Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Google is a popular search engine. Google's searching algorithms are widely regarded as the most accurate and useful. If your search terms were sufficiently detailed, you will be able to find what you were looking for on the first page. Having to view the second page indicates your search terms were too vague or the answer to your query doesn't exist. Especially when the search results are a thousand or more items, only the very first results are mapping to the real idea of the user. The second page is not helpful for the issue.
Cueball, after failing to find his query in the first page of results, takes a curious peek at the second page. This is represented by a not-at-all subtle metaphor in which Cueball is about to wander into a sun-baked desert. According to the title text, he finds one vaguely relevant webpage, but it's over 18 years old.
The title text refers to webrings. Webrings consist of multiple websites that are connected together, usually with a common theme. They connect from one website to the next, eventually leading back to the starting site. They were popular in the 1990s as a way of boosting your search ranking, but newer algorithms in Google and other search engines are now detecting and penalizing web sites for such tactics. Webrings were also used in pre-google days to make it easy to find websites sharing a common theme, but since one site going down broke the ring, they were very inefficient. Seeing a webring means a site has not been updated since the mid 90s.
- [Cueball in a desert standing before a rock.]
- Rock: Greetings, stranger.
- Rock: Whatever quest drives you, abandon it.
- Rock: You shall find no answers in these desolate wastes.
- Cueball: I knew I wouldn't.
- Cueball: I guess I... just had to see.
- I hate feeling desperate enough to visit the second page of Google results.
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Reference to how much Google knows about us and the 'Filter Bubble'?
OTOH could just be a straight-forward observation of the search habits of most people - if I don't find what you're looking for on the first page , I try to refine my search terms rather than goto page 2 .
184.108.40.206 05:52, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
- But you can remember a time when you did go to the second or third page with some frequency, back when the Gooooooooooogle at the bottom of each page was rendered in text and your mom thought it was just so cool that the red 'o' showed her which page she was on. jameslucas (" " / +) 14:32, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
- What do you mean, “back when”? The Gooooooooooogle still behaves the way you described. --220.127.116.11 16:58, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
- Not quite. If you look at it, it's actually showing bits of an image, which happens to contain text. (The sprite sheet is http://www.google.com/images/nav_logo170_hr.png ) 18.104.22.168 18:27, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Interestingly, some research <citation missing> shows that Google's results are oriented more towards commercial results than other vendors, meaning that if you are looking for a non-commercial answer you might need to look at the second page (or switch search providers). Randymack (talk) 12:45, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
- I really want to see that citation. --NeatNit (talk) 15:09, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
- You could probably Google for it... :) 22.214.171.124 17:16, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
The dictionary definition of "desperation" looks a bit out of place. What's the point in it? Also, is there an explanation for the talking rock? A mention to the symbolic over dramatization of the incident? Dulcis (talk) 15:43, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Are we sure it's a desert? I know it mentions "desolate wastes", but it looks an awful lot like a seashore to me, not a desert. —Scs (talk) 17:09, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
- I can see that, but fairly certain it's a desert. His footprints linger to the right. If he were wading in water they'd not last. And the rock on the left has several smaller pebbles around it, which would be covered if the rock were in water. 126.96.36.199 17:21, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
I think the title text is referring to the results from searching for a number like "19". Instead of information about nineteen, you get lots of pages which tangentially refer to it, such as "President correcting discrimination against 19 Jewish, Hispanic and African American soldiers" or pages with a copyright year of 19xx. -188.8.131.52 17:10, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
- The title text actually says "page copyright year starts with '19'." I don't know how that can be interpreted as anything other than a reference to a year. 184.108.40.206 17:21, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
I think the rock is a reference to World of Warcraft, where some quests lead you to a rock or pile of mud. 220.127.116.11 22:43, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
- Unlikely, as none of them lead to a TALKING rock 18.104.22.168 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- So bereft are you of intelligent content, at this point in your search of the barren desert, that even the speech of the humble rock is rendered grandiose of style, relative to all the other explanatory dialogues you may yet find yourself taking part in... (i.e. at this point a rock is the best bet for something that'll actually talk to you. Even the tumbleweeds are absent and the sand is notoriously of no help whatsoever.) 22.214.171.124 13:38, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
- How is this accurate? When searching for sources while editing over at Wikipedia, I find useful info on the second and third pages all the time. I even once found something on the eighth page of my search. Jake (talk) 00:04, 23 May 2014 (UTC)
- Yes, but it's generally not done, if you will. Most people generally find what they need on the first page, or something close enough that they don't want to bother looking further, and don't need the second page. 126.96.36.199 00:14, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
I find myself looking at pages 1-10 while looking for videos, because I tend to search for videos based by theme, rather than searching for a specific one, and some themes have a lot of relevant videos. Though if I do search for a specific video typing what it is about and who made it usually is enough to find it on a first page (or one of it's reuploads at least). Though this first page sometimes shows how much videos are reuploaded, as I tend to find first page filled with reuploads of one video when I am searching for a specific one. 188.8.131.52 20:22, 12 September 2016 (UTC)