Thursday, July 29, 2010

Comic 772: Accidents Happen


frogger went a courtin' or something
[alt: I understand you and your team worked hard on this, but when we said to make it more realistic, we meant the graphics.]

I was all prepared for this to be another boring xkcd sucks post. I was going to talk about how it was another in a series of comics that said "what if this video game...was more REALISTIC?" Like 161 or especially 724, or 637. And I would have mentioned that the joke would have been better if he had introduced it first as trying to make Frogger more realistic and then made the punchline what it as, as opposed to awkwardly fitting that in as the alt-text. Also I would have mused that seeing the game from the truck's point of view, with a giant frog jumping in front of your truck, might have been amusing. And I certainly would have linked to the best Frogger joke I have ever seen, a Seinfeld clip with George trying to move his Frogger console across a busy street.

That was the plan, at least, until about 3 seconds after midnight when people started to e-mail me and leave comments about this Robot Chicken clip:


[]
[update: apparently this clip only plays in the US. here it is on youtube.]

I know I've said this before, but this time I'm really serious - can a true defender of xkcd PLEASE try to tell me how these jokes are different? I'm truly interested in this. To me it seems like: Frog crosses the street like in regular frogger game. Cars swerve to avoid him. Cars crash. I'm serious, if you think you have a reason they are different and think I've missed your comment, send me an e-mail. I want to hear this.

Now, this is not the first time there's been a problem like this. You can read the whole list of copied jokes, but the point is: He does this fairly often. When he does, I usually think about 3 basic categories that the incidents have: 1, how similar the jokes are to each other, 2, how prominent the other joke is (ie, how likely is it that people will have seen the other one), and 3, how recent was the other joke. I think this case is just about as bad as you can get on 1 and 2, though not so much on 3. How much more pathetic can you get than copying a joke off of Robot Chicken?

Now granted, I don't think Randall did this on purpose. I don't know if he watched the show or if this idea is just so obvious that he thought of the exact same thing. As I say in all these cases, if he claims that he thought of it on his own, I'll believe him. I have no evidence that he saw that episode of Robot Chicken. But what he absolutely cannot do is ignore the situation. All I ask for is a simple blog post - "Turns out a comic I drew was basically the same joke as a Robot Chicken sketch. That's crazy! I had no idea when I made the comic that they had done it." Just an acknowledgement that these two things are too close to call. But he never, never, never has. Why not? It just makes it look like he's trying to deny the problem for some reason. I wonder - can any of the folks who read this blog who hang out on the IRC chat ask him about this? I'm curious what he'd say.

Whenever a situation like this comes up, xkcd defenders almost always say the same thing: "You can't expect him to come up with new stuff every time. There's nothing new under the sun." These people apparently believe that if something is an aphorism it is always true. Well, as you can tell, those people are fucktarded. There's plenty of places you see good, original humor on a regular basis. Read "The Areas of My Expertise" by John Hodgman, or watch Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job. Or lots of other examples - it's completely possible to be original and very funny. Of course, it takes some goddamned effort which is why I guess we never see it happen in xkcd.

It's also true that it might not be possible for Randall Munroe to come up with something new every time he makes a comic. But that doesn't excuse shitty comics! It means he should get out of the fucking webcomic business. Yeah, most people can't come up with good clever humor. But those are the people who aren't trying to make a living off their good, clever humor! If xkcd isn't going to be good, it shouldn't exist at all. And just because it was good for a while in 2007 doesn't mean it is always going to be good now. Why the fuck don't people understand this?

I think it's interesting to compare this version of the joke with the Robot Chicken version. The Robot Chicken one is better, despite their huge similarity. Why? Because it has a point. XKCD is just "what if the cars swerved? ha!" and then that's the end. But the R. C. joke ends with all the frogs crossing together, and you see that it was all a scheme to help more frogs get across the screen. In other words, it has a point. And in any case, as with everything on that show, once it's done you immediately zoom off to another sketch. Robot Chicken does not have time for your shenanigans. It's got two dozen more jokes to tell. So if this joke is simple, ok, but you know it's because they had to write (and animate! and edit!) 30 10 ridiculously densely packed minutes of TV every week. Whereas when Randall does the joke...that's it. No other jokes, no other work, nothing else but this in the spotlight, nothing else for two days.

140 comments:

  1. Wait, hang on, the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! is original and good?

    Anyway as far as contemporary television goes I quite like Venture Bros., and though I haven't seen any of the new Futurama season yet I enjoyed the first four and about half the films.

    Just wait for people to come in and say that 772 and the Robot Chicken sketch are just two iterations of a very broad category of joke, and that you're reaching at straws saying that Randall's particularly unoriginal...

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  2. Did you mean to center the entire post?

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  3. It's been a while since I've seen Robot Chicken, but aren't the episodes only 15 minutes long?

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  4. I could comment on your post, Carl, but I think I'll just wait till the new comic comes out and then talk about that. That's what the comments section is for!

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  5. One of the things I never understood is why whenever xkcdsucks comments about e.g. SMBC or The Onion having an extremely similar comic/post shortly after an xkcd strip, the comment is always made about how surprising a coincidence it is, but when the same thing happens in reverse, xkcd always ripped off the joke.

    Not saying xkcd is Completely Original Every Time, Randall Never Looks At These Other Things but I think he (unintentionally or otherwise) steals at about the same frequency as pretty much everything else does.

    After the last few dozen xkcds, this was a bit of a welcome change in the form of something I actually found worth a chuckle.

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  6. ARGH i've re-left-justified the post and corrected the length of robot chicken episodes. god dang it.

    Anon right above me - I can think of exactly one example of that happening. In that case, I wrote that for the Onion to have developed the same idea was "a hell of a crazy coincidence" and said it was possible that they copied the joke and didn't think anyone would notice. So I'd say that's fairly tough on them. What examples were you thinking of? because i call bullshit on you.

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  7. "But that doesn't excuse shitty comics! It means he should get out of the fucking webcomic business."

    That's not true. He should get out if and only if he can't sell his junk online. It would be like saying that Glenn Beck should get off of television because he's a fat faced douche who misinforms his audience and engages in race baiting. But that's not true. He should only get off the air if people no longer buy gold because of his endorsement.

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  8. you're such a capitalist, Arty.

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  9. Has SMBC ever had a post similar to XKCD after XKCD?

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  10. I'm pretty sure it's just a joke that's just so lame that everyone thinks of it.

    It reminds me of this radio interview i heard once. These guys where interviewing carlos mencia, and mencia mentions that when he's hanging out with his friends, they like to joke about "racist olympics". Then once Mencia is off the air the radio hosts act all appalled and talk about how one of their friends came up with the racist olympics.

    An olympics based off of racial stereotypes is a shitty joke, just like this. Randall is not ripping off robotchicken if they both thought of the same easy joke.

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  11. there are Facebook groups and pages which accidentally document this phenomenon. The example that springs to mind immediately is 'Nerd? We prefer the term: Intellectual Badass.' One of the comments on it reads as follows: "i thought i came up with that line... :: O i guess i wasn't the first clever one..."

    this weekend I will probably do a rant about originality, because Carl's view on it is incredibly retarded and mine is fucking awesome

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  12. Carl,

    You've really started to sound a lot like Glenn Beck. "I'm not saying Randall copied it, but it's suspicious that he doesn't deny it. If he didn't, why doesn't he just come out and say it? I'm just asking questions."

    Next time, you might try a bit of Godwinning. Nothing major, maybe a flash slideshow of some of Hitler's paintings mixed in with some XKCD panels. "I'm not saying that Randall is like Hitler, but notice that both of these have buildings in them." Crying never hurts either, just sayin'.

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  13. except he is, as a point of fact, saying that Randall copied it.

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  14. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 29, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    @arthur "should" and "would" are very different beasts

    randall munroe should get out of the webcomic business and glenn beck should get off of my television because they are both complete hacks

    neither of them will do so because they are currently being enabled by hordes of fucking morons (as you pointed out)

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  15. New comic:

    Randall...most or all of that stuff IS on a school's website, just not on the front page because that would look unwieldy. What do you want?

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  16. new comic is total GOOMH bait. EVERYONE WHO GOES TO A COLLEGE WEBSITE THINKS THAT. And most people voice that opinion at one point or another.

    They just don't think it's worth putting on a website and try to pass it off as "humor."

    Also his recent forays into comedy being a failure he falls back on his old crutch "the graph."

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  17. wishful thinking theory: Randy is looking at grad schools, because he realizes his gig is up

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  18. You know what, I'm going to expand on my one-sentence post because I thought about it some more:

    Randall does have a good point about most of the stuff on a college's front page being useless. However, how many people have honestly thought "Boy I sure wish the front page would have a course listing and an application"? I would bet not many people, because that stuff is still really easy to find. Most websites make it pretty easy. Why wouldn't they?

    So I think that while observing that nobody reads the front page of a college website is valid, I don't think that contrasting it to what people want out of a front page makes a lot of sense; people will read the graph, see the left half of it, and think GOOMH because they too have noticed that when they go to a college website, the first thing they look for are the links on the sidebars. But Randall is tricking them, because they only really identify with half the joke.

    In other words, there are better ways to get this across than with a graph.

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  19. IWontGetOvertheDamJuly 29, 2010 at 9:34 PM

    I was the one who emailed you about this. Thanks for including it! I'm not quick to assume XKCD blatantly steals jokes, but honestly, the similarity is far too glaring.

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  20. Huh. It figures the first XKCD strip I actually thought was funny would be an almost exact rip-off of Robot Chicken. Oh well. I guess I'll go back to my old certainty that XKCD is never funny.

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  21. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 29, 2010 at 9:41 PM

    so many people visit a college web site for different reasons that trying to cater to one particular audience would just confuse thousands of other people so it makes sense that the home page is populated with generic school crap along with links to all of the subsections that you actually need to find

    randall has trouble understanding that colleges actually have to handle a wide variety of needs since everybody who visits his site is just looking for his fucking terrible five-seconds-three-times-a-week attempts at humor

    so i mean the comic is true i guess but it is not funny or even really particularly insightful it is like "hey guys i looked at a college website and thought you should know"

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  22. New version of 773;
    One big white panel with the following centered text.
    "So what's the deal with college front pages?"

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  23. I like the argument that "X makes a person money, therefore, that person should keep doing X." To confirm that this argument is valid, replace X with something you enjoy! To prove that it's invalid, replace X with something you find offensive. it's like magic!

    Re: Glenn-Beckification of me - I did come out and say it! I put the tag "copied joke" on this post. The problem is that people don't always understand what I mean by "copied." You might think it means that he intentionally copied another joke, when I mean that he may have done it unintentionally (thinking, in all honesty, that he was being original). The other parts are just there because I don't actually know. I mean, I think it is suspicious! How else can I say it?

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  24. Today's comic was good, would have been better had the alt text been something on "What people go to college looking for". Instead he decided to explain his joke. How unfortunate.

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  25. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 29, 2010 at 10:10 PM

    holy shit do not get me started on the alt text

    randall sounds so bitter i bet he was turned down for the webmaster job at his crappy liberal arts college or something

    @anon10:03 in what capacity do you use the word good

    i mean you say that there is a joke but since nothing is actually funny about the comic it can not have been a very good one

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  26. It's too easy. I bet I made this in the same amount of time as it took Randall to make his comic [10 minutes]. I might have took longer, I dunno.

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  27. Might have taken**. Fuck English verb conjugation.

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  28. I won't check the newest comic. No. I refuse. I'll be sitting here and watching you guys comment on something I have almost no idea what is it about until Monday. Yes, sir.

    ...okay, so Raven's edited comic gave me an idea and... a Venn diagram. REALLY? You know, I'd love to, one day, be able to say "well, it's been two weeks of comics that are, at least, showing some improvement, it seems there is some hope for xkcd after all!" but nooooooooooooooo! Randall has to do this. He follows a comic that has at least one good point(in this cas, some lively colors) with another that manages to be even crappier.

    And yes, SMBC does graph and venn jokes, too, but at least it's a daily comic, damnit! Randall is sitting on his butt making money off his mediocre comics for almost two days before even starting a comic, or so it seems!

    Back to lurking!

    Mole

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  29. 773 has done a good job. As far as I know, it's original, witty, and observational. (Which doesn't have to mean bad).

    772 is stupid tripe though.

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  30. 773: Observational comedy is a common technique with xkcd. Nowadays it seems like he misses the mark by not delivering the observation in thoughtful, unique, and/or witty way, or dealing an observation that is just too obvious. In this case it's the former. First off, the observation(s) (there's really two) could be extended for most websites based on products. Secondly, how many times have we seen a Venn Diagram on xkcd? Give it a rest. I'm sick of it. It's the same delivery with a new punchline every week. I can't offer up a better delivery, but I'm not a comedian by any means.

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  31. I can't believe people are still so butthurt about that "People are discussing the next comic instead of the one carl posted about!" thing.

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  32. Speaking of nerd references: Starcraft II is full of bullshit cameos and easter eggs that are nothing more than "LOL GUYS LOOK IT'S THAT FLOATING BRAIN FROM METROID!" I bet Randall would be all over that game.

    If he could get it to run on Linux, of course.

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  33. blizzard is pretty fond of those little cameos and references.

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  34. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 30, 2010 at 12:07 AM

    it is okay when blizzard does it because it is in the context of a massive and entertaining game that clearly took a lot of effort on their part so it is really just icing on the cake

    when randall makes a reference comic it is like serving just icing and trying to pass it off as a whole cake

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  35. that, and finding easter eggs and references can be a lot of fun to discover.

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  36. New Comic.

    Sucks Ass.

    EVERY SINGLE university/college website I've used has been user friendly enough that you can find what you want in less than thirty seconds.

    Most even have a search toolbar so you can type in, I donno "Dr Faggot bastard" and it comes up with Dr Bastard's name, photo number and email.

    Is Randall seriously implying you should put EVERYTHING on the front page, making it a cluttered shitfest?

    WHY THAT WOULD BE SO MUCH EASIER.

    If Randall finds it difficult to operate a university website, and thinks even the most fucking rudimentery information should be thrust in his face like so much comedy pie, then it's a fucking miricle he managed to get into Any higher educashun.

    Fuck's sake, use initiative, boy.

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  37. Fuck I hope this means Randall is going back to school.

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  38. Thanks for not telling us what's in the Robot Chicken clip. You couldn't possibly have readers who aren't in the USA that adultswim blocks.

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  39. The hate on Glenn Beck is negatively correlated to intelligence. Keep it up, guys!

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  40. This would be funnier if PHD did it, because the guy writing it actually has any business trudging through thousands of university websites. Incidentally, for the same reason he would have made the joke much more in line with reality.

    I will admit that I shared Randall's sentiment, for my 2 weeks as a clueless freshie. As has been pointed out, once you get used to the idea that your school has a website which can and should be used for school-related things (and that apprehension is likely peculiar to those who finished high school in the past decade) it is trivial to find most information, though with subtle exceptions (Randy has not even come close to glancing in the direction of those).

    But more pertinent to what I think is the underlying issue here, is the question: what the hell is Randall doing on a school site, anyway? Looking for a webmasters wanted notice? I guess job postings can be hard to find sometimes, but he doesn't talk about that in the xkcdick.

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  41. To be fair, it's impossible for Carl to know that the clip isn't available outside the US, because when the video plays there's no "You can watch this but we block this outside the US" message. Stop being so whiny.

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  42. Anon 1:21am: Except that's not the joke.

    The point of the comic is exposing that the university is either backwards or just being useless. It's not "Oh, things are too hard to find, bawww..." It's "University puts up a bunch of useless stuff on the front page, while pertinent stuff is left to be found."

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  43. Fred: Sort of a fair point, but adult swim's content block is so well known. Anyone who's seen a video posted on an external site (in a situation like this) and just looked at the comments section would know this.

    Whiny? You can hardly call me any more whiny than this blog. Don't get me wrong, I agree with a lot of xkcdsucks, but it is essentially whining.

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  44. no, whining is being a petulant child because someone posted a video without thinking about it. what we're doing is mocking a shitty comic.

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  45. Fair enough, I'll take back my whining. You're right, it probably was just a mistake. And I'm sure that it's going to be remedied for us international readers, right?

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  46. yeah, I'll bet Randall will add a paragraph at the end that compares the XKCD joke with the Robot Chicken one. it would probably read something like this:

    "I think it's interesting to compare this version of the joke with the Robot Chicken version. The Robot Chicken one is better, despite their huge similarity. Why? Because it has a point. XKCD is just "what if the cars swerved? ha!" and then that's the end. But the R. C. joke ends with all the frogs crossing together, and you see that it was all a scheme to help more frogs get across the screen. In other words, it has a point. And in any case, as with everything on that show, once it's done you immediately zoom off to another sketch. Robot Chicken does not have time for your shenanigans. It's got two dozen more jokes to tell. So if this joke is simple, ok, but you know it's because they had to write (and animate! and edit!) 30 10 ridiculously densely packed minutes of TV every week. Whereas when Randall does the joke...that's it. No other jokes, no other work, nothing else but this in the spotlight, nothing else for two days."

    it's possible he'll dig up a youtube or something, but I bet you'd have just as much luck searching "robot chicken frogger" as anyone else.

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  47. I did suggest to just explain what's in the video, not to search all ends of the internet for a non-blocked copy.

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  48. right, and he already did explain what's in the video.

    also, youtube is not "all ends of the internet" dude

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  49. Not much of an explanation really. And I wasn't referring to Youtube, I was just clarifying as I thought the extension of searching for it after Youtube fails was to search the rest of the internet.

    (Did you just refer to Carl as Randall?)

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  50. yes.

    maybe you aren't familiar with Robot Chicken, but it is incredibly fucking inane. there is no depth to its jokes. they last, at best, a minute or two.

    the joke is this: a frog enters the road, cars swerve, an accident happens, the frogs then cross the road.

    I got this without even watching the video.

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  51. I'm sorry but I am not that familiar with Robot Chicken, so I could not have inferred that.

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  52. it's not worth familiarizing yourself with.

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  53. I don't see how this blog isn't whining. It's just a bunch of people complaining that some guy's comic isn't good enough and he should do it better. For no real reason other than that's what they want. That sounds like complaining or protesting in a childish fashion to me.

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  54. except we're making fun, not complaining. there's a difference. nuance is an important skill.

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  55. I'm also from outside the USA. I used my incredible fucking mind powers to figure out that, if the jokes are exactly the same, what can be seen in the video is probably very similar to what was seen in the xkcd. Then I got on with my fucking life.

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  56. Anon 2:44 (et al) again. Do explain how this blog is "making fun" instead of complaining.

    I already said I do think that many of the complaints are justified. But they're still complaints. I assume "making fun" implies that this blog should be funny, but it rarely is.

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  57. No One Is Forcing You To Read This Blog, You Just Hate This Blog Because You're Jealous, If You Know Humor So Well, Where's Your Funny Blog, Smart Guy, Don't You Have Anything Better To Do With Your Time, Some Posts Aren't SUPPOSED To Be Funny, All Art is Subjective And You're Just Biased Against XKCD Sucks, So Of Course You Don't Find It Funny.

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  58. no, "making fun" means that we are having fun mocking it. which we are.

    "jesus christ, you are incredibly fat" is not complaining about a fat person, it is making fun of a fat person. similarly, "christ, this comic sucks" is not complaining about the comic, it's making fun of it.

    I prefer the phrase "making fun" because people seem to not understand that what we are doing here is pointing and laughing at how bad XKCD is. it's like a bad movie night. it's fun.

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  59. Bahah, thank you 3:05 :). Now apply "Don't You Have Anything Better To Do With Your Time" to 2:59.

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  60. @Anon 11:54,
    Randall doesn't actually play videogames. You'd think he would, especially considering how games frequently come up in his comics, but you also need to remember that:
    1: All the regular games he talks about are clearly from his childhood. IE: Tetris, Mario, GTA.
    2: All of the modern games he talks about are either experimental "games" that aren't really meant to be fun to play (eg: that 4D game).
    3: He did, at one point, say that NONE of his programs have DRM-protection, which encompasses nearly all games by default.


    Man, that "Pirate Everything" comic was really horrible, thinking back on it!

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  61. There's a youtube link in the previous thread, just sayin'

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  62. Here's the Robot Chicken Frogger clip on YouTube.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9dMRJZn01A

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  63. Right... I read through all comments and didn't update to get the last ten minutes before commenting, so I didn't see Timofei's comment before posting the link. Sowwy.

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  64. Rob you ugly bastard hurry the fuck up with this originality post before I rape your kitchen implements

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  65. Repeat Anon 0244:

    "Complain" implies pain and resentment. A worker might (and where I work, they DO) complain to a boss about how they're treated, or what they have to do, or something of that nature. A worker might also make fun or make light of what they have to do, which is generally less annoying and implies that the person has a sense of humor and is willing to use it to make their work easier or, at least, more amusing.

    Thus it is here. We dislike what XKCD has become. Rather than simply wallowing in that dislike, we choose to make fun of it, thus turning XKCD back into something we can enjoy once more. It's enjoyment for a different reason, to be sure, but enjoyment nonetheless.

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  66. ok, I looked at the newest comic and found it to be a true observation, more or less. Where's the joke?

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  67. The video is not available outside the US, asshole. Please try to learn that USA!=world. Thank you.

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  68. @Anon5:05. It is only a joke if you read right-to-left. Regrettably, Randall posted his graph backwards and told us the twist, and then followed this up with several things we'd expect. You know, the exact opposite way to tell a traditional joke and as you observe, there is nothing exceptional about this to warrant telling it backwards.

    Captcha: parpo. Second oldest of the Marx brothers, I'm pretty sure.

    If you still want a joke, re-read the comic as if Randall were stalking a 1st year girl and all the Things "People" Go To The Site Looking For take on a fun new meaning.

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  69. Oh god, 773. Is there meant to be humour here?

    Regarding robot chicken on youtube, I'm in the UK, it was the top result on youtube for 'robot chicken frogger' and it is not blocked

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  70. Anon 5:07: so tell me, for every video and every image you've ever linked to, have you first done extensive research to see if it happened to be blocked somewhere? Try to be less of an idiot and cure your xenophobia, asshole.

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  71. I'm also in the UK-

    It was probably good practice for carl to link to the official site and link- so I don't have any complaints there.

    Also, if you can't find what you need on a college website, you're too dumb to be going to college.

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  72. I have been looking at a lot of University's websites these past few months. However I live in the UK and they've all been pretty good. Is it just a US thing? THe websites I've looked at all have clear undergrad sections which cover al you want to know. I doubt the comic is good even if it is relevant though.

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  73. Carter, ya douche-diddy:

    "You've really started to sound a lot like Glenn Beck… Next time, you might try a bit of Godwinning."

    Godwinning is the fallacious argumentation that something is wrong because it bears similarities to Nazis. You are making the fallacious argument that something is wrong because it bears similarities to Beck. And then you call out Carl for "Godwinning" when it is you who are the offender.

    Please try to think better in the future.

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  74. re: 773

    First off, *another* Venn diagram "comic"? Just a tad played out...

    Second, who the hell goes to a college website to find the name of the college? Don't you kinda have to know the name to find the website in the first place?

    Third, it's not funny. Just rephrase it in a sentence instead of a Venn diagram: "It's usually difficult to find what you are looking for on a college website." Wow, hilarious!

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  75. This made me go back to my college website and count the clicks it took me to get to the course catalog from the homepage (it was 3, so not as bad as I thought), The thing that really bugs is their campus maps, they used to have simple images for maps and parking maps, but now it's all google maps. First of all the link for parking doesn't go anywhere, just gives a 404 warning. The problem with the google maps is that they have a massive construction project going on every semester, that means that the google map is always wrong, in fact this map only labels the lots that aren't there anymore because they're something else now, or ones that are closed for current construction, no indication at all of which lots are for student vs faculty. It was my third guess before I actually found what I was looking for, they were under pdf maps...and the maps aren't even strictly pdfs they do have jpgs of the lots, but you can also download pdfs. I think the problem is that the people in charge are more concerned with the wiz-bang features the pretty slideshows, the twitter feeds, google maps is a perfect example of this, and not the info people actually need. They need to update sideshows every semester but only change maps every 2 years.

    And no I didn't think the comic was that good, but I still love xkcd, I have the Ballmer Peak comic on the wall as we speak.

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  76. To rephrase what I said on the forums about 773: Venn diagrams are rarely funny, especially when you have walls of text on both sides. I mean, the punchline's in the middle of the strip. When does that ever sound like a good idea?

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  77. Concerning the video only being available in the United States:

    I'm guessing that a significant majority of the readers of this blog are from the US. If so, then it's just not worth it to try to accommodate for other countries. You don't see Carl offering translations of the blog either, do you?

    If you really want to know what the video is about and can't be bothered to check YouTube, just take the XKCD comic and add a panel where a bunch of frogs cross the street in the gap made by the crash. Really.

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  78. Nobody in particularJuly 30, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    University websites, at least on their main pages, are for prospective students and their parents, not for current students. That's why there is a flashy introduction designed to make the university look good.

    It's marketing. They're selling a product.


    And that's why there's usually ANOTHER website for undergrads. One that's more useful.

    Problem solved. Comic rendered unnecessary.

    ReplyDelete
  79. The biggest reason for me that the Robot Chicken version is better is that the joke works better when there is a larger element of surprise.

    Surprise is the primary element of humour in this comic, because your amusement derives from the fact that you have become accustomed to Frogger working a certain way (vehicles invariably continue on their course, unsympathetically running over the frog). Suddenly, something happens. The truck swerves to avoid hitting it, thereby causing a major accident. The joke is the sudden deviation from the norm, and nothing can pull of "sudden" quite like moving pictures.

    In the XKCD, you take time to see what is happening. Panel 1: This is Frogger. I know this. Panel 2: Yeah, the frog hops out. Panel 3: Oh, I guess the truck is swerving. Panel 4: Haha, it caused an accident. Panel 5: Ugh, worthless text that doesn't add to the joke.

    In the Robot Chicken skit, for the first 6 seconds you're just like, "Yep, Frogger." Suddenly, "OH SHIT! IT CAUSED A HUGE TRAFFIC ACCIDENT! I didn't see that coming!"

    Basically, what I'm saying is that, in general, visual gags / physical comedy work better in a temporal medium like film, animation, or live comedy. It's harder for comics to pull it off.

    ReplyDelete
  80. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 30, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    holy fuck there are actually people who read the post and do not realize that the joke in the video and the joke in the comic are identical sans the addition of an actual punchline to the video

    everything you need to know about the video was already stated in the post for fucks sake reading comprehension people


    back to 773 really not enough people seem to take issue with the fact that randall is mocking intelligent web design "dur hur hur why you put current events and news on front page and only put link to very specific information that not every person want you so dumb"

    notice that almost all of the things in the "things on the front page" category are things that do in fact matter for first time visitors and people who are socially involved in campus life i understand that randall probably is not a first time visitor but he is basically saying that nobody in the world is looking for up to date information about events at the school news flash: not everybody who goes to college is a socially awkward fucktard

    you know what would be fucking crazy is if randall actually put a search bar on his own home page and tagged his comics with meaningful words so you could actually search for them i mean if i were somebody who thought that xkcd was ever funny i know that i would have to search the archives to prove it because randall sure as fuck hasnt been funny recently so really he has no business whining about site organization

    ReplyDelete
  81. @Anon 7:23 So Google Maps isn't a "usable map"? I thought maybe that's what Randall wanted, since most schools have a link to a non-Google map on the front page.

    I looked at 5 school webpages; Oregon State, Grinnell College, UConn, MIT and Christopher Newport. All of them had a link to a campus map, the school address and a search box that would give you faculty contact info if you searched for a faculty member. None of them had parking or police phone numbers. Grinnell and OSU had links for everything besides parking and police that Randall wants on the homepage. Christopher Newport did have an application link. UConn and MIT of course will have separate applications for grads/undergrads, so I'm not surprised that there isn't a single link to apply (and I am surprised that OSU had an application link on the homepage).

    Leaving aside the fact that any idiot can easily find all this info on any schools website, I don't think most of the things Randall wants are that critical (the map and the faculty contacts are, but all the schools I looked at had those). You only need an application form once. Parking isn't going to be a separate link; it'll be shown on the map. School address is useless; you'd need a more specific address for most purposes. Course lists you need maybe once a term. I've never had to call campus police, but most schools have blue light safety phones outside (when calling the police might actually be urgent), and often post the number on any other publicly accessible phone. Academic calendars might be looked at a couple times a term.

    A schedule of weekly events (seminars, athletic events, etc.) is way more useful than any of the crap Randall wants. And all the schools I looked at have it.

    ReplyDelete
  82. This is in a div titled "transcript":

    [[Frogger is standing by the side of the road, looking out into traffic, which includes several semis and a couple sedans.]]

    [[Frogger hops out in front of a semi.]]
    <<hop>>

    [[The semi swerves into the next lane, in front of one of the sedans.]]

    [[They collide, the sedan crumpling into the cab of the truck.]]
    <<BOOM>>

    [[Smoke pours from the two wrecked vehicles. Frogger hops back to the side of the road.]]
    <<hop>>
    Bystander (off-panel): Oh god!
    Other Bystander (off-panel): Someone call 911!
    Another Bystander (off-panel): Mom!

    So, *that's* the joke?

    ReplyDelete
  83. It's not that hard to navigate a fucking college website to find what you really need to. And if you are a student, chances are you don't even go to the actual college's homepage.

    However, taking one look at my college's homepage, I find: the address, a calendar of events, and several links to find out all that you need to know if you are a prospective student or parent.

    In other words, according to xkcd, you are an idiot if you have a hard time finding things out.

    ReplyDelete
  84. haha, university websites are confusing and badly designed

    haha, frogger isn't realistic

    haha, language changes

    haha...um, something creepy

    ReplyDelete
  85. 773 is just to GOOMHR bait. That's all.
    Just take a look at the forums. No one's actually talking about the comic, they're just telling their own personal stories that no one cares about.

    ReplyDelete
  86. >>
    can a true defender of xkcd PLEASE try to tell me how these jokes are different?
    >>

    Can a true defender of xkcdsucks explain why that is important ?

    ReplyDelete
  87. i'll give you a little teaser from my upcoming post about the subject:

    if you're going to do the same joke as something else, even if you don't know about it, you're going to be dealing with higher standards. you need to do something interesting with it. I have pretty low standards for interesting! but if I've seen the joke before, I expect at least one of the following to be true:

    1) the new one is different in some way (eg, it explores a different aspect of the joke or takes an unexpected twist). Randy has never once done this.
    2) the writing is exceedingly clever and showcases a writer's unique talents. Randy has never once done this.
    3) the art is really fucking awesome. Randy has never once done this.
    4) the way the joke is delivered is unexpected. Randy has never once done this.

    the bar has already been set for this joke by the first time it was done. for most good comics, the problem isn't so much clearing the bar as doing it with style. in Randy's case, he never even clears the bar. he just takes the same old joke and delivers it in a really mundane way.

    that's why it matters! I hope that helps.

    ReplyDelete
  88. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 30, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    @ruminant because theft of intellectual property is a crime

    i mean that is just one reason that comes to mind and does not really have anything to do with the more intangible reasons that rob outlined

    ReplyDelete
  89. Regarding 773: I'm still defending it.

    In recent memory, he hasn't had an idea this good in a long, long time. He just has piss poor execution skills. This is something you can't just find on Wiki and the anomaly is spelled out for you, like Homeopathy or something. Assuming it was an original idea, it's pretty good.

    The execution makes me cringe. I can see WHY he picked a Venn diagram. In common conversation this kind of joke would be hard to pull off.
    (For example: George tells Jake that he was going on a university website, and everything wasn't spelled out in front of him. Awkward as hell no matter how I look at the conversation).

    What I think could have been better for execution is for Randall to have parodied a university website front page, and just expose the ridiculousness of its structuring. I'm actually going to try doing this in a half-hour and seeing if I can take the same idea and raise it.

    ReplyDelete
  90. this is the thing:

    XKCD has trained you to like something just because, with a little effort, you can come up with a joke that wouldn't suck based on the comic.

    that is not a good comic.

    ReplyDelete
  91. No Rob, this is the thing: English is easy, especially for physics majors; Randy understands that is isn't important for a joke to be "funny." He takes the more artistic approach of allowing readers with adequate initiative to project their own metahumor into the illustrated diction-stream. It's extremely satisfying, but only for the true webcomic reading elite.

    Anyone who thinks I'm wrong is stupid and just doesn't get it. XKCD forever!

    ReplyDelete
  92. http://imgur.com/vqbfr

    So basically, it took an hour, and turned into a parody mocking the comic. Nevermind, there was no saving this comic.

    I think it's funny though.

    ReplyDelete
  93. My bad I suck at this, I should use HTML tags.

    http://imgur.com/vqbfr.png

    ReplyDelete
  94. @TheMesosade

    The execution without a Venn Diagram is only difficult when you can't actually draw comics. For instance I could imagine the Penny Arcade version of this comic including a panel where the website is so bad that the viewer's eyes start to bleed. (Not that Penny Arcade would ever cover the fascinating topic, "college websites are kind of lame sometimes.")

    It's only true that it's hard to execute when all you have to work with is XKCD stick figures.

    ReplyDelete
  95. The point of a college website is to cater first to anyone who will give the college money - namely alumni, corporations who might be interested in investing in a university, federal organizations who wield untold sums of grant money, and individuals who are looking for reasons a university should be a recipient of an anonymous donation. Being that students are hardly the main money-making source (see http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/accountability/index/12.1 as an example), the fact that the main page caters to someone other than a student should be a no-brainer.

    ReplyDelete
  96. Rob, you fat ugly lard, you already did an originality rant. Did you forget already?

    ReplyDelete
  97. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 30, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    nah somebody else did the originality rant rob is just borrowing the idea

    (rimshot)

    ReplyDelete
  98. ob yeah, Carl is just too retarded to link it from the sidebar.

    IT IS HERE:

    http://xkcdsucks.blogspot.com/2010/03/but-it-doesnt-have-to-be-original.html

    ReplyDelete
  99. I actually like 773. When I was in school, there were many times when I got frustrated because there were no direct links on the homepage to information I actually wanted, and I had to go hunting around the website. It's not a particularly original observation, but that's the point of observational humor. If your observation is totally unique, then no one would be able to relate to it and the observational comedy would fail.

    The Frogger joke was terrible and completely unfunny and sort of morbid towards the end, though. No wonder it's unfunny if it was copied off of Robot Chicken, since that's an awful and unfunny show.

    ReplyDelete
  100. From IRC(I was bored, so I decided I would shoot out a question and see if he would reply):

    [21:21] Randall, why did you end up going with a Venn diagram for today's comic?
    [21:24] <&Randall> Mana: I guess it seemed like the best way to say "has anyone noticed these two lists are almost entirely non-overlapping?"

    In retrospect, if I had maybe half a brain, I should have asked something that didn't lend itself to such an obvious answer. Maybe I should have asked what the hell 383 was about.

    ReplyDelete
  101. I see someone wanted something specifically off of a university website recently and got really frustrated looking for it.

    This is too close to one of those "hey, don't you hate airplane food?" jokes. Or "men and women ... they're different!"

    ReplyDelete
  102. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 30, 2010 at 7:21 PM

    @alex randall will never assume that your question was asked out of anything other than genuine curiosity regarding his "creative process" because he is fucking oblivious to the fact that his comics suck donkey dick and does not listen to criticism

    it is probably for the best though because if you asked something like "randall why is todays comic a bland pointless and mostly irrelevant observation" you probably would have been booted from the channel or at the very least yelled at by his groupies

    re:383 this comic is an apocalyptic (and accurate) premonition about the future of xkcd the guy is randall and the girl represents the quality of his updates

    the text basically means "it turns out you cannot make a funny webcomic in ten minutes (which is all the time i am willing to invest)" while the title text (which mentions a "make everything better" button) refers to the fact that no matter how terrible xkcd gets randall will still have legions of adoring fans to help him pretend his comic is still okay

    hth

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  103. Lol @ XKCD fans who use the "but making jokes is hard! He has to upload three comics a week!" as though you just picked a random person on the street and judged him for not coming up with three funny comics per week and there's no precedent at all for you to have expectations for a professional comic-drawer with legions of adoring fans.

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  104. Lol @ XKCD fans who use the "but making jokes is hard! He has to upload three comics a week!" [2]

    Point in case: SMBC. You'll say it's not that good, but at the very least he updates daily. With colored comics. With recognizable human figures.

    Comparing:
    - Randall Munroe, 3 comics a week, black stick figures on white background.
    - Zach Weiner, 7 comics a week, usually decent art.

    xkcd doesn't stand A CHANCE!

    Mole.

    CAPTCHA: werea. Someone who turns into a vowel every full moon.

    ReplyDelete
  105. Ok. I'll admit I missed the last call for the ride on the Internet. I'm a little bit behind. (Maybe a lot a bit)

    Would someone please explain what CAPTCHA means?

    ReplyDelete
  106. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 30, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    a captcha is a test that ensures you are not a computer usually by having you type in the letters that you see on a heavily distorted image

    sometimes the letters form a nonsense word and sometimes people will feel inspired to come up with a definition for this word

    for example the captcha for this post is "cappie" which might be a decent term to describe people that like to share their captchas on a regular basis

    ReplyDelete
  107. You all can calm down now, I've added a youtube link for those folks not in the US. There's no way I could have known that the video wouldn't work (since I don't make a point of reading comments on adult swim videos) so no one can be mad at me. that said, xkcd is also US-centric so it makes sense that this blog would be as well.

    Rob, I don't know how I missed that rant of yours before but it's linked to now.

    everyone hatin' on robot chicken is just plain WRONG.

    randall is still trying to make comics for high schoolers, who are the most likely to be visiting college websites.

    ReplyDelete
  108. I don't mind Robot Chicken so long as it's only, like, two or three mini-clips. I can't sit through a whole episode. (this is true of just about every one of the 15-minute Comedy Central shows. I want to either murder everyone in the room or kill myself by the end of the episode, and I am really only exaggerating slightly.)

    ReplyDelete
  109. That's how I feel about Family Guy, except I mainly just want to murder Seth MacFarlane.

    ReplyDelete
  110. xkcd is the family guy of webcomics. just with less social commentary.

    ReplyDelete
  111. also Carl I accidentally let slip that you are definitely Randall earlier, I hope that is okay

    ReplyDelete
  112. @Carl: As a Canadian, I consider it more "North American Centric" since I don't think there has been anything in there that a Canadian wouldn't get. Then again... we get all your TV channels, all your news, all your cartoons... I think we're just used to getting more American Media than Canadian Media. (That said, not like it took more than 5 seconds to find the video myself. <_<)

    ReplyDelete
  113. Dear xkcdsucks.com,

    I find it ironic that you blame xkcd for copying, etc., etc. This very website is built on the idea of complaining about something on the internet. This reminds me of most other websites and every other public comment section I have ever encountered. Coincidence? Or is it just easier to whine about someone else than to create your own original content? Please send me the link to your webcomic.

    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  114. my webcomic is http://jeffisdumb.com/hes/really/dumb

    ReplyDelete
  115. Dear Ann Apolis

    I clicked on your site but it no work. It's really ironic. Like today I stubbed my toe! Could this day get any more ironic?!?!

    Get better site before complaining you bitch whore of Alcatraz.

    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  116. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 31, 2010 at 5:53 AM

    lol "xkcdsucks.com"

    classic

    ReplyDelete
  117. Dear Jeff.com,

    Stop being an idiot.

    Fred

    ReplyDelete
  118. @Jeff

    It's like ray-hee-aiin on your wedding day.

    ReplyDelete
  119. Do people just not understand the idea behind criticism? What the hell do they think movie reviews are?

    ReplyDelete
  120. @Ian:

    1) No, they don't.
    2) This is presuming they think at all.

    ReplyDelete
  121. Also: is there a name for the logical fallacy invoked when people say "Well, where's YOUR webcomic?" Is it a red herring?

    ReplyDelete
  122. My webcomic: http://pegasusfortnight.com/

    Any chance to be a link whore. But really, complaining on the internet is so cliche. Where is YOUR internet Jeff? how dare you use someone else's.

    ReplyDelete
  123. I kinda like "bitch whore of Alcatraz", but beyond that zero points for the troll -- cookie cutter post.

    @DAN: I think you've linked before, the style looks familiar. I'm not quite enthused enough to follow it, but I dived into the archives a bit and you got a few smirks. And there hasn't been a single joke where I don't understand what you're doing, so despite the "sketchy" style you can communicate effectively. I also don't think you're a scumbag. So, you're doing pretty good in my books.

    ReplyDelete
  124. UndercoverCuddlefishJuly 31, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    @gryffilion it is an ad hominem attack because it attempts to discredit the critic instead of challenging their actual criticism

    ad hominem attacks are really just a more specific type of red herring fallacy as both consist of an attempt to derail the argument with an irrelevant point

    @dan i am a fan of terrible puns and none of your comics made me want my five seconds back so you are doing much better than xkcd lately

    ReplyDelete
  125. haha I'm glad Im not totally terrible.

    I do them during break at work so it literally is only 15 minutes or so out of the days I'm not too tired from work to sketch something out.

    ReplyDelete
  126. Dear Jeff,

    I find it ironic that you blame XKCD Sucks for being like every other website, etc etc. Your comment is really exactly like every other brain dead cuddle fish comment on here. Lack of understanding of the purpose of criticism? Check. Inability to create a counter point to said criticism? Check. Blanket insult to the blog and everyone on it to make you feel like a big man? Check. "Where is your comic" line? Check. Pseudo Intellectual formatting to convince yourself you're smarter than everyone on here? Double Check! Failure to realize your exact argument has been debunked and posted on the left hand column for all to read? Check mate.

    PS: By your own rationale: How DARE Randal create a Webcomic! This reminds me of almost EVERY OTHER Webcomic on the internet that has a T-Shirt Store! Coincidence?

    ReplyDelete
  127. @Gryffilion

    Depends - "A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to "win" an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic."

    If the assmuption is that if Rob had a webcomic he would be more qualified to critique a webcomic. So maybe it's a reversal of an appeal to authority?

    However if the intent is to to distract him then it is a red herring.

    It's hard to say.

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-authority.html

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/red-herring.html

    ReplyDelete
  128. Jeff = obvious troll. Come on guys, you're better than this.

    Captcha: bolvar - which almost means "idiot" in Russian.

    ReplyDelete
  129. "I don't KNOW if he watched the show or if this idea is just SO OBVIOUS that he thought of the exact same thing. As I say in all these cases, if he CLAIMS that he thought of it on his own, I'll BELIEVE him. I have no EVIDENCE that he saw that episode of Robot Chicken. But what he ABSOLUTELY CANNOT do is ignore the SITUATION. All I ask for is a simple blog post - "Turns out a comic I drew was basically the same joke as a Robot Chicken sketch. THAT'S CRAZY! I had no idea when I made the comic that they had done it." Just an acknowledgement that these two things are too close to call. But he never, never, never has. Why not? It just makes it look like he's trying to DENY the PROBLEM for some reason."

    Grow up, Carl.

    ReplyDelete
  130. holy shit the trolls have discovered caps lock! WE'RE ALL DOOOOOOOMED

    seriously though i think the classy thing for randall to do would be to acknowledge that he copied an old Robot Chicken. I wonder what would happen if you e-mailed him about it?

    ReplyDelete
  131. He would ignore it, probably.

    But seriously, "copied" Robot Chicken? I agree his execution of the joke was pretty lame, but is it such a big deal that he's not the first person to come up with it? The "problem", the "situation", "evidence" that he did or didn't steal it? Come on. It's like you've never read any other comic.

    (captcha: diank)

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  132. yes, it's a problem because it shows that his ideas are really obvious, so obvious that other people have done them exactly this way. if it was an accident he should say so. He apologized for that time he insulted anthropologists, i think he should apologize for this too.

    ReplyDelete
  133. fun fact: there is precedent for webcomics people to apologize for accidentally stealing someone else's stuff (Questionable Content at one point apologized and changed some dialog)

    ReplyDelete
  134. also Sheldon did it after copying xkcd.

    ReplyDelete
  135. Rob is only saying that because I told him on IRC when that happened.

    Luckily I log this shit: http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=538

    See the author's bit at the bottom.

    ReplyDelete
  136. "If xkcd isn't going to be good, it shouldn't exist at all. And just because it was good for a while in 2007 doesn't mean it is always going to be good now. Why the fuck don't people understand this?"

    People don't understand this, because people don't care that you don't think it is good.

    Nobody would ever have questioned this webcomic's quality, if it weren't for people like you, shoving Robot Chicken clips down their throats and saying crap like "It could have been better if he drew it this way, or if he put the punchline here." And even if somebody did think that a certain comic wasn't good, then THEY WOULDN'T FUCKING CARE BECAUSE IT IS JUST A WEBCOMIC!!

    God, if this website is going to be devoting all its time criticizing a single stick figure webcomic day after day, then it shouldn't exist at all.

    ReplyDelete
  137. yeah, Christ, why can't we just enjoy something without thinking about it? why don't our brains disengage whenever we see something on the internet, like real people? why do we have to see it and say "ugh I KNOW HOW TO MAKE THIS NOT SUCK IT IS SO EASY"

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  138. What is the minimum number of webcomics I would have to talk about regularly to make you happy? I can try to increase it to that number if you wish.

    ReplyDelete