1167: Star Trek into Darkness
|Star Trek into Darkness|
Title text: Of course, factions immediately sprang up in favor of '~*~sTaR tReK iNtO dArKnEsS~*~', 'xX_StAr TrEk InTo DaRkNess_Xx', and 'Star Trek lnto Darkness' (that's a lowercase 'L').
The talk page of a Wikipedia article is used to discuss changes to the article. An edit war is a dispute about a specific edit to an article, manifesting as a series of edits alternating between making and reverting the change, and usually accompanied by a more-or-less heated debate on the talk page.
Here, Randall is referring to a dispute on the Wikipedia article about Star Trek Into Darkness (an upcoming Star Trek film at the time of the comic's posting). On the day before the comic was published, the article name had a lowercase "into", and the talk page looked like this (rounded off in a friendly way, with the posting of a summary of the arguments, and an exchange of virtual hugs). In summary, the debate centers around whether "Into Darkness" should be treated as a prepositional phrase (as in "Star Trek[king] Into Darkness") or an unpunctuated subtitle (as in "Star Trek[:] Into Darkness"), whether compound prepositions like "into" should be capitalized in titles, and whether the capitalization of the title in the movie's official promotional material is relevant. The intensity and multiple facets of a debate over one tiny letter is apparently entertaining to Randall.
Cueball changes the title so that every other letter is capitalized, and adds framing tildes and asterisks (a common, but childish and ugly way of emphasizing titles online). The title text indicates Randall's belief that such arguments are perpetual and will always arise. He suggests that the edit to the Wikipedia page will result in a dispute over variants of Cueballs "compromise". One new alternative has the letter cases switched (or shifted, depending on your perspective), one uses a different set of "bracketing" characters (xX_[...]_Xx instead of ~*~[...]~*~), and one uses the original title, but with a lowercase "L" instead of a captial "I" (which appear similar in many fonts).
Alternating-case text later caught on as an internet meme in 2017 (four years after this comic strip was published) for representing a mocking tone.
Megan's line of "They should have sent a poet." is a quote from the film Contact. The quote is also referenced in 482: Height. In the movie, the line was meant to convey that only a poet could adequately capture the beauty seen; here, it indicates that prose is insufficient to capture the ironic beauty of the edit war.
- [Cueball staring at computer screen.]
- Cueball: Oh, wow. Look at Wikipedia's Talk page for Star Trek into Darkness. I have a new favorite edit war.
- Megan (off-panel): Oh?
- Cueball: Forty thousand words of debate over whether to capitalize "into" in the movie's title. Still no consensus.
- Megan: That's magnificent.
- Cueball: It's breathtaking.
- Megan: They should have sent a poet.
- Cueball: Well, I'm making an executive decision. I hope both sides accept this as a fair compromise.
- [A Wikipedia page titled "~*~ StAr TrEk InTo DaRkNeSs ~*~"]
After the publication of the comic, the debate continued with full force, complete with a section of xkcd-inspired suggestions. The article itself was soon protected, so that only administrators could edit it. A day later, the title was changed to one including a capital "Into" by the administrator Mackensen. (The debate continued on his talk page.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/~*~_StAr_TrEk_InTo_DaRkNeSs_~*~ was a valid redirect link for quite some time, having not been deleted when requested in 2015, but 2016.add a comment!