Main Page

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

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 2191 xkcd comics, and only 16 (1%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

Conference Question
I also have an utterance. Less of an utterance and more of an incantation. Less of an incantation and more of a malediction. Less of a malediction and more of a Word of Power. Less of a Word of Power and more of an Unforgivable Curse.
Title text: I also have an utterance. Less of an utterance and more of an incantation. Less of an incantation and more of a malediction. Less of a malediction and more of a Word of Power. Less of a Word of Power and more of an Unforgivable Curse.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a BOT that's more of a FRIENDLY BUG. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

Usually at a conference or other event involving a speaker addressing a crowd, members of the crowd are given the chance to ask questions. This is intended so that people can perhaps ask the speaker to elaborate on a point they've made, or to ask the speaker's opinion on a topic related to their talk.

Occasionally, people at such an event will use (or, rather, abuse) the opportunity to ask a question to instead provide their own (unsolicited) opinion or statement. Such statements are often preceded with something along the lines of "I have a question. Well, less of a question and more of a comment." This formulation in particular has attracted a lot of criticism, eg. [1], for not adding anything to the discussion and for pulling focus away from the speaker.

In the comic, this idea is taken to an extreme, with Beret Guy not only transforming the opportunity to ask a question into an opportunity to make a statement, but through successive transformations, turning this into an opportunity to show off a bug he has found.

Question. A question is what the crowd member is expected to provide, such that the speaker or a panel member could provide a related answer.
Comment. A comment by a crowd member, is when they just say something they believe, without expecting an answer, giving the speaker or panel members nothing to do. This may be seen as annoying by everyone else, as the crowd did not come to hear the opinion of other crowd members. But answers to relevant questions would be interesting to the crowd and the panel.
Utterance. An utterance is just making a noise, which may or may not be actual words, or if actual words it may not be a complete sentence.
Air Pressure Wave. Sounds are literally pressure waves in the air. So this could be a simple sound, or not a sound at all depending on the severity of the wave. It might be the person simply blowing.
Friendly Hand Wave. Now instead of using his mouth to generate an air pressure wave, he's producing it with his hand, in a manner intended to be interpreted as "friendly". Many times hand waves are done in a friendly manner, designed more for the visual appeal than the amount of air pressure waves they generate.
Friendly Bug. Now he is no longer doing anything himself, except to point out the fact that he has found a bug or insect, which he anthropomorphizes as being friendly.
Want to meet it? He has decided that he and the friendly bug are actual friends, and ironically comes full circle by finally asking a question, though presumably whether the speaker wants to meet a bug is not related to the topic of the speaker's talk.

The title text takes the opposite route of Beret Guy, and each step instead refers to successively worse forms of magic spells which would, presumably, have a negative effect upon the listener. Starting from a mere utterance and then using Beret Guy's "it is less than" scheme, it progresses over worse and worse curses, ending with an unforgivable curse!

Utterance. It begins with utterance which was also used by Beret Guy. See above.
Incantation. Incantation, or a spell, is a magical formula intended to trigger a magical effect on a person or objects. It is not necessarily with evil intent.
Malediction. A malediction is another word for curse (the prefix "mal" being a Latin root meaning "evil"). This is always with evil intent.
Word of Power. "Word of Power" could refer to the dragonish form of magic in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or the early 1st edition Dungeons & Dragons high level spells.
Unforgivable Curse. The term "Unforgivable Curse" refers to a set of three spells from the Harry Potter series, said to be so evil that their use on another person is unforgivable and illegal. The three spells are able to mind control (Imperius), torture (Cruciatus), and kill (Avada Kedavra) their target.

The title text can be interpreted as a reply by Hairy (the speaker) to Beret Guy, indicating his annoyance at the topic being derailed. It could also be representative of Randall's feelings towards those who abuse the opportunity to ask a question in order to make a statement. Randall has recently done some book tours and was at San Diego Comic-Con last month where he served on various panels, so he probably has had personal first-hand experience with these kinds of circuitous non-questions.


[Hairy stands on a podium having just addressed a crowd of seated people. Beret Guy stands in the middle of the crowd, addressing Hairy. One of Beret Guy's hands is raised at chest height. The front row consists of Cueball, Ponytail, another Hairy, Megan, Hairbun, Danish and another Cueball.]
Beret Guy: I have a question.
Beret Guy: Well, less of a question and more of a comment.
Beret Guy: I guess it's less of a comment and more of an utterance.
Beret Guy: Really it's less an utterance more an air pressure wave.
Beret Guy: It's less an air pressure wave and more a friendly hand wave.
Beret Guy: I guess it's less a friendly wave than it is a friendly bug.
Beret Guy: I found this bug and now we're friends. Do you want to meet it?

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

New here?

Last 7 days (Top 10)

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

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

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


Don't be a jerk.

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

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

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

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