Talk:1306: Sigil Cycle

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search

Shouldn't it be QBASIC$ (or QBASIC%), since in Basic the sigil is attached to the end of variable names? --173.245.53.108 13:19, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Could not find where categories can be added, here's a list of suitable categories: Charts, Computers, Comics presenting a compromise Internet, Programming 173.245.53.180 13:32, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

This comic de-emphasizes the value of sigils. It's very ironic that Randall chose C++, a language with symbols, to exemplify plain words. And C is a reason for not naming technologies after letters. Same with X. You have to search for "C programming language" or "X window system." It's very helpful to distinguish things with unique sigils, especially in this current age where we depend on full-text search. Just look at my login ID, tbc. I have been tbc on the Internet since 1981. But I eventually had to go by tbc0 (e.g. on Twitter) because tbc isn't unique enough. Google was named after 10^100 (an incomprehensibly large number reflecting their ambition). But that number is spelled googol. They own their spelling. Brilliant. Consider examples: iMac, iPhone iPad, Yahoo (a little weak), Facebook (they own that word). It's all about branding. Google Kleenex or Xerox and you'll see that they're excellent sigils. The problem is, those terms have become generic. Their brand is a little weaker for it. Finally, on Twitter, @ and # unleash powerful features. — tbc (talk) 15:01, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

C++ uses symbols, but it doesn't use one to denote that an identifier is a variable (like PHP) or the type of an identifier (like early BASIC, Perl, and arguably Twitter). And when I search for X, it's either X11 (the protocol) or Xorg (the widely used server implementation). And Barney Google had it first. --Tepples (talk) 15:55, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Any way we can expand on the history of programming (if applicable)? Did these languages become popular in a certain order, or were they developed as a response to one another? Or is this comic simply Randall's journey through programming, not specifically tied to the popularity (or development) of certain coding languages? -- 108.162.216.227

They pretty much appeared in the order listed. I don't think they represent Randall's experience (or really anything else); the differences in how they handle variable names/types is mostly a function of their different purpose, and Randall picked those specific examples simply to fit the timeline (e.g. sh and ksh have the same syntax as bash, but since they came before QBasic they would break the pattern). 108.162.236.13 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The google mentioning isn't explained well enough imo. Instead if just saying "they have a service called google plus", it should be told how the + sign is used throughout the service, like every other instance in the article. I may do the edit myself, but it's not likely. 141.101.98.237 15:26, 20 December 2013 (UTC)


"Ironically, it is the name if the language itself that includes symbols."

It's not very ironic. Variable names don't include symbols, but commands do. This statement should be rewritten.

int c = 0;

c++;

c += 1;

c = c + 1; 173.245.52.215 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I find it ironic that "C++" in a statement would be interpretted as "C" and only post-incremented (i.e. only incremented when next referenced). Meaning "C++" is effectively the same as "C", in its own context. They should have named it "++C", if they wanted to indicate that it was itself improved upon the original value of C. ;) 141.101.99.229 16:37, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
This is an incorrect interpretation of the statement c++. c++ as a standalone statement, on a line by itself, will result in c being exactly one greater than before the statement (the value stored in that memory location will indeed be one greater); using prefix or postfix ++ in this context is functionally equivalent and most people just prefer using the postfix version. Where the distinction between the prefix and postfix versions come into play is in more complex statements where the operator's return value is not ignored. For example,
int c = 1;
int x = c++;
x will be initialized to 1 because the postfix ++ operator returns the value of c before it was incremented, but the value stored in c will be 2 regardless of further reference. If, instead you initialized x using the prefix version, ++c, x would be 2 because the prefix version of ++ returns the incremented result. (Side note: it's often considered bad practice to rely on the return value of the increment and decrement operators.) 108.162.219.227 20:58, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
When not specifically using the post or pre incrementing nature of c++/++c, and just using it as shorthand for c = c + 1, then ++c is demonstrably superior to c++ as there are 2 fewer machine code operations involved 141.101.99.41 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
No, I stand by what I say. I actually agree with your code, but freely parsing "I will use C++ for this project", as a phrase (at least the first time you utter it) might so easily be a statement that gives a direct result equal to "I will use C for this project". (It helps to have just the right geeky sense of humour, of course.) 141.101.99.229 21:56, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
Oh, I assure you, I am quite geeky. I could, for instance, argue that you're mixing the grammars of English and C++, a natural language and context sensitive language. 108.162.219.227 22:21, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
Personally, I see no problem. When you start programming in C++, you are writing code which is effectively C. Only when you program in C++ longer time, the code will improve. -- Hkmaly (talk) 12:13, 21 December 2013 (UTC)
Wrong, as "I will use C++" actually does mean "I will use C++", because the moment you finished uttering it (command break), C indeed becomes one point greater ;) 108.162.222.43 06:29, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
Regarding the name of the language, Bjarne Stroustrup himself has said, "Connoisseurs of C semantics find C++ inferior to ++C." Elsbree (talk) 07:03, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
It's still not ironic that the name includes symbols. I removed the word 'ironically', it doesn't make sense. 173.245.52.215 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Extending the first comment above: Since the strip is known for being rather technically strict, it's odd that it says "word ... will START with", yet QBASIC variables END with symbols, and Google+ ENDS with a symbol.108.162.216.216 18:11, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

That's not a problem with Google, because the sigil comes at the beginning there. But it's a problem with QBASIC, all right. —TobyBartels (talk) 05:01, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

Although C++ doesn't force you to use sigils, by convention programmers would still use sigils. Conventionally, variable names were named nCount, or fCost. The first character in the variable name indicated the data type. This convention was extended by Visual C++, and it started naming interfaces starting with I. Eventually, this convention fell by the wayside because IDEs started getting smarter and you would get code complete and some sort of information via a tooltip that eliminated the need for the Sigil --173.245.56.24 18:16, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

Hungarian Notation (and similar schemes) aren't "sigils" (according to wiktionary, a sigil in this context is non-alphanumeric, and the comic would seem to imply this also). --108.162.219.186 22:45, 20 December 2013 (UTC).

I think this explanation could do with some better explanation of the programming concepts it describes. Not every xkcd reader will be familiar with programming languages. --Mynotoar (talk) 21:20, 20 December 2013 (UTC)

I've expanded the introduction for now to more fully explain programming languages and variables - it wasn't very clear to non-programmers - but I think the rest could use some work too. --Mynotoar (talk) 18:29, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

If "C++" "started" with a symbol, then I would agree that it is ironic that it appears in the graph in the position that it does. Since it does not, however, I must dispute your use of the word "ironic". 108.162.238.117 03:14, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

How could 'see plus plus' be pronounced any other way? 141.101.98.239 11:15, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

'see add add'? --Mynotoar (talk) 22:33, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
'sea-cross squared'? 173.245.52.215 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Dispute about the explanation

The explanation is very misleading. Why on earth does the explanation begin with a big chunk of talk about variables? The comic strip is entirely about probability that a word you encounter will begin with some sigil. Therefore, the explanation should be about WHY the chart is plotted the way it is -- why does QBASIC have such a high probability, and why C++ does not. Everything else will just confuse anyone who comes to this page.--108.162.231.238 15:36, 8 January 2014 (UTC)

I did move this discussion to the bottom where it belongs to; new statements should not be posted at the top. And back to your comment: Sigil (computer programming) is very well explained at the beginning, read the Wiki article. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:21, 8 January 2014 (UTC)
Personal tools
Namespaces

Variants
Actions
Navigation
Toolbox

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 or Bitcoin?