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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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xkcd Survey
The xkcd Survey: Big Data for a Big Planet
Title text: The xkcd Survey: Big Data for a Big Planet


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: First attempt. There is probably more to come.

As the comic image states, it links to a survey created with Google Forms, containing a series of questions. The questions range from mundane typical survery questions such as “Do you have any food allergies?”, to rather strange, such as “Fill this text box with random letters by randomly mashing keys on your keyboard.” (See 1530: Keyboard Mash).

The stated goal of the survey is to “create an interesting and unusual data set for people to play with”. A strange data set is a ripe opportunity for a sampling of readers. It's also supposed to be “a search for weird correlations” – presumably the goal is to be able to say things like “people who have been skydiving are (more/less) likely than average to dislike cilantro”.

This explanation will doubtless expand when the data comes in.

HTML image maps is a technique for marking up areas of an image on a web page, such that each area can be a link without the whole image being a link. Randall could have used this type of image map to make only the “Click here to take the survey” button be a link, and none of the rest of the image. But he cannot get the hang of it (or knowing his skills, does not wish to take the time to learn it). Not getting the hang of HTML image maps was also referenced on the banner for his book tour from September 2014

The Survey

The Survey starts off with the following statement.

This is an anonymous survey. After it's done, a database of everyone's responses will be posted. There's no specific reason for any of the questions. The goal is to create an interesting and unusual data set for people to play with. (This is obviously not going to be a real random sample of people, but in the interest of getting cooler data, if you're sharing this with friends, try sending it to some people who wouldn't normally see this kind of thing!) WARNING: This survey is anonymous, but your answers WILL BE MADE PUBLIC. Depending what you write, it's possible that someone may be able to identify you by looking at your responses. None of these questions should ask about anything too private, but don't write anything that you don't want people to see. If you're not comfortable answering a question, just skip it.


  • Have you ever been in a plane?
    • No
    • Yes


  • Have you ever been skydiving?
    • No, but I might someday
    • Yes
    • No

The Dress

  • When you first saw The Dress, what color was it? — Also see 1492: Dress Color.
    • White and gold
    • A color combination not listed here
    • I don't remember
    • Blue and black
    • What dress?

Popular food

  • What's a really popular food that you don't like?
    • Text box


  • When you look at a blue sky, do you see those swirly floaters in your vision?
    • Yes, constantly
    • I'm not sure what things you mean
    • Yes, occasionally
    • No

Running out of gas

  • Have you ever had a car run out of gas while you were driving it?
    • Yes
    • No


  • Name the first five animals you can think of
    • Multi line text box


  • What's the weather like where you are right now?
    • Text box


  • Which of these can you do reasonably well?
  • (Check all that apply)
    • Dunk a basketball — A "slam dunk" or simply "dunk" is the act of jumping up and putting the ball through the net with a lot of force
    • Tie a sheet bend or bowline — A sheet bend is a knot that joins two ropes together; A bowline is a knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope
    • Roller skate
    • Run in high heels
    • Drive a stick shift — See Manual transmission of a car
    • Solve a Rubik's cube
    • Dive headfirst off a diving board — See Springboard and Diving platform
    • Ice skate
    • Skateboard
    • Walk on stilts — Stilts are poles, posts or pillars used to allow a person to walk at a height above the ground
    • Ski
    • Cut vegetables with a knife
    • Swim
    • Ride a horse
    • Unicycle
    • Change the oil on a car
    • Do a back handspring — A handspring is an excercise in gymnastics in which you jump through the air landing on your hands, then again landing on your feet
    • Juggle — Toss juggling (the most recognizable form of juggling) consists in throwing objects into the air and catching them.


  • What word can you never seem to spell on the first try?
    • Text box


  • Do you eat condiments directly out of the fridge as a snack?
    • No
    • Yes


  • When you adjust a thermostat that was set by someone else, it's usually because you want the room to be ...
    • Cooler
    • Warmer


  • What color is the shirt/dress/upper-body-clothing you're wearing right now, if any?
    • Text box


  • Do you get colds often?
    • No
    • Yes


  • Pick a number from 1 to 100
    • Text box


  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how good at spelling are you? (Note that the question does not specify which end of the scale is good or bad.)
    • Tick of list with numbers from 1 to 10.




  • How many older siblings do you have?
    • Text box
  • How many younger siblings do you have?
    • Text box
  • How many twin/etc siblings do you have?
    • Text box


  • Do you feel sleepy a lot?
    • Yes
    • No

Movie star

  • Name a movie star
    • Text box

Time in sun

  • Do you spend a lot of time in the sun?
    • Yes
    • No


  • Does broccoli taste bitter to you?
    • Yes
    • No
    • I've never had it


  • Do you regularly stay awake much later than you meant to?
    • Yes
    • No

Keyboard mashing

  • Fill this text box with gibberish by mashing random keyboard keys (See 1530: Keyboard Mash).
    • Broad multi-line text box


  • On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is terrible and 3 is average, how good a driver do you think you are?
    • Tick of list with numbers from 1 to 5.


  • Do you have any food allergies?
    • No
    • Yes


  • Have you heard thunder or seen lightning in the past year?
    • Yes
    • No

Flavor preference

  • Which do you prefer? (It seems to be missing the both option...)
    • Chocolate
    • Vanilla

Number (reprise)

  • Pick another number from 1 to 100 (Supposedly is should not be the same as in the first pick a number box).
    • Text box


  • 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?
    • Broad multi-line text box

Roll tongue


  • Can you pick things up with your toes?
    • No
    • Yes


  • How old are you?
    • Text box


  • What color are the walls around you right now?
    • Text box

Cell phone

  • What kind of cell phone do you have?
    • iPhone
    • Android
    • Other smartphone
    • Non-smartphone
    • I don't have a cell phone


  • What's the last thing you ate?
    • Text box

Difficult words

  • Which of these words do you know the meaning of?
  • (Some of these words don’t appear in any of the following dictionaries: the Oxford English Dictionary, the New Oxford American Dictionary, Wiktionary, or These words were probably made up by Randall. Perhaps the goal is to make people feel like they have a weak vocabulary because they don’t know many of the words, until they try look up the meanings and realize they have been tricked.
  • has an index of difficulty (measured in pixels, with class name difficulty-indicator). We add it at the right of the words that have it. N/A means that a word isn't present in, or that it doesn't have an index.


  • Please type "cat" here:
    • Text box


  • Do you usually remember your dreams?
    • No
    • Yes

Text editors

  • Do you have strong opinions about text editors? (See Editor war)
    • Yes
    • No


  • How do you feel about emoji?
    • Negative 😠 (Unicode 1f620 - Angry face)
    • Positive 😊 (Unicode 263a - Smiling face)
    • Neutral 😐 (Unicode 1F610 - Neutral face)


  • Does it ever snow where you live?
    • No
    • Yes

Taste of food

  • Do you strongly dislike the taste or texture of any of these things?
    • Eggs
    • Chocolate ice cream
    • Beer
    • White wine
    • Carbonation (or Fizz)
    • Red wine
    • Cilantro (also know as Coriander).
    • Coffee
    • Tomatoes
    • Yogurt


  • Which of these do you regularly drink?
    • Caffeinated soda (e.g. Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper)
    • Noncaffeinated soda
    • Coffee
    • Fruit juice
    • Milk
    • Beer
    • Wine
    • Tea
    • Maple syrup (This is a joke because maple syrup is not normally drunk)
    • Water

Random words

  • Type five random words
    • Broad multi-line text box


  • Are you nervous about flying?
    • Yes
    • No
    • A little

Favorite number

  • On a scale of 1 to 5, which number is your favorite?
    • Tick of list with numbers from 1 to 5.


Animal affinity

  • Which of these describes you?
  • (Check all that apply)
    • Dog person
    • Cat person
    • Half-cat half-person
    • Part of a subterranean race of dog people
    • Literally named "Catherine Person"

Sense of direction

  • Would you say you have a good sense of direction?
    • Yes
    • No

Socks or underwear

  • 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?
    • Yes
    • No
    • I did the throwing out thing, but didn't talk to everyone about it
    • No, but I'm totally doing that now

See also


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.

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

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