's taking a stock phrase/situation and updating it with technology. It's just that in this case, the technology is very slightly more opaque.


    (Which is why he has one of the slower update schedules in webcomics)

    Uh, what? Are you shitting me? Tons of comics are daily, weekdaily, or MWF, yes. But there's a bunch that are twice a week, a bunch that are once a week, a bunch that are "whenever the author can manage it", one that's Dresden Codak, and one that's VG Cats. MWF is nowhere near "one of the slower update schedules in webcomics." Unless you think that Penny Arcade and CAD and Darths & Droids are equally lethargic.


    This comic is well drawn and funny. Deal with it.

    The art is basically competent. For once. By standards other than "Randall's incompetent scribbles, that manage to fuck up stick figures for fuck's sake", it's nothing special.

    Funny? Only if you're in a good mood and inclined to be nice to Randall. There's a very brief, very formulaic "Ah-ha!" when you realize what he's talking about. He doesn't completely muck up the entire thing the way he does, say, 631, or 743. But still, not particularly actually funny.

    Like I said, in a better universe, this sort of rote material that can be cranked out routinely should be the absolute worst XKCD gets to, when Randall can't think of anything and so he respondibly churns out something that's relatively tolerable. When it's the absolute best XKCD manages to achieve, it's really outrageous.

  39. @Timofei: IMDB to the rescue! The Reservoir Dogs quote is

    Mr. Pink: Do you know what this is? It's the world's smallest violin playing just for the waitresses.

    so I assume he has the right form.

  40. Linux > Windoze

  41. Since it's not gotten much attention: UUURGH "smallest violin" quip. Look, Randy, let me explain this to you: your JOB is to come up with three jokes a week. OK?

    Tired cliched "Your mom" or "That's what she said" or even fucking "This is the worldest smallest violin" stuff is FUCKING PATHETIC it's the equivalent of fucking Moon in June in song lyrics. It's inexcusably weak. And that's used as the PUNCHLINE?!

    Oh fuck off.

  42. @Keep: but it's not supposed to be a punchline. It's supposed to be where the Folks At Home stand up and punch the air and go "Yeah! Take that, mainstream society! The answer to our problems was in me all along! I am socially inept: HEAR ME ROAR!"

  43. Mr S T Rawman's dialogue is rather bizarre. It's almost as if it's... spoken by a person.
    Realistic dialogue. In xkcd.

    The only explanation is this:
    Randall got mad with someone on the internet and to prove him wrong, decided to "totally pwn" him on his webcomic by lifting some his dialogue and destroying his argument (or so he thinks.)

  44. Exactly Mark - he has one of the slower update schedules in webcomics and he draws fucking stick figures and half-assed jokes.

    QC, PVP, Penny-arcade all publish on either the same schedule or every day, they have better art and are generally well written. Randall has no excuse!

  45. Open source is about having control of your technology if you want it, and having important technology be publicly accountable and scrutinized. This is important for infrastructure technologies such as documents and apparently social networking. I get the concept and how it is and isn't related, it's just an easier sell with the buzz of open source. It's also plugging Dispora, which is like the 3rd or so attempt at a "open source" (more so, decentralized or distributed) social networking technology.

    Because of privacy issues, I don't have a Facebook, and never did, and am really glad about that now (I hear you can change the settings, I don't care, I still don't trust them). I am currently waiting for this kind of technology to be more accessible.

    The comic is about how people just don't 'get it' until the shit hits the fan. Which is a concept I wholeheartedly believe i.e. why offshore drilling 3 miles down is 'probably' a bad idea. DRILL BABY DILL!


    i would have to disagree

  47. I like xkcd, but I'm not here to debate that. There's a webcomic that I find terribly, annoyingly unfunny, and that is APOKALIPS. I'd love to see a blog devoted to talking about how awful it is...

  48. Witness the power of open source in my edit of 743.

    Anon 11:23: "I like xkcd." Hence your opinion is insignificant.

  49. R, I fucking hate QC almost as much as I hate xkcd. Not sure why I told you that, though.

  50. Timofei: "Hence your opinion is insignificant."

    Way to be. Enjoy your simple close-minded life.

    BTW, your version of the comic is very lame.

  51. I hate QC a thousand times more than i dislike xkcd

  52. I am currently waiting for this kind of technology to be more accessible.

    What kind of technology? Facebook? How the fuck much more accessible do you expect it to get?

  53. oh wow, i just checked out qc (never read it before) and it's really, really bad. somehow, by throwing in "fuck" or "cock" it's supposed to suddenly become funny.

  54. The honest-to-god worst webcomic is definitely the Joy of Tech.

    It reads like a parody of bad tech comics. It is so deliciously awful.

  55. @Ann Apolis: That violin panel is clearly the 'witty' cap to the whole comic.

    You're right it's not a punchline, but that's only because it's so fucking awful.

  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

  57. Are we sure it's not an incredibly shitty marketing plant from Apple? It seems like what little content there is exists solely to prop up Apple, tear down their competitors, and attack straw man opponents.

  58. oh god dont get me started on QC. so so so so so bad.

    but at least a lot of QC readers ADMIT it's bad. like a soap opera.

  59. That's the thing though - QC is about indie circle jerkers hurking it all the time. You may or may not like the theme (I for one, am all for circle jerks) but you have to admit the artwork is better than XKCD and Jeph can at least write some semblance of a coherent storyline with actual jokes. Ole Randall, however, cannot.

  60. the latest comic is a perfect example of why XKCD is so terrible now. it's preachy and smug, and not really in a self-aware sort of way.

    first and second panels: here he portrays the people who use .doc instead of open formats as people who are prone to fly off the handle at the drop of a hat and insult you by saying that you are acting smug, have no perspective, and are probably autistic.

    in contrast, the freetard just read someone's essay for them, and is being relatively reasonable, apart from the 'you should use free software for your essays,' which Randy probably thinks is totally okay.

    the freetard cares about infrastructures and is nice and helps out his friends; the non-freetard will say that you are a defective human being. lesson learned!

    in panels 3 and 3.5, Randy then sets up what he imagines to be the counter-argument, or the exposure of the non-freetard's hypocrisy. the non-freetard comes literally running to the freetard (the one who he thinks is autistic) and says a line which no human would ever utter without sarcasm, and even then only if they were a freetard and therefore not a human.

    "oh my God, we handed control of our social world over to Facebook and they're doing evil stuff!"

    we are left to assume that the non-freetard is not being ironic here--Randy wants us to think that he is unwittingly exposing his hypocrisy for the world to see. it is very carefully and exactingly crafted, not to make the most sense or be the most realistic, but to seem the most hypocritical.

    the problem is there is nothing inconsistent about saying 'I do not care about free software; I want to use software that works,' or even 'while I support free software, if the proprietary version is superior I have no intention of using the free alternative merely because it's free,' and then complaining about Facebook being evil. maybe if 'proprietary/closed-source software is always superior' were your position. but no--'I will use the best of the available alternatives.'

    the value of social media is the people on it. the only way to make a good social network is to fill it with people you want to interact with. Twitter is better than because is populated entirely with neckbeards. Facebook will remain better than Diaspora for the same reason--nobody will ever use it. (I won't go into the other reasons Diaspora is shit, of course.)

    supporting free software doesn't change the fact that it's poorly organized and can't get its shit together. even if you do it exclusively. even if everyone did it exclusively. if everyone in the world supported free software we'd just have a lot more shitty, poorly documented software out there with hundreds of superfluous schisms.

  61. Oh sure, Randall gets crucified for being a smug, preachy, non-self aware douche, but when Rob does it, it's just him being "blunt" and "witty". I see how it is.

  62. The "you have no perspective and are probably autistic" line made me think for a moment that he's been reading this blog or a different one mocking him and felt the need to prove to the world that being obsessive about things that no one else cares about occasionally has real-world benefits.

    I will also happily start using open-source alernatives on the day that they can provide the same level of functionality as the closed-source proprietary stuff. In the meantime, I'll be over here enjoying my nicely formatted documents in MS Office.

  63. OK Rob, so you don't like open-source, so what's the alternative? Some kind of system where everyone has to meet industry standards? Standards set by the government?

    You can't hide your Marxist agenda forever, Robama!

  64. The dude has a douchebag beard and hair that he didn't even bother straightening out a little.

    ... and yet there is no strong indication that Randall was making fun of the mindset by applying that stereotype. *shudder*

  65. The thing about QC, as a few people vaguely hinted at, is that it isn't really read for it's humour. The jokes are always god-awful, but it has art, story(ish), and proper characterisation to back it up.

  66. QC's 'art' is complete dogshit. And the rest is "Lol girls fart too!" There is no reason to read that crap.

  67. I thought back, and I went through recent XKCD strips and I realised that I haven't laughed at any of them for a long time. I smirked at the Daft Punk one a couple of days ago, but that's it. This just struck me, and either Randall really has forgotten what a joke is (which would be a sad thing) or I've matured (which would be less sad).

  68. Speaking of xkcd, apokalips, sucking, and small violins:

  69. @Every single person who defends QC with "But the art is good":

    1) There are plenty of webcomics with better art out there. QC's art is not bad, but it's about average compared to comics that are not at XKCD-levels of apathy about artwork and improvement.

    2) There are plenty of webcomics with better art that are written in a much better fashion.

    3) Good writing can sometimes (not always) save bad art. Good art can never, ever, ever save bad writing. QC is written badly. Its jokes are poorly framed, often scatological, and usually combine a tin ear for humor with a shoehorned metaphor.

    4) So a lot of QC fans admit it's bad. So what? What does this prove, except that QC fans are gluttons for punishment who would rather eat garbage every day than steak once a week?

  70. Ranarius WebfootMay 22, 2010 at 11:20 PM

    Wow, people who hate QC! Eeee!

    Basically, I heard from one guy about how "omg totally awesome" it is.
    I tried to read it.
    Couldn't hack it. I can't tolerate a web"comic" with characters and a theme I can't give a crap about, which also happens to make me feel nauseous every couple strips.

    Soooo yeah. At some point I mentioned that I couldn't stand it, and he was so offended. Sigh.

  71. Ravenzomg: that's a good one. Looks like he was using our Humor Sans font too.

  72. John Allison of Scary-Go-Round nailed QC, four years ago:

    (Knowing Jeff Jacks, he was probably so happy that a COOL DUDE with a BRITISH ACCENT was making fun of him that he forgot to be offended or sulky.)

  73. Funny that so many comments on the "742" post now refer to 743. And some good ones too. Is holiday stopping the posting, yet not the commenting?

    And, yeah, I'm a cuddlefish. So beat me.

  74. i like john allison. he actually has the balls to ocassionally deride other strips, instead of being nicey nice so as not to alienate his fans.

    also jeph jacques is specifically against xkcd sucks;topic=23699.0

    ctrl+f jeph

  75. "personally, if I don't like a comic I just don't read it, like a normal human being"

    Oh man. Excuse me while I go cry in my corner.

  76. If "Jeph" "Jacques" is against it, we can be assured that there must be at least some merit to it.

  77. Excuse me if I drop in my two cents here:

    XKCD, if you ask me, frames itself differently from any other comic I know of. It doesn't feel like Munroe is doing things to meet deadlines or publishing standards, and it doesn't feel like he's devoting his life to the stuff. Instead, XKCD has always felt to me more like a collection of sketches from the margins of notebooks. They're very conceptual and often very unrefined.

    I've you've ever read Gary Larson's book "The Prehistory of the Far Side," you might understand where I'm coming from. I personally love the section in the book that is essentially a pile of assorted drawings from Larson's sketchpad that may or may not have made it into final cartoons. The humor is different from the more-refined character of published cartoons. The jokes are often only in their conceptual stage, or they are so bizarre that the humor is largely in wondering what the hell was going through Larson's head when he drew them.

    As someone who loved those sketchbook pages, I really tend to like XKCD. The bizarre, uncut sense of humor appeals to some side of me that maybe not everyone shares.

    You tend to criticize xkcd as unfinished or uncalculated. I'm wondering why you haven't figured it out yourself yet, but as I said before; XKCD is not a collection of carefully-edited and written cartoons, but a lot of broad, conceptual humor. I think most XKCD fans realize that.

    If you don't like the idea of people publishing unrefined jokes, get over it - I highly doubt he actually intended to be this famous when he started, and I usually find that his best cartoons still maintain that improvisational quality.

  78. the moment he gave himself an update schedule is the moment your argument lost all validity.

  79. That's a great description of the first 200-300 XKCDs (not an exact count), before it jumped the shark and Randall got self-conscious and ran out of ideas. Explain how the giant poster of gravity wells is an example of uncut, unrefined humor, or humor in general (and no, non-sequitur "your mom" jokes that distract from the information do not count, unrefined as they may be). Or how about that interminable 5-day long Firefly series. You can tell Randall was working really hard on that one; the only problem was his complete lack of good ideas.

    The difference between Gary Larson and Randall is that Larson was also capable of making good comics in addition to crude sketches.

  80. Anon 1:17
    Yes, that is correct, of the early xkcds that most people here think are inoffensive and often amusing (or at least enjoyable to read or see).

    The problem is, you see that angriest rants bit on the left? Take one of those comics, pin it up on the board, and then turn to the audience and explain how its "aww just conceptual, unfinished musings from a sketchbook". The same goes for this stupid Open Sores faggotry comic (743?).

    We are quite prepared to accept that xkcds are unfinished musings, but the problem is that Randall's musing are crude, disrespectful, mean spirited and insulting to the reader's intellect (and I mean even readers with rather below average intellects, in case you would like to accuse me of being big headed).

  81. I was a big fan of Gary Larson's Far Side and my copy of The Prehistory of the Far Side is well worn. The Prehistory (commentary, rejected comics, sketches, etc.) was like watching the special features on a DVD (commentary, deleted scenes, story boards, etc.). It's not the bread and butter, but it gives insight into the thought process behind the main work. Also, care is taken even in presenting these bits and pieces: examples are chosen that provide insight into the process, not just everything that ended up in the waste basket. My favorites are when a really great scene was cut because it just didn't serve the movie. For comparison, xkcd could usually benefit by cutting out material and one of the most frequent complaints here is post-punchline dialog.

    Comparing Munroe's xkcd to Larson's Prehistory, especially its uncalculated and unrefined aspects, is also very much in line with one of this blog's common suggestions: picto-blog. Contrary to your claim, xkcd does present itself as a calculated, refined comic (a strict publishing schedule that you can set your watch to, branded merchandise, presentations/talks). This is a bad fit for an artist whose works are neither calculated nor refined work. Many of his comics would work better as the framework for a blog entry rather than a stand-alone comic (cf. the added commentary that made Larson's Prehistory work) and the format would also make it more personal, like a labmate showing you a sketch during a boring seminar.

  82. "XKCD, if you ask me, frames itself differently from any other comic I know of. It doesn't feel like Munroe is doing things to meet deadlines or publishing standards, and it doesn't feel like he's devoting his life to the stuff. Instead, XKCD has always felt to me more like a collection of sketches from the margins of notebooks. They're very conceptual and often very unrefined."

    Except, you know, he has a deadline(mondays, wednesdays and fridays), and something he really shows he's been rushing his work(because it gets *especially* horrible). Also, he makes a living off selling shirts, prints and posters of said unfinished doodles.

    No, sorry, can't buy it.

    Mole out.

  83. Goodness. This is ridiculous.

    If you dont like the damn comic, dont read the damn comic.

  84. As an anonymous autistic person, I would like to say that I find it really offensive when people use "autistic" as an insult. It's like, apparently we aren't constantly harassed our whole lives enough as it is and we need people on the internet to set us up as a general insult/punching bag. Seriously fuck you guys.

    Anyway, yes, the "open source" comic makes no sense for so many reasons that people have already mentioned. And yes, facebook has been releasing your information for a while, get used to it. I guess it's worth not having extroverts think you're weird and have something to hide? Gotta keep those extroverts in tow, because I'm neurotypical and have to have everyone's approval in everything!

    See what I did there? That was stupid too, the only difference being that neurotypicals are not a marginalized group that are harassed by mainstream society, so it won't actually hurt anyone besides making them a bit stupider. Which is bad enough, really.

  85. Oh, an addendum- yes I know he's joking with that line and even trying to make the person look stupid. I don't care. I don't think bigotry is funny, and people who read this comic are going to be more likely to "jokingly" (or even seriously) use autistic as an insult than they were before reading it, and that is bad enough.

    Also, I'm not seriously equating using facebook with not being autistic. I'm pretty sure most autistic people with anything even approaching a social life have a facebook page, and that most of the people without a facebook page are not autistic. I wish the differences between myself and other people were that simple but they ain't.

  86. Ranarius WebfootMay 24, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    Anon 1:38: Maybe you should read some of the links. Like this:
    And maybe this!
    Reading isn't just Fun, it's Fun-damental!