Talk:1572: xkcd Survey

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

Mildly interesting to note that the ordering of most of the checkbox/radiobutton lists randomise each time the survery is loaded. Also, there is at least one other comic where Randall comments about not having figured out HTML imagemaps. Anyone remember which? --Pudder (talk) 10:52, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

It was in one of his "under the logo" news bars, about him starting What If, iirc --Aescula (talk) 11:28, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I wonder how many people, on reading 'Type "cat" here:', typed '"cat" here:'? I know I did... 11:58, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Guilty...--Pudder (talk) 12:08, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Me too... However you could have typed '"cat" here:', as well... (/edit: I wonder how many different entries the survey's result will reveal) (/edit2: I did not read properly... sorry. I typed '"cat"' not '"cat" here:' -.-)Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 12:27, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
I typed meow - 12:41, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Where it said "Type five random words" I typed "five random words" (without the quotes).
--Lou Crazy (talk) 11:24, 3 September 2015 (UTC)
My first thought there was "Correct Horse Battery Staple" 04:42, 4 September 2015 (UTC)
Those were the first four of my five "random words". -- Pne (talk) 17:18, 4 September 2015 (UTC)
Man, why didn't I think of that? Sobsz (talk) 06:37, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
I tried to make it at least a bit random, rather than arbitrary, with a bash script: for _ in 1 2 3 4 5; do sed -n "$(((((32768*RANDOM)+RANDOM) % $(wc -l </usr/share/dict/words) ) + 1))p" /usr/share/dict/words; done -- ferret 11:58, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

Not sure if it was just me, but the comic wasn't a link at all! The cursor changed into a No cursor for me everytime I mouseover'd the comic. I went to survey using the "Bonus Link!" below the comic page. Brilliantnut (talk) 12:01, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Never mind, this was probably due to the WebComics reader extension that I have in my browser. Brilliantnut (talk) 12:03, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

From hearing people on reddit comment about not being able to completely fill the text box (not just the visual box) with the error "Answer too long", it's caused by a 10k character limit. Presumably by Google Docs. 13:18, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Can we get a note on the title text? Something about the 1493-like vacuousness of "Big Data for a Big Planet". Also, I added a defn for "revergent"; future researchers, anyone who knows that one is probably a fern biologist. FourViolas (talk) 20:51, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I just did a bit on the title text, but I don't think that I did the best job at explaining it, so someone should look over what I did.Mulan15262 (talk) 23:32, 4 September 2015 (UTC)


The validation choices are interesting.

  • "Enter a number between 1 and 100" rejects numbers outside this range (e.g. -1) but also reject valid responses (e.g. π).
  • "Enter your age" and "Enter the number of $SIBLING" accept invalid responses such as -1. Paddles (talk) 13:29, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
-1 is not an "invalid response" for "Enter your age" if you are an unborn fetus. On the day of birth and all subsequent days less than one year later, a baby's age is zero. So from one year before birth to the day before birth, a fetus's age is negative one. 06:49, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
I (with fairly honest intention) tried to give non-numeric answers to the two Think Of A Number questions and my the age one (honestly, I had to actually think about that one, for a moment) and found them restricted to numbers only. So obviously Randall's not so subversive as to allow free text. (BTW, I've only driven 'stick shift', though an old friend of mine has just gotten an automatic, I think for the first time, which said was rather posh of him.) 15:55, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I used an HTML inspector tool to create a unique response to one of the radio button questions. The form claimed to submit successfully; it should be obvious in the results if it worked. - Frankie (talk) 16:29, 2 September 2015 (UTC)


"it's possible that someone may be able to identify you by looking at your responses" Then why send those informations to Google ? I find the idea of thee survey interesting but why Google doc ? There are other options like Lime Survey. Seipas (talk) 13:37, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Given the stated intention to make the collected dataset available publicly, there's no information-security reason to prefer another survey tool over Google. Paddles (talk) 14:21, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Technically Google could de-anonymize the data if you're logged in or otherwise identifiable when submitting the survey. When Randall publishes the data set it can be completely anonymized. Not that I care if Google knows I claim to consider myself half-cat, half-person. Jestempies (talk) 21:15, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Not a transcript

This is mildly interesting, but it is not a transcript. Transcripts are meant mainly for blind people and search engines. Different letter sizes and a frame are not needed. Xhfz (talk) 12:54, 2 September 2015 (UTC)



A search for weird correlations
Note: This survey is anonymous, but
all responses will be posted publicly
so people can play with the data.
Click here to
take the survey

Or click here, or here.
The whole comic is a link,
because I still haven't gotten
the hang of HTML imagemaps.

The transcript is not only for blind people. And an enhanced layout doesn't harm them but instead it would help them. A speech synthesizer would tell them something like "headline" or "small text at bottom" so that the impaired people would get a much better feeling of the comic. --Dgbrt (talk) 15:12, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I wonder how many people included "battery, horse, staple, correct" in the five random words box. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I typed ');drop table survey; -- at the end of the random characters text box. I must have been the first person to think of that because the survey was still working. Jeremyp (talk) 13:46, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
I typed "cat, cat, cat, cat, cat" in random words and "lion, cat, dog, horse, lettuce" for the random animals. Yes, I was trolling. 06:38, 4 September 2015 (UTC)

I wish it was funny. 16:20, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Tables Vs Bulleted List

The list of questions and possible responses has been added to the explanation by myself and xhfz, in different formats. I went for a wikitable, xhfz used a bulleted list. Rather than just overwrite each other, I think we need to have a discussion on which is the best choice. The reasons I believe a wikitable is the best option:

  • Far better expandability, in anticipation of survey results
  • More structured and neater presentation

In general I tend to lean towards tables, but it is probably a constructive discussion to have for the wiki as a whole. I would be interested to hear opinions of bulleted list vs tables in these types of situation.--Pudder (talk) 13:42, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

If we have a table we need colspan instead of rowspan. On the other hand a table is very difficult to maintain. In addition, the table didn't have space for explanations (another column, maybe). Xhfz (talk) 13:44, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

If you used colspan, questions like "How many of these 20 words do you know" would be excessively wide. Perhaps a combination of colspan and rowspan, or simply a single cell with the responses listed as comma seperated list. As far as adding a column for explanations, its pretty trivial. What I'm getting at is that perhaps the format of a table would need to be optimised, but that is entirely feasible.
I agree with you as far as tables being more intimidating to edit and maintain, but once set up they aren't that bad.
Bulleted lists (to me at least) look messy, and tend to lack a coherent structure. As more information is added, sub-levels and sub-sub-levels are added without much thought as to the overall intent. --Pudder (talk) 14:14, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

By colspan I mean this:

Question Possible Answers
When you think about stuff on the internet, where do you picture it being physically located? Even if you know it's not really how things work, is there a place you imagine websites and social media posts sitting before you look at them? If so, where is it?
Multi-line text box
Which of these words do you know the meaning of?
Have you ever thrown out all your different pairs of socks/underwear, bought a bunch of replacements that were all one kind, and then told all your friends how great it was and how they should do it too?
I did the throwing out thing, but didn't talk to everyone about it
No, but I'm totally doing that now

Xhfz (talk) 14:44, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Yeah, if someone just did that, that would be great. The Twenty-second. The Not So Only. The Nathan/Nk22 (talk) 18:54, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Missing questions

Something notably missing which would have greatly helped later analysis was a question about where someone is - Country and/or State. Some of the questions and answers will be differently understood because of that (eg meaning if 'sandwich') -- 14:23, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I think that is the whole point though, to provide a data set that actively attempts to prevent the obvious simple analysis. There are plenty of statistics on how people from place A are more likely to do thing B. What I want to know is "How many people who would class a taco as a sandwich and can drive stick shift are able to juggle?". Also, is it true that most people think they are above average drivers? --Pudder (talk) 15:09, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
If you're actually curious about those questions, the answers are "0" and "yes". No one classes a taco as a sandwich. The only thing that this data set will provide is how many sandwich-trolls claim to be able to drive stick shifts and juggle.--Antipudder (talk) 15:10, 7 September 2015 (UTC)
Subsections were added for ease of editing

You can delete the subsections later. Xhfz (talk) 15:30, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Ok, I agree on that. --Dgbrt (talk) 15:42, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
I think we shouldn't force the reader to go to Wikipedia

I added explanations in "Activities" and twice they were deleted. Why? [1] [2] Xhfz (talk) 15:39, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Personally, I think those activities are so easily understood, that adding an "explanation" is not necessary. I think wiki links are sufficient, so that if somehow people don't know what the activities are, they can go look. --Pudder (talk) 15:45, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
I know 20,000 words in I also know soliloquy, modicum, amiable and salient. I had never heard of dunk, sheet bend, bowline, or stick shift, but I know the meaning of manual transmission without going to Wikipedia. Xhfz (talk) 15:47, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
For the record, it wasn't me who deleted the explanations. The fact that Randall included those words in his survey without any explanation shows that they are fairly common words. In the context of the question, the meaning becomes clearer (Tie a sheet bend or bowline = its very likely those are knots), and if people still don't know, they can click on the wiki link. --Pudder (talk) 16:14, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
From a different perspective, I understand a number of the words and terms, even though they aren't the ones I'd use, locally. i.e. gas/petrol, stick-shift/gears, cell phone/mobile phone, soda/pop (and where would cordial, to be diluted with water, sit in that list of drinks..? either way, I chose "fruit juice" so maybe that covers it). Also I think I would call an "open-faced sandwich" a 'Smorgasbord', but that seems to be a childhood misunderstanding of what the scandinavian term actually represents (the whole buffet, not any individual item bread-and-topping construct that you end up with on your platter). "Condiments" obviously means something differently, too. For me that's the likes of salt, pepper and vinegar - along with other chopped herbs at a push - but from context it sounds like it includes dips such as mayonnaise, and/or sauces like ketchup/brown/tartar. A different world, truly! 17:46, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
It's a poorly worded question to which people in some countries would answer the opposite of that intended because of the way the question is worded. Very few cars run on gas (a friend's van runs on LPG), but many use petrol or diesel. 05:55, 3 September 2015 (UTC)
Fellow Brits? No, IP of the latter appears to be Arizona (or at least the ISP, in Phoenix). Strange. Anyway, thanks to copious imports of 'Merkin TV and film, it'd be obvious to most(/all?) people I know that gas(olene) would be the common word in the US for the fuel that I'd call petrol(eum). Or so I was under the impression of, until now. Of course there is actual gas (modern LPG or wartime contingencies) but so far liquid hydrocarbons seem to still be king, inclusive of DERV. 07:51, 3 September 2015 (UTC)
I changed them to Wikipedia links because it seemed neater, uses the hypertext features of HTML for the reason they were intended, and seemed more in line with general style here. No-one is forced to go to Wikipedia, but providing useful hyperlinks instead of having to explain everything inline is generally considered A Good Thing &tm;. It wasn't intended as a personal affront. This is a wiki - we can all edit to make things (hopefully) a bit better. Paddles (talk) 12:40, 3 September 2015 (UTC)
Can we access the results now?

Are the contents available at a known URL? I use Google Docs but have never done a survey before... 06:03, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

Maple syrup

The current article comments that the "Maple syrup" option to the any that you drink question is a joke. Are you sure? I have met several people (to clarify, adults, I'm not even considering children) who drink straight maple syrup, and many times more who pour maple syrup into their drinks (notably coffee, tea, and milk are the most common I see people pour it into). There are webpages devoted to maple syrup drink recipes (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and people debating other people's opinions on whether maple syrup is better drunk hot, cold, or room temperature. There is a possibility that Randall was not intending this question as a joke since it seems to be "a thing" among some people. 12:16, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

I was very delighted to see maple syrup under the drink options! When I started the survey with my co-workers I came to the condiments question and was explaining to them how I even drink maple syrup. So I was very giddy when I came to the drink question! Yes, I do drink maple syrup and not as a joke, usually at night and only Grade B. --R0hrshach (talk) 15:40, 4 September 2015 (UTC)
Regarding "Difficult words" not currently linked
  • Trephony - Another (equally obselete) term for Trepanning. The not listed directly on the Wikipedia page for the topic (the article uses gerund forms in discussing other names for the procedure), but the related gerund "trephining" is listed. Cf. also Trephine, which was the actual surgical instrument used for these procedures (and for which Trephony occasionally served as an alternate spelling).
  • Tribution appears to be the result of converting the tribute (when used as a verb)into a noun by use of the -tion suffix. While this is a standard form, it is also nonsense (as the nounal form is also tribute).
  • Unitory - An obsolete spelling unitary used in mathematics, chiefly British. Several examples appear in the of the papers of the 1913 Imperial Education Conference (I've linked to the instance on page 97 as an example). You will still occasionally see this spelling in use when discussing the Unitary Method in former British Colonies.
  • Cadine -- the french term also saw some use in English as a loanword. Cf. page 146 of Volume 99 of The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle (published 1829) for several examples. 16:54, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

this appears to be an obsolete, poetic and/or pompous word to describe the sun's heat in winter. It shows up in several dictionaries from the 1700's through the Victorian era; e.g., Bailey 1775 - Anonymous

Should we move the survey section to a different page (e.g. 1572: xkcd Survey/Survey)? It takes up most of the current page. Forrest (talk)13:10, 04 September 2015 (UTC)

The survey section is a transcript, so I moved it appropriately for now. Forrest (talk)13:14, 04 September 2015 (UTC)
The survey is not a transcript. And even if it was it is not the comic and should thus not be listed as part of this comics transcript. But the survey section is used to explain the survey and this is certainly not supposed to happen in a transcript. I have moved it above the transcript again. But it could be an idea to make separate survey page and link to it from the comic page. --Kynde (talk) 21:39, 5 September 2015 (UTC)

If one is free to skip any question, how does the survey distinguish between a skiped question and a question for which the answer is nothing, e.g. if one does not dislike any named beverage? -- 11:47, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

Difficult words Does anyone have access to a good bio-org chemistry reference? I seem to remember "-fination" as a valid suffix for O-Chem usage for fixation of certain kinds of reactions (ex. Pearson ole-fination), but I don't remember if there is a general meaning of the term. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

HTML image maps

As a web designer, I'm certain that a big part of the joke is that almost no one uses image maps anymore -- the technique of cutting up images and laying them out using CSS or HTML tables (the latter now mostly obsolete) won out back in the 90s. The trouble you have to go to to create an image map is nowhere near worth the payoff. 21:30, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

When it comes to that, I know someone who (in the mid 2000s!) made a web-page by rendering the entire page (including all text-as-raster, and it was mostly text) into a single image file (vastly over-assuming the consistency of the end-user's screen/browser-window dimensions), and image-mapped it. Yes, CSS already existed, and even without I would never have used it. I did a byte-for-byte comparison with an HTML-rendered version (even though that has its own inefficiences in sprawling across multiple bytes, in <LONGTAGNAMES></LONGTAGNAMES> in particular) and it was horrific. Never mind horribly unfriendly to anyone with a non-standard/special-needs browsing environment!
Which might in part be why (more intelligent!) image-mapping never took off in the adolescent years of the web (once it became predominantly dial-up by home users, rather than those sat directly upon academic/etc LANs sitting on high=bandwidth fat pipes to the internet in its infancy, with bandwidth already used (outside of 'proper' usage)to pre/early Eternal September propgation of Usenet and UUEncoded images sent over email), even though quite intelligent usages of the art had been long pioneered for such purposes as literal (i.e. geographical!) map-clicking rather than the Mysterious Meat navigation method.
But then it might also have died out after the initial bloom of Geocities, when the tedious last remnants of the <BLINK> tag phenomenon merged into the ubiquity of the over-use of animated GIFs depicting some form of "Website under construction" message, and there were so many other tricks to (over-)use in a person's supposedly interesting self-publicising page. Ahh... nostalgia!
Seriously, however, looking at the design elements of site design, e.g. curve-effect button/frame areas and scrolling galleries, amongst other things, and a simple markup imagemap (if not coordinate-sending to be processed by the server-side scripting through URL-query format) has outlived its easy usefulness (for the coder in a hurry, who has so many other tool-scripts available) and now we need this complicated and often vastly obfuscated client-side scripting to make the gloriously laid-out web-pages react (consistently) to the end-user in the way intended. I'm sure you make sure your web pages work in the likes of Lynx and even screen-readers (where practical, and of course imagemaps always did work horribly for both of these!), but modern bells-and-whistles have progressed far beyond imagemap tomfoolery. Not always because the new method is better, for a given instance, but that's progress for ya. 12:39, 11 September 2015 (UTC)

Has anyone else noticed that the series of image links to comics at the bottom of every xkcd comic page actually uses an imagemap. So apparently he did get the hang of it a while ago :) or at least his web designer did...DenverCoder9 (talk) 21:27, 27 January 2016 (UTC)


I still don't understand why the last question asks about "socks/underwear" instead of just "socks". Is there any species of underwear that comes in pairs, other than socks? 15:39, 11 September 2015 (UTC)

It is supposed to be read as "(pairs of socks)/underwear", NOT "pairs of (socks/undrwear)" Jaalenja (talk) 08:50, 12 September 2015 (UTC)
That still doesn't answer my question: why would anyone care if their underwear is all one kind? 02:27, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
Comfort, primarily. Find one kind of underwear that you find enjoyable to wear, then make sure all your underwear are all that kind and throw out the others - then you'll never have to wear or think about the uncomfortable ones that you routinely shove into the darkest corner of your drawer, ever again. Also, if you go shopping later, when you wear holes in the current selection, then you know exactly which brand and style, no waffling necessary. 06:02, 13 September 2015 (UTC)
C'mon guys. It's about matching. I like always having matching socks. I've thrown away all my socks and started from scratch, because after a while, you lose socks or one sock gets a big hole in it, and you have to reboot. The same may hold true for women, who have been known to wear matching underwear in two parts: bras and panties. 19:37, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Since the results still aren't in, I'm calling it now, so no one can accuse me of p-hacking: People who ended their entries in multiline textboxes with newlines are more likely to have opinions about text editors, suffer from colds, and show symptoms of insomnia. 06:44, 5 December 2015 (UTC)

It has been over a year since this comic was released, where are the results Randall‽!? (Seriously, there are at least 2 Reddit posts asking about this) 03:46, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

Probably never going to come. Just some random derp 17:40, 25 September 2016 (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?