Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(New here?)
Line 3: Line 3:
<font size=5px>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</font>
<font size=5px>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</font>
We have collaboratively explained [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9}}''' xkcd comics]],
We have collaboratively explained [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics|R}}-9}}''' xkcd comics]],
<!-- Note: the -9 in the calculation above is to discount subcategories (there are 8 of them as of 2013-02-27),
<!-- Note: the -9 in the calculation above is to discount subcategories (there are 8 of them as of 2013-02-27),
     as well as [[List of all comics]], which is obviously not a comic page. -->
     as well as [[List of all comics]], which is obviously not a comic page. -->
and only {{#expr:{{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9)}}
and only {{#expr:{{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics|R}}-9)}}
({{#expr: ({{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9)) / {{LATESTCOMIC}} * 100 round 0}}%)
({{#expr: ({{LATESTCOMIC}}-({{PAGESINCAT:Comics|R}}-9)) / {{LATESTCOMIC}} * 100 round 0}}%)
remain. '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Add yours]]''' while there's a chance!
remain. '''[[Help:How to add a new comic explanation|Add yours]]''' while there's a chance!

Revision as of 11:21, 8 April 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained 1424 xkcd comics, and only -3 (-0%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Future Self
Maybe I haven't been to Iceland because I'm busy dealing with YOUR crummy code.
Title text: Maybe I haven't been to Iceland because I'm busy dealing with YOUR crummy code.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Mostly there?
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

The comic shows presumably a segment of a code transcript from an old project of Cueball's, this part entirely consisting of comments (a number of computer languages, including several popular dialects, use "#" to indicate "the remainder of this line is a comment") written with apparent foresight by the Cueball's 'younger self' in anticipation of being read by his 'older self' at some point in the future. The language in the comments is similar to how people address themselves in personal time capsules, in which they put letters away to read years later to see how much they've changed.

A "parse function" is code that interprets some form of input (e.g. the text of a web-page that has been 'scraped' by another part of the code) and makes sense of it in a way that enables functionality in some other part of the code. Parsing can be a difficult problem to solve in general, and programmers will often take shortcuts based on assumptions on the kinds of input that the parsing function will have to handle. If the programmer does not have control over the input, such as reading a page from someone else's web-site, then any changes to the input in the future can cause the parser to spontaneously break even if the parsing function has not changed. In the case of a web page, the difference may be in the structure of the page and not even visible to someone looking at the page in a web browser, or it could be the result of a "site refresh" where the look and feel of the entire web-site is changed to avoid appearing dated, or the website may no longer exist, or any number of other possible differences.

Certainly, that the parsing function has 'failed' indicates that it worked once but possibly it was kludged together with no expectation that it would handle future changes, and the comments indicate a firm belief that the parsing function could not be easily "rekludged" to handle the new situation but instead a would need to be re-written. This may be because the parsing function was written using regular expressions or some other write-only language, where the program is typically created through means of trial-and-error, and it is considered easier to start from scratch than try to determine how the original program worked. The parsing function seems to have lasted one year longer than expected by the younger Cueball. This is more likely due to external factors (the web page not changing as often or as much as expected) than the parsing function operating better than expected, however.

Current-day Cueball feels the need to retorically reply to his younger self's commentary, only to find a forward-looking snark that is both prescient and emotionally hard-hitting. The title-text is a comeback by current-day Cueball who lays the blame back on the younger Cueball. Past Cueball has the advantage that it is easy to predict that you might not follow through with aspirations or resolutions, but current-day Cueball seems to fail to realise that he is only blaming himself for his own problems.


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
# Dear Future Self,
# You're looking at this file because
# the parse function finally broke.
# It's not fixable. You have to rewrite it.
# Sincerely, Past Self
Cueball: Dear Past Self, it's kinda creepy how you do that.
# Also, it's probably at least
# 2013. Did you ever take
# that trip to Iceland?
Cueball: Stop judging me!

Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! Here's how.


Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.) Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is here.

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 or Bitcoin?