627: Tech Support Cheat Sheet

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Tech Support Cheat Sheet
'Hey Megan, it's your father. How do I print out a flowchart?'
Title text: 'Hey Megan, it's your father. How do I print out a flowchart?'

[edit] Explanation

The main point of this comic is that many tech-savvy people may not know much about computers (and certainly don’t automatically know how to do everything someone may want help with). They just have developed an intuition which works in many situations. This intuition is shown here in the form of a diagram. In particular, the chart exposes the computer expert's secret ingredient: trial and error.

A flowchart is an organizational tool for showing process flow. A box is an instruction, a diamond indicates a question, and the arrows control the flow from one symbol to another. Other flowchart comics can be found here.

The title text is a sad admission that even knowing the procedure for how to fix the problem, many people will not follow it and still call their presumably more tech-savvy children.

[edit] Transcript

Dear various parents, grandparents, co-workers, and other "not computer people."
We don't magically know how to do everything in every program. When we help you, we're usually just doing this:
[There is a flowchart there. Numbers are included to improve clarity, and do not appear in the original.]
Rectangle: Start.
[Go to 1.]
[1. Diamond] Find a menu item or button which looks related to what you want to do.
[I can't find one - go to 2.]
[Ok - go to 3.]
[2. Diamond] Pick one at random.
[I've tried them all - go to 4.]
[Ok - go to 3.]
[3. Rectangle] Click it.
[Go to 5.]
[4. Rectangle] Google the name of the program plus a few words related to what you want to do. Follow any instructions.
[Go to 5.]
[5. Diamond] Did it work?
[Yes - go to 8.]
[No - go to 6.]
[6. Diamond] Have you been trying this for over half an hour?
[Yes - go to 7.]
[No - go to 1.]
[7. Rectangle] Ask someone for help or give up.
[End of flowchart.]
[8. Rectangle] You're done!
[End of flowchart.]
Please print this flowchart out and tape it near your screen. Congratulations; you're now the local computer expert!
comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


I think he forgot one: "Use the built-in help, it's magic!" Zilti (talk) 19:48, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Most people I know that have to ask for computer help couldn't read a flowchart in the first place. This may be the problem. 23:01, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

This comic is so true, I just printed it out for my mom (though I doubt it will help much). She always asks questions like “how do I change the language?”, “where did my song/book/website/photo/document/tab/window go?”, or “how do I log in?”, providing no context whatsoever. I tell her to show me her screen (often AirPlayed to the TV (which she forgets how to do every other time)), and often immediately see a button doing exactly what she wants (or she closed her browser window, thinking it was a tab again 😑).

A slight complaint with the explanation, it states that tech-savvy people don’t know much about computers, which isn’t necessarily true, I could tell you how your computer works from the UI level, down to the components, and logic gates in the CPU. What I don’t necessarily know is how the designers of every single program in the universe laid out their user interface, which is when I use the method depicted in the comic. PotatoGod (talk) 17:10, 17 December 2017 (UTC)

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?