explain xkcd:Community portal/Proposals

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Place for ideas and suggestions to improve the wiki's design and organization on general issues can be incubated for later submission for consensus discussion. Be sure to check whether your proposal has already been submitted. (+post)


Discussion Area[edit]

Add unexplained strips[edit]

At the moment, browsing through the explanations using the previous and next buttons is interrupted whenever there's an explanation missing.

I think adding a page with the strip fr all of those with a short message like "no one has explained this yet, want to give it a shot?" would make the wiki easier to browse through and will get more strips explained faster.

I don't think that would happen. If suddenly it was much easier for people to skip over pages that had no explanation, I think they would do exactly that, skip right over it. On the same side of that coin, If suddenly there are no longer any red links on the List of all comics then everyone perusing that page assumes that all the comics have been explained and don't need to contribute any more. It's astonishing how quickly an embedded red link gets an explanation page created simply to get rid of the red link.
Secondarily, many of the pages created recently aren't being created with their numerical and titular redirects. Without the numerical redirect, the comic template can't find that there is a previous/next comic to link to. Every once in a while somebody will go through and try to notice all the pages that don't have their redirects created but it's an unscientific process that only happens occasionally. If we could get every joe blow that comes in and vomits up a poorly done explanation to create the redirects I wouldn't be quite as annoyed at their lack of show-don't-tell-manship. But, since they can't be bothered to put the date in the comic template, I doubt we'll ever get people to create the redirects.
TL;DR: No more red links, no more work gets done on the back catalog.
--lcarsos_a (talk) 14:28, 21 December 2012 (UTC)


When I first saw this site I thought it should definitely be at xplainkcd.com or at least redirect from that url -- (talk) 12:45, 3 January 2013 (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I like that idea! --Waldir (talk) 13:28, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Yeah! If it's possible, it would be cool! At least as a redirect. -- St.nerol (talk) 15:46, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Not technically the same thing, but I just took http://expxkcd.com. More explanation is was given on the website itself. greptalk05:10, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
We do that with explainxkcd.com as well, but yay shorter URLs! Mind if I use that for our social media links? Davidy²²[talk] 06:45, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
I had no idea that you did that, but sure, go ahead! If you want, I can change any DNS records if you wish to have it go directly to you guys. greptalk07:16, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
In case you were wondering, I just did the following: ^/([0-9]+)(/large)?/?$ greptalk07:25, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Hrm. We're just matching with ^(\d+)/?$. You can keep ownership of the URL if you want, unless you have traffic concerns or whatever and you want us to handle it, which we're very capable of doing. Davidy²²[talk] 08:47, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

I have made http://www.xkcd.ga and http://www.xkcd.tk both forward to http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page. Is this ok? 17jiangz1 (talk) 08:49, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

Section style and usage[edit]

I am new here and I'm trying to get up to speed with the culture. I have a few questions about how and where to use sections (== this ==). I am more willing to go with (and enforce) whatever norms there are here, but I have not seen them actually discussed.

  1. Is it OK to create sections in Discussion pages? I have been told no, but there are many examples extant of this usage in this Wiki and indeed in Wikipedia.
  2. Section title case Wikipedia's style guide recommends sentence case, not title case. There are many title cased section headers here.
  3. Links I do not have a reference for this but it seems to me putting links in section code (== [[this]] == ) is bad form.

Last note -- it's understood if these bylaws have not yet been written. I can see that a few of you have made a huge personal investment to make this Wiki what it is today, and that is a credit to you all -- this is awesome! As a long-time aficionado of xkcd I applaud your work and look forward to further collaboration. --Smartin (talk) 04:15, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

As a general rule, we stick to the standard format that existing pages follow, with an optional trivia section below the transcript. Some zealous editors like to add other sections though, which tend to be for the most part unneeded or redundant. If something you want to add doesn't help to explain the comic in some way, but the inclusion of which would somehow still add to the page, *and* it doesn't fall under the trivia category, a new section is warranted. This isn't the case most of the time though, so editors usually fold the content of extraneous sections into "Explanation" or "Trivia." We have no policy on links in titles, and they're allowed so long as they are appropriate; the link is useful and can't be folded into the section itself. And we use title case for titles cuz it just makes sense. Davidy22[talk] 05:08, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
We generally do not (or at least, discourage) use sections on the talk/discussion pages for explanation pages. This is purely for looks. The comic discussion section of the explanation page looks/feels wrong if there are level 2 section breaks in the transclusion. Also, if the Table of Contents starts showing up on a page, such as on Click and Drag the sections created on the talk page also show up in the TOC. This gets confusing, and this is why we prefer not to use them on explanation talk pages. Everywhere else we follow standard wiki format and do use sections on the discussion pages.
Personally, I think that links in section titles looks wrong, but I choose not to be the dictator of style in this matter. :p
Please feel free to make edits. The worst that happens is someone reverts your edit. If it's a big enough issue and/or you don't seem to be learning from what people are fixing about your edits someone will leave a comment on your talk page. That's it. We might leave a nasty-gram in the edit summary, but oh well. We only ban for malicious intent. Honestly working to better the wiki is good, even if sometimes we grumble about it.
--lcarsos_a (talk) 07:00, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
Oh, I just looked at your talk page. I completely forgot that that happened. Don't worry about it. Learning the ropes is part of the experience. Do make edits, and if they're wrong, we'll nudge you in the right direction. lcarsos_a (talk) 07:18, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

I have been moving some trivia sections to directly below the explanation, in order to make it more consistent, and easier to survey and maintain. Often the dividing line between trivia and explanation is not entirely clear, and in articles without a trivia section the end of the explanation very often contains trivia-like information. (e.g. 1155: Kolmogorov Directions) -- St.nerol (talk) 10:13, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

Title case doesn't make any sense[edit]

At first sight title case in titles just makes sense. However title case never makes sense. It's worse than all caps. Besides, only Americans and children like title case. 20:04, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

New character[edit]

As per Talk:1178: Pickup Artists, the character with hair has appeared in quite a few comics now, and he's starting to become a recurring character. Shall we go ahead with inaugurating him into our list of regular characters, and what name shall we assign him? Current candidate names include Hairy and Harry. Anyone? Davidy²²[talk] 00:07, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

I like Harry :) --Waldir (talk) 01:04, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
Cos made a point in the discussion on Talk:1178: Pickup Artists that Hairy is directly descriptive, whereas Harry is not obvious to visitors. On the other hand, not all names are descriptive (Danish) and I think this wiki is entitled to create some xkcd-in-culture, and not just describe. And Harry is quite funny.
I wonder: has Randall ever called him anything at all in the transcript? –St.nerol (talk) 21:52, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
Well, he's not named in a any official transcripts, but he's already called Harry in quite a few comic explanations. Then again, I do like having a more descriptive name for him. Shall we hold this up to a vote? Davidy²²[talk] 23:29, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
I think we should wait a little for a few more viewpoints to crop up. Also, can someone link to some more comics he's been featured in? I've got 1028: Communication, 1027: Pickup Artist and 1178: Pickup Artists. –St.nerol (talk) 23:41, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
I actually like what that anon said: Curly. Second choice: Hairy (being descriptive, a la Black Hat, Beret, Cueball, etc.) While there's talk about in-culture, we've done that with the names Cueball, Beret, etc. It's my opinion that the only names that should be "real" proper names are those that are named in the comic. Megan, Miss Lenhart, etc. Danish (as is discussed below) isn't truly a proper name, but you could argue it's a meta-description (one attributed by Black hat.) So that's my vote: yes for Curly or Hairy, no for Harry. IronyChef (talk) 05:21, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
That's right, Danish is not descriptive, but 1/ that name was suggested because the character was called that way in the comic, which is a tiny bit like a name given by the author (at least more than Harry which we have completely made up), and 2/ in that case it's hard to find a descriptive term: use something that revolves around her black hair (her only descriptive feature), and you easily mix up with Megan; the only graphical difference is that her hair is long, but what kind of name can you make out of that?
For this new character, I suggest Hairy because it comes as the easy solution with every advantage: descriptive, easy to understand, and it's not ugly... I actually see no reason to resort to a made-up name like Harry.
Cos (talk) 22:29, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
Alright. So the discussion's been had, and the most oft recommended name appears to be Hairy. All in favor, say aye. If more than 1/3 of editors agree and we have more than 6 votes, Hairy it is. Davidy²²[talk] 05:58, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
  1. Aye Davidy²²[talk] 05:58, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
  2. Aye Guru-45 (talk) 06:14, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
  3. Aye to Hairy. IronyChef (talk) 15:43, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
  4. Aye. Harry would be a nice nod to the fact that he's actually hairy, but indeed it's better to avoid inside jokes. --Waldir (talk) 17:05, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
  5. Aye. I'm convinced! –St.nerol (talk) 17:52, 3 March 2013 (UTC)
  6. Aye. Hairy. lcarsos_a (talk) 20:52, 3 March 2013 (UTC)
Hooray! We now have a Category:Comics featuring Hairy, with four pages already! Does anyone feel compelled to create "Hairy", with a brief description and a nice profile pic like the other characters? –St.nerol (talk) 22:58, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

Ambiguous characters[edit]

I've been thinking about the problem of the ambiguity of characters. "Is this really Cueball even though he has an eye and half a nose?", "This is very likely not x." "Darnit, these arn't Cueballs, these are Randall and his friends!", and so on. The character ambiguity is standard for xkcd (not less so in the early ones), and comes from the very loose or "free" way Randall uses his characters to be whatever he needs at the moment. It's simply often impossible for us to know whether he had e.g. "Cueball" or himself in mind, when drawing a particular comic (and I'd say: probably often both).

I want to suggest that we in general have a likewise rather loose policy towards including characters in the categories for the comics. So that reasonably ambiguous cases should be included in e.g. (does she have a ponytail?) This is not because I believe this or that to really be this or that; I just don't believe in objective truth (here!). I feel that when doing research :) on a character, the borderline cases are often the most interesting ones, and you want to be able to find them through the "Comics featuring miss x"!

I came to think this through now, when I wanted to (and did) list two comics with Miss Lenhart (?) where she was drawn but not named. Any thoughts on this in general? Other case studies? –St.nerol (talk) 21:17, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

My take has always been that Cueball, for example, has not been a specific character. There is not a cueball, per se, distinct from any other cueball... indeed, there are several comics with several cueballs in-frame, and that is the point. I see the cueball character as a wildcard character (pun intended) ready to stand in for anybody (and not necessarily just Randall; I think those readers who suggest "this is Randall" are missing the point; he's way more META than that...) Megan, while slightly less generic, still remains the female wild-card significant-other, while Curls seems to be a not-significant-other female used to illustrate a relationship that is transient. Other characters come and go, and when it's important to visually distinguish them from others in the frame, they're given additional characteristics, to wit Hairy, Ponytail, etc.
Unfortunately, that viewpoint is not commonly held, so I daresay I'm in the minority here.
-- IronyChef (talk) 14:18, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Note at the top, about the server error[edit]

This thread was moved to MediaWiki talk:Sitenotice

I've removed "add a comment!" from Discussion heading[edit]

This does move it to above the line, and the rule stops early. Undo my change if that's more bothering than when the TOC is displayed as "add a comment!Discussion"...

I don't know how to automatically treat level 2 headers as level 3. That may be why Discussion was a level 1 heading earlier. Mark Hurd (talk) 11:16, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

Actually I now noticed there was a short edit war at {{comic discussion}} over whether it should be a level 1 heading, just for this reason. User:Waldir seems to have conceeded... Mark Hurd (talk) 11:25, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
No edit war, hence no (intentional) concession. I reverted a change once, and didn't notice the change being re-implemented by another user. In any case, it is irrelevant now since we actively discourage using headers in talk pages precisely so that they don't display in the TOC for the main comic page, where the discussion page is transcluded to (see the discussion above). This might not scale well for comics that generate lots of discussion. It might be worth discussing our customs (and perhaps write them down somewhere) before performing such changes. What do others think? --Waldir (talk) 11:49, 14 April 2013 (UTC)

Time: The Table[edit]

Right now on the page 1190: Time, we have a whole bunch of tables in the form image-time-hash. The tables take up heaps of vertical space and all have to be collapsed to even be remotely traversible. I propose that we aggregate all the images into one table after Time ends, like so:

The hash values aren't really a part of the comic, they're gibberish for the most part and they take up space that could be used to compact the table, as shown above. Even if we are conservative and make the table only five columns wide to account for smaller screens, we've divided scrolling time by five and eliminated much of the need for annoying collapsed tables and section headers for each day. Constructing the table shouldn't be particularly hard either, as all our current data is in nice regular tables with clear patterns that are easy enough to parse through.

I'm putting this here because the organization of the frame entries would be unintuitive and difficult to change from the edit window, which would make it a poor choice when we're still expanding it and don't even know how long the comic will continue for. It's merely a space-saving trick for after we're sure that the comic is over. Davidy²²[talk] 09:26, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

Oh and it'd be really nice if other people could also upload images if you're awake and a new one rolls by. There's gaps in the image record every time I wake up, and I dun likey. Davidy²²[talk] 11:34, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
Good work so far; go ahead make it better! :) –St.nerol (talk) 08:34, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

Featured Explanation, and Archival?[edit]

  • Wikipedia has featured content. Now that we are close to reaching the goal of all comics explained, I think it makes more sense to have a "featured explanation" which would serve as a sort of a marker for a complete and good explanation. Many comics, and almost all charts are not fully explained/not a good quality explanation.
  • We should set up archival of discussion of the most discussed pages, like this one. Its not very pleasing to see comments from July 2012 still lying around here. It becomes hectic at some point.

Just my 2 cents, feel free to discuss. Cheers, 13:36, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

We dedicate this wiki to explaining xkcd, and we do actually have a featured comic feature; it changes every week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and we usually manage to fill out the explanation for it within an hour or so of it going up. The most recent comic tends to be the one that most people visiting the wiki care about, so we give it prime space on the front page so they can find it easily. xkcd updates frequently enough that there isn't really that big of a time window for us to feature an article on our front page. Also, we're a volunteer project with quite a bit less manpower than Wikipedia.
We do need to archive talk pages though. Some of these are getting ridiculously long. Davidy²²[talk] 14:04, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Davidy22. Archiving topics can be done by anyone, by moving resolved threads to the portal section's corresponding talk page. We could start with the threads marked "✓ Closed". Waldir (talk) 17:42, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
The reason I asked for a "featured explanation" was because many of the comic explanations we currently have are sub-par, and we're almost at our initial goal of explaining all comics. A "featured explanation" would drive our editors towards the goal of having complete and good explanation towards all comics, and would allow us to know which explanations need elaboration.
P.S. My definition of complete explanation would be - To have a good explanation, To have all categories relevant, To link to any comics related and To explain any technical portions of the comic. 07:45, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
That message on the front page is going to link to all the pages marked by the incomplete template. If you find an unsatisfactory explanation, please mark it with {{incomplete}} Davidy²²[talk] 07:54, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
By my definition, I think all comics will be incomplete. An incomplete template will be focused more towards improving the worst explanations, while a featured one will be to improve the best ones. Since we already have the former, we should focus on the latter. Just my 2 cents. 06:55, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

Split the list of all comics[edit]

List of all comics is getting larger and larger, which makes it hard to read and hard to edit. How about splitting into parts, say List of all comics/1-1000, List of all comics/1001-2000, etc., or something to that effect? --Waldir (talk) 17:39, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

Done. 10:03, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
Great job, thanks! Waldir (talk) 11:09, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
And I've added back List of all comics (full), which allows, for example, listing all comics by alphabetical order.Mark Hurd (talk) 17:29, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

Sidebar ads[edit]

Moved from Talk:Main Page –– St.nerol (talk) 08:06, 4 May 2013 (UTC)

Are they generating significant money? The ones I see are pretty sleazy looking and/or scammy - "Power Companies Hate this Device! - click here to break the laws of thermodynamics!" and "Debt relief program click here to lose more money". How much money are they generating? Can you set any selections to remove the sleazy ads? J-beda (talk) 18:30, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Do we have sleazy sidebar ads? Since when? Thanks Google Chrome and AdBlock, I had no idea! –St.nerol (talk) 07:47, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
People give 20$ a pop to get a bunch of clicks on explainxkcd, and Jeff uses that money to buy a faster server with a hard drive that doesn't have less space than a public toilet with an elephant in it. It'd be really nice if you didn't turn on adblock, the money is appreciated. Davidy²²[talk] 08:47, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
It's a question of me not turning it off specifically every time I visit this site. More importantly, I do think people would be more likely to click the "donate" if it weren't irrelevant ads around it. –St.nerol (talk) 19:29, 14 April 2013 (UTC)
Generating money is a great thing. Getting "20$ a pop to get a bunch of clicks" is a bit unclear. Do the ads only generate revenue when clicked on? So EXKCD only gets money when someone actually falls for the sleazy ads? I know lots of people do not like Google - but at least their adsense stuff is relevant to the content of the website, which might generate some legitimate traffic for a legitimate advertiser.... J-beda (talk) 11:48, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Welllll, I didn't pick the ad supplier. You could bring it up with Jeff if you want, I think he picked the ad provider on basis of which one had a mediawiki plugin or something. If you can link Jeff to a quick and easy way to put adsense on mediawiki, he should change it quickly enough. Davidy²²[talk] 14:21, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
And I also gather then that they are only a temporary thing? -- St.nerol (talk) 08:27, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Until we can buy a server that doesn't poop itself every time a new comic is released, the ads are staying. If you want them to go away sooner, throw more money at Jeff. Davidy²²[talk] 09:25, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
The ads are crap. For sure. Wish I didn't have to run them, but I don't trust donations alone to hold up continually some better hosting. The ads really don't bring in that much $$$. I had google adsense before, but Google shutdown my adsense account for unnamed reason after 1 week. This new ad service is way sketchier. If you all think they don't have a place here, I'll ax 'em. --Jeff (talk) 16:02, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the info Jeff. How much ad money are we talking about? Is it calculated on how many ads are displayed or how many are clicked-through? How close to the goal is the server fund? How about a Kickstarter campaign for the server? $10 gets your name on a thankyou webpage or something like that. J-beda (talk) 17:32, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
It ain't much, last I looked it was $2 or $3 in 2 weeks. I believe it is based on clicks, it is not nearly as clear as Google adsense. I'm not really interested in doing a Kickstarter. I think the donations will cover the initial start up, I just want to be able to cover the monthly costs as well. A few things are still up in the air. --Jeff (talk) 16:24, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
Can you find a way to show the donations and ad income on the site, to make it transparent? ––St.nerol (talk) 15:30, 30 April 2013 (UTC)
How about a donation amount that you'll take to turn it (the annoying unethical scummy ads) off for a year? Give me a dollar value and I might step up for the good of us all! J-beda (talk) 16:28, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

Since Project wonderful shut down, I block ads even on explainxkcd. The adds are simple and not colourful, which I like, but being part of Google Adsense I block them for keeping my my privacy. I am sad to do this but until there is another, better way to serve them, I have to.

Economic transparency[edit]

I think this is very important: How can we make the donations and ad-income transparent, so that we all can see when and how much money is coming in, and how far we are from reaching our goal? – St.nerol (talk) 00:35, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Sounds fine to me, I think I can put something together. --Jeff (talk) 15:52, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Hi, may I bump this issue? Or maybe you have done something, and I missed it? Anyway, I would still appreciate it! –St.nerol (talk) 17:43, 22 February 2014 (UTC)
Numberssss. I'll get on with it, just need less homework and a few more numbers. Davidy²²[talk] 07:54, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

I would like to respectfully file a complain. I find the banner advertisement of background checks distasteful. Benjaminikuta (talk) 05:10, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

Hey Benjaminikuta - I am the one who approved those ads. But, since you have filed a complaint about them, I have gone ahead and removed them. Thanks. --Jeff (talk) 12:52, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

I thank you. Benjaminikuta (talk) 03:36, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

Using <nowiki></nowiki> in transcripts to improve accuracy[edit]

In the transcripts, [[lines]] are being changed to [lines] in order to avoid auto-linking. Why not just surround these with <nowiki></nowiki> tags and avoid the problem entirely? --Epauley (talk) 04:18, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Because it takes less time to type and single brackets are just as readable as double brackets to visitors. It's also a bit more readable in the editor. Davidy²²[talk] 09:55, 16 June 2013 (UTC)

Strip Title[edit]

For someone who commonly browses explainxkcd in place of xkcd, and hence often see the strips for the first time here rather than the parent site, I find it somewhat odd that the 'Title Text' is so poorly displayed given how critical it can be to the strip.

I propose that, while retaining the given name (perhaps moving it top left), the title text be enlarged and relocated to being over the strip as originally intended. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The title text is placed very well at bottom of the image.--Dgbrt (talk) 07:20, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
I would have to agree with Dgbrt, it's placed nicely at the bottom, and there is no need for it to be moved. My reasoning is that you never actually read the title text first, you read it last. Making it text-align: left; does not make sense, because the image is centered (just like on xkcd.com). I also believe that there is no need for it to be re-sized, mainly due to the fact that it is slightly larger than the title text (for me, at least). greptalk05:18, 08 September 2013 (UTC)
Plus, if you hover over the image, it's the same as on xkcd.com greptalk06:13, 08 September 2013 (UTC)
I also agree with Dgbrt and Grep. The title text is kind of a bonus and should not be emphasized more than on the original page. On the original site you only see it before the image, if you have very slow internet access (or very fast eyes) --Chtz (talk) 08:06, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

Sections in talk pages[edit]

Is there a reason why there are no sections in talk pages? It is not a very big deal, but especially for longer talk pages it would make editing be much handier, especially when using the preview function (not having to find the section every time). Also it automatically adds a description to the history (thus makes it more easy to look for certain edits, or decide by just looking at the Special:RecentChanges, if a comment should concern you. --Chtz (talk) 08:01, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

When discussion pages are transcluded by the comic discussion template, section headers carry over from talk pages and bad things happen. Using ; to denote headers instead of equals signs works well, and doesn't share transclusion pain. Davidy²²[talk] 08:04, 2 October 2013 (UTC)


Any chance we can add cite.php to this wiki? Most pages don't need it, but some comics take on a life of their own and being able to add reference tags would be really helpful for those. LadyMondegreen (talk) 01:33, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Cite has been added to the wiki. Thanks for the suggestion! --Jeff (talk) 01:35, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Stylized writing[edit]

I understand that this wiki isn't as formal as wikipedia or sites like that but it seems that there are a few questionable practices:

1. The use of questions - when a non-rhetorical or unnecessary question is entered into the explanation.

2. Extremely painted/biased view points - when there is obvious bias in the tone of the explanation of the contributor, in other words; a lack of neutrality.

3. Extreme repetition/rehashing - the explanation restates things and makes for a long and tedious read when a more straight-forward explanation is possible and clearer.

4. The general informality - "This one's an easy one" "This is simple" "this one's straightforward" "You're an idiot for not understanding this one" etc.

5. Many other practices that make the explanation hard to read, difficult to understand, or plain ugly.

I know that there are disparaging view points on how a comic should be explained, but please let's clean up the site a bit, acknowledge each view point and report on all of them and then tighten up the sloppy writing. Carry out arguments in the talk section, not the explanation. Perhaps we could first try to say the majority view point on the interpretation and then write the alternate explanations, of course this would bring up the debate on which is the majority explanation. Either way, more complete, logical explanations should be given more credence. --Lackadaisical (talk) 00:25, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

I agree with 2-5. 1, on the other hand, is sometimes useful and can contribute the to explanation, although 1 is still a very good point. I would say that you should edit it to have "arguments in the talk" be a 6th point as well. Unfortunately, though, we are not all logical, comic-understanding machines here, so minor deviations of these rules are still to be expected. But I think that overall, these are good rules, even if 2/3 are sort of part of 5.
Lackadaisical, please sign your post with ~~~~greptalk23:55, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
I understand the use of questions in certain parts. And it was probably better to put the others as sub-categories to five but I wanted to show some common things that can be easily fixed. I know that some explanations require a lot of text and extensive research because of the abstract subjects Randall deals with and that it's difficult to be completely standardized but I think it would be good for us to try to come up with some general things to try to avoid to help the explanations "flow" --Lackadaisical (talk) 00:25, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Most of that isn't intentional, it's just an awful lot of labor to copy check all the explanations. I've been going through all the current articles and fixing consistency issues, the worst being wrong transcript/title text/dates and the most benign being wikilinks, spelling and trailing spaces. I'm at 682 so far, but my next pass will be on actual language and content, and it'll probably take longer. It takes a while though, and you can totally work on improving language in articles if you want to. Some explanations were pulled from the old blog, some were written and just got lost in the changelog. Copy editing everything we have so far is a very labor-intensive job, and the only way to really deal with it is to knuckle down and do it, or form a wikiproject and hope to heaven that visitors feel charitable enough to join in on it. I'd *probably* push to finish up all our incomplete articles first though, just because that's more directly related to the purpose of the site; tone and style probably comes second to having correct explanations. That doesn't mean you can't do it yourself, it's just that I'll probably only dedicate the subheader on the main page to one project at a time and our current biggest bugbear hasn't been solved yet. I could put up a sitenotice to see if that speeds the process up any. I'll do that when I get back home. Davidy²²[talk] 03:31, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Easy redirect to comic?[edit]

I've been thinking, and there is one thing that would make navigating to the explained comics easier. My method of browsing is I'll see the comic on xkcd.com first, and if there is something curious about it that I don't quite understand, I'll come here. Sometimes it can be a bit troublesome, going to the homepage and then navigatiing to the right comic. Not too bad, but I'd like an easy way to go direct. So I was thinking, what if you had a redirect such that if you typed in, for example, www.explainxkcd.com/505, you would get redirected to http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php?title=505:_A_Bunch_of_Rocks. That would mean that you could get to the comic just from adding an "explain" to the start of the xkcd.com URL. I don't know if that is at all possible, but it would be pretty handy if it happened. Thoughts? Alcatraz ii (talk) 03:01, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

That's actually already on the to-do list. I'm testing it right now and we should have it up soon. Davidy²²[talk] 04:02, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
Awesome :) Alcatraz ii (talk) 03:26, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
Whoop, forgot to mark this as complete. Davidy²²[talk] 04:37, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
Done! Copy this and drag it to your bookmarks bar: |javascript: var url = document.URL; document.location = url.replace('xkcd.com','explainxkcd.com');| (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
The feature requested here has also long since been implemented. Davidy²²[talk] 22:20, 4 April 2014 (UTC)

Increase support via prominent display of copyright and license for text submitted to explainxkcd[edit]

XKCD itself is rather liberally licensed, and gets lots of good will from that. As it says on the bottom of every page "This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License." For details see xkcd - A Webcomic - License.

But I found nothing on most pages of explainxkcd about copyright or licensing, and it discouraged me from contributing or donating. Finally, as I was writing this proposal up, I found a link on the editing page here: explain xkcd:Copyrights - explain xkcd saying that "The Explain XKCD wiki is generally licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license (CC-BY-SA-3.0)". That notice should be more prominent on the site, with at least a link on each page. Nealmcb (talk) 15:27, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

This should be mentioned at the main page, including a reference to the xkcd origin.
BTW: NO DOUBLE SPACES after a sentence. Are you US guys still using a typewriter? It's not rendered at a web page and stupid like Gallons, Miles, Foots, and much more unique US behaviours. But that's just a joke beside.
The licence hint is much more important, you are just correct.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:12, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Added a creative commons icon to the footer of the page, next to the powered by mediawiki button. Davidy²²[talk] 22:16, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

New Comics Bot[edit]

Would there be need for such a thing? Synthetica

Nice idea, I never thought about that before. I will do some tests on existing comics to check if this could reduce the current number of error posts for a new article. When that is ready and working I will talk to some admins. My bot account DgbrtBOT was originally intended for 1190: Time picture uploads, but I never have used it because Time was over. Creating the new pages should be easy in general, avoiding errors will cost some more work. --Dgbrt (talk) 20:31, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
If you can get dgbrtBOT to do that, that'd help us an awful lot. It'd allow us to get rid of the ifexist cases in template:LATESTCOMIC as well, since the bot could change automatically that whenever a new comic goes up. It'll also help us get new comics down almost the moment they pop up, since the bot could sample several times a minute until a comic is posted. So long as it gets the general pattern right so that we have a correct page set up, we're good. An admin can come in sometime later to clean up categories and image urls and other piddly easy-to-fix details. Davidy²²[talk] 20:54, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
I will work on this next weekend, just local scripts and no updates here. I also will talk about my results before any automatic updates will be activated. My first focus is on creating the new pages in the general pattern, LATESTCOMIC and also the page "All comics" are maybe a bonus later. And of course all my scripts will be open source.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:44, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
The first version is ready and I will test it at my local wiki. If everything goes well I could activate it for Wednesday (2013-11-13). LATESTCOMIC and "All comics" are on my roadmap, but first I want produce correct new pages here. --Dgbrt (talk) 20:00, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
Righty ho. Here goes. Davidy²²[talk] 20:36, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

Even when my automatic local wiki test did fail today, just a damn wrong password, I will activate the bot here for Wednesday. It will only run from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM UTC. You will not see my possible updates at Special:RecentChanges unless you click Show bots at the top of that page. LATESTCOMIC and "All comics" are not covered, but this is at my TODO list until this test will be successful. Give me a GO or NO-GO for this test.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:49, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Easily a GO, I'll be ready to clean up if anything goes wrong. Davidy²²[talk] 22:08, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
So be ready on Wednesday for the clean up. My worst case is it simply does not work, second worse scenario is still that I could delete some contend already posted here, but I'm trying to avoid this. Huston, the countdown clock is counting. I'm joking about this because I really want to be confident about this BOT or ROBOT or uncontrolled action here.--Dgbrt (talk) 00:28, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
The bot can't do anything that I can't reverse. I can even restore a backup from an hour before the bot's edits if it manages to break the database. How quickly does it poll xkcd, by the way? Davidy²²[talk] 07:53, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

First live test here (comic 1289). Please delete this page: Simple_Answers:_1289. Since my local wiki did not provide this templates I could not see this error before. In general the bot will update pages differ to any existing pages, but when it is not changed no update will happen. I'm fixing this errors at my script and do a second test here soon. I want to see it's producing correct pages until the bot will do it's work when I'm sleeping.--Dgbrt (talk) 22:31, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Ok, test are done here, BOT is scheduled for the next update. Polling is every five minutes on Mon, Wed, and Fri from 04:00 until 08:00 UTC. Let's see how it will work.--Dgbrt (talk) 23:08, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Couldja ramp that up to once/twice a minute, push the start time back by an hour, and the end time by a few hours? Also, is it possible to terminate it once it finds a comic for a certain day? Davidy²²[talk] 01:45, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
It worked! Though it posted the comic 5 minutes past post time. We has technology now, we can afford to poll faster and closer, yeah? Davidy²²[talk] 05:32, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Uhh, it worked... I will increase the polls when I'm more confident about the release times. Today it was approx. 05:00 UTC (GMT) or 01:00 EST (Randall's time zone). Looks like he is still at daylight saving time, would have been 00:00 EDT. The polls will be increased to one minute when I'm sure about the Standard Release Time (SRT). Next steps for the next update on Friday are:

The "All comics" page.
The LATESTCOMIC template.

--Dgbrt (talk) 19:54, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

The LATESTCOMIC template is included for the next run, it just simply has to return a number. But it's still the most critical part because if it does not work the Main Page is broken. I will change this to a better solution using that IFEXIST syntax soon. The list of all comics is still at my ToDo list. --Dgbrt (talk) 22:06, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
The desired content of the LATESTCOMIC template should be just the comic number. If we can get out of having to poll multiple IFEXIST statements to find the latest comic, that would be a fantastic boon to our server performance. Davidy²²[talk] 04:43, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
OK, it did work today so I will not change this. Next step is the list for all comics.--Dgbrt (talk) 11:10, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Next run will include an update on the "All comics" page. I'm crossing my fingers. When this update is also successful I will document my Bot at the Bot user page User:DgbrtBOT. --Dgbrt (talk) 22:15, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Oh, I forgot this detail: The bot is starting at 00:00 EST (RLT - Randall local time), which is 04:00 UTC and 05:00 MET for me. It polls every 5 minutes until 23:55 MET (22:55 UTC, 18:55 RLT) the main page until a new comic is found. I do not poll the comic number because I want to avoid 404 message logs at the servers.--Dgbrt (talk) 22:30, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Something went wrong there. That's gonna need fixing. I am enjoying the looks of the apparently faster polling though. Maybe you could also set the start time to 00:00:05 EST to catch the on-time xkcd releases within ten seconds? Davidy²²[talk] 05:33, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Uh, what a mess. I will do some more tests at my local wiki. At the next time I will do a check against the number from the LATESTCOMIC template, only the next number will be processed. The test against my local history did fail because of some cleanups after testings.--Dgbrt (talk) 08:18, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't like mess. So the BOT got many more checks before posting here but the bot was starting at 05:00 local time for me. I'm really asleep at that time. The mess here was covered, but I do need another GO for the next attempt. Otherwise I will just do a test to my local wiki.--Dgbrt (talk) 22:35, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

No GO so far, my next test will run only at my local wiki.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:16, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

My script is here: explainXKCD_update. At my current test "explainxkcd.com" is commented out and "localhost" is active. Since I don't like mess and the bot does act while I am sleeping the next update must be done manually here. I'm hoping the bot will be ready for the next update on Friday.--Dgbrt (talk) 22:15, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Bot is ready for Friday, everything went smooth at my last local test today. The bot did find the latest comic at 04:05 UTC and all essential pages were properly created. So I will activate it for this site again. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:57, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Bot did work as expected. So I name it release 1.1337, the next planed release will be 2.1337 (beta) because of this two issues:

  • "Include any categories below this line." will be removed because it doesn't make any sense any more.
  • BETA: I want to use the full template features at List of all comics, just ensuring that the pictures are working properly. No need for this at the most comics, but the BOT doesn't cover all possibilities on corrupt file names like we have had in "Pi vs. Tau". The picture was without that dot. My bot just shows the real link it did upload here.

I'm pretty sure we will have some issues on this bot, but for general pages it should work. So the bot will be active on Mon,Wed,Fri from 0:00 EST (or EDT) every five minutes until it did found a new comic, on success the bot does not poll any more.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:51, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Aww, it's a bot. It doesn't need to rest or take time off to do other stuff. It can totally poll once or more times per minute. Also, if you set the start time to a few seconds after midnight, Randall time, when he uploads a comic on-time, you'll get it within a few seconds as opposed to having to wait for the next polling. As for the image names, maybe you could convert spaces in the comic name to underscores, compare the two comic names you have and use that to decide which version of the template to use? Davidy²²[talk] 23:08, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I have to avoid that the bot is running twice, Internet Timeouts and more. And the comics are also published later sometimes. Look at my release 1.1337, release 2.1337 will be later, Maybe I should start at 2 minutes after 0:00, but let's see right now how the bot does work. --Dgbrt (talk) 00:38, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Uhh, what a huge discussion here. The bot will get a major update soon: Scheduler does start it once and until a comic is found and uploaded it here or an other limit is reached (maybe the end of the day) the bot will poll by a small delay. But every poll is still an entire download from the main page, When a new comic is found bot stops.

Why, you could use http://xkcd.com/info.0.json, right? 07:38, 2 December 2013 (UTC)Synthetica
The BOT performs perfect and I prefer to analyze the original page. A title text like the one from today (a text showing a link) will be covered in the future.--Dgbrt (talk) 10:35, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

A great enhancement would be also covering a new comic like 1190 Time was. I'm looking forward on this, some ideas, it does require a complete analyse of the page and then finding some strange content. --Dgbrt (talk) 23:05, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Require description for 'incomplete' tags[edit]

I've been trying to fix some of the incompletes, but several explanation pages I've come across are tagged incomplete without any reason given. The reason should be a required part of the tag. -- 03:35, 7 December 2013 (UTC)

This incomplete tags are just older than the recent change of that template. Current adds require a description, but it's not easy to figure out all that old reasons. If someone does find a reason, please just add it. --Dgbrt (talk) 20:22, 7 December 2013 (UTC)
I agree! Incomplete tags should require a reason! PDesbeginner (talk) 03:51, 19 June 2024 (UTC)

Should there be a subwiki to cover the shop links that appear above the comic?[edit]

The current one (as of writing) is [1] but this is a different than the usual, and there was also a third in between these. Rsranger65 (talk) 06:00, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

Those are very ephemeral. They aren't going to exist for very long, I don't know how valuable it would be to archive that stuff. We could probably do it, but having to figure out another naming convention and all for advertisements doesn't appeal to me at the current moment. If you can flesh it out, I'd love to see how you think we should do it. Davidy²²[talk] 07:24, 8 December 2013 (UTC)

New Character[edit]

OK, I think we need a name for the character with a goatee and glasses in comics 435: Purity, 796: Bad Ex and 964: Dorm Poster as well as possibly others. Edit: oh and I suggest Goatee and Glasses Guy, but I'm open for suggestions Edit 2: also in 826: Guest Week: Zach Weiner (SMBC) Halfhat -- Halfhat (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~) edit 3: Another sighting 954: Chin-Up Bar Halfhat (talk) 16:57, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

In the transcript, he is called "Person with Glasses and a Goatee" --Jeff (talk) 15:39, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
"Glasses Guy", "Goatee Guy" are both probably descriptive enough! --Jeff (talk) 15:41, 21 March 2014 (UTC)

What If Comics[edit]

Hi, I was thinking, maybe at some point we should do the comics in the What If? section, like this one. Halfhat (talk) 20:01, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

Start creating the pages for them! --Jeff (talk) 15:36, 21 March 2014 (UTC)
I think I can start creating one or two pages for What If, if that helps... Daniel Carrero (talk) 16:14, 5 April 2014 (UTC)
If nobody has any problem with it, I'm gonna give it a try later. :) Daniel Carrero (talk) 13:14, 8 April 2014 (UTC)
I thought they were already pretty self-explanatory though. Also, how are we gonna organize and present them? Davidy²²[talk] 16:31, 8 April 2014 (UTC)
I totally agree with David: Read the entire What-If page and follow the links provided by Randall. No one of us can do that better in depth. But an overview page for this site is maybe not a bad idea, we just need a proper link here — a link at the main menu on the left. Translations to other languages are just another issue. --Dgbrt (talk) 22:37, 8 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I was thinking of an overview, summarizing the contents and discoveries of each what if page. Not to mention, we could also organize what if pages by categories, such as physics/love.
Would you like me to post here an example of what I would write? That way we can decide if it's worthy of creating an actual page. Daniel Carrero (talk) 12:53, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
Adding pages for What If? posts would be very helpful. Although the articles themselves are obviously self-explanatory, there are almost as many subtle references, running gags, and in-jokes in What If? posts these days as in the comics themselves.

I often visit explain xkcd when I feel like I'm missing an inside joke or a pop culture reference in a comic, and it would be very helpful to many people (especially those from other cultures/subcultures) to have the same service. For example, today's What If? contains multiple allusions to the Superman Movie, a running Citation Needed joke, and a whole comic that is a not-so-subtle dig at Elon Musk and the Hyperloop. It would be awesome if the community here at explainxkcd could tackle stuff like that. Anonymous 20:05, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

I agree. I don't understand the mouseover text on the first image in "Snow Removal", for example. Benjaminikuta (talk) 22:57, 23 February 2015 (UTC)


The whole point of the transcripts is to have those who are unable to view images to still be able to read the comic, right?

Then why is it required to stick to strictly official transcripts, where sometimes rewriting them slightly would make them flow better or otherwise get the ideas across better? I've tried rewriting a few, but they get reverted. I think that having easier-to-understand transcripts would be more important than strictly following official transcripts; what do you think? (For a few examples, see this edit and this edit. Zowayix (talk) 17:38, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

We use the original transcript to try and deduce original author intent if it's unclear from the image. I remember one comic where Beret Guy was off in the distance and it was difficult to distinguish him from the image, but the official transcript said it was him. We don't stick to the original transcript if it's obviously wrong, or it has typographical errors: see Laser Scope. Those edits seem to be mainly targeted at language and clarity, and should be fine. Davidy²²[talk] 23:06, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
Would it be helpful to have another (optional) section for expanding on the official transcripts? I too think it could be helpful, especially for complex images (such as 1079/United Shapes [2]). Or does supplemental description belong in the Explanation sections? Cheers. Karenb (talk) 23:00, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Naaah, how many people even know there's an original transcript? If the original is wrong, change it. If your additions begin to verge on explanatory, move eet to the trivia/explanation sections. Davidy²²[talk] 00:52, 21 March 2014 (UTC)

"Characters in this Comic" section[edit]

Should there be a "Characters in this Comic" section in each comic explanation? (I feel like this should be longer but don't have anything else to say.) Z (talk) 23:33, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

There is a Category section at the bottom of each comic. Just scroll down and you will see any character belonging to a specific comic. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:50, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

Adding the Radiation chart from XKCD[edit]

Hi As there are already other comics with explanations even though they are not part of the number system. This one does not seem to have any yet: http://xkcd.com/radiation/ And as it is very alike the Money strip (the unexplained of the week) so I think it should be explained as well. If you agree please add it as I'm not sure how to do that.

Best regards

Kynde (talk) 18:47, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Reddit comments?[edit]

There should be a link in each comics explanation page somewhere linking to the comment section for the relevant comic on /r/xkcdcomic or reddit.

The reddit comments page isn't that close to what we do though. If this is more popular, we'll do it, though there'll need to be a fair bit of post-hoc editing since I don't think there's a standard URL scheme for all the past comics. Davidy²²[talk] 03:15, 23 June 2014 (UTC)
I just came here to ask if we could do this, but I looked into it and it wouldn't be simple. Could we write a bot to run on the xkcd subreddit to post the link here? --Eluvatar (talk) 05:53, 6 November 2017 (UTC)

Not insulting new users[edit]

I am writing a response to a vulnerability assessment. I have included a link to http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/936 noting that it contains a good explanation of the relative security of passwords vs passphrases. I just noticed that the top of that page contains "Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb." Looks like I'll have to find a different site to link to. --Pascal (talk) 17:33, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

I agree. While I'm sure it can seem cute or funny in various circles, that text has always seemed immature and inappropriate to me, and I'm sure to many folks we'd like to invite to the site. I suggest that it be changed. Nealmcb (talk) 19:52, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
The XKCD http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/936 suggestion for password is actually not that good. read here for some more discussion. 23:49, 10 March 2016 (UTC)
I also agree. I'm not here because I'm stupid, I'm here because I don't know something and I'm hoping this site can help. It's off putting to have that text there, and there's no benefit to it. What about just repeating the thing at the top of XKCD.com: "Romance, Sarcasm, Math, and Language: Explained"?
I agree, and there is actually a very long talk page started about this subject in the miscellaneous section. Eventually people voted to keep it, but the main argument on that side was that that was the way things had always been. I am fairly new to the site (this is actually my first post on it), so I don't know how these things work, but I do think that that should be changed. There were actually a large number of good proposals for replacements with the other one, and I thought it would be funny if there was a randomly selected character every time you loaded a page, with each character having their own tagline. Is there any way to try to get this changed again?
Another vote for changing it. I like the idea of rotating through a number of taglines. The world already has too many people who habitually verbally reinforce the idea they aren't smart, why try to convince them they're right about themselves when they might otherwise be experiencing curiosity? (Related: Carol Dweck) Edit: link to prior conversation 10:56, 11 March 2021 (UTC)
Concur. When I link to xkcd comics, I also add a link to the equivalent page here for screenreader users. While I try to link to the transcript sections specifically, I sometimes forget or typo it, and people may check the rest of the page anyway. What are the rules for decisions here? 22:14, 21 October 2021 (UTC)
I disagree, it's a tagline and obviously just a light jibe, no reason to change it. However the main reason I'm commenting is to point out that hundreds of other users saw this proposal and didn't reply so even if there's concurrence among the minority who respond to the proposal it doesn't mean that the proposal has wide support and should be implemented --Lackadaisical (talk)
I think it would be a good idea to have the tagline link to a page explaining it, or is that a little too meta? It'd be useful to help newbies understand the phrase, at least. 22:56, 7 July 2022 (UTC)
I think it should be changed to something nice. While False (speak) 16:30, 3 October 2022 (UTC)
The Black Hat image is blurry. ClassicalGames (talk) 08:54, 3 May 2023 (UTC)
Change it or just delete it (do you really need a tagline?). It is not in line with the spirit of the XKCD jokes (it is not smart sarcasm, it is first-grade humour) and it is unnecessarily mean. Does it even come from a real XKCD comic? I could not find any reference. If not, I also find it disrespectful to use one of Randall Munroe's characters in this way. I understand that the team that runs this wiki wants to keep it as it is for historical reasons. Any other arguments like "not everyone who comes to this web site complains, then most people are fine with it" or "we need consensus to change it (is it the ONU?)" sound pretentious. To me it is like finding a goatse on the front page. It's ugly, but it is not a problem as long as I get the information I need and leave. 23:09, 24 May 2024 (UTC)

RSS feed[edit]

Is there an RSS feed (or some equivalent) of Explain XKCD available? It's helpful for those using feed readers, and superior to the primary XKCD RSS since there are explanations and the mouse over text is transcribed for the lazy. Thanks 08:24, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Why yes, we do! It's the regular new pages log that all wikis have. It's a little ugly at the moment, and sometimes junk gets in there when a bot chucks spam at us, so a nicer feed is in the works, but the linked one should do you excellently for now. When the nice one is done, you'll see it in the sidebar below the "Help" button. Davidy²²[talk] 11:31, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Navigation Pane Link - Categories[edit]

How about having a link to the "Special:Categories" page in the navigation pane?

A fair amount of effort has gone into categorising the comics, and at the moment it isn't particularly obvious how to browse by category. Is this worth doing? -- Pudder (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Space on the sidebar is on a premium. I dunno, I'd probably be against it, but I want to hear what other admins say as well. Davidy²²[talk] 16:45, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

Alternate realities what if would benefit from a wiki entry[edit]

The what if entry from the end of November 2014 providing excerpts from alternate reality what ifs would benefit from an explain page. I suspect these may have been typos that have been made into jokes, but some of the humor might not be apparent to all. I doubt I have access (or maybe know how) to set it up myself.

Cheers (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Made it. Check out What If: 120: Alternate Universe What Ifs. 17jiangz1 (talk) 09:10, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
We don't actually have a structure for what if pages in general, so I'll have to take that down, but when we do we can make pages for every what if. Davidy²²[talk] 09:57, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

Secondary URLs?[edit]

I have made http://www.xkcd.ga and http://www.xkcd.tk both forward to http://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page. Is this ok? 17jiangz1 (talk) 08:50, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

While we probably won't advertise them because we can't guarantee the uptime of third-party URLs, and they add an additional redirect layer and lack our shortened URL features, you're free to purchase and link URLs to us independently. We are not owned by Randall and as such cannot claim to actually be xkcd, so I'm not hugely comfortable with you using the plain name "xkcd" to link to us; a url in the format http://www.xkcd.[TLD] should by rights link to the main xkcd site, but no trademark claim has been made or likely will be made, so you should be fine with doing whatever you want to do with URL redirects Davidy²²[talk] 09:57, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

LaTeX (Or MathML, TeX) support?[edit]

In the most recent comic at the time of posting, there was use of formulae, being:
Fgravity = G m1m2/d2
Fstatic = Ke q1q2/d2
There are probably many more comics using formulae that cannot be rendered properly without the use of LaTeX or something. The help page on Wikipedia says that the following should work:

Provided that one has to set
$wgUseTeX = true;
in LocalSettings.php. Is there any reason for this to be disabled? If there is, is there any alternative? — 21:18, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
The wgUseTeX flag was deprecated in mediawiki 1.18 in a move to simplify base mediawiki and move niche features into seperate plugins. I vaguely remember this being requested in the past, can't find any evidence of me implementing it. I'll try it now, see what stopped me last time. Davidy²²[talk] 01:12, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
Ah, there's a bit of configuration work to it and I was busy at the time probably. I'll put it on the growing to do list on my userpage. Davidy²²[talk] 01:20, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

This problem is solved. --Dgbrt (talk) 12:03, 15 June 2018 (UTC)

Merge Cueball & Rob[edit]

At the risk of posting this idea too many places and annoying everyone, I would like to propose that we consider merging Cueball and Rob and redirecting Cueball to Rob, much as Cutie now redirects to Megan. The most common name given for a Cueball-like character in the strip is "Rob". Like Megan, he is not always named. Also, like Megan, Rob tends to have distinct characteristics such as being a nerdy alter-ego to Randall (e.g. 1168: tar) just as Megan often is the appearance given to comic representations of Randall's wife (see 1141: Two Years, before hair loss). Megan and Cueball appear to have a relationship (e.g. 159: Boombox) and Megan clearly hangs out with Rob in ways not inconsistent with adventurous couples (e.g. 782: Desecration). Finally, comics that feature both Black Hat and "Cueball" seem to depict them as friends and possibly roommates. However, we learn in 1102: Fastest-Growing that Black Hat's roommate is named "Rob".

In short, I believe if 159: Boombox had called "Cueball" "Rob" we would've rewritten both Cutie and Cueball to redirect there. Because we learned that "Cueball's" name is actually Rob much later (I think the earliest occurrences are 647: Scary, and 716: Time Machine; the first time he is seen with Megan in a capacity that might indicate a relationship is 782: Desecration). Djbrasier (talk) 19:05, 11 March 2015 (UTC)

As I answered your comment on 1496: Art Project Rob is already listed as part of the category for Comics featuring Cueball: and this is listed as the first entry when going to the page for Category:Comics featuring Cueball. Cueball is such an integral part of explain xkcd that I do not think any other users wish to change. Also the 9 incidences with Rob is maybe a specific person and at the time Randall did not think to give him any features. Also Cueballs have no specific behavior as you allude to. Neither has Megan. You can always find several Cueballs and Megans that behave a certain way. But then you can find many other comics where they behave the opposite way. Thus Rob and Cueball should not be merged. Also there are several comics with more than one Cueball. And here we have this problem: It is typically the first who writes the transcript who decides who of the Cueballs (or Megans) he feels represents the "real" Cueball. However, there is no real behavior of Cueball. So who should decide. I could change all these transcripts so it becomes the other character who becomes Cueball, because I think that the first transcriber did it wrong. And this is why in a comic with more than one Cueball (where neither is called Rob or the like) neither of the two should be called Cueball. It would still be in the category with Cueball, because that is just comics with a Cueball like character no matter how many. But they cannot be named Cueball and friend or Rob and friend (unless Rob's name is mentioned!) They could be called Cueball 1 and Cueball 2, but then guy or man would be better. I know several places have comics with two Cueballs where someone has designated one of them Cueball and the other friend of foe etc. But this should be corrected so none of these are called Cueball. Same should go for more than one Megan. But this is very rare, and I have only found one other than Art project and here only one Megan had any lines. The problem with different opinions on which Cueball is which came for the first time up with Megan in Art project: The two Megan-like characters was first named (left to right) Megan and Danish. Then unidentified girl and Megan. Then Megan and unidentified girl, then two Megan like girls with short and long hair and finally you reverted it to my first change away from Danish to unidentified girl and Megan. (I can live with that as there is difference in hair length and behavior). But as far as I see it Cueball is not Rob as well as Megan should have continued to be called Cutie (but I would not like to change that now, as I have grown fond of Megan). But at the time the change was done I believe it was wrong. The same fondness for the name Cueball also makes me sure that no one else would wish to call him Rob, even if that is as much his name as Megan is Cuties... --Kynde (talk) 21:57, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
My argument is that it is inertia and sentiment ("fond of Megan") that prevents an objective, equal treatment here. Djbrasier (talk) 22:47, 11 March 2015 (UTC)
Also, regarding the analogy made above to Danish. I am fine with a nickname when Randall hasn't named a character. So she was "unidentified girl" and then became "Danish". But, when we named her "Danish", we went back to "Journal 1" and other places and renamed her. My proposal is that we should go back through and rename "Cueball" as "Rob". Alternatively, we should reinstate "Cutie" for cases in which it is not clear that a character is "Megan" per se, but just Megan in her "everywoman" capacity. Djbrasier (talk) 00:00, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

I'm not sure how to post a poll, but I see the following options:

1) Status quo: Cueball for all unidentified males without distinct characteristics (e.g. hats), Megan for all shoulder-length brunettes. Rob only for named Cueballs. Multiple Cueballs in a comic mean one is named Cueball and others get named "Friend", etc.

2) Symmetry 1: Cueball/Rob stays as is. Unnamed brunettes get named "Cutie". "Megan" like "Rob" is reserved for comics in which a name is used.

3) Symmetry 2: Megan stays as is. Rob is the default for indistinct males. "Cueball" page redirects to "Rob" (as "Cutie" now redirect to "Megan").

4) Expunge all Cueballs from multi-Cueball comics: Basically the status quo, except that in comics with multiple Cueballs none are named "Cueball" and are just all given names "Man 1", "Man 2", etc.

I am ambivalent regarding options 2 or 3. I could live with 1 if there is consensus for it, but I don't like it. 4 is a disaster in my mind and gains nothing. Djbrasier (talk) 22:47, 11 March 2015 (UTC)

We are probably the only one who reads these post...? But anyway as is clear I'm for 4. Which has been used several places already.´I can live with 1. I think 2 and 3 are disasters. Also it would be completely confusing for those who have used this page for many years. Why do you bring this up now? Is it because of the multiple Megan comics, or have you just signed up here, and dislike that it doesn't follow the rules you would have expected?--Kynde (talk) 20:19, 12 March 2015 (UTC)
I suggest instead that we create a category for multiple Cueballs, so it is easy to explain why the Cueball is not a specific character, and thus can never be Rob (except when it is clear from the text), or be expected to behave a certain way. And in reverse we make a Named Megan category so it is easy to find the few (three?) where she has been named. This by the way has nothing to do with the other suggestions, so I might just do that to get an overview. --Kynde (talk) 20:19, 12 March 2015 (UTC)
It seems more consistent to me to use Cutie for all unnamed "Megans" and reserve "Megan" for named comics. Thus, Rob is a Cueball and Megan is a Cutie. Djbrasier (talk) 13:30, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
I've read through some of your discussions (Here, Kynde's talk page, Art Project discussion), and thought I might put my thoughts forwards. Essentially we have three questions here:
1) Should we merge Cueball and Rob, and rename all Cueballs as Rob?
2) Should we rename all Megans as Cutie, except where she is explicitly named?
3) Once questions 1 & 2 are answered, what do we do where the 'same' character appears multiple times in one comic?
  • I understand the objective argument for renaming Cueball to Rob, however I'm unconvinced of the importance of being entirely objective, and I can't imagine Cueball being renamed to anything other than Cueball.
  • I think its fairly clear where the Cueball label has come from, even if it might not be immediately obvious to some. Even if readers don't make the link between Cueball's head and a cue-ball, it is quite a generic label, which I think fits well with the transient every-man nature of Cueball's usage.
  • There is something far more specific about the name Rob, which suggests that he is the same character every time. The origin of the name isn't obvious, which I think would be likely to cause confusion.
This brings me to conclude that for me, the answer to Q1 has to be that Cueball should stay as Cueball, unless explicitly named something else.
The question of changing Megan to Cutie is one where I am less confident. Following the arguments I've made above, the outcome has to be that we rename to Cutie unless specifically named Megan, however I am not entirely convinced. The name Megan has a history, there are surely lots of people who now know her as Megan, what do we really stand to gain from all the work of changing to Cutie? I would also suggest that the name Cutie may not be accepted well by those with strong feminist views.
As far as multi-character comics, I don't have time right now, but I will come back later and add my thoughts. Now that we've only got a few incomplete comics, we've had to resort to discussing renaming characters!--Pudder (talk) 15:07, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree with the reasons for keeping Cueball and Megan. And also that Cutie is such a loaded word, that it should never have been used anyway. This I did not immediately think about, but Cutie sounds like something from either a porn movie, or else a Bond Babe... Like the phrase from one of those movies: "Hello, I'm Plenty..." Then we should have to find a third name. And everyone here knows her as Megan. --Kynde (talk) 13:24, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
I have created the Category:Multiple Cueballs to locate them and to show how often there are more than one. Feel free to add any I haven't found yet. --Kynde (talk) 09:45, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

I think Rob is Black Hat's roommate and Megan's boyfriend/partner/husband (see above). The "Cueball" in comics such as 159: Boombox and 542: Cover-Up should, in my view, be renamed "Rob", even though he is not explicitly called that in those comics. Most other "Cueball" comics can stay unchanged. Djbrasier (talk) 00:43, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

I have left my reason to disagree also with this on the two comics talk page. --Kynde (talk) 13:24, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

In my opinion, it is quite clear that Randall has chosen to name the main male protagonist Rob, for the few occasions where he needs characters to call upon each other, in the same way as he has chosen Megan for the main female protagonist. We should therefore try to overcome our nostalgia, follow Randall, and call the common male protagonist Rob. The problem with multiple cueballs can most often be resolved by identifying the protagonist, from the first-person narration or the general perspective. Thus, in 525: I Know You're Listening Rob is the comic's "I", to the left. In 1110: Click and Drag, Rob is obviously flying with a balloon. In 610: Sheeple Rob is arguably the guy in the foreground facing us. Non-Rob "cueballs" we could refer to as "friend" "man", etc. In this way roughly half of the "multiple cueballs" would be resolved. I think I can live with a few unclear cases, like 220: Philosophy. St.nerol (talk) 12:22, 19 March 2015 (UTC)

A featureless character has been specifically named Rob in 9 comics, compared with 968 'Comics featuring Cueball'. I believe it is fundamentally flawed to assert that because a featureless character is named Rob in less than 1% of appearances, that all featureless characters should therefore be assumed to be Rob. As I've discussed above, I think that Rob strongly implies a specific person, whereas Cueball is a vague 'everyman' character. I feel it would be a huge error to change all Cueballs to Robs.--Pudder (talk) 17:37, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
The problem with that logic is that "Megan" is only named in a small number of comics (fewer that "Rob"). So we should have a different name for an unnamed generic female. Cutie is fine, but if people perceive that as sexist, then another name, maybe "Cuegirl" or "Brunette" would work. (Side note: I doubt "Cutie" would be perceived as sexist and there's history there.) What I do find sexist is the fact that there is asymmetry between male and female "everyperson"s. In sum, I would say there is at less evidence to support naming Megan-everywoman "Megan" in all cases as there is to name Rob-everyman (here called "Cueball") "Rob" in all cases. Asymmetry here ignores the fact that Randall clearly intends his name to be "Rob" and also that we are using a proper name for everywoman but a contrived name for everyman, while creating an artificial distinction between Rob and Cueball and smearing out any possible distinction between Megan-everywoman and Megan-properName. Djbrasier (talk) 13:18, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
As I put in my earlier comment (see above), I do agree that the logical conclusion is that Megan should no longer be named Megan, and should have an equivalent generic name. As an aside, I'm quite partial to your suggestion of Cuegirl. I disagree with your assertion that "Randall clearly intends his name to be Rob", and I think that is the central point of this discussion. I don't believe that there is anywhere near enough evidence to assign a specific name to what I believe is a generic character. If we want to go for formal logic, consider the syllogism "Some non descipt characters are called Rob, there are many non-descript characters, therfore all non-descript characters are called Rob". The conclusion simply does not follow. --Pudder (talk) 14:22, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Great, I vote for Cuegirl & Cueball :: Megan & Rob! Djbrasier (talk) 01:31, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

I agree with Djbrasier's and St.nerol's arguments, and I too feel that the arguments against dealing with this in an objective, symmetrical and logical way seem mostly based on nostalgia. Either we agree that a few named instances of the everywoman are sufficient to generalize to the (vastly more numerous) unnamed instances, and apply the same standard to the everyman, which is only consistent (and even more justified in the case of Rob since he is named in more comics than Megan), or we decide that the extrapolation is unjustified and we revert the Cutie-->Megan merge. The alternative --having double standards and deciding things based on historical baggage and emotional attachment rather than rationality-- makes no sense for followers of the comic that literally invented nerd-sniping!

I'd also add that, as a non-native speaker, "cueball" doesn't ring any immediate bells unless the connection to cue balls is pointed out explicitly -- so actually Rob works even better as a generic name than Cueball. We have already agreed previously that clarity is better than cleverness when we named Hairy, forgoing the less obvious alliteration "Harry", so I vote we use the name Randall actually gave us, let go of our attachments to a creation he never endorsed, and honor our collective nerdiness by doing the logical thing: apply our standards uniformly and adopt Rob the same way we adopted Megan. --Waldir (talk) 06:09, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

I've already put my thoughts forward above, so I won't repeat the same ground I've covered, other than to say I believe it would be a mistake to turn all Cueballs into Robs. While I will admit to having some nostalgia for the name Cueball, that isn't a major facet of my argument. I believe that any generic name is better than a specific name. Call them Stickboy & Stickgirl if you want! I know there are a fairly significant number of contributors and visitors who do not have English as their first language, but I don't believe that is a reason to choose a specific name, rather than a generic name, even if the origin of the latter isn't immediately obvious to all. It would be interesting to know whether each of us sees Cueball as always being the same person, or Cueball *is* Randall, or Cueball is just a changeable everyman.
To me, he is a changeable everyman, who I guess may represent or be based on: Randall, his friends, family or acquaintances, famous people, someone he saw in the street, or a completely made up character used to fill a specific role in the comic. The reason I argue againt merging Rob & Cueball is that the Cueball I see is this morphing and fluid character, and to use a specific name to tie him down to being the same character all the time runs completely counter to that. --Pudder (talk) 08:31, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
Understood, and sorry for mischaracterizing your argument (the nostalgia part does cloud the discussion though). I suppose I would be somewhat ambivalent to either have Rob+Megan, or Cueball+Cutie -- Cuegirl doesn't work because she has hair :) --, in the interests of reason and symmetry. But I lean slightly towards Rob+Megan because those are names Randall actually gave us, while anything else is our own invention and thus has no claim to legitimacy other than popular support.
Particularly, while I understand your concern about shoehorning the various personality traits the Cueballs show in different comics into a single persona, that doesn't seem to have been a problem for Megan -- not to mention real people are indeed complex and multi-faceted beings (or "morphing and fluid", to use your terms) rather than one-dimensional caricatures. Heck, even Black Hat has his romantic side! :) So in light of that, I don't think we have to worry about ruining Cueball by naming him Rob -- if anything, that'd add more depth to him as a character! --Waldir (talk) 16:35, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
I'm still very much against changing things here. Call it nostalgia, but there are many users who will never read these arguments, who one day comes back and cannot find Megan or Cueball, and will ask who the heck are Cuegirl/Cutie. I'm completely with Pudder on the problem with giving Cueball the name Rob. It just doesn't make sense. I agree that we have a inconsistency with Megan. But then everyone who uses this page a few times, becomes familiar with that name. However the main problem with all your great ideas is this. Who should correct the either 984 pages where Cueball is mentioned because he is a part of it (and all the other pages relevant to him or where he is exactly mentioned because he isn't part of the comic) and/or who should do the same for 487 comics (plus loose pages) for Megan. Unless those in favor for changing the names will do this, then the discussion is moot. It is already clearly stated in the relevant pages that these two characters are generic and that they have been named but a few times. So what more can we do unless someone is willing to use several days to change this back. I sincerely doubt you can keep the correct syntax if you just try a brute force replacement? There are so many interconnecting links etc. --Kynde (talk) 13:21, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

I completely disagree with merging Cueball and Rob. Rob has Emily and Lisa as girlfriends, and Cueball has Megan. Rob also lives a more action-filled and stereotypical life compared to Cueball. --Youforgotthisthing (talk) 13:14, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

I think the main stances here are clear:

  • Keep as is
  • Rename Cuball to Rob
  • Change Megan back to Cutie/Cuegirl

Since keeping it status quo wouldn't change anything and is asymmetrical, I'll go over the others:

  • Rename Cueball to Rob - Arguments:
    • Randall gave him this name;
    • It would offer symmetry to Megan;
    • If the Cutie -> Megan logic is to be followed (as she was changed once named in the comics) then Cueball should be Rob;
    • Even though cueball is a generic everyman name, Rob seems more like a name you could give anyone and would be more recognizable to non-native English speakers.
  • Change Megan back to Cutie/Cuegirl - Arguments:
    • It would cause symmetry again, letting her have an everywoman name;
    • Nostalgia for Cueball;
    • Megan is not always the same character, so she should not always have the name Megan

I happen to agree with the idea of merging Cueball and Rob, but I'm not closed to the idea of Cutie/Cuegirl. The main problem is that these characters are typically interchangeable everymen/everywomen and there can be more than one in a comic. So another question is what we should do for multiple Cueballs/Robs. In my opinion, we should have all the comics with more than one depict them as Man 1, Man 2, etc. --Sensorfire (talk) 17:04, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

Well I disagree. The users are used to refeer to these characters now by these names. It is also impractical to try to change them all. Megan is rarely twice in a comic. Maybe she is more the same like Black Hat is. But it is made clear that they are not the same in every comic in their pages. If there are muliple Cueballs but one is the main protagonist then he us cueball. If none can be singled out then Cueball like guy to the left/right can be used. I have done that for tbose cases I have found so far (49 today).--Kynde (talk) 20:58, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

Well, somebody pointed out that the title text of 1783: Emails suggests that the Cueball in the comic is most certainly not Rob, and calling the main comic character 'Man 1' as above would be silly. And on top of all this, 'Cueball' occurs so much we would probably need to take a regex to every explanation in Category:Comics featuring Cueball. That's right, Jacky720 just signed this (talk | contribs) 14:50, 9 January 2017 (UTC)

Why hasn't anyone thought of the name "Hairball"? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Please don't forget to sign your posts. And everybody should read this first: Characters and Rob. For short: Rob is a named Cueball. --Dgbrt (talk) 11:57, 15 June 2018 (UTC)

How to fit explanations of new classes of xkcd-related mysteries into the site: what-if, t-shirts, posters, special comics etc.[edit]

I suggest that the explain xkcd page should explain how this site is laid out, and what sorts of things are explained here besides the online numbered xkcd comics that come out three times a week.

For example, there is the A Smarter Planet series, and there are ideas for explaining some of the What-If series. I'd like to add my explanation of the XKCD Greek t-shirt, with mathematical, scientific and engineering uses for greek letters and perhaps some other t-shirts, posters and the like.

But I can't even figure out how to find non-numbered-comic-explanations, without going thru the entire Special:AllPages listing, which includes a huge set of unnumbered aliases as well as the numbered ones.

I've taken a stab towards that by editing the About page to point to some categories (and to start with a little overview), but since I'm just poking around, I might have missed some things. Nealmcb (talk) 19:40, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Link to "Special pages" on main page[edit]

I think there should be a link to Special:SpecialPages on the main-page--17jiangz1 (talk) 11:55, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

Special pages is a default feature in every mediawiki installation. It's also in the sidebar of every page, and it's not relevant to xkcd. Why does it merit space on the main page? Davidy²²[talk] 18:56, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

Science comic[edit]

Should the Science Magazine comic be added? http://m.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154/58.full Mikemk (talk) 03:14, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

I think that would be a great idea. Could there be other copyright rules when the comic has been published on Science? It there anyway to find out if Randall also has a link to it from (or has it on) xkcd? As he has done with the other Extra_Comics. And how do we create such a page, if there can be no link directly to xkcd (at the top of the comic)? --Kynde (talk) 13:24, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

"what if?" section?[edit]

I would like to start a new "what if?" section explaining and discussing what if pages.--17jiangz1 (talk) 06:08, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

Why does it need to exist? The main xkcd comic needs it, because Randall tends to be obtuse at times, but the what if articles are sourced and written out already. Supposedly, they're already explanations to questions sent in to Randall. Why do we need to explain explanations? Davidy²²[talk] 06:29, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
Explaining them indeed seems unnecessary, but we could certainly catalog and summarize them. --Waldir (talk) 16:38, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
The images on what if? also have title texts that could further be explained, and we could organize what if pages by categories, as well as provide summaries. There are also subtle references, running gags, and in-jokes in What If? that should be explained.--17jiangz1 (talk) 08:44, 11 April 2015 (UTC)
This https://what-if.xkcd.com/120/ is a example of a what if that could do with some explanations.--17jiangz1 (talk) 08:47, 11 April 2015 (UTC)
That's one of 135 what-ifs, and it's entirely self referential and can be figured out by reading the rest of the archive. The substance of the majority of pages is going to be incredibly thin, Randall doesn't tend to leave much for explanation. Comics that are simple one-shot images are our least used pages for good reason, and the what-if images pretty much all fall into that category, or are used to illustrate Randall's point that he makes in the immediately preceding paragraph. We could archive/catalog all the what-if pages and be a second archive button for the series, though there's a little less value to that than the archiving we did for Time and Externalities because there's already an archive along the same lines on the main site. Davidy²²[talk] 19:14, 11 April 2015 (UTC)
I think the main value we could add is a summary (TL;DR style) of each entry, in a short Q&A format. --Waldir (talk) 12:13, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

If we are going forward with this, is there anyway to find the date in which the what if was first published?--17jiangz1 (talk) 09:01, 11 April 2015 (UTC)

At the bottom of the page, there's an archive button. Click that. Davidy²²[talk] 19:14, 11 April 2015 (UTC)

Well, fact is, the what if? page is much, much larger now. Nk22 (talk) 11:52, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

Thank you, Nk22! I've added a link from the About explain xkcd page. -- Nealmcb (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)


Hello there, just wrote a simple userscript that adds an 'Explain' button to the original xkcd.com


You can run it via Greasemonkey, Tampermonkey and other similar plugins :)

Screen Shot xkcd button.png

 -- Magazovski (talk)  (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Yeah, there's a few of these floating around. In the future, could you use an imgur link instead of uploading stuff like that to the wiki? Thanks. Davidy²²[talk] 18:02, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
So maybe explainxkcd should host & maintain one of them? --Magazovski (talk) 09:30, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
Why would we host an image hosting site? Davidy²²[talk] 23:17, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
He means we could host and maintain a userscript to help our fans get here from xkcd.... Nealmcb (talk) 14:36, 9 May 2015 (UTC)
Hum, that's not a bad idea. I'll put it on the list of things to do. Although, if they're already here, why do they need a userscript to help them get here? Davidy²²[talk] 00:34, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
For people who mainly view the comics through the official site, but sometimes need an explanation of the comic. --Pudder (talk) 09:23, 11 May 2015 (UTC)
I've started collecting helpful tools like these on a new page, to hopefully make them easier for others to find. – Yfmcpxpj (talk) 00:29, 8 November 2020 (UTC)

Updating the incomplete comic of the day[edit]

Currently, I think the incomplete comic of the day should be changed more often (i.e. daily), since the incomplete comics are piling up, and most users aren't seeing the notice, as it is dismissible.--17jiangz1 (talk) 11:40, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

While I agree that the comic of the day could be changed more often, I wouldn't say that the incomplete comics are piling up. Over the months I've been active here, the number of incomplete comics had fallen considerably. In fact if you check the comics which are still marked as incomplete, most of them are one where a significant effort would be required to complete them. For example the large comics (Money, Time, Congress) or dynamic comics (Externalities, Click & Drag, Pixels). --Pudder (talk) 15:32, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
Yeah. Of the 15 incomplete "pages," only 10 of them are actual comics that need the attention, and the full count is still dropping. I've been keeping it on single comics as of late because the remaining actual incomplete comics have been cycled through ~3 times already, with no significant effort made on them, because they're such monumental pieces of work. Making the message dismissable is by design, we are a service first and foremost, we're not trying that hard to make visitors do our work for us. Davidy²²[talk] 23:17, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Infrequently recurring minor charachters[edit]

Should we just group all of the characters that are not of enough significance to warrant their own character page into a single page (i.e. Other Minor Characters)? --Forrest (talk)02:58, 09 May 2015 (UTC)

See comic 1000 for a sample of what this entails. Also, what value to we stand to provide by cataloging every unique character that has appeared in xkcd? Does it help us explain the comics any better? Davidy²²[talk] 11:32, 9 May 2015 (UTC)

Comic page creation[edit]

Is comic page creation not automated? If it isn't, then Help talk:How to add a new comic explanation should be created.--Forrest (talk)14:19, 26 May 2015 (UTC) 14:19, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

Comic explanation was, at one point, automated. However, the bot ran on a schedule, and so sometimes there would be a few hours between a new comic being posted and the page getting created. Some editors just can't wait that long, so they do the bot's work before the bot even gets going. I agree that this page should be created and be kept up to date. Historically no one has read any of the help pages I've written. ;p lcarsos_a (talk) 17:42, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
However, I think that the page should be Help:Comic Explanation Page Creation. lcarsos_a (talk) 17:43, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

Re-proposing merging Cueball and Rob[edit]

Okay, so this was previously [discussed but I felt that it was worth bringing up again. Really, at this point, there's no logical reason why the two should not be merged, or Megan and Cutie should be un-merged. Rob and Cueball clearly seem to be the same person, at least when cueball appears as a specific character. In the instances where there are multiple Cueballs, we should just refer to them as Man 1, Man 2, and so on. Can we get a vote or something this time? Yes, I understand that Cueball isn't always the same character. But neither is Megan, and yet we always refer to the short black haired girl (formerly Cutie) as Megan. If that logic applies to her, it applies to Rob. It's pretty clear that Randall intended to name the character Rob, as most named Cueballs are named Rob and not Fred or something.

In short: Please don't bring nostalgia into this, it's really not relevant. Changing Cueball to Rob or Megan back to Cutie (or Cuegirl?) would have symmetry and make sense. Sensorfire (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I'm ok with dumping a marginal character page that only served to add confusion to character identification in new comics, but this was a subject of contention before so we probably need to see more of people's thoughts first. Davidy²²[talk] 01:03, 5 September 2015 (UTC)
I agree: let's list the arguments for both sides, ensure that everyone agrees with the objectiveness of that listing, and then vote. If there's support for this plan, and nobody does it first, I'll take a stab at producing a first draft of the summary. --Waldir (talk) 23:57, 14 September 2015 (UTC)
Randall is currently on a booktour. So, how about, instead of us (without the ability to read minds) arguing about his intention or who is/isn't the same character, someone go see him and ask? Then we'll know with absolute 100% certainty. WaltG123 (talk) 04:49, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Randall never called either character Cueball and Cutie so of course this is not his names. Asking him would make no meaning at all. For any user of xkcd it will create lots of confusion to change the names of Megan and Cueball now. Regarding Rob he is already listed as Cueball in his category. And Cueballs have been called other names several times. Rob is just the only one that has been used a few times. I agree that it may have been wrong to call her Megan, (the name has been used like three times?) Similar it is just as wrong to call Black Hat's girlfriend Danish, a nick name used once. But it is actually very nice to have a real name or at least useful name when speaking of characters. And it has also been mentioned that Cutie could be perused as a sexist name, so we should not move back to that. Well recently even Hairbun has her name changed from Hairbun girl since a user thought that was a problem given it most often was a grown woman. So I think we should stick to the solution of the previous debate and leave Cueball, Rob and Megan alone as they are! --Kynde (talk) 08:56, 29 June 2016 (UTC)

Adjective phrases[edit]

Overwhelmed with the need to be picayune, I am compelled to point out that on the homepage there is the sentence that begins "There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations..." This sentence contains a adjective phrase which should be hyphenated thus: "set-in-stone"

Please pretend that I have said something witty here, as I am too tired to think of anything funny. -- Gamewriter (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Is it actually grammatically wrong in it's current state? Huh. I guess I'll change it. Davidy²²[talk] 20:42, 1 November 2015 (UTC)
This is long after the fact, but I'll throw my two cents in on Davidy22's question. Yes, it is wrong. If the 'set in stone' phrase were after the word explanations ("explanations set in stone") it would not require hyphens, but used as an adjective before the noun ("set-in-stone explanations") it requires them. D Miller 18:26, 21 March 2016 (UTC)

Update MediaWiki[edit]

You are currently using MediaWiki 1.19.17. It's really outdated. Maybe update to 1.26.2, the current recommended stable version? There is an official guide for that. 12:03, 24 January 2016 (UTC) (PS my IP address is wrong it's not what you think it is)

Rename Hair Bun Girl[edit]

The character Hair Bun Girl was named in April 2015. There wasn't any discussion of the name at the time, so I'd like to open that discussion now please.

At present we have several other characters named after distinctive visual features: Ponytail, Black Hat, White Hat, Beret Guy, and arguably Hairy and Cueball. In all but one of those cases, the name matches the distinctive feature itself, without the addition of "guy", "girl", etc. Given the number of comics that Beret Guy is in it's probably too late to modify his name, but it's not too late for Hair Bun Girl.

Besides the consistency issue, there's also the inaccuracy of referring to a grown woman with the term "girl", particularly when the character has been presented as older than Megan. I'd really like to fix this while her number of appearances is still manageable.

The name "Hairbun" has been proposed and I think that matches really nicely with Ponytail in particular.

Jkshapiro (talk) 04:23, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

As the "guy" who created the Hair Bun Girl characther, I have no objection to changing the name. I did not think about the issue with girl/woman, probably because I'm not native English speaker. (And with the Beret Guy as an example). Jkshapiro was so kind as to ask my opinion before starting this discussion. At first I thought that Hairbun was a little weird, but then again so is Ponytail in this context. So I support the change to Hairbun! --Kynde (talk) 13:06, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

I vote change Hair Bun to Hairbun and keep girl. Mikemk (talk) 21:02, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

OK, I'm going ahead. Jkshapiro (talk) 02:47, 25 March 2016 (UTC)

Well as I said I would not mind, but you cannot say you got any other to agree with you on this though. Mimek wished to keep girl... It will be a huge job to get all the instances correct, also be careful no to change those places where the talk is of a girl who has a hair bun. You cannot just change all placed with hair bun girl to Hairbun, in case is actually says the hair bun girl about a small girl who has a hair bun! --Kynde (talk) 09:59, 25 March 2016 (UTC)
Seems no one cares, so I will remove the notes now. Great job Jkshapiro with changing the names. I like the new name now :-) --Kynde (talk) 22:35, 2 April 2016 (UTC)

Mobile friendly website[edit]

Can we get a mobile friendly version of the wiki? If we already have one, what about forwarding the main site to it when viewed on a phone? Mikemk (talk) 20:59, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Ditto. And/or an app. I would like to be able to keep track of which comics/explanations I have read. Calion (talk) 13:36, 31 July 2019 (UTC)

Install the MobileFrontend-extension on the wiki. Or is it more complicated than that? Dgbrt mentions "working on a real mobile version" below, under Tables vs bold text Coverbe (talk) 15:56, 7 January 2020 (UTC)

New categories[edit]

I think there may be a need to propose a standard way to decide on categories: what new ones are needed, what are the prerequisites for creating a new category, how to maintain new categories and make sure they are actually used when they apply etc. For now I have gathered all previous discussions about new categories under this section. -- Malgond (talk) 13:39, 17 February 2016 (UTC)

I think that whenever there are more than 4-5 comics that you wish to refer to in a given explanation because they are of the same topic as the current comic, then having a category is much to prefer rather than listing 5, 6 or 7 comics. I have made several categories for these instances, for instance for sport including the most used sports. At the time being I keep them up to date. One of the things this site does so well is giving you an easy way to find a specific comic even though you cannot remember the title of any precise quotes etc. If you just have an idea of what the topic was you might find it based on the categories. In this way I do not think we can have too many categories. As long as they describe a recurring subject. Only fault is that there seems to be no way to search for a comic based on more than one category? That would be great. In some cases even only 3 comics in a category can make sense. For instance I would be sorry to see this one go Category:Puts on sunglasses (and I did not make it!) --Kynde (talk) 13:09, 19 February 2016 (UTC)
For instance I have long wished for categories that covered all the space probe related comics, particularly all those referencing the Mars rovers. So today I made them with 16 and 9 comics in them already. Category:Space probes Category:Mars rovers. I hope people will generally think this was a great idea! :-) --Kynde (talk) 20:42, 20 February 2016 (UTC)
And Category:The Lion King... --Kynde (talk) 21:47, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

There are a lot of category creation proposals scattered everywhere. This concentrated proposal list is really hard to find. ClassicalGames (talk) 08:54, 3 May 2023 (UTC)

Category: Protip[edit]

Anyone for adding Protip as a Comic series. I have found five so far: 653, 711, 1022, 1047 and 1156. (There are also a few comics with a protip title text.) -- St.nerol (talk) 10:25, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

I think that qualifies as a recurring topic (thus worthy of a category), but not as a series, where you can see a clear sequence. In fact, My Hobby has the same limitation, for what I suggest it to be removed from Category:Comic series. --Waldir (talk) 11:42, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
Seconded. Looks general and common enough to be a category. Davidy22[talk] 14:57, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
Okay, great! Do you think that the ones with a "protip:" title text should be included? Besides, I think I might be the one responsiple for moving My Hobby from Comics by topic to Comic series. I felt that all the My Hobby comics were about different topics, but maybe i've got to narrow an interpretation of the word "topic". -- St.nerol (talk) 15:31, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
Can you link to the protip-in-title-text comics?
As for My Hobby, note that categories aren't mutually exclusive. They can be in the "my hobby" topic, and each of them further categorized as appropriate: music, math, etc. Makes sense? --Waldir (talk) 03:45, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
I just searched for protip in the xkcd search bar. Here: 1084, 427. And yes, makes sense. I've moved My Hobby back to "by topic". -- St.nerol (talk) 12:06, 5 January 2013 (UTC)

Category: Sports[edit]

How about creating a new "Sports" category? Ekedolphin (talk) 15:31, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Well, maybe. Everyone aren't so keen on new categories here. Which comics are you thinking of, for a start? –St.nerol (talk) 20:32, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
We definitely need to reach an agreement as a community on when to create new categories. Something simple like a minimum of 3 (or, say, 5) existing comics. Since we're already at the proposals' portal... what do you guys think about that? --Waldir (talk) 21:44, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
My opinion: Five would be enough to qualify. Ekedolphin (talk) 09:31, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
I vote for four. But it should also be a reasonable thing to categorize, like sports, not like "sports with Cueball containing at least three anagram words". Wich sholdn't be a problem. :) But the best name choice could be tricky sometimes. e.g. "Film & television", Film & TV", "Film", "Films", or "Movies"? –St.nerol (talk) 12:59, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, five should be enough to create the category without having to discuss it. - Cos (talk) 00:50, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
OK, let's start with 588, 1092, 904 and 1107. Should be able to find a few more. Ekedolphin (talk) 05:00, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, it's a broad subject so there are probably several more. -St.nerol (talk) 12:59, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
I found another one, sort of, in 929 (although it hasn't been explained yet). Should I get the ball rolling (no pun intended) on setting up the category? Don't wanna do it unilaterally and get yelled at.  ;) Ekedolphin (talk) 06:18, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
I think you should. On a wiki, getting stuck in discussions which die without a conclusion, to the point that motivated people give up without having done anything, is definitely counter-productive, and phrases like Wikipedia:Be bold are here to remind us of that. Seems like people agreed that you could, and after a while nobody said that you shouldn't, so I'd say do it. - Cos (talk) 00:50, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
I did it without looking here first, because it was obvious there were many sport comics. I have even created four under categories (only one was there before, Chess). There are 10 comics at present that are related to other sports than the five under categories. And given the way Randall thinks about sport (not very much) he still has plenty of comics about the subject. --Kynde (talk) 07:33, 14 February 2016 (UTC)

Category: Sex[edit]

I think we should also create a Sex category. There's no doubt we can find more than three examples. I'll start looking for them and post the ones I find in here; again, I don't wanna create a large category by myself without community consent. Ekedolphin (talk) 09:20, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Same as above, do it. Oh, already did; well, all the better. - Cos (talk) 00:53, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

Category: Flowcharts[edit]

Hello, the line "Randall has made use of flowcharts before." in today's comic explanation made me want a flowcharts category to navigate into...

As it didn't exist, I proceeded to create it, but as the log says, lcarsos deleted such a category in November, saying "Insufficient differentiation from Category:Comics with charts, diluting the depth of comics tagged charts".

I don't agree with that, and I think we could profit from such a subcategory. I found those pages fitting it:

So? - Cos (talk) 10:59, 5 April 2013 (UTC)

Weell if you're willing to take charge of the category and personally make sure it's added to all relevant comic explanations, go ahead. The usual objection to making new categories is that we admins can't remember all the categories when we're reviewing new explanations, but it's K if you're willing to take up that responsibility yourself. Davidy²²[talk] 11:17, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
OK. I did it without waiting for further replies, because I think it will be especially profitable today (to viewers).
It doesn't seem a big issue to me if the correct category is not added when a new explanation is made: a passing editor will do it later on... But hey, I'm OK with taking special care of adding pages to this category.
Cos (talk) 12:28, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
I just want to add that Cos' view is indeed the appropriate way to work in wikis: there is no concept of a single author for a page, category, or piece of text, and the workload is meant to be distributed among several editors: it is not necessary that any single editor remembers all existing categories, or knows the wiki markup by heart, or knows how to work with all the features of mediawiki, etc. The reason why wikis can be edited by anyone is precisely a recognition that there *will* be errors and any page can be improved somehow. That reasoning against categories should, IMO, be abandoned, or at most only kept as the opinion of some editors. --Waldir (talk) 22:00, 6 April 2013 (UTC)

Isnt there a page which lists all the categories? If not, there should be one, and it should be accessible to all. Such a page could be useful when trying to quick-add categories to comics. 13:43, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

Yes, there is. Special:Categories. Davidy²²[talk] 14:07, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Of course, there's a gazillion of 'em, over several pages, so I understand any reluctance to add new categories (having just suggested a new one myself which I feel is justified, but knowing that the upkeep needed may be the key point of contention so remaining philosophical about it).
A solution perhaps to carry over from another locale that I frequent is to have a "Categories of Character" page, a "Categories of Object" one, perhaps "Categories of Event", and a "Categories of Publication". For each new comic someone can easily check the shorter Character categories list against those present, the Object list against itemsin use, Events, etc, and of course the Publication one has the "Tuesday Comic"/equivalent, and other date-based ones (although isn't that automatic from templated creation? ...never added a comic, but would imagine it is). After that it's a trawl through the miscelania categories (perhaps a meta-category just for them?). But, yeah, a lot of work to set up. Wouldn't wish it on anyone who wasn't already willing to do it, and I remain an anon-IP person right now so can hardly commit myself as volunteer maintainer of this. 17:20, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

Category: (Barred/banned from?) Conferences[edit]

I come here after realising I erroneously posted (in reply) to the Main page Talk, being anonymous (or at least IP-only) and without a list of qualifying articles to support me, just yet, but still wish to put forward the above category before I forget. There's no apparent equivalent, that I found, but it's definitely a recurring meme. I should be back (named or otherwise) with my suggested list of members, if someone else doesn't get there first, but I thought I'd start with the placemarker. 16:41, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

Ok, so I got the bee in my bonnet and spent a few minutes actually looking into this. Revising "Barred from Conferences" (actually more often "Banned" or even "Thrown out of"/equivalent) to just "Conferences", the subset of comics that I can easily find that are involved is *153, *177, *365, *410, *463, *541, 545, 685, 829 and 867, but I'm sure there are more recent ones that I didn't spot/recall. One alternative title to "Conferences" is "Presentations", and I'm sure if I'd searched for that I'd have found more potential candidates (less some that might exit the renamed category). The asterisked ones do deal with being barred/banned/thrown out/etc, making it still a suitable category in its own right, IMO, but I'll leave it up to your combined musings to decide. 17:07, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
I add 690 to the list. --Chtz (talk) 08:12, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
Great suggestions! I created Category:Public speaking and Category:Banned from conferences. I also added Wikipedian Protester to the mix, of course :) --Waldir (talk) 21:59, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Category: Wishes[edit]

Several comics now exist that talk about wishes - probably more. Should there be a category for this? Z (talk) 23:22, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

Doesn't seem significant enough. If you promise to maintain the category you can make it yourself, although it will be cleared out if it gets neglected as new comics are released. Davidy²²[talk] 15:20, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

Category: Artificial Intelligence[edit]

Hello world.

There are a handful of comics involving Ai - 1540, 1530, 1450 and 948 for instance - and maybe it's an idea to give them their own category -- Nk22 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The usual objection to new categories is that they get abandoned and are too narrow for other people to think of picking them up. If you're going to own it and update it with new comics, you can make it. Davidy²²[talk] 21:01, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

Category: Size Comparisons[edit]

There are numerous comics comparing sizes of things. I can't get a list right now, but off the top of my head, radiation dosages, money, today's comic, and space shuttles in horses. Mikemk (talk) 19:23, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

Category: Katamari Damacy[edit]

There are quite a few comics about this game. DPS2004 (talk)

Category: Mycology[edit]

6 comics so far reference mycology/mushrooms. I might be a bit biased, but there's other categories like butterfly nets that have the same amount of comics. Also, destroying angels are a huge part of the What-If chapter (book-exclusive) about losing your DNA. It should probably be a subcategory under Biology.

Here is the list (what I found so far at least):

2307 - fungi on the chart

2246 - fungi in the title text

1991 - mycology is a subject on the chart

1904 - see above

1749 - comic is about mushrooms

1664 - comic is about mycology Mushrooms (talk) 07:23, 12 May 2022 (UTC)

Eh sure if you're keen enough on it Davidy²²[talk] 08:30, 12 May 2022 (UTC)

Category: Versions[edit]

I've noticed that a recurring subject in xkcd is comics which list versions of a real thing, only some of which are real. Closer to the end of the list, the versions get more and more crazy.

Here are some examples I've found:

Let me know if you have any objections or suggestions for this category. Thanks! PDesbeginner (talk) 14:30, 22 June 2024 (UTC)

Another example: 2848: Breaker Box

Category: Ghosts[edit]

I've also noticed several comics featuring ghosts, but not Ghostbusters. These could become a category, and maybe Ghostbusters could become a sub-category of it.

Here are some examples:

Let me know if you have any objections or suggestions for this category. Thanks! PDesbeginner (talk) 16:49, 22 June 2024 (UTC)

Category: Comics with Hidden Images[edit]

There are a couple of comics I've read that have hidden images in them. They are 1000: 1000 Comics and 1213: Combination Vision Test. This might seem small, but I think it should be a category. PDesbeginner (talk) 20:20, 22 June 2024 (UTC)

Category: Crystal spheres[edit]

Three comics that I have read (2121: Light Pollution, 2765: Escape Speed, and 1189: Voyager 1) mention or include crystal spheres. PDesbeginner (talk) 16:50, 23 June 2024 (UTC)

Adding Ratings for Explanations[edit]

I found today's explanation excellently written however that is not always the case. Frequently explanations are walk through of the conversation that are too wordy without any succinct explanation of why or how a strip is funny -- while many of those low quality explanations are not strictly "incomplete" they could benefit from a careful rewrite. I was wondering if we should add a rating tool such as " Was this explanation helpful? yes/no " so as to identify explanation that could benefit from improvement without having to be tagged as "incomplete". Spongebog (talk) 17:57, 8 March 2016 (UTC)

We have a rather prominent discussion page for feedback, do we really need an additional add-on for this? I did a little research and found that other wikis use semantic rating and article ratings, which I can install if enough other users want it. Davidy²²[talk] 05:54, 26 March 2016 (UTC)

New Speculation Sections[edit]

I often see a lot of speculation and conjecture within the explanation of the comic itself. I don't think it has any place in the explanation but I know many editors enjoy speculating and interpreting the comic and the meaning behind it so I've decided to start this discussion on whether we should provide a section where we can provide different speculations.

What I am thinking would not be like the discussion page, where comments are made and discussed, but an edited and reviewed section which outlines different speculations and interpretations of the comics themselves and perhaps even the author's intent.

Of course tone and presentation should be held to the same standards of the comic explanation but I think this would be a good way to better organize a review of the comic.

I have been away too long to remember if there are any comic explanations with something like this so I have no idea how well it would work.

As an example;

This part from comic 1642: Gravitational Waves

" It seems that Randall knew in advance about this announcement because this comic was published on a Thursday, not following the normal publish schedule, to coincide with the announcement "

Is well supported, and rather likely correct, conjecture which belongs in the body of the explanation because not only is it backed by strong evidence but it provides background on the comic and the time in which the comic was released and aids in understanding the comic itself.

However, this part from comic 478: The Staple Madness

"From just reading the comic by itself, one may presume that in the last panel, Cueball has been stapled to the ceiling (as obvious evidence to Megan that Beret Guy has indeed been abusing her staple gun). According to the comic's official transcript, however, it is in fact God who is speaking."

Is almost as equally well supported and certainly a valid interpretation of simply the comic. It is only refuted by the official transcript. I believe it is important to acknowledge and may even be a more humorous interpretation than the one which is provided by the official transcript.

If we added a speculation section (or something of the sort) then we would have a place to talk about this interpretation more freely and expound upon it more.

Lackadaisical (talk) 15:16, 13 May 2016 (UTC)

Problem is the whole "explanation" is actually conjecture. None of us the author, we're all just guessing. Jkshapiro (talk) 15:23, 13 May 2016 (UTC)
Many of the current explanations are conjecture, that's true but not every explanation. Providing information on the science or mathematics behind a particular comic is not conjecture. Stating whether the author intended to belittle the field or state that one field is superior over another (unless fairly explicitly stated) is. And there are many things which can be inferred without being simple speculation. Not every comic would need a section like this, and not every comic needs a trivia section, and I'm not ready to start adding this proposed section myself. But I think it should be considered. Lackadaisical (talk) 15:35, 13 May 2016 (UTC)
The intention of the discussion pages was to serve as a place for people to put their conjecture and reaching interpretations of the comics. They're presented alongside the explanation to make people's interpretations more readily visible. Some people may have trouble distinguishing an ungrounded interpretation of a comic from an explanation of it, and they will insert weak text into explanations. If you find something you disagree with, feel free to bring it up in the discussion section and edit it out of the explanation liberally Davidy²²[talk] 06:17, 17 May 2016 (UTC)


Hello everyone. I was just wondering: is there anything on http://uni.xkcd.com/. Because I was just looking and the only thing I found on Unixkcd is a mention of a bug in 1350. There is not even a mention on the April fools article.

There's nothing on this site, there's a couple of novel tidbits on the xkcd site that are at best tangentially related to the comic, as Randall originally intended to make xkcd.com his personal site for hosting his own projects. That particular one doesn't show up in any comics. Also, proposals might not be the best place to put this. Davidy²²[talk] 08:46, 21 May 2016 (UTC)
I added the unixckd information to 721: Flatland. According to Randalls Øredev 2013 talk unixkcd was the April Fools' prank for April 1st 2010. Condor70 (talk) 09:00, 1 December 2017 (UTC)

New character category for blonde woman news reporter (from 1699)[edit]

From today's comic 1699: Local News I just got the idea that there may be needing a new category for either blonde woman and/or comics with news reports. I posted this post, in the talk page of that comic. Any comments, and if agreeing that there might be one or two different character categories needed then please suggest what they should be called. --Kynde (talk) 21:00, 27 June 2016 (UTC)

Agree with Blondie as new character name and with adding a category for news reports. Jkshapiro (talk) 00:47, 28 June 2016 (UTC)
Agree with new character category for Blondie --Lackadaisical (talk) 12:38, 28 June 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the replies. Could be nice with a few more chipping in. One issue I just found is Miss Lenhart and ambiguous situations like in comic 59: Graduation, where I would remove the miss reference. But then miss would be a sub category of Blondie (or Blonde? which Randall cals the girl in 59) as Rob is for Cueball... --Kynde (talk) 21:07, 9 July 2016 (UTC)
I think blondie is fine for a name. Miss Lenhart is another character who uses a similar design so I think treating her like Rob is perfectly acceptable. The only thing more I think we should discuss is the role blondie plays in most of the comics (Like how cueball is an everyman, whitehat is often a strawman, Blackhat is blackhat etc.) Lackadaisical (talk) 12:04, 13 July 2016 (UTC)
There are also these two that looks like Blondie: Mrs. Roberts or her daughter Elaine Roberts. I think this is part of why no one has made the category, as there are already three named women with the same hair. But there are so many other comics with this kind of woman, that I think she should be created. I hope I will get the time, but if anyone has any other ideas than just calling them "Blondie" and letting the other three be an subcategory like Rob is of Cueball then say so now before anyone creates Blondie. --Kynde (talk) 11:19, 24 August 2016 (UTC)
Agree with new character category and characters with the same appearance as sub-categories Lackadaisical (talk) 18:04, 24 August 2016 (UTC)

Based on the discussion she is now called Blondie --Kynde (talk) 07:27, 10 September 2016 (UTC)
And now there is also a Category:News anchor with 15 entries already. --Kynde (talk) 10:22, 10 September 2016 (UTC)

fix a page[edit]

The page Comics featuring Summer Glau is missing: https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php/526:_Converting_to_Metric (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Done. In the future, you can add categories yourself, just scroll to the bottom and follow the template the others go by. Davidy²²[talk] 03:56, 7 July 2016 (UTC)

New xkcd book out.[edit]

Any chance of posting a section of explanation pages for the cartoons in the new xkcd book, hopefully explaining some of the cryptic red notes? Thanks! (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Business Plan category[edit]

I propose renaming Category:Beret Guy's Business into Business Plans, and adding it to 1721: Business Idea Mikemk (talk) 08:15, 17 August 2016 (UTC)

(Note I added a ":" to your category link to show the link instead of adding this page to the category. --Kynde (talk) 10:43, 10 September 2016 (UTC))
No of course not, that comic is about Cueball. This is Beret Guy's business we are talking about here. This category is not about business idea but about what Beret Guy does just like the page with Category:Strange powers of Beret Guy. Both are used in the explanation of who he is. --Kynde (talk) 10:43, 10 September 2016 (UTC)

Comics with header text[edit]

Several comic have some header text, such as 851 or 1052. Shouldn't there be a category for them or something? I think it is quite a notable feature. Jaalenja (talk) 15:23, 16 September 2016 (UTC)

I feel like it's not a particularly defining feature, it feels like making a category for comics that have frames with no borders or something, it's just a technique Randall uses. Davidy²²[talk] 07:35, 21 September 2016 (UTC)
To me it feels more like a second title text. It is not technically part of the comic itself, but is a separate piece of information included with it on the xkcd website. There is a category for comics without title text, this is the same, only reverse, in my humble opinion Jaalenja (talk) 07:13, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

purpose of detailed transcripts[edit]

There are two styles of comic descriptions in the transcripts. Some are fairly terse, giving only the information required to understand the comic (e.g. "Cueball is talking to Megan, who looks excited"). Others give lots of graphic details, as if one should be able to reconstruct the picture from the description (e.g. "Cueball, on the left, is talking to Megan, on the right. His left hand is pointing to her. Megan's arms are raised above her head and her excitement is shown by short lines around her head..." and so on). The former style used to be the norm, the latter has become increasingly common in recent months.

Being visually impaired, I am extremely pleased with the terse style of transcript, and have no interest in the verbose style. To me it is useless and sometimes fairly annoying. Of course, this is a community and I can happily live with it if others find it useful.

So, I'd like to know who needs detailed, graphical transcripts, and for what purpose? Were they requested by some users, or did those writing transcripts just decide to adopt this new style? If there is a clearly identified reason for describing pictures in detail, fine. If not, I vote for switching back to the old, terse style.

Zetfr 14:10, 27 September 2016 (UTC)

Sorry we did not see this at the time. As we can see you finally found ears for you comment after 1798 and a new discussion has begun on my user page. (Should probably have been here?) But anyway I'm responsible for your problems, and I will try to write less in the transcript and add "other important" either below in the trivia or below the main comic (as maybe - Detailed image description...) It was meant as a way to search for any thing in the comic if you needed it. I guess most people do not read the transcript, so of course annoying if it is not useful for those who always need to read it. --Kynde (talk) 16:21, 17 February 2017 (UTC)

Rename Science Girl "Jill"[edit]

Following the Precedent of "Megan" and "Danish" (but oddly enough not Rob), I propose that we rename Science Girl Jill, as per 1662. This could serve to give her an easier name and to use in cases where the character doesn't have a connection with science but seems to be the same girl. Sensorfire (talk) 18:19, 26 October 2016 (UTC)

The only time she's called Jill is in Jack and Jill comics (of course), and the only reason you'd want to do that is since Randall displays them similarly. In some cases Science Girl is even clearly older. We might do that if there was a Child-Blackhaired-Ponytail character, but these characters are always either Science Girl or Jill. Also, Jill has very, very few appearances anyway. Jacky720 (talk) 21:37, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

Make an official transcript site[edit]

I've already taken the liberty of making {{transcript}}, and think we, together, can do better- which is why I'm implementing this site, in order to display the official transcript in its intended format. However, it is bugged, and could do better if moved to explain xkcd. Is anyone in on this? Jacky720 (talk) 21:36, 2 December 2016 (UTC)

The transcript site doesn't seem to be accessible. Is the project dead? If it's not I can try to help. Errpell (talk) 21:06, 11 July 2017 (UTC)

HTTPS Links Back to XKCD Interfere with Random Button[edit]

The Links back to the comics that are present just above the comic itself on the wiki pages (and adjacent to the next and previous links) provides an HTTPS link back to XKCD. However, this interferes with users who want to click that link, and then click `random` - because `c.xkcd.com` does NOT support HTTPS, and thus clicking 'random' after returning to xkcd from explainxkcd does not work. These links should be switched back to HTTP.

--9000 volts (talk) 21:15, 13 December 2016 (UTC)

Rearrange for our visually impaired friends.[edit]

I have a great friend who is blind and he uses this site to "read" XKCD so we can talk about it. However, there are two things that he finds frustrating. The first, while it means no harm and most readers gloss over it, when listening to the content of the page every day it can become demeaning to hear "it's because you're dumb" every time. I certainly agree, I use explain XKCD because I am significantly dumb-er than Randall, but my friend uses it because he's blind. This is not that big of a deal, but a friendly suggestion.

The second suggestion is to move the transcript section to the top before the explanation so as not to spoil the content of the comic with user explanation right away--in the case that those listening to the article are in fact smart enough to get the joke before needing an explanation.

Thanks for your consideration.

Incomplete in spotlight[edit]

The incomplete comic in spotlight should be changed more often, the current one is not even incomplete. Dontknow (talk) 16:52, 31 March 2017 (UTC)

Duplicate Navigation tools at bottom of page (please!)[edit]

I'm enjoying revisiting xkcd canon through the lens of Explain, but frustrated that after studiously reading through the explanation and discussion, I have to scroll back up to the top to get to the Next button. What would the harm be in duplicating the buttons at the foot of each page? Thanks for considering this. Regards

That would be nice, would help a lot. Also, please sign your comments with four tildes. Dontknow (talk) 19:46, 2 May 2017 (UTC)

I really would like this. And it seems simple enough to add, without seriously degrading the existing interface. 05:13, 10 January 2024 (UTC)Murray/NJ

JSON endpoint[edit]

There is a endpoint to retrieve information about the comics on the xkcd website. However the info there is not complete, specially when it comes to the transcripts. explainxkcd should provide a similar interface. It would be very useful specially for bots/scripts. The commmunity could help completing the information on the xkcd website and/or provide a new interface. The transcript are already retrieved from this website and a copy can be found here. If there isn't already a complete file or databse with all the information, this file could help building it. However, this document has been compiled by scraping the html of explainxkcd, so there's some errors in it. These errors can be avoid with a clear and easy to access interface like JSON, similar to what is available on the xkcd website. Errpell (talk) 20:43, 11 July 2017 (UTC)

Maybe there is a mediawiki addon to support a JSON file. Any ideas? --Dgbrt (talk) 19:08, 1 August 2017 (UTC)

Suggestion for small improvement to interface[edit]

Am I the only one that wishes the Previous / Next buttons were repeated at the bottom of the page? After reading the explanation, I often want to go to the next one in sequence. (Obviously, I don't check this wiki every day :) Scrolling back to the top isn't hard, but having the buttons near the bottom would make navigation easier.

Hope you agree! Murray in NJ

PS: Aha! I see others have suggested the same thing :) (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

This was also mentioned before. I don't agree because the layout is based on the original xkcd site. Protip: Do not "scroll back", just use your keyboard. The magic key is called "Home". --Dgbrt (talk) 19:14, 1 August 2017 (UTC)

Category for The Little Prince?[edit]

How many comics need to feature/mention a certain thing before we need a category?

I think there are enough featuring the Little Prince to deserve a Category of its own.

mediawiki things[edit]

could admin please update to the latest version of mediawiki and add the timeless skin, thx. also would help if you added line-height: 1.5em to the edit box (#wpTextbox1) while making it taller to compensate, or added the 2010 code editor to aid readability. 11:50, 4 January 2018 (UTC)

The state of "incomplete" explanations and an unified policy[edit]

Hello, everybody. Recently I went through the "incomplete" explanations and I saw several problems... I think I better split this into sections.

1) Many seemingly old and complete explanations are marked either with various creative variations of the auto-generated tag or something along the lines of "rough draft". I have personally removed several incomplete tags during the last days, sometimes adding few information before doing so, but usually not. But there are so many of them and it just would not feel right to take it upon myself to reap them all, so, if anyone can spare a few minutes to quickly scan them and remove (or update, in some cases) the tags, it would be nice. Here is a list of explanations with this particular problem, for convenience: 1874, 1906, 1908, 1912, 1915, 1919, 1925, 1926, 1929, 1930, 1937

1940 and 1941 also seem complete IMO, but given how recent they are, they could be given some time.

2) Some incomplete tags seem like abuse of the feature. 1909 is probably the best example of this. Table might be nice, but it is not necessary to explain the comic, it would be just "gilding". There is nothing wrong about perfecting complete articles, but marking an article incomplete because someone got an idea how it could be done (and is too lazy to do it themselves) should be discouraged IMO. Other examples: 1904 - here I actually disagree with the proposal - why should information that does not represent percentages be represented using them? - but that's my personal view. 1895 - this one is asking for further perfection of a perfective information. 1688 - a huge example, asks for something that would require quite a lot of effort without helping anyone understand the comic, a cool project, but not needed for the article to be complete. 1701 - I really don't think this is necessary and the explanation is already twice the size I'd expect for such simple comic (*obligatory personal opinion disclaimer*).

3) Some tags are just... vague. 1856 and 1733. "Someone could maybe improve this" applies to pretty much everything in the universe, sorry.

4) A policy proposal. Here comes the second half of the topic title. There appear to be two conflicting schools of thoughts among editors. Some seem to prefer long, meticulously detailed explanations. Others, including myself, prefer short and concise explanations. On more than one occasion, this has led to mess, so I think there should be some official policies about what kind of information should be considered considered necessary, useful, and superfluous. Obviously, every comic is different, and defining hard rules for this is impossible, so maybe "guideline" is a better word than "policy" here. Here are some suggestions about what this guideline could contain (please, take this as a "sub-suggestion", if a guideline gets accepted, but will end up containing nothing out of this, I will still be happy):

  • NECESSARY: named people, groups, organizations, websites, works of art, geographic locations etc. should be briefly introduced, unless they can be presumed to be universally known (e.g. Google, Shakespeare, New York). Obscure words should be defined. Scientific and technical terms should be explained.
  • SUPERFLUOUS: recursive explanations - an explanation that mentions concepts that themselves need explaining, but were not relevant to the comic itself.

I guess that's it. Maybe a little disclaimer that I don't have much time now, so I may not be here to further lead this discussion. Maybe I should have waited with posting this when I do have time, but that may not be for a long time, so for what it's worth, here it is. --Jaalenja (talk) 12:16, 13 January 2018 (UTC)

Your "policy (or guideline) proposal" is that what's widely excepted here. There are some overwhelming explanations and you are welcome to help on more precise writings. But in general there is no censorship here, less important content may be moved to a trivia section below the transcript. Irrelevant content (who decides that?) may be moved to the talk page with a given reason. I'm also a fan of "short and concise explanations" but who will judge what this really is? Further more I really dislike many of those tables, it's bad layout. But changing this takes a lot of work. Dgbrt (talk) 13:51, 19 May 2018 (UTC)
The main reason why I want there to be an official policy is so the process of marking explanations as complete can be more straightforward. There would be a community-approved list of things an explanation needs to contain, if an explanation has all that, it is complete. Of course there would still be lot of room for interpretation because every comic is different and coming up with rules that fit all is impossible, but I believe this could still be a massive improvement over the current state.
Also, please, when I say something is merely a sub-suggestion, I mean it. Your reply gives me the feeling you understood my proposal as something along the lines of "We should make it an official policy that explanations should look like this:", whereas it was more along the lines of "There should be an official policy about what explanations should contain. Here is an example of what such policy could maybe look like:" Jaalenja (talk) 06:49, 22 June 2018 (UTC)
In general I don't think this is a big issue. The vast majority (99%) of the comics is not marked as incomplete and those you are citing here should be discussed at the corresponding talk pages. Thus I don't see a massive improvement anyway.
However we can enhance the proper section at the Editor FAQ by one or two concise sentences. But when you say "There should be..." nothing would happen; that's why I say: "We should make it". --Dgbrt (talk) 09:36, 23 June 2018 (UTC)

Tables vs bold text[edit]

There are many, many, many comics with several things mentioned in the comic that need to be individually explained, and there are two ways we can do it, one being tables (for example: 1930: Calendar Facts), the other being using bold text to separate paragraphs into sections (for example: 1972: Autogyros). The thing is for the most cases, it seems like we should be using tables, but then using bold text to seperate paragraphs looks better, and is also easier... So when should we use tables, and when bold text? Herobrine (talk) 12:20, 15 June 2018 (UTC)

IMHO we have far too much tables - a structured floating text is much easier to read. Consider this:
  • A List of all planets in our solar system with a few columns for distance (in km, mi, and AU), size, and temperature. That's a classical table.
  • The table in 1930: Calendar Facts contains far too much text in many cells. Try to read this on a smartphone. And furthermore on my Google Chrome for Android all the tables from this comic are not shown at all when using the Simplified View.
  • Or compare this: 1363: xkcd Phone and 1549: xkcd Phone 3. I prefer the floating text and even more when I'm using a mobile device.
But that's only my opinion.
Nevertheless I'm also working on a real mobile version of this Wiki (similar to Wikipedia) and that will require some restrictions to the layout to get it properly rendered. But this will not happen before the FIFA World Cup 2018 is over ;) --Dgbrt (talk) 13:17, 15 June 2018 (UTC)
Agreed. Narrow columns with simple facts are ok, but longer text should not be put in a table. --SlashMe (talk) 10:15, 18 June 2018 (UTC)
I second this. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 11:22, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
Please check also this new Editor FAQ and the belonging talk page. --Dgbrt (talk) 13:04, 27 August 2018 (UTC)
Any updates? (Why) is it not just a matter of installing the MobileFrontend-extension? :) (See also above: Mobile friendly website) Coverbe (talk) 16:01, 7 January 2020 (UTC)

Add the comic to the edit page[edit]

While editing the explanation, it would be nice to be able to see the comic on that same page, especially for the transcript. (it's difficult for mobile editors to see two pages at once)

Please sign your comments, and that’s not possible from what I know, considering how this website is set up. (I can still edit fine on mobile) Netherin5 (talk) 13:49, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

Dark theme/night mode[edit]

Should I explain this?

It's for all of us who edit the wiki at 1am and like our retinas.

Firefox has a Dark Theme Extension, and it looks pretty good on the Wiki. Chrome does too, but I haven't tried it out.

Change dates to match ISO 8601.[edit]

Can we change the timestamps to match 1179: ISO 8601? I'm surprised this hasn't been suggested earlier 9yz (talk) 20:33, 5 April 2019 (UTC)

Add bookmark[edit]

I have used some simple javascript to create a bookmarklet that automatically opens the wiki-page of the xkcd page that you are reading. I would like to provide it on the wiki. It works as follows.

1. Make a bookmark, give it a recognizable name. 2. For the url, enter the following: javascript: document.location = document.URL.replace('xkcd.com','explainxkcd.com'); 3. Create the bookmark. To use it, open any xkcd page and click it to go to the corresponding wiki page.

Thanks for considering. Kwonunn (talk) 18:27, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

Thanks Kwonunn! I've started collecting these helpful tools on a new page, to hopefully make them easier for others to find. – Yfmcpxpj (talk) 01:30, 29 September 2020 (UTC)

Regarding using facebook like and google captcha - Privacy concerns[edit]

Considering that they track users across various sites, it is not in the best interests of the users' privacy.

https://complianz.io/google-recaptcha-and-the-gdpr-a-possible-conflict/ - This article explains the issues better than I can.

Especially the users who use VPNs affected more - it takes noticeably longer and more tries to pass the google captcha. Preventing/dis-incentivizing new contributors from behind a VPN. There is anecdotal evidence (in the form of reddit posts) that google captcha discriminates firefox users and allow chrome users to get simpler challenges or none at all.

The Facebook like button is an iframe. Users visiting this page(s) have not explicitly consented to being tracked by facebook and google.

I am speculating here, but from the amount of data these two items are gathering, it seems possible to de-anonymize the users who are behind a vpn. I don't trust either of these companies to not grab the free data. In the article listed above, it seems captcha alone can capture a screenshot of the pages without users' (explicit) consent. I haven't read through all the privacy and terms.

Captcha is necessary for avoiding spam. There are alternatives. Anything but google one should suffice. Regarding the facebook like button, I think that should be replaced by a link to the facebook page. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think this can be done only by admins, who are currently absent from this wiki. However regarding the Captcha, there is an easy fix: Register here, and log into your account (an one-time e-mail address is sufficient, if you are worried about your privacy). Also please sign your comments to talk pages and other discussions (such as this) - It will not show the IP related to you/your VPN, but one from cloudfare, so it will also not hurt your privacy, but automatically put a timestamp, etc.
A different CAPTCHA is definitely needed. In my harded version of Firefox Google ReCAPTCHAs won't even work, so I need to open a different profile to edit Explain xkcd. CyanDinosaurDuck (talk) 22:21, 31 January 2022 (UTC)

Removing unnecessary 3-comic categories?[edit]

I count eight categories on explainxkcd that satisfy the following properties: 1. They have only three comics in them. 2. They aren't really a comic series; they just feature or reference a comic theme. 3. They aren't Featuring some person or character. In short, they seem to have no real reason to exist. (They're thesones.) So my proposal: remove them. -Account (talk) 20:37, 9 November 2019 (UTC)

In addition, there are thirteen more four-comic categories that also seem rather in need of deletion.
Shouldn't the community at least have some time to expand on these categories, in case they're currently incomplete? For example, Category:The Matrix is on your list and now contains 7 strips, and Category:Tournament bracket got its 5th entry after your post. Even if they're not, a theme category can save some typing in the search box (and is probably also cheaper in terms of server resources than all the searches it'll eliminate). Promethean (talk) 22:43, 21 November 2019 (UTC)
So what do you think the limit should be for categories? Should we create a category when two comics mention the same topic? Three? --Account (talk) 16:28, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Three seems reasonable to me, and I could see a case being made for two. Categories aren't expensive. Promethean (talk) 00:17, 23 November 2019 (UTC)

New transcript[edit]

The transcripts in the comic pages are quite inconsistent, especially in the brackets where you have to describe what happens in the panels. If I understand correctly, the transcripts are for people to copy the text in the comic without having to type them out. If that's the case, then I think propose a new transcript. This transcript should have the comic with the words erased, and then the copy-pasteable words on top of that. Such a transcript would have no room for error, which would let anyone contribute to a seamless transcript.

The aim of the transcript is to provide a text-only version of the comic that would allow someone who is visually impaired to use a text-to-speech converter to understand the comic and also in a machine readable format for searching (see the Editor FAQ). Anything using mark-up, images or anything other than plain text will interfere with this and so should be avoided in the transcript. AlChemist (talk) 18:22, 23 November 2019 (UTC)

Add title text and heading to transcript section[edit]

It has always bothered me that the transcript did not include the title text since it contributes so much to the humor of the comics. Also, it looks to me like the comic heading is sometimes included as part of the transcript and sometimes left out. I checked the previous proposals and did not see any discussion of these issues. Please consider having a policy going forward of including the heading and the title text within the transcript. Rtanenbaum (talk) 22:43, 1 January 2020 (UTC)

To my understanding (and also others, see discussion directly above) one of the main points of the transcript is to make the comics searchable, the other is, to make it readable when images are not an option. In both cases the comic's name and the title text mentioned above and below the image should be sufficient. I personally think this convention is fine. Lupo (talk) 08:28, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
Pardon me -- (and, thanks for your patience) -- if this is too off-topic (/slash "boring") or TMI (see Information overload#Web accuracy e.g.), ...OR if this should have been posted elsewhere ...instead of here.
IMHO the term "title text" is a misnomer. I think the term is used to refer to the little (or, BIG!) pop-up -- (kinda like what is sometimes called a "tooltip", but ... aren't those usually pretty small?) -- that appears when one "hovers" his mouse [pointer] over an XKCD cartoon. ...at least, according to the "Talk:" page section Template talk:comic#The template field called .22titletext.22 which was added almost 3 years ago. I think that calling it a "BONUS text" would be even better than calling it a "caption". However, [to me], either one of those terms would make sense WAY more than calling it a "title text" ... for reasons which are stated in the [Template] "Talk:" page section mentioned (and ... LINKED TO) above.
Any Comments? . . *** Thanks! *** for listening! --Mike Schwartz (talk) 08:57, 7 April 2020 (UTC)
Hi Mike, I see your point, and yes, something like "bonus text" might be a bit more descriptive. But FWIW, I think the reason it's called "title text" is because that's the text that appears in the title attribute of the HTML <img> tag of the comic's image on the xkcd.com site. For example, at https://xkcd.com/2364/, the code for the comic image looks like this:
<img src="//imgs.xkcd.com/comics/parity_conservation.png"
     title="Bloody Mary is made of antimatter. It explains so much."
     alt="Parity Conservation"
     srcset="//imgs.xkcd.com/comics/parity_conservation_2x.png 2x">
In there, you can see the title text as title="Bloody Mary is made of antimatter. It explains so much." See here for more explanation about that, and some discussions about it here. – Yfmcpxpj (talk) 03:11, 29 September 2020 (UTC)

Wikipedia links.[edit]

I think the links to Wikipedia should have symbols, so it's not confusing which ones lead to other comic pages.

It's time to remove the HTTPS lock icon[edit]

Explainxkcd should do the same thing that browser makers have done: treat HTTPS as the modern standard, and mark HTTP as the deviation instead.

Here are appropriate replacement icons:

* https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unlock_Icon_Red_(32_bit).png
* https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unlock_Icon_Red_(4_bit).gif

- Frankie (talk) 12:49, 16 May 2020 (UTC)

New page for Randall's regular column in the New York Times[edit]

Randall Munroe has been writing and illustrating a monthly science column in the New York Times. I suggest a page in this Wiki, indexing those columns. For some reason the New York Times itself does not provide such an index. If they ever do add one, we would still have a topic article here, similar to the one we have for the What If blog, that could link to their index. --JohnB (talk) 00:47, 11 June 2020 (UTC)

New York Times column: Good Question[edit]

Good Question is a more-or-less monthly column written and illustrated by Randall Munroe in the Science section of the New York Times, beginning in November 2019. The columns give serious answers to science questions, in Munroe's inimitable style.

The New York Times website ordinarily requires registration, and its content is always protected by copyright. Most particularly it is not under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License the way xkcd is. The good news: anyone can register for a free digital subscription to the New York Times, with access to 'recent' Science articles among some others, but outside of that only five articles per month. See Free Articles.

Unlike for many of their other regular columnists, the New York Times does not provide a clickable link either on the byline Randall Munroe or on the column title Good Question. The following tables are intended to correct that omission.

New York Times columns by Randall Munroe
Column Headline Byline Date
SCIENCE What Makes a Red Sky at Night (and at Morning) Randall Munroe Aug. 13, 2019
GOOD QUESTION If I Touched the Moon, What Would It Feel Like? Randall Munroe Nov. 12, 2019
GOOD QUESTION Is Earth Getting Bigger Over Time? Randall Munroe Dec. 10, 2019
GOOD QUESTION How Fast Can a Human Run? Randall Munroe Jan. 21, 2020 / Feb. 7, 2020
GOOD QUESTION What’s the World’s Worst Smell? Randall Munroe Feb. 17, 2020 / Feb. 26, 2020
GOOD QUESTION What if Galileo Had Dropped Bobsleds From the Tower of Pisa? Randall Munroe March 10, 2020
GOOD QUESTION How’s the View From a Spinning Star? Randall Munroe April 7, 2020
GOOD QUESTION What’s the Sweetest, Crispiest Way to Stay Safe in a Car Crash? Randall Munroe May 11, 2020
GOOD QUESTION Can You Boil an Egg Too Long? Randall Munroe June 9, 2020
GOOD QUESTION Could You Make a Snowball of Neutrinos? Randall Munroe July 7, 2020
New York Times columns about Randall Munroe
Column Headline Byline Date
LINK BY LINK This Is Funny Only if You Know Unix Noam Cohen May 26, 2008
BITS Tech’s Favorite Cartoonist Enters Mainstream Publishing Noam Cohen March 14, 2014
SCIENCE He’s Glad You Asked Kenneth Chang Nov. 3, 2014
BOOKS Randall Munroe Explains It All for Us Alexandra Alter Nov. 23, 2015
SCIENCE Randall Munroe, XKCD Creator, Goes Back to High School Kenneth Chang March 21, 2016
SCIENCE Randall Munroe of ‘XKCD’ Explains the Human Body, Elevators and the Saturn 5 (Actual pages from Thing Explainer) March 21, 2016

Looks goods to me, you should probably make that an article of its own, maybe New York Times: Good Question? --SlashMe (talk) 22:58, 10 July 2020 (UTC)
Ambox notice.png I went and added the page, here: New York Times: Good Question --JohnB (talk) 02:42, 11 July 2020 (UTC)

Bring back the {{{1}}} template! please[edit]

Can someone restore the {{rw}} template? I insist on its existence. I further assure that it will be of much use. It was deleted by an admin. The 𝗦𝗾𝗿𝘁-𝟭 talk stalk 06:10, 29 September 2020 (UTC)

nm, did it myself.The 𝗦𝗾𝗿𝘁-𝟭 talk stalk 04:15, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

Link to high-resolution images?[edit]

The wiki includes the "standard" resolution images, but would it be worth adding a link to the higher-resolution image on each page? It appears that this could be automated in at least a strong majority of cases: if the standard image is xyzzy.png, the hi-res one is xyzzy_2x.png . BunsenH (talk) 22:10, 1 October 2020 (UTC)

Please stop adding this to the explanations. This is not needed. Kynde (talk) 08:56, 6 October 2020 (UTC)
The high-resolution image was quite useful in parsing the "Amelia's Farm Fresh Cookies" comic. I'm not convinced that the hi-res images are commonly known. I've been reading xkcd for about 7 years and hadn't heard about them until I stumbled across a mention of them in one of the Discussions here. What is the harm in having a one-line link here? -- not, I emphasize, the actual image, which would take up a great deal of space. BunsenH (talk) 17:00, 7 October 2020 (UTC)
I didn't know about the high-resolution images either. While it might be a bit repetitive to add a full sentence to every comic's explanation, I agree that having some easy way to link to the hi-res image on xkcd.com could be handy. For example, maybe a "hi-res" or "2x" button before the "Next >" button above the comic in Template:comic? That's a bit extreme, but I added an example template, derived from the existing Template:comic, to demonstrate how that could work:
With those changes to the template, for all comics as of 1084 the "2x" button would automatically appear. (No need to go back and change all comics.) This assumes the images hosted on explainxkcd generally have the same filename as on xkcd.com, but there are optional parameters to override the filename or omit the "2x" button altogether for specific exceptions. I'm not suggesting we actually go ahead and implement this; but if there was enough interest, an admin would be needed anyway, to make the changes within Template:comic, which is currently protected. – Yfmcpxpj (talk) 23:25, 11 October 2020 (UTC)
FWIW, I like this. BunsenH (talk) 20:25, 12 October 2020 (UTC)
My proposal is that a bot should add it automatically to the description of each comic image when available so that it does not take up space anywhere and is easily accessible.The 𝗦𝗾𝗿𝘁-𝟭 talk stalk 13:49, 8 February 2021 (UTC)

Proposal to replace the top section with this...[edit]

I have come up with a new design for the top section of all community portals... It’s located here... https://www.explainxkcd.com/wiki/index.php?title=explain_xkcd:Sandbox&oldid=199882 The 𝗦𝗾𝗿𝘁-𝟭 talk stalk 14:15, 15 October 2020 (UTC)

Crystal Clear app ktip.png

Ideas to improve the wiki's design and organization can be added here. (+post)

Crystal Clear app package settings blue.pngCrystal Clear teamwork.pngMop.svgInternet-group-chat.svg

I made a template for welcoming new users.[edit]

Welcome, Community portal, to explain xkcd!
Dialog-information on.svgPreferences-system.svgEdit-find-replace.svgTools-hammer.svgHelp-browser.svg
  • Be sure to give our FAQ a read so that you can learn to participate as effectively as possible.
  • If you are interested in editing the wiki, you can reduce the number of incomplete explanations and transcripts.
  • See the Wikipedia pages on editing if you are new to editing wikis in general.
  • Browse all the xkcd comics by navigating the category tree at Category:Comics.
  • Check out our community portal for general chit-chat about the site and xkcd.

Any ideas? Suggestions? Objections?The 𝗦𝗾𝗿𝘁-𝟭 talk stalk 16:35, 13 December 2020 (UTC)

this is now in at the top of the Main Page --Jeff (talk) 16:38, 5 February 2021 (UTC)
Why? This looks like a template intended for (newly created) UserPages. And it replaces interesting data from the frontpage with something not useful for casual visitors (or even non-casual lurkers). I'd undo this change in an instant if I had authority to do so. ((The template looks good, to clarify, just obviously not intended to be in that location.)) 01:36, 6 February 2021 (UTC)
Jeff is the owner of explainxkcd you dingus. Beanie talk 13:46, 18 June 2021 (UTC)

comic groups[edit]

i think we should have a tech problems list of comics ( as there are quite a few)

We already have a category for it. Category:Cueball_Computer_Problems.The 𝗦𝗾𝗿𝘁-𝟭 talk stalk 13:44, 8 February 2021 (UTC)

Archiving interactive comics?[edit]

Has the possibility of archiving interactive comics been discussed? Of course, users can view them on the original website, but it’d be nice to have a working backup of sorts, especially considering some of the interactive comics haven’t aged too well in terms of compatibility or support (e.g. Umwelt displays a blank page for me.)

It probably wouldn’t be possible to do so directly from mediawiki, but I’d be happy to experiment with cloning a few of them on another server, or as simple PHP pages that could be embedded, if it would help. Most of the interactive comics appear to be implemented mostly in client side JS anyways, so replicating them shouldn’t be too bad.

Tague (talk) 13:12, 29 April 2021 (UTC)

Replace head shots of characters in the wiki with these new and high quality head shots![edit]


These are not only upscaled, but are all squares and have all the features of the characters.The 𝗦𝗾𝗿𝘁-𝟭 talk stalk 03:33, 2 May 2021 (UTC)

I think you should do it (because higher quality = better) :] Beanie talk 13:42, 18 June 2021 (UTC)
There seemed to be no objections, so I went ahead and did it.The 𝗦𝗾𝗿𝘁-𝟭 talk stalk 12:40, 21 November 2021 (UTC)

Cleaning up Special: Wanted Templates[edit]

I decided to take a look at the list of wanted templates. Imagine my surprise when I see that a lot of the templates wanted were mis-capitalizations or misspellings of existing templates. I hereby request permission to create redirect pages for some of the most popular errors. I intend to do five, wait a week, and do another five as to not spam the wiki. I will not begin for a week, at which point I will only proceed if nobody has said no OR a moderator has said yes. May I proceed? {)|(}Quill{)|(} 11:34, 15 May 2021 (UTC)

"Multiple Megan-like characters" category[edit]

Since there are more than one Megan-like characters appear in the same panel of at least seven comics, I propose to create the "Multiple Megan-like characters" category. --Soumya-8974 (talk) 07:04, 1 June 2021 (UTC)

Knit Cap[edit]

Sometimes Knit cap has long hair, sometimes short. Is Knit Cap meant to be a male character that sometimes has long hair, or is Knit Cap sometimes female? I want to clear this up before I finish editing 1350: Lorenz. Beanie talk 13:40, 18 June 2021 (UTC)

Hm, in the 'Enemy Pikachu used theft' scene in 1350: Lorenz, Knit Cap's hair looks merely slightly unkempt. From this, I will assume that Knit Cap just sometimes has long hair and is always male. Beanie talk 13:10, 21 June 2021 (UTC)
Ok, the official transcripts say that Knit Cap is 'A guy in a knit cap'. I will take that to mean that Knit Cap is definitely male.

We still need to complete some explanations like this one:[edit]

I think should change the banner shown at the top of every page to show a comic that is still incomplete, like Hoverboard or something. Sure (talk) 21:32, 30 August 2021 (UTC)

Update MediaWiki[edit]

explainxkcd is running MediaWiki 1.30.0, which reached end-of-life in June 2019. There are likely security issues because of this, so please update MediaWiki to the latest version (or LTS) using the instructions here https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Manual:Upgrading Cam1170 (talk) 19:41, 26 September 2021 (UTC)

It seems like the mysql is too outdated for the upgrade Starstar (talk) 17:37, 26 November 2021 (UTC)
Upgrade MySQL thenAaron Liu (talk) 03:16, 20 July 2022 (UTC)

Does anybody know how to contact an admin for this? I have no clue. Cam1170 (talk) 03:25, 13 December 2022 (UTC)

Allow Users to Edit their own talk page if not auto confimed[edit]

I can edit this page, but I can't create my own talk page! Starstar (talk) 17:34, 26 November 2021 (UTC)

Upgrade Icons[edit]

The icons look quite old fashion (the ones on the sidebar and the ones above the editing text area), could they be replaced? Starstar (talk) 23:07, 26 November 2021 (UTC)

They probably could be, but changing icons the moment they're not absolutely cutting-edge just means using new icons that are as easily edged-out (as tastes change yet again), meanwhile annoying those who prefered the first set and rather wouldn't see a revolving door of ever-evolving aesthetics.
If I had a vote, I'd say keep the simple glyphs we're used to. If any are not totally obvious (perhaps some would not be, without the text captions) consider revising, but I think you'll get less agreement on what new images to use than that which would advocate the retention of the current ones.
Alternately, it would definitely be on-theme to find Randall-drawn illustrations to replace them all. But the constraints of adapting (say) any particular stick-figure-world depiction of randonmess to meaningfully replace the current Random Page icon (at the same scale!) might be less than optimal. 01:08, 27 November 2021 (UTC)

Make searchbar not case-sensitive[edit]

The way the search bar is currently set, it only suggests comic links when what is being typed is capitalized ("Assigning Numbers" rather than "assigning numbers" for instance). Would be nice if we could make it not case-sensitive :D Wielder of the Staple Gun (talk) 02:48, 27 April 2022 (UTC)

Good idea. ⟨Winter is coming⟩ Marethyu (talk) 17:46, 5 May 2022 (UTC)

Do not allow ordinary users to edit redirects that are just numbers[edit]

This overrides the default page you're sent to when you check a comic; e.g. recently a vandal edited the page entitled "2614" so it overrode the actual page, 2614: 2 on the main page.

The problem would be when creating a new page and the overrides are needed... ⟨Winter is coming⟩ Marethyu (talk) 17:48, 5 May 2022 (UTC)

ExplainXKCD discord (or other platform)?[edit]

I'm just saying if we had instant messages, pings etc. there would be a lot faster reaction to vandals. The community portal is hard to get attention from and comments are all very well and good but conversations on Discord could get very quick response, and people could request edits, organise page re-writing etc. Idk if we can get "official" backing by anyone high up but we could make one anyways?

The problem with platforms like Discord or others is that we can't guarantee that everyone has access to them; on the wiki, anyone can edit, while some people may not have access to discord or such. A possible solution would be having a sort of service built into the wiki, but not sure how that might be done. Besides, this is a wiki, not an xkcd chat site. This is a good idea, though. ⟨Winter is coming⟩ Marethyu (talk) 17:43, 5 May 2022 (UTC)
Anyone can create a discord account like anyone can create an account on this wiki. You don't even need a dedicated client/app as it can run in browser. Just like the wiki. Just my two cents. Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 11:28, 20 May 2022 (UTC)
Some user may not wish anyone to be able to contact them outside this wiki. You do not need an acount to edit this wiki... Kynde (talk) 17:14, 22 July 2022 (UTC)

So, I got a question about transcripts.[edit]

A lot of comics show links (e.g.: all the ones with a drawing of wikipedia on it), and the transcripts don't really have a standard. In the transcript, should it be an actual link or just blue text or what? 15:03, 2 June 2022 (UTC)Bumpf

I'd say that if the linked thing (presuming it's a real linkable target!) is linked in the Explanation, it doesn't need to be (re)linked in the ostensibly flat-and-descriptive Transcript.
And I know that some Transcripts are hypertext formatted to emulate the thing they are transcribed from (whether bolded, enbiggened, sub-/superscripted and and/or given the hue) but maybe primarily the "[:Text that describes the text]" should be explaining the details, in case the screen-reader (or text-searching algorithm grepping the Transcript text for "green text" or "superscript" instances can't quite work it out from the various style-tags that can be applied to that effect in so many an various ways.
But this is IMO, I don't know if there's a specific policy about it, but it is how I've seen it vaguely applied... Not everywhere quite so consistently, though. 20:28, 2 June 2022 (UTC)
We try to keep links and explanations out of the transcript. The link and the explanation goes in the explanation section above. Kynde (talk) 17:12, 22 July 2022 (UTC)

Use 2X Images[edit]

Apparently xkcd.com provides double-sized versions of almost every comic if you add _2x to the end of the image name. For instance,



Since we are in 2022 and computers can load high-resolution images just fine, and they are easier to read, I propose that this website should use the provided double-sized images. Really, I think Randall ought to be doing this himself as well. 12:22, 17 August 2022 (UTC)

While I agree with using the higher quality images which are default on xkcd.com for many people, there has been discussion about this issue already. At the moment, the consensus seems to be to continue using the 'standard' size to 'use less space,' and instead link to the higher quality image on the image page. —theusaf (talk) 14:35, 17 August 2022 (UTC)
I think I may have mentioned it on that link (or similar), but often when the 2x image is used (or even an unwise too wide image/unbreakable-line-of-content) the explainxkcd site cannot sensibly handle it and it forces the default 'page width' of stuff into a zoomed out narrower column to the left (including the margin-line normally inset a dozen or so pixels in from the right) so that browser-window can display the whole of this wide element.
While "saving space" does apply to server resources and viewer download bandwidth/quotas (e.g.53kb vs 109kb) may seem insignificant, screen-space can be badly hit by this.
The motherlode xkcd site has code behind it to (usually?) serve the right image for the right displays, but explainxkcd isn't currently equipped to do the same choose-and-provide (which would need both images uploaded to it and a revised {{comic}} implementation, once we work out the method it could use). And I've never seen any case where the 'low quality' comic is conversely too small and narrow to appreciate (though occasionally the larger one reveals minor drawing details that have been obscured by the downscaling), just when the _2x one makes everything else too small.
...this may not apply to everyone's browser implementation, but it definitely happens, and consistently, on my usual Chrome and/or Firefox on Windows and/or Android platforms (according to which system I happen to be on at the time). 21:20, 17 August 2022 (UTC)
ExplainXKCD actually does have the capability to do this. For example, see 1079:_United_Shapes. It generates multiple images, automatically choosing one based on screen size (similar to how xkcd.com does it). The bot could use the `imagesize` parameter to keep the image within the page's width by using the 'standard' image size. This does add a button labeled "click to enlarge," but if that is annoying, the comic template can be modified to hide that button if specified.
Here is what it might look like:
which is clearer than the original comic page and the same size. —theusaf (talk) 05:20, 18 August 2022 (UTC)
As specificaly implemented above, I certainly see no immediate problem (need to check across machines/devices), but I suspect that part of the mechanism here is the "imagesize = 315x317px", which seems like it would need (albeit by the page-create bot, algorithm8cally) to be tailored to the 'input' image, not always in this ratio). I'm not technically conversant with the nature of your back-end scripting and doubtless it's all possible (scripts can do almost anything... once you know that they (may) need to do them and rewritten them to catch all the contingencies ;) ), but I don't know know if that's something you've accounted for (e.g. test with a three/four-panel wide comic, or the Earth Temperature Timeline or whatever, and see if it can facilitate them all nicely). Not to mention that if theusafBOT goes offline, the manual-add instructions (as used prior to your replacing the prior functioning bot, for which I thank you) also need this extra step of user involvement to be done, whereas usually the fallback manual method needed little thought in this direction (or indeed however much carbon or silicon there is in the 'brain' involved) except for exceptional circumstances or those rare prior slip-ups by Randall.
I'm just going through the first obvious issue (to me), didn't mean to concentrate so many words on just this before even checking everything else! 09:15, 18 August 2022 (UTC)
Basically, on the backend, the bot will fetch both the small and the large images, and measure the size of the small image, which is what it will use for the imagesize. I have actually used this system in the past for this bot, but was told to revert it due to the "click comic to enlarge" text. As for if the bot goes offline, there is no problem with falling back to the small image, and if editors want to, I can also provide instructions for using the large image. I'm mostly just waiting to see what others think about this. Are there any other problems to consider? —theusaf (talk) 14:44, 18 August 2022 (UTC)

I'm making an App that collects web comics[edit]

My original idea was to use the rss feed present on xkcd, and other webcomic websites, but now im starting to wonder if there was a way to make a better service, that allowed users to maybe look at older comics, and explanations and such as well, and thats how i happened to come across explainxkcd.com. The RSS Feed for this website, would be pretty helpful, if it were like reddit's but apparently, the rss feed is only maintained for the home page. I was wondering if you guys provided that data through an API or something? Also are there wikis for other famous comics like this one? Any other suggestions and ideas for the app are welcome 🙌🙌.

Comics edited after their publication[edit]

many more comics have been changed than are in Category:Comics edited after their publication ! please add them (i already have done two i remember off the top of my head) 12:56, 7 October 2022 (UTC)Bumpf

Discord category[edit]

Do we need categories for comics that mention various popular social media clients, such as Google and Discord? 03:29, 21 March 2023 (UTC)

If there are a group of them, then list them, then they can be added. I can think of a couple of Google-related ones (well, Google search-page, not whatever Alphabet is currently doing insofar as social media), but don't have their names/numbers in my head right now. Do the search and list them here for someone to catalogue up?
I'm not sure there are specific Discord mentions. Noting that just because some unidentified headshot dialogue/notification looks Discordish, it doesn't make it a mention. Too much cross-pollination of appearance. 09:56, 21 March 2023 (UTC)

What if 2 book page creation[edit]

What if 2 has come out, but I don't know which page is to be created. There is already a comic under the same name. ClassicalGames (talk) 08:54, 3 May 2023 (UTC)

Default to 3 Section Headings for Each Explanation: Non-Obvious Info, Recap, and Background Trivia[edit]

This is a proposal that all new comic explanations should, by default, have 3 Sections:

I. Explanation of the Non-Obvious (an actual explanation of the non-obvious elements of the comic for the average reader who might not understand the references/joke/relevant science)

II. Full Recap

III. Background Trivia

Most of us can agree that Category I is where the value of this website shines.

But today, all 3 of these categories of explanation are typically merged together, making it hard to find the Category I nuggets of goodness.

If we make these 3 section headings the default on every comic explanation, then this default will helpfully nudge editors to put the juiciest stuff up top, and not to clutter that section up with fluff or trivia.


As an example, take the recent comic #2878 about Astronomer Happiness and Supernova distance.

The main thing a lay reader would want to know — the Category I information — is…

..That the shape of the graph is probably a clever reference to a Light Curve, a type of supernova graph

..why astronomers like it when a supernova is close, and what happens when it gets too close

Everything else in the (currently) very wordy explanation gets in the way of the lay reader finding out these two things. It’s a bunch of Category II and Category III info that makes it hard to tease out the Category I info. It’s not BAD information, but it’s sandpaper. It’s friction slowing down the average reader.

Obviously I could go in and edit this particular comic, and I often do this kind of edit, but I think this issue pops up for most explanations, so I think changing the standard default interface will help everyone put their contribution into the right section.

In sum, my proposal would elevate Category I info to the top of each explanation, so instead of full recaps, we get right into the explanation that is going to be most efficiently illuminating for the average, non-expert reader, answering the most common questions.

Laser813 (talk) 10:50, 12 January 2024 (UTC)

In general (if I get dibs on the edit, or think I can legitimately re-edit/rearrange), I do try to go for "hook, line, sinker" format (i.e. establish the basics, relate that to what the comic shows, move on to any relevent speculations/extrapolations), very like your setup. Though it is often much too complicated (multi-layered, cross-disciplinary, etc, so that maybe it has to be interwoven 'mini explanations' per tabulated item) so I'm not sure how easy it would be to enforce a strict structure. I think there's merit to the principle, though. Assuming we can all agree what each comic needs focus on (apply that problem to the following proposal too!), as I've occasionally inserted a sort of "first you need to know <subject>" into an established cold-start explanation ("you see <foo>" only for a later editor to consider it more an afterthought and shuffle it to later ("you see <foo>" ... "<foo> is part of <subject>"), or variations on such layouts. Especially as different people have different ideas as to what's obvious/can be keyword-wikilinked and what needs more waffle to properly enlighten readers.
Also, prosaic variation is a good thing. Too formulaic and it could be (whilst accurate) considered too robotic, so some leaway should really always be allowed as we collectively bash together a community interpretation and elaboration. Within communal guidelines, clearly. 15:53, 12 January 2024 (UTC)

FAQ Style Editing should be the norm[edit]

Simply, we should experiment with more FAQ-style explanations.

We think of the top questions that the average reader might have about a comic, and we use those as bolded headers to explain the most curious/confusing/subtle/sciency parts of the comic.

The structure would be this (using a recent comic as an example)…

Q: Why did Randall use this shape of graph? A: It’s likely a clever reference to a Light Curve, a similarly shaped graph in the study of supernovae that…

Q: Why do astronomers prefer it when supernovae are closer? A: It makes it easier to glean information because…

Laser813 (talk) 10:50, 12 January 2024 (UTC)

sidebar revamp[edit]

I think that the sidebar looks plain and it should have a new design. It could be voted on by users Moderator (talk) 02:16, 5 February 2024 (UTC)

In leiu of you telling us what you think would be better, my starting vote is that I'm perfectly happy with that 'plain'. If it has the links I might need, why does it need a reskin? Or, worse, a functional revamp which probably removes the easy to use bits I was using already.
...could you do a mock-up screenshot (or render equivalents directly in markup) of before/after side by side, at least? 03:11, 5 February 2024 (UTC)

My biggest problem is it doesn’t scroll down with you which can be a big pain Moderator (talk) 01:43, 6 February 2024 (UTC)

Don't know about anyone else, but (when not on a desktop) I read this on a tablet, in landscape, with the effective window quite short (ratio of 1:2 with width, approaching 1:3.5 with already narrowed onscreen keyboard popped up) and if I'm scrolled to the top I see nothing beyond Browse Comics.
If we assume separate scroll-control on the sidebar, setting Main Page at the top of browser pane gives What Links Here at the bottom. Now, I rarely use the next three links (or at least reach those pages using them), and separate scrolling wouldn't stop me even seeing the even lower Ad bit (but it would defeat the entire purpose of the Ad, in that position, whether or not I bother to notice it these days).
So whatever missing about you propose, I'm betting it would impact me. Perhaps not negatively, but I've seen enough awful assumptions about my screen-area in the name of scroll-free design. Including the "give us permission (or not) to give you cookies" popovers where it appears the actual buttons to confirm (or deny, or go somewhere to review and customise, if they have that option) are beyond the bottom of my screen. I can temporarily rotate the screen, of course, but often I just back out and don't bother in those cases. I wouldn't be reticent to rotate this site, on occasion, but I'd really rather not have to, if I can be so selfish and stick-in-the-mud, because websites just are not good to use (even temporarily) in narrow-portait mode. (What's worse is the websites that detect I'm on a mobile platform and redesign styles/placements on-the-fly to 'fit portrait view', assuming a vertical smartphone, regardless of my actual viewport orientation, etc.)
So, please, a hard no from me. Notwithstanding that just as solidly "always browse in portrait" people might be overjoyed at changes that would give them a better site design. But that's a tricky circle to square (or letterbox!), and not what you were suggesting anyway (now we know what it is). I just want to plea that any changes be made with a very good idea of all the knock-on effects of 'improving' certain edge-cases, especially when it comes to yet other edge-cases. 10:29, 6 February 2024 (UTC)

New Logo and Banner Proposals[edit]

I have new logo and banner proposals for this site.
They're made on Scratch, an all-ages block-based programming language, and are in the style of Right Click.
Here they are!
Logo proposal: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Logo_proposal_for_explain_xkcd.png
Banner proposal: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Banner_proposal_for_explain_xkcd.png (talk) 01:54, 19 February 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
I can't see the xkcdicity of the logo, really. The banner is certainly flavourful in the right way (does it scale down well? ...is that what your use of Scratch is for, as opposed to standard static Photoshop/GIMP image editing?), but not sure it'll work better for the current top-left-of-page xkcd (with three xkcd figurses idling away, sat on the letters).
Decent concept art for something else related, certainly. I could believe it was a Randall's-own interactive comic front-end of some kind (which would make sense of the "play button" that is the "►"-bit). Given that it's now in a programming system already, have you tried making a drag'n'click game of the idea of linking/looping the blue-trail, and animating the hanging-on characters? 13:34, 19 February 2024 (UTC)
It's an arrow, not a play button. Get it right. (talk) 01:05, 20 February 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Hold your horses... I was just trying to find a good reason for the whatever-it-is triangle to be there (gave the example of a 'play' button in my speculated usefulness of it). And it isn't really obviously any more of an arrow (c.f. "→"), either. I like your(?) banner's use of xkcd-figures, just not sure where the logo exhibits any form of being xkcd-related, except by the literal reading of it.
Perhaps if it were "xkcd font" (i.e. artfully composited from actual samples of Randall's ALLCAPS comic-writing) then it wouldn't matter so much, but I just wouldn't say it was any more on-brand than the current logo/etc. This being intended as constructive criticism, I hope you understand. And there's more opinions than mine, so maybe I've indeed just missed some point that everyone else (especially named-users) have already realised. 02:33, 20 February 2024 (UTC)

Regarding precision in the Unexplained popup[edit]

Would it be possible to add an extra decimal point for the sake of precision? Currently, it shows that 0% of comics are unexplained, which is (as of 13:21 UTC on March 27, 2024) incorrect. It's a small thing, but it's rather annoying. (talk) 13:23, 27 March 2024 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

With the current 2911 comics (give or take #404), 0.1% would be slightly under 3 comics. You'd need at least three before 0.1% appeared instead of the equally unuseful 0.0%.
I'm of the "at least give everyone a week before you unilaterally declare it 'done'..." camp, so right now just the latest M/W/F comic incomplete would hover at a token 0.1%.
(Actually, from two (0.06...% rounded up) to 4 (0.13...% rounded down. The good news is that it'll be almost seven years until two-rounded-up is insufficient, but also up to six-rounded-down is now "0.1%", if I've not goofed the carries/etc.)
If going to the trouble of editing it to 1DP, make it 2DP with exactly the same editing effort..?

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 2961 xkcd comics, and only 24 (0.81%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

(As of time of posting, the above says "only 2 (0.07%)". From 0.0687049...% rounded up to 2DP.)
Though given that we're only going to go into the future,[citation needed] I suggest we can state the flat-out number. It's not now really going to be as scarily huge as it might have been, as the actual percentage becomes generally less significant.
And, for niceness, give it a grammatically/factually agreeable form:
General form
... and {{#ifeq: <!-- count here --> | 0 | no | <!-- count here --> }} comic{{#ifeq: <!-- count here --> | 1 | | s }} [[:Category:Incomplete explanations|{{#ifeq: <!-- count here --> | 1 | is | are }} incomplete]]. ...
Zero cases (hardcoded)
... and no comics are incomplete. ...
One case (hardcoded)
... and 1 comic is incomplete. ...
Multiple cases (hardcoded)
... and 42 comics are incomplete. ...
Current cases (dynamic)
... and 24 comics are incomplete. ...
...easy to replicate to get "Help us finish them!" to change (upon a zero-test truth) to "But they all might be improvable!". Or change the :Cat:Link to not even be a link when zero, with alternate phrasing dodged over to in order to avoid "no comics are incomplete" in other ways.
I wrote the above for minimal nesting of overlapping conditions. You might prefer just to go with {{#ifeq: <count> | 0 | <whole "zero cases" version> | {{#ifeq: <count> | 1 | <whole "single case" version> | <whole "plurality of cases" version> }} }} - both approaches involve repetitions, but maybe this other one can be given a degree of wikimarkup-readability within each case, to take pity on future editors. 16:02, 27 March 2024 (UTC)

Hear me out: What If? discussion page.[edit]

That's it. That's my idea. Go crazy, everyone. Psychoticpotato (talk) 14:05, 4 April 2024 (UTC)

Yup, I've been thinking the same thing. I would like a page on each What If entry. Maplestrip (talk) 07:42, 8 April 2024 (UTC)
I've thought about this, over the years. Having 'a page' (rather than the summary table, in the overview page, etc) does sound more completist than what we currently have but I then tend to hit the main ontological problem...
In the What-Ifs, Randall takes a 'simple' question and then explains the consequences. At length. A 'comic page' structure (starting with how we'd deal with the multiple midpoint images, so we would stray far from using the {{comic}} introduction) that followed the header(image,etc)/explanation/transcript/(trivia)/included-comments format would be silly and have many parts inappropriate. Remove the Transcript, for starters. Or need a mini-Transcript for each 'illustrative' image. (e.g. ":[Black Hat:] What if we tried more power?", several times.)
Is there an actual need to explain Randall's explanation..? Because that's the only thing 'we' can do. Which is rather silly, and seems like it would take a small (entertainingly rambling) essay and expand it into a large (pedantically rambling) one.
Or else we just straight-copy the What-If over here as a 'backup'-blag? Allowable, but not exactly a USP, there'll be Internet Archive and personal copies, should things go bad at Randall's end. Not really a noble-cause.
My suggestion, as to how to cover the remaining "explanation gap" and provide a useful 'service' that's worthwhile maintaining, is maybe two What If? (Blag) sub-pages:
  1. A place to collate all inter-text images (and hover-/title-texts), and Transcript them, for easy searching.
    • e.g. when you know you want to refer to the "bomb to the eyeball" one (internally or for something external) but think you might not realise where you need to go to (the supernova neutrinos one!) just by scrolling a bare comic list.
    • Or you'd like to see, at a glance, how many different places the Black Hat Try More Power running joke occurs.
    • Even if you don't want to open the page itself (160+ 'comics' with say 5 images each, is an 800ish-image page, less rationalising 'repeats' to a single entry), it should at least give you a search result for "dry waterfall" that points you in the direction of the "Niagra Straw" one (and maybe others?).
    • I could see these being brief Image/Titletext/Transcript/(optional explanatory context), but not enough material to make them separate comic-style-pages in their own right, right?
  2. Something of the same 'collation page mechanism' for all those superscript-popup-'footnote' bits. Though I admit I'm not entirely sure for what purpose except that it just seems like a good "collection page" to maintain. Perhaps to offer updated onward-links if any of the originals suffer link-rot? (But then, that fate can occur to all non-popupped links, so maybe I've chosen the wrong thing to highlight.)
...the question is, what do you want from it. Bear in mind that if you can creae pages here then you can set up what you think you'd like to see (e.g. for What-If#1, for starters) then get the community to assess it. Do it as a sub-page to your Userspace, maybe, as proof-of-concept.
Just because it's not been seen as necessary so far, doesn't mean it's not necessary. I've thought about it a lot (not thst I'm in a position to inplement anything), but I've only decided that I don't see a need for a straight copy (others' views may differ on that) and not enough reason to pester for my 'ideas' to be fulfilled. But I aint 'in charge' here, and happily so. 11:29, 8 April 2024 (UTC)
You make a fair point. He did already explain in great detail what would happen if [x] scenario happened. It just seems like it would be nice to have a page exclusively for discussing all the What If articles. Psychoticpotato (talk) 20:49, 15 May 2024 (UTC)
People just need to make a draft or two and see what happens. Be sure to link a draft here if one is created, I would like to help on it. "I want to learn more and explore this scenario further" is a valid feeling to have. Maplestrip (talk) 07:34, 16 May 2024 (UTC)

Randall-ify the Captcha[edit]

Let's have some fun: Is it feasible to replace the Captcha with something "xkcd-ish" like "click on Randall's work" with a mix of XKCD stuff and generic pictures. If not, how about a replacing it with a quiz like "which of the following IS [or IS NOT] xkcd character" with one obvious correct answer. 16:11, 9 May 2024 (UTC)

are YOU able to create a CAPTCHA from scratch? 42.book.addict (talk) 15:59, 13 May 2024 (UTC)
Choose any images that contain user-made CAPTCHAs from the following selection. Psychoticpotato (talk) 21:22, 13 May 2024 (UTC)

Incomplete Tag Vote[edit]

I think each comic's discussion page should have a section to vote on whether the explanation is complete or not. How long do you think the voting period should be?PDesbeginner (talk) 03:42, 19 June 2024 (UTC)

Rather than a voting period, I think it would be ideal if people could "vote" on the completeness of an article at any time. As I go through all the old pages, I come across lots of pages that feel a little bit incomplete. It would be nice if we had a measurement of completion that wasn't binary. Maplestrip (talk) 10:16, 19 June 2024 (UTC)
Feel free to add the incomplete tag again. But don't forget to mention WHY (either in the tag or the discussion or both) you think it's incomplete. :) The tag is mainly there so you can have a list of "incomplete" comics. A comic is either on that list or it isn't. This is pretty much binary. As for voting: If I think an explanation is complete and it bothers me that it's flagged as not I generally juts make a comment in the discussion asking if someone has still something to add or actually knows WHY it's still incomplete. If there's no response after a few days I delete the tag. There's no need to make a voting out of this. And if somone strongly disagrees to you there's always the "Undo"-link ;) Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 11:09, 19 June 2024 (UTC)
Sometimes I just feel "this could use more detail," without specifically knowing what the detail would look like. This can be a problem when it's about explaining complicated science: the "completion" of a description of quantum mechanics that is readable by a novice, is very subjective. I am realizing the problem with the persistent voting idea tho: many people will vote something as "incomplete" but wouldn't come back to check on it later. Maplestrip (talk) 12:08, 19 June 2024 (UTC)
I'm more in the "less is more" camp. Most of my recent contributions to this wiki were deleting parts of bloated explanations: You don't need to explain quantum mechanics unless it's absolutely crucial for understanding the respective comic. Of course, if you are an expert in any given field, it's hard to tell whether or not the current explanation is sufficient for a layperson and most contributors tend to write "too much". Which is totally fine. People like me take care of the "too much". ;) So, if you are an expert in quantum mechanics ignore "completed" comics about quantum mechanics. Surely you could contribute a lot to it but chances are high that most of it is unnecessary for the comic. Instead ask yourself if you need more information to understand that comic about biology. And if you do, add an incomplete and ask for that information ;) Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 12:31, 19 June 2024 (UTC)
I've been here a long time, effectively back to when there were missing explanations (other than the "too new to have the barebones put in" ones, these days only seen when the current BOT is tardy or offline for some reason), and I've seen the Incomplete template change from the useful 'infill marker' to become a regular joke-tag of a similar nature to the Citation Needed. Yes, I agree that both of these (and the Because You're Dumb" tag) are perhaps a bit confusing for new users (like the one who badly edited out a link, just now, apparently thinking it was spam, because of the way it mentioned viagra), but I have grown to see them as community in-jokes (of various degrees of subtlety) that many people seem to appreciate under their current incarnations.
We've recently removed the Main Page's more literal "there are # incomplete articles" announcement, which leaves the purpose of more accurately using the Incomplete tag a little less important. Apart from letting us dive into the (purported) list of Incomplete Explanations, one of the main serious purposes of the Incomplete tag is removed, leaving the now consistently employed purpose of doing a "Created by a THING OTHER THAN THE BOT" joke much more prominent.
Really, all articles are potentially incomplete, still. Some more than others. Something big, like Hoverboard or Gravity, might truly have easter-eggs or subtle details as yet not properly commented upon, but there have been edits to double-digit comics recently which might be considered improvements. As such, there are really only two 'sensible' direct courses of action:
  1. Completely remove the Incomplete tag, from use, as all pages are only ever as complete as the eye of any particular beholder, and the more recent pages are obviously incomplete by their being barely 15 minutes (or a day, or maybe a week) old. Or being so huge (or Time-like!) that they clearly still haven't been 'completely' documented. Maybe the BOT can add a Created By The Bot tag that gets wiped out by the first serious attempt at human editing, but if we wish to lose this part of our site culture so readily then why ever have it at all? A wikivote system is not really that accurate under these circumstances, for a number of reasons that I needn't explain, so go straight to assuming that any such 'vote' would pass, right from the off...
  2. Embrace it for its THING OTHER THAN A BOT usage, alone. Don't be so eager to remove them just because you have no personal changes you'd wish to see. (Votes or not, there could always be another editor along in a minute who has, unlike the rest of you, picked up on an obscure visual pun rendered in what turns out to be hieroglyphs, or similar.) If we have to cull them (not a given!), then let it be an unstated rule (or a stated one?) that if there are more than (e.g.) half a dozen then the 'least amusing' may be removed by the first editor who wishes to express a critical opinion. Just the one at a time. No reinstating, no resurrection, no adding to old articles that never ever had a 'joke Incomplete' before, no entirely new joke (but you can refine what's there, to a degree), just a rolling (and not necessarily consecutive!) set of the "finest natjve explainxkcd wit". Or at least the least objectionable surviving examples of same.
As a practical guide, the "reason why you think it is Incomplete element" could be entirely served by in-line tags (the "What?" and "Why?" and "Date?" things you might see elsewhere). Perhaps we could even do both things by instead having a "Complete" tag explicitly for BOT-REPLACEMENT-type tomfoolery (and tongue-in-cheekness about Completion, as we might currently be about Incometeness) from the off. That might confuse the newbods, of course. At least until it doesn't, and then they're not newbods anymore...
The companion tag, for Incomplete Transcript, is presumably going to serve as it currently does (as a still serious hint as to actual Incompleteness), albeit that I've noticed a trend for the first editor of a brand new published comic to (possibly after doing the BOT-replacement joke, or after the editor who did only that) go straight in and enTranscript it (to varying degrees of accuracy and completion), whether or not they also then remove that specific tag-template at the same time. It seems that some people are more comfortable at providing a Transcription-service than they are at establishing even the seed of an Explanation. (Or they only have enough time to do the latter, to the level of detail they wish to achieve in the moment open to them.)
This is, of course, a cultural issue. All the above (from me) is just my own perception of practical aspects, notwithstanding those opinions already expressed before that (and elsewhere). I don't speak for everyone. And, as a perpetual IP, technically I should say that I don't speak for anyone, either... 14:21, 19 June 2024 (UTC)
I like the idea of removing the Incomplete tag. What do you think? PDesbeginner (talk) 14:57, 19 June 2024 (UTC)
I greatly approve of a Template:what tag, as a Wikipedian that's actually really funny. I would want to keep the Incomplete tag, as I think it has purpose, even if it no longer represents a goal to achieve. I think this website will never reach 100.00% completeness and that is good, actually. Maplestrip (talk) 14:05, 26 June 2024 (UTC)
Okay. If someone wants to they can just ignore the incomplete tags. PDesbeginner (talk) 14:37, 28 June 2024 (UTC)

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