Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 2138 xkcd comics, and only 21 (1%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Email Settings
What are all these less-than signs? What's an HREF? Look, we know you live in a fancy futuristic tech world, but not all of us have upgraded to the latest from Sun Microsystems.
Title text: What are all these less-than signs? What's an HREF? Look, we know you live in a fancy futuristic tech world, but not all of us have upgraded to the latest from Sun Microsystems.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by someone who can't use e-mail. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

The comic shows some email settings with a few less than helpful options.

Default Reply Behavior: Normal reply behavior would be to reply to the person who sent the original email. Reply all would be to reply all emails at once (with the same reply text). Typically in email programs there is an option to Reply TO All other recipients of an email in addition to the sender. Depending on the email usage pattern this is a potentially useful or a potentially annoying option. Forward to address book takes this one step further by sending your reply to every person who is in your address book, whether they received the original email or not.

Vacation Autoresponder: This is a message that is automatically sent out in reply to an email to let them know that you are away and won't be replying until you return. While on vacation is the usual behavior, but since email systems typically have no way of knowing that you're on vacation other than this setting itself, it won't be able to comply. Always is a less useful option.

Reply to all newsletters with "thank you for the newsletter!": This option is completely unnecessary, in that newsletters are usually automated and shotgunned out to thousand of addresses at once, often with a do-not-reply from address.

Attachment limit: These attachment limits are all pretty small, with 300 kilobytes being fairly useless for anything, 1.4 megabytes being the size of an old floppy disk, and 5 megabytes, while better, is smaller than most high resolution cell phone camera pictures. It being in beta means that it might not be as dependable. However, setting the maximum attachment size would likely not be a user setting; it would be a setting the email system enforces on the user. In the past with slow connections and very limited mailbox sizes, this option was useful to keep the message size in check. In the present, Gmail still has the same 25MB attachment limit it had in 2004.

Default email format: plain text is self explanatory; plain text with no special formatting options. HTML means that it can have markup to allow for bold text, colors, etc. CSS is in reference to cascading style sheets, which is a styling option often combined with HTML, but useless on it's own. With emails it is typically used as inline CSS.

Reply to HTML emails with "Whoa, buddy, what's all this code?": HTML email is a format for sending email with rich-text contents, which may include images and links. If your email client isn't configured for HTML, the content may look like text interspersed with a bunch of weird code. Since HTML email is a common format, replying this way to every HTML email you receive can be an effective way to annoy people. This may be a "throwback" option: a few years ago, email systems didn't always recognize HTML emails, so if you sent an HTML email you might very well receive this kind of reply.

Character set: ASCII is the character group containing all of the letters in the English alphabet, as well as the digits and common symbols. The Non-ASCII set contains all of the non-English alphabets and the rest of they (lesser used) symbols. Lacking the ASCII characters however, would make the second option useless for most European languages.

Smart autocomplete: Some email platforms, including Gmail, have the ability to use machine learning to suggest possible, usually short reply options for you to choose from. If the original email asks if you want to go to dinner, the auto-complete replies might be, "Yes", "No", "How about Friday?" and then you could choose one, or type your own reply. The third option to automatically respond to all emails with suggested reply is putting a lot of faith in the computer, and is likely to backfire quickly, even more so, if your recipients also have activated this option.

Important emails: Showing important emails is the expected behavior, and hiding only them would be a very strange thing to want to do.

Show unread email count...: Seeing your unread email count is normal behavior, and a good way to see what a failure you are at reading your email. A projected unread email count based on when the system expects you to die, and how well you do at reading your email on a day to day basis is probably going to be depressing or in the extreme could be so overwhelming to be the actual cause of death on the projected date.

Signature: A signature is a bit of canned text that gets added to the end of an email, often containing your name, and sometimes a bit of other information like a title and other contact information. Having the choices being None and "That's my email. Hope you liked it!" is less useful. Less useful signatures somewhat came into vogue after Apple used it for cheap iPhone advertisement and others made fun of the Apple users who kept those default signatures, by using quite creative signatures themselves.

The title text also references HTML email, in which angle brackets (i.e, less-than and greater-than symbols) are used to show the opening and closing tags of elements. "href" is a common attribute in HTML elements denoting the location a hyperlink will take you to upon being clicked. This is likely another "throwback" reference, Sun Microsystems being a former maker of Unix workstations popular in the late 1980s and 2000s (now part of Oracle Corporation). The message could also be written by someone receiving an HTML email which is not recognized as one and directly shown on the screen.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
Email Settings
[A list of controls with radio buttons and checkboxes]
Default reply behavior
( ) Reply
( ) Reply All
(*) Forward to address book
Vacation autoresponder
(*) While on vacation
( ) Always
☑ Reply to all newsletters with "Thank you for the newsletter!"
Attachment limit
( ) 300 KB
(*) 1.4 MB
( ) 5 MB (Beta)
Default email format
(*) Plain text
( ) HTML
( ) CSS
☑ Reply to HTML emails with "Whoa, buddy, what's all this code?"
Character set
( ) ASCII (Unicode 0-127 only)
(*) Non-ASCII (Unicode 128+ only)
Smart autocomplete
( ) Do not suggest replies
( ) Suggest replies
(*) Automatically respond to all emails with suggested reply
Important emails
(*) Show
( ) Hide
Show unread email count...
(*) Now
( ) On my projected day of death
Signature
(*) "That's my email. Hope you liked it!"
( ) None


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

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

Lots of people contribute to make this wiki a success. Many of the recent contributors, listed above, have just joined. You can do it too! Create your account here.

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • There are incomplete explanations listed here. Feel free to help out by expanding them!
  • We sell advertising space to pay for our server costs. To learn more, go here.

Rules

Don't be a jerk.

There are a lot of comics that don't have set-in-stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to (and helping everyone better understand) xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited). Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, post a message to the Admin requests board.