Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Very Special xkcdsucks Post

[Your "Dr. Skullthumper" was all like "yo let me post a review of" and I was all like "okay email it to me." At first he tried to send me a Word doc with formatting and I was like "nah, brah," but then he gave me proper HTML. As always, the guest posts are vastly inferior, but it's the weekend and I'm bored, so enjoy, maybe? -Ed.]

Fine people of xkcdsucks:

I rise from the comments section and into the blog proper because I can be silent no longer. Not that I was silent in the first place, but for the moment I will push aside this fact in the interest of a dramatic opening.

I have come here not to criticize xkcd, but – in the spirit of the age-old question Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? – I have come to criticize the critics. Specifically Carl and the other posers posters at whom any reasonable man, woman or spambot would label as “douchebags”.

Let us examine a few of the most recent postings.

I will begin with the post Tim reads webcomics (October 7, 2010), published on the eighth of October. Please, open a new tab and follow along with me. Do you see anything remotely resembling criticism? Anything that makes this post more informative than simply reading the webcomics themselves? I cannot even label this as “commentary”. It is more along the lines of a “mind dump,” as though someone sat Tim down with paper and pencil, flashed images of comics in front of his eyes, and instructed him to scribble down his first reaction to each one.

This is not criticism. It is purposeless writing with nothing to offer the reader. It tells us nothing of what each comic does well, does poorly, or in some cases what the comic even does at all. His commentary on SMBC is little more than “Holy shit, this guy has a really long neck,” not explaining what SMBC is or even developing his art critique into something meaningful. He may as well have posted “lol” or “:P” under each comic for all his “commentary” gives us.

And now I shall unleash my unbridled rage onto the next post, entitled QCsucks Weekly Update October 9th, posted on the tenth of October.

There is much to criticize about Questionable Content. Perhaps one might touch upon how the characterization that has driven the comic for years has suddenly gone stagnant and the “plot,” such as it is, has dissolved into directionless matchmaking. Or perhaps there is discussion to be had about the author’s choice to redraw several comics for his recently published collection. There is so much to be said about this comic that it arguably takes some sort of skill for the author to produce such an incredibly bland post about it.

He begins by mocking the author’s name and continues this “joke” throughout in one of the laziest attempts to be entertaining since Mr. Munroe discovered the phrase “Higgs Boson”. What motivation Kirk has for this – whether it was to make a point or just to be random – is unknown.

The first critique Kirk has about Questionable Content is that the “joke-a-day” formula detracts from the quality of the work. I really must give Kirk some points for effort here. After reading Tim’s post, it would not be unreasonable for one to conclude that contains no criticism at all. (I might point out that attacking the formula QC has run on for years since the beginning, and is therefore a large part of QC’s identity, is truly missing the point – QC is a joke-a-day comic and suggesting that it should not be would be to suggest that QC no longer be QC. I might suggest that it would be more helpful to make criticisms that would serve to improve the work instead of altering its fundamental structure. But still, poor logic is better than no attempt at all, Tim.) [I disagree. QC is a long-form comic, not a gag-a-day, but he tries to be both. Sticking to long-form wouldn't alter the fundamental nature but it would make the comic suck a lot less. This is a common complaint among the elite of #xkcd-sucks (use a real nickname; generic mibbit ones are banned) on foonetic, who are better than you. -Ed.]

The second critique faults the QC formula for forcing Hanners to step out of character. Not only is this incorrect – if one were to follow Jeph’s twitter feed one would learn the precise reason the comic was made – it also suggests that the situation was forced and unrealistic because of the artist’s quest to create a comic with “day to day humor”. Again, I am in no way suggesting that Jeph Jacques’ work does not deserve criticism, and heavy criticism at that, but the logic at work here is pathetic. Since the strip is in no way relevant to the week’s plot (the subject of the purse never comes up again) the artist could easily have not drawn it if he deemed it a threat to established characterization. Hanners does make mistakes, it has been established, and the artist has no motivation to construct an unrealistic situation for the sake of a joke. When it comes to forcing humor, Jeph’s modus operandi consists of “witty banter in an otherwise normal situation”, not “breaking character for lulz”. The former deserves more criticism than the latter, which rarely if ever happens, and certainly does not happen here.

Also, calling Marten “Martin” is a mistake made by someone unfamiliar or uninterested in the work. If you aren’t invested in the work somehow, your critique loses relevance in the eyes of the reader. Being blatantly wrong displays ignorance, not analysis. To that end, the sentence “hey, we are just clearing ground for the eventual Martin/Hanners relationship” goes unexplained and thus makes no fucking sense. Saying random shit (such as the aforementioned “Jeff Jacks”) without a reason does not make you a critic or entertaining. It makes you an idiot. If content were calories, your post would be word salad.

Most of the other critiques attack the QC formula as well, suggesting that this post could easily have been a more general post about “the QC formula” instead of posting five separate comics and making virtually identical comments about each.

The next post is Carl’s: Scenes From a Multiverse: The First Few Months. This is criticism. It is content. Carl manages to say more (and sound more intelligent) in less space than the rest of you. It actually discusses what works well in the comic and what doesn’t. It’s not a day-by-day analysis of the comic because it doesn’t need a day-by-day analysis, discussing general trends is enough for Carl to make his points. The post is efficient, thoughtful, and well-written.

The following posts are more of Tim’s bullshit. The mindspillage is a bit more substantial this time, but again he fails to actually criticize any of the comics. Instead, he writes mocking summaries of each. Good job, Tim! You almost had me interested for a second there.

Then comes xkcdsuckstravaganza, which you wouldn’t know was one of Carl’s if the handy little column to the left didn’t tell you. Apparently Carl decided that his posts are too intelligent and interesting so instead he decided to do one Tim-style. A fair bit of real criticism still finds its way into some of the comments, suggesting Carl still has some work to do until he can waste our time as well as Tim can. But the quality is still not up to par.

Luckily the next post on Abstruse Goose makes up for it with more actual criticism and logic and reasoning and the things we’ve come to know and love Carl Wheeler for.

And finally the truly enraging one, Tim reads webcomics (October 23, 1010) [sic].

It begins with the comment “This one will be really short, mostly to piss off the folks who complain that my comments are too short.” Hilarious. Positively hilarious. Here’s the thing, Tim: mocking your audience is funny, mocking your audience’s criticism in lieu of responding to it makes you look like an idiot. You can do both, of course. For example, Andrew Hussie both mocks and responds to the criticism leveled at him on his Formspring, but the key is that he responds to it with a rational and well-reasoned argument. “Rob’s rants” [I object to this characterization -Ed.] and Carl’s FAQs on xkcdsucks address arguments made by the audience. “I’m gonna do whatever I wanna do” is not an argument, and because you haven’t gained any respect in our eyes yet, having displayed no ability whatsoever to pen a critique, it makes you look like the douche you are.

Shut up, Tim. Just shut up. Nobody wants to hear your bullshit two-sentence reactions that address exactly nothing. You don’t bother to support your point of view. You don’t give suggestions for improvement. Obviously we are all part of the hivemind and think exactly the same way as you do so you don’t have to bother doing such things as explaining what the fuck this garbage is you are posting.

I visited, and continue to visit, xkcdsucks because it always has interesting, well-argued criticism. I will not continue to visit because it has none of that. Any post not written by Carl is a waste of space on that site. Carl, either take the reins of your new site exclusively or come the fuck back here. “Serious about webcomics”? Hardly. Nothing there suggests any serious analysis. Even your commenters are less intelligent on this new blog; they do not bother to discuss or debate, only hate on every webcomic blindly for obscure reasons. What the fuck happened to the argument and discussion that made xkcdsucks what it is?

I know you want to expand, Carl, but this isn’t the way to do it. Having a bunch of lazy idiots make contentless posts, not in the spirit of criticism, not even in the spirit of entertainment, but in the hopes of getting murmurs of agreement from a brainwashed audience, of sparking some sort of superficial connection between poster and reader, why… it reminds me of a particular webcomic.

And it sucks.

[We will return Monday to your regularly scheduled hate. -Ed.]


  1. 1. Nobody's forcing you to read

    2. You just hate because your jellous.

    3. Where is YOUR blog?

    4. Your post is actually longer than any single post. Why did you waste so much time on hating it?

    5. Some posts are not supposed to be criticism!

    6. Blogs are subjective.

    7. You're biased.

    8. It's ok to be lazy and make contentless posts.

    By the way, I just posted a new one! Check it out.

  2. I love internet drama over a blog I don't read about webcomics I've never heard of.

    CAPTCHA: paing. I'm definitely feeling the paing here.

  3. This was better than any of Rob's posts.

    We need another review by Aloria's cat.

  4. Miranda Cosgrove XkcDOctober 31, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    Carl's xkcdsucks up until towards the end > xkcdsuxredux Rob > Carl's xkcdsucks towards the end >

  5. xkcdsuxredux > Rob*

  6. I totally agree. I think xkcdsucks is totally valid (if hilariously biased, which I am okay with) criticism, while is just random crap coming out of random douche's minds.

  7. Tim, I get it. You can totally be facetious.

    I'd like to find out about your Comics Curmudgeon influence though. Your posts read like you have been aiming specifically for snark, curmudgeon-style. Have you thought about why that doesn't, as a general rule, work for webcomics?

  8. Oh it might, Timofei is just terrible at snark.

  9. Tim, learn to accept criticism. Get off and let Carl do his thing.


  11. Isn't hatred what brought us together?

  12. Let go of your hatred, give in to the Dark Side!



  13. This is a well-written post that has forced me to re-evaluate As well, Timofei's immediate response is so pathetic that it boggles the mind that he's a contributor instead of a generic xkcd fanboy.

  14. Wait, Timofei was serious? I thought he was trying to parody xkcd fanboys.

  15. (he was parodying xkcd fanboys, that is)


    Really, the one thing I really disagree here is with the commenter hate. Sure, they spend too much time nitpicking, but they genuinely critizice the shortcomings in every new post. They're not afraid of calling screwups. If anything, y see more blind hate here, ever if it's probably something about commenter ratio. At least they don't go on sucking Rob's tiny cock.

  17. Read Timofei's comments. He berates people who give him legitimate criticism on how his crappy non-criticism one-sentence blurbs aren't even grounded in reality.

    Seriously Tim, learn to write.

  18. Sherlock: Wait what? I didn't mention Timofei's comments. I said (you talking to me right?) that commenters on are not "less intelligent", as Skully here stated. They give legitimate criticism and say smart things.

    On his second post Tim seemed like he tried to integrate that criticism. Then he threw a hissyfit and went back to the one-sentences blurbs.

  19. The comments on are less interesting because there isn't anything to talk about. If there is nothing of substance to comment on then clearly what you are going to get is chatter.

  20. So, the webcomics I link to are of no substance? Try to comment on these. The webcomics are the content. I just splice them up with some bullshit, but everyone seems to focus on the bullshit for some reason. Incidentally, my "contentless" quip about not getting VGCats seemed to generate the most discussion about the comic itself. Which is my metric of success. Maybe I should just say I don't get every comic I post.

  21. So, for 813, I think I must be missing something, because I don't really get why the "more likely" one-liners are more likely and why the "less likely" one-liners are less likely. I can't even figure out what Randall intends the reason to be. It's just...five random one-liners, all shitty, most computer-y, and... for some reason some of them are more likely than others?

    This sort of bullshit is exactly the sort of thing that people come up to me and reference, and go "Yeah you know where that's from? Do ya?" and I go "Yeah, it's XKCD, I don't really like it," and we talk about other stuff instead.

  22. The webcomics aren't your content. You don't have any content, as linking to someone else's content is not itself content. Would a blog which features a page of five links to other blog posts generate interesting discussions? Fuck no, not unless that blog itself said something interesting about the pages it linked too. Expecting the interesting content to come from reader comments is expecting your readers to write your blog for you. Good luck with that.

  23. Timofei, if webcomics were your content, then surely you could just dump a list of every webcomic you are currently reading, put a rating out of 5 next to it, and be done.

    What people want is new content, something that you come up with yourself and justify. That is called an ARGUMENT. I's why xkcdsucks is so entertaining. Carl/Rob had/has a thesis, then supports it with evidence.

    I'm prepared to give you another chance. But if is the same in a month as it is now, I won't return.

  24. 813's alt-text - is Randall failing to spell 'detonator' properly on purpose? Or is 'detanator' an American spelling I'm not aware of?

  25. sometimes I find tim's bullshit amusing, but I would sort of prefer something more in depth, I liked carl's subnormality and SFAM comments, and they were interesting to read.

    I feel like some of tim's bullet point comments would make good anchors for a longer-winded rant, or whatever.

    the issue is hitting the right tone- whether the longer reviews would be better written as more analytical affairs, or whether they'd be better served with entertainment in mind xkcdsuxredux style.

    Tim's comments seem to commit to neither, I guess?

    rob is fat

  26. I think I did get carried away with my indiscriminate hatred for just about anything and everything. In the future, i will try to shape my hatred into a more meaningful discussion.

    I also agree with almost all of the criticism of Tim's reviews. Did carl find this guy just because he has the ability to make us all rage so hard with so few words? I will give Tim credit for sparking debate on why VGcats is terrible.

  27. This review is spot on. Carl is smart and interesting, he should talk more. Tim should stop sucking, or else let Carl take over completely.

  28. Is "Carl taking over completely" actually an option? He barely got his posts up on time for xkcdsucks. My guess is that without any steady schedule for him to make posts he's fallen into pure laziness.

    In other words, if Carl wanted to post more then he would. Tim isn't crowding him out. He's simply piss poor filler while we wait for Carl to find the time.

  29. Again, Randall tries to force-start a meme - this time by giving us half a dozen at once and hoping one makes it.

  30. isn't helped by the fact that Timofei is now it's public face, and he is a total douche. Carl, this guy is sinking your blog, PULL THE PLUG.

  31. what the fuck is the point of mondays XKCD?
    'heres some random phrases i just made up... along with what i think are their likelyhoods of making it into action movies' - wtf?

    i just dont...

    i have no words. :(

  32. Wtf is happening with Penny-Arcade today? Normally I get their weird artsy-side projects but not this one.

  33. @Ian: yeah, I don't get it either. I hate their random side-projects - it's their webcomic and they can do what they want etc etc but, well, Lookouts, Automata, bloody Cardboard Tube Samurai, this new batch...

    They all leave me totally cold. I wish they'd not bother.

  34. @ian -

    gaming comics = win.
    these arty side projects... argh. why? :/

    problem is they always get a bunch of people going 'omg this is awesomesauce, you should do more!!' - so they do :(
    when all most of us who visit penny-arcade want is to see them taking the piss out of the latest vaguely-games-related news.

  35. I donno-

    I liked Automata, but the concept it'snt new, it's like an asimov graphic novel.

    when they let external people take over the writing and art style the offshoots look even worse.

    The tiny kittenteeth version of lookouts was fucking foul, and the pastel-shaded automata with a cheery and human-like robot shat all over everything good about the story.

    the new kid could be okay, dust looks tired and old.

    I haven't seen the newest, but both dust and the new kid could do with some more dynamic panel structure; as opposed to SQUARES FOREVER

  36. double posting like a faggot-

    just saw the new one, looks like mulan, or basically anything written by tamora peirce.


    these short PA stories are confusing, and aren't really fresh or original- however since we usually don't get much story from offshoots either there isn't too much time to add something new either.


  37. I was sold on Queen of Bells with the first two panels, and my interest was maintained through the rest of it. I want to know what this list is for and who the old man is. [Obviously I think the list is of targets for assassination. But why these people? For what purpose?] These panels carried the rest of it for me.

    Sand and New Kid on the other hand sound extremely boring. I've seen enough "New Kid On The Block" type stories to last a lifetime. Although I imagine Mike and Jerry have a different relationship with the story since they have children of their own. All we got for Sand was "Here's a guy who can't die." Not very intriguing.

    @soodo name

    "I liked Automata, but the concept it'snt (sic) new, it's like an asimov graphic novel."

    You say that like it's a bad thing.

  38. @ arthur

    I was sold on Queen of Bells with the first two panels, and my interest was maintained through the rest of it. I want to know what this list is for and who the old man is.

    "I am easy to please, and I enjoyed the comic even though it was confusing and I did not understand it"

    I bet you liked lost too, a story that was dragged kicking and screaming by raising hundreds of questions, and providing no answers until

    There's a difference between intrigue and plain lazy writing, you'd do well to learn it.

  39. Hi iam catt

  40. @Arthur: I assume he's picking a name for the girl, deciding finally on "Belruel", from which you derive the title "Queen of Bel(l)s" much like the star of "Reckless" happens to be "Jacob Reckless". Fucking awful name, I'm glad I did not buy that book.

    If it's like last time, PA will get people to vote on their favourite and BAM -- story line. And then later, the others will get storylines too for some reason.

    Randall is basically just swearing more and hoping to get shock-reactions, I think? These one-liners would be funny either a)given context or b)if they seemed entirely spur-of-the-moment, ie: in a real conversation. As it stands, Randall is sitting in the uncanny valley between the two where we just grit our teeth and ask, "Really?"

    See, I don't understand how you're number 1.

  41. UndercoverCuddlefishNovember 1, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    @7:54 "i want to know what happens next" is not the same thing as "this confused me and i did not understand it" so go choke on a dick yes it sucks and i stopped checking it after two days i can only assume that rob is trolling us by throwing this shitty pointless review in with the xkcd critiques

    re:813 utter shit

  42. It's disappointing how quickly the site has started to suck--I stopped reading every post except Carl's fairly quickly.

  43. I like 813. Fuck you all.
    "Looks like the Fed just lowered the interest rate." BAM BAM!


    @Mr Cushtie: R. Munroe made a SPELLING MISTAKE! CALL THE POLICE!

  44. The Infamous AnonymousNovember 1, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    Oups, I linked to as a joke, 'cuz I liked the name "infamous anonymous." Turns up there is actually a blog using that url...

    I guess I should've scrolled all the way to the bottom before clicking "agree"


  45. hmm, that blog is written by a creepy man who stalks girls over the internet and, given by how he alludes to 'dark secrets', probably murders women to stop them from leaving him...

    actually that could be randall OR rob

  46. @Cuddleymous 7:54

    "I am easy to please, and I enjoyed the comic even though it was confusing and I did not understand it"

    Yes! That's exactly what I said. Except what I instead said was that the untold details actually sound like they could be interesting, unlike the other two offerings.

    "I bet you liked lost too"

    From your comment you know more about lost than I do. I've never seen an episode and don't plan on it. It sounded like meaningless drivel, and I did well to keep away from it. I'm sorry that the ending let you down.


    "I assume he's picking a name for the girl, deciding finally on 'Belruel'"

    I agree that the girl's name is Belruel. Although the fact that the name Belruel is not on the list, and the fact that the list has not been completely crossed out yet makes me question your theory.

    On the other hand, the news post lends evidence to your theory. The relevant passage: "The song is more or less about falling in love with your in-game character". It could be that the old man is falling in love with a name and character he's created. (In a fatherly sort of way! Not pedophilia. Jeeze.) Which is to say Belruel is a fictional character whose tales are written down by a fictional character. There are layers of fiction here.

  47. I usually like PA's side projects. it makes for a nice change of pace. mostly, as I usually do when there is backlash against something which is different from what people are used to, I attribute it to "it's different from what I'm used to/expect and therefore I don't like it." which isn't entirely unfair--it can be quite jarring--but I feel that people don't give them much of a chance.

    I liked the art in the Queen of Bells one but as an introductory comic it feels lacking--it doesn't really give me an idea for the premise or the high concept. which is effective in that I want to know what it's about, but less effective in that in these situations there's always a decent chance that once I find out what it's about it won't interest me.

  48. The second of the PA side projects, the "new kid" one, was conceptually repulsive. Oh boy, a cliche in space! The worst part was probably the newspost that accompanied it where Gabe and Tycho claimed that it could be their next big thing, which made me lose a lot of faith in them. Not that there was much remaining after that horrible video game they made.

  49. i'm pretty sure by "big" they just meant "this project will be a large project," not that it would be vast and famous or whatever.

  50. I reiterate a point I made before: Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik are both fathers. I am neither a father nor a young boy, and therefore have no awareness of this aspect of our society.

    In other words the project is completely nonsensical to me. However I believe it makes sense from the perspective of actual fathers.

  51. I think it has less to do with being fathers and more to do with narratives and their structures.

    New Kid as conceived has a very serial nature to it. it's taking the well-known narrative of "kid has to move around a lot, getting used to a new home" and adding to it "weird new speculative fiction vistas." you could do that with just one place, but in the particular model The New Kid sets up it feels like it's designed to be a coming-of-age tale set across many worlds.

    perhaps not. but that's what I thought when I read 'this could be the biggest thing we've ever done.'

  52. Here's a quote from Gabe about its bigness: "Being the new kid is hard, being the new kid in a school full of aliens is harder. Tycho mentioned that this one could be the biggest thing we ever do and I think he’s right. My fantasy is to see Dreamworks, Disney or Nickelodeon make an animated feature or a Saturday morning cartoon out of this one. Who knows maybe they will see it and give me a call!" If that doesn't make you want to vomit then I don't know what will.

  53. I liked Automata. Probably I liked it *because* it was like an Asimov story. I agree that New Kid looks very boring. Out of the 3, I actually find Dust most interesting.

  54. I think that Dust is the only one with potential. The New Kid is a cliche in space (and consequently boring, I agree). The other one, I can't be bothered to look up the name, is so vague that no one knows what it is about.

    The best part, however, is that readers will vote on the one they like best, and as a consequence the PA team will have someone unrelated develop it in a different direction with a different style. Come on! People liked the PA version, that doesn't mean they are so enamored with the idea that they will like anything resembling it. What happened to Lookouts was especially bad, and the fact that the PA team put it up on their website and praised it up and down makes me question their taste and their sanity.

  55. "The best part, however, is that readers will vote on the one they like best, and as a consequence the PA team will have someone unrelated develop it in a different direction with a different style."

    that only happened with Lookouts, and I think someone wrote it without prompting. the other ones they did (Automata, and later the PA version of Lookouts) was pretty much in keeping with the original theme. and, you know, actually done by them.

    "What happened to Lookouts was especially bad, and the fact that the PA team put it up on their website and praised it up and down makes me question their taste and their sanity. "

    it's easy to like something that someone else has made based on one of your ideas, even if it's not very good. I can forgive them thinking the guest arc was worth posting.

  56. It's a good example of why even generally competent people need external criticism and, more importantly, need to listen to it.

  57. indeed. though it is difficult for a comics person to get criticism before posting a comic.

  58. Rob is like a repulsive corpulent werewolf, every time he posts something I wholly agree with I become disenchanted with life and must comfort eat copious amounts of high sat fats.

    I gained a stone the past month, it begins

  59. Tim, sure it's ok for you to make lazy and contentless posts, that's your right and all, but that's not how xkcdsucks got it's audience. If you want to retain the xkcdsucks readership, posts that are so short, they could be posted in a single tweet (including the link to the comic) are not the way to do it.

    I see that is not ad-supported, so I guess it doesn't *really* matter how many readers you have, but why bother posting it on the internet, if not for others to read?

  60. That people thought Tim's post in the beginning of this comments thread was serious makes me lose some degree of faith in the intellect of the sorts of folk who despise XKCD.

    Also I totally dig Penny Arcade's side projects. Gabe is a talented artist and Tycho's a talented writer, so I'm generally pretty pleased to see them do new sorts of things. Especially since their standard comics have been somewhat hit or miss as of late, while their artsy shit has been more consistently quality whenever they do it.