Sunday, June 26, 2011

hey kids it's grandpa carl again

EVERYONE pay attention, it's ME: Carl Z. "Ugly" Wheeler, blogging from a small room near, but not in, Kansas, with a quick bloggin' post.

1. I still love you all and as I promised in an earlier life, still intend to guest post when the fancy strikes me.

2. This is one of those times.

3. Also last week, when I sent rob a guest comic post. The one about kidneys.

4. Sometimes we used to talk about whether xkcd was copying other comics on the internet. Defenders of xkcd said, no, it's a coincidence, it's easy to make the same jokes and I am sure xkcd hasn't heard of this "penny arcades" or whatever the comic is you say he copied. And then I always used to say, "well, if it's just a coincidence, he sure is acting weird about it" with weird defined as "refusing to acknowledge it and shunning anyone who brings it up, instead of just explaining that it was a coincidence." There's certainly no way to prove that an author deliberately stole another person's joke, and it's hardly fair to assume foul play without evidence. So, what I did was set up a general procedure that I (in my unlimited wisdom) recommend to webcomic artists in this situation: If you publish a comic that is suspiciously like another person's comic, it's probably an innocent mistake. But if it's brought to your attention, acknowledge the similarities, link to the original if you want to be extra classy, and get it out of the way. Alas, xkcd has never once done this (if i am wrong on this let me know but I am pretty sure). It just makes me suspicious. If there's really nothing wrong going on, why not just do the online equivalent of laughing it off? Rather than the online equivalent of going to your room and locking the door?

The point I'm trying to make with all this is that the proper response, as odd and labor-intensive as it may seem, does happen fairly often, and it happened most recently at Amazing Super Powers, with the President Kid comic (check the post below the comic). As it happens, neither one of the comics are all that funny so I'm probably going to forget all about this soon. But while I remember: nice work, ASP. Nice work.

5. I read an article the other day about humor research, specifically if one gender is funnier than the other. It's an interesting subject, since men generally dominate the world of comedy, but people tend to be offended if you suggest that men are inherently funnier than women. I don't know what the right answer is (I can certainly imagine social factors that make it easier for a man to be funnier, which would mean that there isn't anything inherently different but there is still a difference). Anyway, it's an interesting topic and one that the study in this article makes no progress on because I think it used a terrible measure of humor.

The study had men and women write captions for New Yorker cartoons, and I guess the logic for this was that the New Yorker is a respected magazine, and every week it has a "write-a-caption-for-this-comic" competition, so let's use that. But that's a terrible measure of how funny someone is! Those cartoons are hard to write captions for! Why, most weeks (when I remember to read it) I don't even think the finalists they pick for the contest are all that funny. In each cartoon, the drawing is already there, so you're forced to work with what they have. And for a lot of drawings, there just won't be too many options! Anyway, I appreciate the fact that they are trying to measure humor quantitatively - something I have always thought was possible, and indeed, if you dig deeply enough, an idea this entire blog is premised on - but I don't think this is the best way. At the very least, give people tons and tons of cartoons (New Yorker and others) and let them see which ones they can come up with good captions for. After all, if your three cartoons are Guys in an Office, Guys Stuck on the Beach, and Guys At Nice Restaurant, you better hope you can come up with something that fits those, or else be deemed Less Funny in the eyes of these researchers.

The old Dysfunctional Family Circus was pretty funny, and that was based on writing new captions for Family Circus cartoons. But a lot of those were based on simplified drawings that could be somewhat ambigious; so you could have your captions cleverly come up with new descriptions of what was actually going on (as opposed to New Yorker cartoons, which are pretty much always just quotes from one person to the other). The point is, there are better ways to do this, but it's a good start.

6. Remind me to do this more often!

83 comments:

  1. you can't fool us rob
    we know you've already consumed carl

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  2. I stick around just for those times when Carl manages to get his head above water (or fat, or whatever)

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  3. How is webcomics.me going for you, Carl?

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  4. Pig at the Complaints desk in a New Yorker cartoonJune 27, 2011 at 12:27 AM

    I wish I was taller.

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  5. Predictions for why 917 sucks:
    "Well _I've_ never heard of that guy, because I'm not XKCD's target audience, therefore Randall is just being obscure again, GOOMH-baiting the nerds and trying to make them feel important about themselves for knowing who that is. Or he has a crush on one more obscure scientist, I can't decide. Maybe both. Also, porn star daughter Megan nipples har har!"

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  6. @1:08: I see someone's feeling insecure about their choice in webcomics

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  7. Thanks Rob, keep it coming.

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  8. abdelmadjid sidiJune 27, 2011 at 2:25 AM

    @1:08

    (1) I've heard of him;

    (2) It's frankly insulting when some two-bit hack like Randall tries to put his words into the mouth of an excellent scientist/author to make his writing sound less lame than it is (see also: dozens of other xkcd strips, although recently the Marie Curie one was particularly grating);

    (3) Randall is just being obscure again, GOOMH-baiting the nerds and trying to make them feel important about themselves for knowing who that is;

    (4) If Randall has a crush on Hofstadter, it is only because he uses Wikipedia to "decide" who his crushes are. Even as a preteen I recall more sophisticated processes leading to my first crushes;

    (5) I like Randall because he reminds me that any other creative[tm] man I meet, no matter how obnoxious, could always be even worse while thinking he is better.

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  9. @abdelmadjid, the smart and discerning people who read this blog don't dream about Megan's breast milk and having a porn star daughter, therefore we're better than Randall. You, sir, are neglecting to remind us of this superiority. Please correct that, or I demand my money back.

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  10. the joke was the acronym, which was sort of clever and I'll give the comic points for that

    Nothing else was particularly notable about it though; it was just as much of a nothing as the last ~200 xkcds have been.

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  11. Acronym's cute, but I feel like that was the joke Randall wanted to tell and then had to pad it with some nerd-pandering.

    Also, does anyone else get disconcerted that when he "zooms" into panel 2, it seems that he didn't draw it larger he just expanded a regular image (or alternatively he drew it large with bigger pens and clunkier lines for no apparent reason)?

    ...Also, Carl, isn't this sort of post why you made webcomics.me? Your corporate empire, your choices, but I just -- I don't understand.

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  12. Gary Glitter's first loveJune 27, 2011 at 8:31 AM

    Meta? Existentialist Teen Amirite?

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  13. "Acronym's cute, but I feel like that was the joke Randall wanted to tell and then had to pad it with some nerd-pandering."

    fuck you Raven that's pretty much what I was going to say
    except I was going to use 'ppd' and/or 'the framing device sucks'

    Anyway so yeah I dunno why this strip wasn't just the acronym, frankly. Randall doesn't have any qualms about doing a just-text comic. The framing device doesn't really add anything ('cept pandering).

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  14. The entire six-word autobiography is actually a single acrostic. The acronym is only part of the author's cleverness.

    You lot are fecking dullards.

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  15. yes, jesus rollerblading christ, an acronym is when each letter becomes a word! here we have each word reverting to a letter, which is an acrostic.

    that pedantic motherfucker with his centrifugal forces and space-time analogy

    the hipocrisy

    it's just too much

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  16. Dearest Anonymous @ 10:20 AM

    You filthy bastard, it's hypercrisy!

    Innit?

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  17. Holy balls, Alt-F said something intelligible AND legitimate? I'm shocked. Nice catch with the "acrostic" bit.

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  18. If what I might pixelate appears unintelligible you've only yourself to blame.
    My legitimacy is yet another matter.

    My six-word autobiography:

    Sex change.
    Time machine.
    Fuck self.

    Gamer's six-word autobiography:

    "Gamer regretted he never learned to count."

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  19. ALTF, what do you think of Gamer's neckbeard?

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  20. According to the Urban Dictionary:
    "Neckbeard":
    2. (n) Derogatory term for slovenly nerdy people who have no sense of hygene or grooming. Often related to hobbies such as card gaming, video gaming, anime, et. al.

    I like it!
    He's no doubt quite filthy in bed. If one is not showered in crustations when one is getting the ride, what's the purpose?

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  21. But not crustaceans - that's just creepy.

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  22. vladimr ilyich ulyanovJune 27, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    I know at least one of you is watching the freak show on Channel 4 at the moment. Is that Gamer_2k4 with the neckbeard?

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  23. Okay, people, seriously. My picture is RIGHT THERE. There is not a single place in the world where that is considered a neckbeard (as it fails the primary requirement of BEING ON MY NECK).

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  24. Nu?
    You're not filthy in bed then?

    And who said anything about this world? The planetoid "Barbudos" in the Andromeda Galaxy would consider you hirsute enough.

    Innit?

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  25. You're not filthy in bed then?

    Not at the "crustacean" level, anyway.

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  26. I was watching Through the Wormhole just last night on the Science channel, and Hofstadter was on the particular episode I was watching.

    I get the feeling Randall was watching it, too.

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  27. Re: this Acrostic shit. No. Fuck that. Line ==\== word.
    Acrostics requires lines, in the
    plural, ie: verses, ie: stixous which you [a]cro.
    In his godawful prose there is
    no more than line in the entire
    goddamn 6-word autobiography, ie: one stixos.
    There are,
    however, 6 WORDS which
    end up forming an ACRONYM if you take select letters (ie: the first of
    each word). There is one line, so there is
    no acro happening on this
    goddamn stixos. In this whole
    livid piece of shit comic there
    is no acrostic except for the
    shittacular last panel which declares that
    Hofstadter is "WIN", but I doubt that is
    likely intentional.

    Anyways,
    now that I've said, that please learn some English and/or
    Greek, or else if you still don't
    understand you can
    attend rudimentary first
    grade education where you are delightfully told by
    educators that your name will
    stand for something if you
    only write it down the page and make cutesy
    fucking adjectives besides each letter!
    ----------------------------------------@Gamer:
    this is the internet -- Facts and Proof Checking are
    labelled as just getting in the way of The Truth,
    You know?

    If that doesn't work for you, get a better monitor! (this is not directed towards Gamer).

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  28. @Ravenzomg i thought that post was by altf at first. I'm not sure whether to it's I or you who should feel bad.

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  29. @said: I'm going to go ahead and call it parody.

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  30. CARL

    DO THIS MORE OFTEN

    THIS BLOG HAS GONE TO SHIT SINCE YOU LET ROB TAKE OVER

    HOW COULD YOU CARL

    WE ARE MAD AT YOU

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  31. ravenzomg, for all the greek you just looked up on wikipedia, simple reformatting of the text in panel 2 would make in acrostic. however there is no way in hell to make it an acronym.

    also probably the inventors of acrostics would have considered you a jackass. ancient greeks insisted on separation into lines because in ancient greek there were NO SPACES between words. english has spaces, which are more than adequate to create the effect.

    you're like those people demanding that cars have saddles and run on hay.

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  32. I wish I had fantrolls :(

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  33. I JUST HATE THOSE PETROLEUM-POWERED VEHICLES SO MUCH

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  34. I SAY I'M A WRITER AND THEREFOR YOU'RE ALL IDIOTS EVEN THOUGH I'M CLEARLY USING ANTIQUATED TERMINOLOGY AND INSISTING IT'S STILL RELEVANT.

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  35. I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW THE INTERNET WORKS SO I ASSUME I'M ALWAYS RIGHT EVEN WHEN I KNOW I'M WRONG.

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  36. you are useless raventrolls, NONE of those were acrostics

    CATPCHA: cabal O SHIT

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  37. CARL

    DO THIS MORE OFTEN

    THIS BLOG HAS GONE TO SHIT SINCE YOU LET ROB EAT EVERYONE

    HOW COULD YOU CARL

    WE ARE MAD AT YOU

    ---

    fix't

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  38. NO

    NOT EVERYONE

    WHY ROB WHY

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  39. UM GUYS MY CAPSLOCK BUTTON IS STUCK AND I CAN'T SEEM TO GET IT UNSTUCK. THEREFORE I UNAVOIDABLY COME ACROSS AS BEING EVEN MORE TENSE AND IRRITABLE THAN USUAL.

    CAN ANYONE HELP ME RESOLVE THIS UNFORTUNATE DEVELOPMENT

    THANK YOU ALL
    AND AS ALWAYS FUCK ROB.

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  40. @4:07 words forming another wordy-sounding thing = acronym. ISMETA sounds wordy. See also TLA = Three Letter Acronym. You don't say "oh it's not a three letter acronym though because when i type out Three Letter Acronym i'm typing out the expansion of the acronym not the acronym itself thus it's an acrostic".

    If you alight from your aspie-based steam train of thought you'll see that (1) each word doesn't have your unique definition, non-overlapping with every other word; (2) English is not prescriptive anyway.

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  41. the sentence "english is not prescriptive anyway" has no meaning

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  42. @Rob I've put it past a panel of experts in Internet argument and they all say that it is syntactically and semantically correct. One member explicitly rejects use of the breathing comma and another took the opportunity to let out a bloody stream of invective about the quality of xkcdsucks reviews.

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  43. How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

    A fat cow.

    captcha: minest. The prize for winning this argument is so minest.

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  44. i'm actually an eldritch monstrosity, you racist

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  45. REBOOT PULLED A REDUX AND NO ONE EVEN CARES. MAYBE IF I POST THIS IN ALL-CAPS SOMEONE WILL.

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  46. Nobody cares about those crappy spinoff sites. xkcdsux or bust!

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  47. I mean, Ravenzomg just accused Randall of writing Hofstadter/Sagan slash-fics. Glass houses anyone?

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  48. @ Ravenzomd:

    Parody?
    Rape?

    I choose to enamour the English language as indelicately as is possible.

    @ Said June 27 @ 2:47 PM:

    You are a dullard.
    I know it.
    You know it.
    And now we all know it.

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  49. Timofei, my lack of shame never let me own walls -- I am forced to live in a pile of shards and ash. THAT IS WHAT BEING IN THIS BLOG FEELS LIKE.

    also i totally still stand by my whole "it's an acronym, fuckers" argument, even though i haven't a clue if i'm right or not, but luckily i am not an english major which i am okay with. enjoy your degree which qualifies you to serve coffee, p3d4nt5. ...zing.

    captcha: etchear. omigod srsly, how do i stop my ear from etching? scretching does nothing }=[

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  50. "....i am not an english major which i am okay with. enjoy your degree which qualifies you to serve coffee, p3d4nt5. ...zing....."

    I do not understand how possessing a degree in English renders you qualified to serve coffee. That may very well be all you are able to do for gainful employment, but I can't see how it makes you 'qualified'.

    It is an acronym within a single acrostic. Personally, I would have written it to encapsulate a double acrostic, but then that's just me.

    "....I am forced to live in a pile of shards and ash...."

    The Raven is related to the Phoenix though, Innit? I reckon your weekly ablution rituals must be exciting.

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  51. far eastern immigrantJune 28, 2011 at 7:38 AM

    ALTF: An English degree is sufficient to get you a job serving coffee, thus it qualifies you to serve coffee.

    Our language is fairly simple - if you would only work with it rather than fight everyone what speaks it better than you.

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  52. I watch Raven's ablution rituals over a hidden camera and I can confirm they are indeed pretty exciting

    (this stuff writes itself)

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  53. far eastern immigrant & ravenzomg = samefag

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  54. @ far eastern immigrant:

    "...Our language is fairly simple...."

    The way you might mangle it, I'm sure it is for you. There are 600,000 words in: the English language, you function with a working vocabulary of but 800 of them, no doubt.

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  55. @ Ann Apolis:

    Poor Ravenzomd lives amidst the aciculate shards of despair and the desolate ash of despondency without the comforting encouragement of walls. A 'hidden' camera is surely superfluous.

    Innit?

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  56. @Raven: Just because Randall gets all of his info from Wikipedia doesn't mean you can't go there. Check out the very first example.

    "ISMETA" is an acronym.
    "I'm So Meta Even This Acronym" is an acrostic - a really shitty one, and proof that Randall doesn't read the Wikipedia articles that he should.

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  57. 4:19 you have to get a name first.

    my fan troll is probably the best

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  58. Your mother's poopJune 28, 2011 at 9:28 AM

    @8:47: Citing Wikipedia is like writing something down on a scrap of paper then saying, "I'm right - it says so on this scrap of paper." If you don't want to be laughed at so loudly that your argument is drowned out, don't do it.

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  59. @Anon 9:28

    Perhaps it's like that, if that same piece of paper was reviewed by hundreds (thousands?) of people who agreed it was correct and provided citations.

    Yes, Wikipedia is free to edit by anyone, but that also makes it self-correcting. It means it's much more likely to be right than wrong.

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  60. Dearest El Barbudo

    You forgot about the role apathy plays in Wikipedia.

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  61. Speaking of acrostics, here's the model for Randall's future tombstone, to be ordered by Megan.

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  62. @ Gamer:

    Oh joy, a neckbeard defending wikipedia senselessly. How original.

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  63. El Barbudo does nothing scentslessly.
    His phermones massage my olfactory process with original adroitness. And it is joyous.

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  64. Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Mostafavi Moosavi KhomeiniJune 28, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    We get it, ALTF: you have a thing for stinky men.

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  65. So Wikipedia critics, what should one cite to be credible? The internet is full of cranks with webpages promoting inaccurate bullshit. Without a priori knowledge of the background and agenda of the author of a cited webpage, it's impossible to know whether the webpage is credible or not. At worst, Wikipedia has the same problems as the rest of the internet. If citing Wikipedia is verboten in your world, all of you citations better be coming from .gov sites or hard copy references published by academic presses.

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  66. All men stink.
    It's that especial stank I'm after.

    @ Anonymous @ 11:44:

    Yins is a cunt. No citation needed as this is a truth held by all to be self evident.

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  67. cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt

    Innit?

    Captcha: preten (hawt)

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  68. Oh dear.
    My doppelganger again.
    A cream of cunts requires a minimum of 65 by the way.

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  69. Fatima Salma Bint Amir Ibn MakhzumJune 28, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    @1144 Since when citations not from references published by academic presses became ok?

    The average web page is no more reliable than some guy down the pub blabbering on his favourite hobby horse. That you can type those thoughts on a keyboard and surround them with <html></html> says nothing whatever.

    But people's increasing tendency to believe crap from strangers suggests that the world is getting stupider. So consider yourself trendy.

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  70. "....than some guy down the pub blabbering on...."
    Oh you're such a Brit!

    The world is not getting more stupid. You and I are getting brighter!

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  71. Since when citations not from references published by academic presses became OK?

    I don't think it's OK.

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  72. Ravenzomg ---> doesn't understand basic naming convention. Probably puts toast in a toaster, etcetera etcetera.

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  73. Oh thank god that meme got dredged up, here I thought we would be forced to come up with original conversation instead of brainlessly spamming the "post comment" button.

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  74. Since when "Oh thank god that meme got dredged up, here I thought we would be forced to come up with original conversation instead of brainlessly spamming the "post comment" button." suddenly became okay?

    I don't think it's okay.

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  75. Since when Reboot doing a Redux became OK?

    I don't think it's OK.

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  76. I have a book that says the average internet page is at least slightly more reliable than some guy blabbering in the pub. Unfortunately, since this reference is a hard copy, I can't just provide you with a link so you can examine the reference yourself and draw your own conclusions about the quality of the study. You'll just have to take my word for it, but hey; at least I'm talking about a book and not one of those horribly unreliable web-pages.

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  77. A book? You mean some scraps of paper?

    The average Internet page IS some guy blabbering on a blog. But we're not blabbering about average, here.

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  78. No, we're not talking about the average. The Wikipedia page on a particular subject is likely to be better (i.e. more informative, less biased, and with far more transparency) than the average page on that subject.

    Of course some Wikipedia articles are significantly worse than other pages on the same subject. As a literate citizen of the information age, your job is to evaluate EVERY source of information to determine whether or not it's good. For the most part, Wikipedia is pretty good. Knee-jerk Wikipedia bashing suggests the basher is functionally illiterate and has no idea how to evaluate quality of information.

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