979: Wisdom of the Ancients
|Wisdom of the Ancients|
Title text: All long help threads should have a sticky globally-editable post at the top saying 'DEAR PEOPLE FROM THE FUTURE: Here's what we've figured out so far ...'
This comic refers to a common experience that those trying to solve tech problems have. Typically, people search on Google to try to find solutions to the problem. Sometimes the solution can be found on a software program's website, but the most helpful solutions frequently come from discussions on message boards, particularly for more obscure problems. This is because the odds are rather high that someone else, years ago, had the same problem you're having and resolved it.
However, in this comic, Cueball is unable to find any mention of the problem he's currently facing except for one forum post about it that did not include the problem's solution. This is akin to finding an FAQ with questions but no answers.
The title is a satirical reference to the notion that the "ancients," i.e. from thousands of years ago, possessed knowledge that has been lost to the centuries (such as exactly how Stonehenge was built), and that artifacts from those times do not fully divulge such knowledge. The fact that the "ancient" referred to in the comic is from 2003 (only 8 years before the comic was published) is an exaggeration of the feeling that the forum poster is lost to the sands of time, but in some sense this feeling is nonetheless true, since Cueball is unlikely to be able to contact them.
The title text is a suggestion to forums to be aware of the fact that people are likely going to come across such posts in the future and therefore to provide handy summaries of the most helpful conclusions of long threads for them, since combing through several false starts and failed attempts to resolve a problem can be quite tedious. Some forums do indeed follow this practice, pinning the solution or the most helpful approximation to one to the top under the original question.
In 1722: Debugging the title text also mentions googling an error message, explaining what it means if you get zero results. Sort of.
- [A poem is written outside and right justified along the left edge of the panel to the right.]
Never have I felt so close to another soul And yet so helplessly alone As when I Google an error And there's one result A thread by someone with the same problem And no answer Last posted to in 2003
- [Cueball stands in front of his desk, having risen so the chair has moved away behind him. He is holding on to his computer's screen, looking at it while visibly shaking the screen and shouting at it.]
- Cueball: Who were you, DenverCoder9?
- Cueball: What did you see?!
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