1994: Repairs

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I was just disassembling it over the course of five hours so it would fit in the trash more efficiently.
Title text: I was just disassembling it over the course of five hours so it would fit in the trash more efficiently.


This graph depicts the sentiment created by the act of repairing something, depending on the time it took (x-axis) and the ensuing result (y-axis). The degree of triumph and exultation (expressed in sentences in quotes inside the graph) is strongly enhanced by the time the operation takes and is also positively correlated with the result (if any). Actions during the repair process are described in sentences without quotes. The conclusions are rather optimistic; the most negative feeling expressed (after the maximum time of repair with the minimum degree of success) is a threat against other objects that might have plans to break.

The graph shows the main path most of his fixes apparently usually take (solid line) along with some variations they sometimes take (dotted lines). Projects usually start out with items that mostly work, but have minor problems. Occasionally they just need a cleaning (first dotted line). If that doesn't work, he takes them partly apart, and then there are times he's able to put them back together and get them to either work completely (one branch of a dotted line) or get it back to the condition it started out in (the other branch of the dotted line), at which point he doesn't tempt fate by continuing, knowing what's likely to happen if he continues messing with it. When it's still not working, he takes it apart more, starts doing less reversible things like cutting wires, and finally starts watching YouTube videos hopefully showing the right way to fix it, or at least how others fixed it. This takes it to a state just one step above "Will never work again", after which there can be several results. One dotted line shows it's restored to being fully fixed and he feels victorious and proud that all the hard work paid off, and he thinks he deserves a Nobel Prize for his efforts. The next dotted line is when he gets it partially working again, and gives up, satisfied to at least not have completely destroyed it even though it's a little worse than before. The third, main path result is total failure, which he could take as a personal failure but to which he instead responds with humor by admonishing the rest of his possessions not to develop minor problems otherwise the same total destruction might happen to them. This path ends up a partial step below "Will never work again" so it's unclear what that state is... maybe that's the "throw it away" state.

The title text shows another excuse for failure. Nobody would spend five hours being a trash compactor. One could however claim to be separating the different parts for sorting into recycling bins or separating the parts that aren't themselves damaged by the process from those that will no longer be of use to anyone. This still doesn't have any tangible benefits for the one doing the sorting (although it might earn them points with the recipient).

A similar sentiment was expressed in 349: Success. However, in Success, the computer would keep developing new problems and putting Cueball in worse and worse situations while in this comic it is just that Randall has increasing trouble fixing the issue as time wears on.


[Caption above the diagram:]
How well something works
After I decide to fix it
[The comic shows a graph with a solid curve that decreases in 8 different sized steps from the top left to the bottom right. The X-axis shows time passes and gives the time from zero to five hours with 6 ticks with labels beneath. The Y-axis shows how well something works with 8 ticks, but only four of them labeled.]
Works great
Has minor problems
Doesn't work
Will never work again
0 hours   1 hour   2 hours   3 hours   4 hours   5 hours
[The solid line has six labels with eight arrow pointing to different sections, two times the same label has two arrows pointing to different sections the first two places where the lines takes a step down, and the second to two plateaus on either side of a step. In total the arrows point four times on both steps and plateaus. Both the first and final plateau has a dot has added to the line, and the arrows point to those. Above the solid line there are three dotted lines going up from three plateaus just before the solid line takes a step down, the last two of these lines split up in two, with one going higher. At the end of each of these five dotted lines there is a sentence spoken. The solid line begins at the 2nd tick on the Y-Axis and finishes at the last. The three dotted lines going up ends up at the 1. tick on the Y-axis, for the last two there are also a line ending at the 2nd tick and 3rd tick respectively. Only the first label being above the first tick on the X-axis but the last three labels are all above the last tick on the X-Axis. Here is a list of all the labels in chronological order according to the position on the X-axis. For those that has the same time stamp the top one will be mentioned first. Those at the end of a line are indented:]
I start trying to fix it
"It just needed cleaning!"
Take it apart
"Fixed it!"
"Well, at least it's not more broken than when I started."
Take it apart more
Watch YouTube instructional videos
Take a deep breath and cut wires
"That was heroic and I deserve a Nobel prize."
"Well, it sort of works now."
(Turn to other possessions)
"...And let that be a lesson to you."


  • The initial version of the normal sized image at xkcd was broken. This was later repaired.

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I think the bot on here and xkcd OS might be broken172.69.22.200 04:46, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

The 2x version (found in srcset attribute) is complete though - https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/repairs_2x.png 05:08, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

This comic almost seems meta. 05:15, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

The improperly-sized version is probably intentional, given the changes indicated in the "2x" version and the results. The link to the "2x" version should be included in the explanation. Dissassembling the "original" version before moving it to trash would be likely to increase rather than decrease the size of the file in trash. The Dining Logician (talk) 06:02, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

The way I'm reading the graph, I think the dashed lines represent how Randall hoped things would go at each point in the repair effort, whereas the solid line represents the actual repair progress (or rather the lack of it). Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 12:55, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

This is the fifth comic in a row to need a trivia section in the explanation, starting from 1990: Driving Cars. Has that happened before, and should it be mentioned in the trivia section? Herobrine (talk) 13:06, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

Meta trivia? I don't feel that's needed... Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 16:07, 16 May 2018 (UTC)'

Sure, you risk breaking it permanently, but it is so worth it if you get the nobel prize.Linker (talk) 16:15, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

This graph illustrates why, except for general maintenance, I don't attempt repairs unless the thing is already in the doesn't work part of the vertical axis. That way the only way is up and failure is just the status quo. BTW the same graph applies to software as well as hardware, except the words, cut wires becomes "hack system files". RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 22:15, 16 May 2018 (UTC)

Hey... I have a Captcha! -- 18:04, 17 May 2018 (UTC)

This comic is the story of my life 00:33, 18 May 2018 (UTC)

I have to agree! I have been on literally every branch of this chart at one time or another, sometimes multiple branches with the same repair. I must admit I have trouble accepting when I've reached the lower-right end of the chart though. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 01:04, 18 May 2018 (UTC)

Added the incomplete comic joke. 06:50, 18 May 2018 (UTC)

Inglip says the new captcha sucks. I'm not always in agreement with him, but he should smite the responsible. When does a square "contain" something? When it has 10%? 50%? 90% P.S. Oh joy, expired. Another ten tries. 14:10, 18 May 2018 (UTC)

The "trivia" aren't trivial; that this comic was posted broken and then fixed is part of its performance. It's as if, on 1995, you'd list "their real age is 56" as part of trivia and not the explanation. -- 03:44, 21 May 2018 (UTC)