Though this comic predates it, there is an Internet meme best stated as "there are no girls on the Internet." It is also known as Rule 16 or Rule 30 of the Internet,
not to be confused with Wolfram's cellular automata. This comes partly from a supposition that girls aren't smart enough to go on the Internet or even use technology, and more directly from the idea that they are afraid of interacting in such a male-dominated subculture, so anyone claiming to be female on the Internet must be a guy pretending to be one for the purposes of active or passive trolling. Thankfully for humanity at large, the meme is now the opposite of true (just look at the female-dominated Facebook), but still lives on as a joke, albeit not always a pleasant one. For many users, the puerile nature of the Internet creates a repulsive force because of exactly what Cueball is doing. As soon as anyone claims to be a woman online, there will invariably be a slew of "tits or gtfo" replies.
Randall projects this stereotypical Internet douchebaggery onto Cueball, who behaves this way out of misogyny thinly disguised as a joke. This barely-a-joke, found in certain areas of the Internet (especially IRC and 4chan), holds the view that women are only "good for" sex and porn. By making such a huge deal out of her being a girl, he directs unwanted sexual attention at any woman who joins.
Black Hat, while usually a destructive force and self-proclaimed classhole, here switches positions with Cueball, standing up for women everywhere. (This makes sense when you consider that Black Hat tends to pursue Randall's thoughts in a more controversial way, see 86: Digital Rights Management). However, he still keeps some of his destructive tendencies and knocks down Cueball's door. He enlists the help of a Ponytail character named Joanna to ban Cueball from the Internet. (More than 9 years later, Joanna is hired to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 United States presidential election in 1756: I'm With Her, released the day before that election. She is also shown in the 1000: 1000 Comics, where she is seen at number 653.)
IRC is the acronym for Internet Relay Chat. It is a protocol that eventually evolved into the instant messengers, chat rooms, and XMPP (formerly Jabber) servers around today. With the advent of live-streaming video online, IRC channels are making a come-back as a way for hosts and audiences to communicate with each other in real-time.
An EMP is an electromagnetic pulse that will disrupt electronics from functioning normally. An EMP is a short burst of electromagnetic energy. Small EMPs will disrupt electricity momentarily, while larger EMPs are capable of burning out circuitry and erasing hard drives.
At the title text, Cueball tries to defend his misogyny by claiming that one of his IRC chat system acquaintances is a girl, as if to imply that that makes his words no longer misogynist (this is similar to the defense "I'm not racist! Some of my best friends are black!").
- [Black Hat stands in the entrance to a room. The door has been broken down. A surprised Cueball has turned away from his computer to face the remains of the door.]
- Black Hat: Hi. I'm here about the girl who visited your IRC channel last night looking for Java help.
- Cueball: What did you do to my door?
- Black Hat: When someone with a feminine username joins your community and you say "OMG a woman on the Internet" and 'jokingly' ask for naked pics, you are being an asshole. You are not being ironic. You are not cracking everybody up. You are the number one reason women are so rare on the Internet.
- Black Hat: At least, the parts of it you frequent.
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- [Joanna enters the room, holding some sort of device.]
- Black Hat: As someone who likes nerdy girls, I do not appreciate this. I'm here to ban you from the Internet. The gal behind me with the EMP cannon is Joanna - she'll be assigned to you for the next year. Try to go online and she'll melt your PC.
- Cueball: Dude, she's hot. Is she single?
- Black Hat: Joanna, fire.
It's a little unfair to say that the "rule", such as it is, exists because internet users believe women are too stupid <sic> to be online. A more accurate reason would be because so many men masquerade as women for various reasons. (Such as extra attention, or as a fetish)
Therefore, someone claiming to be female is met with cynicism online - often with unfortunate results. -- 126.96.36.199 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I find it amusing that, while ostensibly egalitarian/feminist/what-have-you, this comic's last panel still has Black Hat giving Joanna the order to fire -- for all his high-flown (and largely justified) rhetoric, he still doesn't realize she doesn't need telling.
188.8.131.52 22:28, 17 February 2013 (UTC)
- I see that more because of a boss/employee relationship between black hat guy and joanna 184.108.40.206 19:48, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
If I ask you to close the blinds, because you are closer to the window, would you assume I think myself superior? Same here, Joanna has the gun, BHG doesn´t, therefore he asks her to do it. -- 220.127.116.11 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- Furthermore, Joanna seems like something of a soldier type. No matter how much she wanted to, she would not fire unless given the order, lest she incur the wrath of Black Hat. Hppavilion1 (talk) 18:51, 13 November 2014 (UTC)
Females are often met with lots of males trying to hit on them by private messages in chat or on the main screen no matter the subject content of the chat room. This predatory-like wave of sexual lust will often cause the female gender to use gender neutral sounding screen names to try and avoid this effect. Hence making the internet seen void of females except for porn site spam bots profiles.... The behavior of males have lead to a reaction behavior of females to hide who they are for dread of harassment both online , in gaming and in the geek culture in general.18.104.22.168 04:01, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
So do people who are surprised someone is a girl and don't act like a sexist dick get a free pass? I mean, the answer must be yes, but at the same time XKCD's hyperfocus on some things above all other has often left me, your typical computer enthusiast, in the dark. 22.214.171.124 08:35, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
I don't see how this remains incomplete; Cueball's actions seem to be accounted for. I have removed the Incomplete tag. --Quicksilver (talk) 19:53, 21 August 2013 (UTC)
I'm surprised no one bothered to mention the title text. I added a short explanation, referring to the "It's okay, I have a black friend" excuse. Feel free to refine it. Dulcis (talk) 17:01, 21 December 2013 (UTC)
I removed the incomplete tag because the reason for this being incomplete was invalid. Dulcis (who added the racist rationalisation argument) was not asserting that the title text was racist but used a racist concept as a simile to explain the title text. Foyfluff (talk) 15:36, 07 January 2014(UTC)
- I agree. Case closed. lcarsos_a (talk) 19:30, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
I would dispute that this comic "pre-dates" the No Girls On The Internet "meme", which I seem to remember being around wayyyyyyyyy before 2007 - maybe even back into the 90s (though there's something tugging at my mind saying it was a post millennial thing born of SomethingAwful or FARK). Unless of course we have citeable evidence for it being birthed after the comic was uploaded... 126.96.36.199 15:32, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
- My experience of pre-web internet (if you'll excuse this late reminiscence) is that the concept was there, already, by the beginning of the '90s, and was already a broken trope, when Usenet/IRC/BBSs/mailing-list-powered-fora were the essential social/academic/B2B media of the time. Whilst it was already not true that 'TANGOTI', it was however true that the limited number of people who geeked-out enough to be present were probably intrinsically male-biased just for 'gateway' reasons (tendency to pursue technical strands of academe/employment). That said, I knew a significant number of RL women who were online in some capacity. I probably didn't notice all those (male or female) who didn't interact much by the BBS/etc, though.
- Additionally, just to say that I (male) have joined a certain MUD a couple of times under both a female character-name (for SFW role-playing purposes; but it also has some gameplay differences, i.e. ability to join the Witches' Guild vs the Wizards' one) and female 'real' name (because I never ever put my real name/contact in such fields, so I matched it as most practical instead) and almost immediately got hit-upon by a particular long-standing regular of my normal acquaintence. Both times. Nothing overly creepy, but a lot more attention than any male-type newbie character ever had been given in a similar position. Perhaps more a case of being 'helpful' than anything, but verging upon discomfort (partially for my own passive duplicity, TBH), even if it was perhaps a form of positive discrimination/encouragement. - This was 2000s/2010s, having myself having had other alt-histories on there since the early '90s, and not RPing the helpless-newbie/hinting at being a returned-oldie.
- I'm not sure I changed my own (veteran character) behaviours at all... but I would like to think I was just equally and impartially inept at social nicities no matter what the (supposed) gender of any other random online contact might be. Not for me to say, though. 188.8.131.52 12:21, 11 March 2022 (UTC)
Its kind of funny that the fact that apparently Black Hat smashed the door completely off it's hinges in order to enter the room goes completely without mention in the description or comments, almost as if everyone just presumes it's so common it doesn't even bear mentioning. - Pennpenn 184.108.40.206 23:32, 15 February 2015 (UTC)
- Black Hat has stolen a Russian submarine to get his hat back, flooded a government building with playpen balls as an elaborate prank, and disassembled a double-parked car in order to get its extra parking spot. If you only want to count what he had done predating this comic, his record's still pretty impressive; he has (for example) strapped James Bond to a centrifuge and corrected his scientific knowledge, he can employ the vicious CAREBEARSTARE attack, and he sliced off Cueball's hand for making a stupid/nonsensical joke and then acting smug about it. Kicking a door off its hinges isn't that impressive, in context. 220.127.116.11 04:53, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
- I mean... it is. Beanie (talk) 12:33, 22 March 2021 (UTC)