Difference between revisions of "627: Tech Support Cheat Sheet"

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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| title    = Tech Support Cheat Sheet
| title    = Tech Support Cheat Sheet
| image    = tech_support_cheat_sheet.png
| image    = tech_support_cheat_sheet.png
| titletext = 'Hey Megan, it's your father. How do I print off a flowchart?'
| titletext = 'Hey Megan, it's your father. How do I print out a flowchart?'

Revision as of 14:14, 6 March 2017

Tech Support Cheat Sheet
'Hey Megan, it's your father. How do I print out a flowchart?'
Title text: 'Hey Megan, it's your father. How do I print out a flowchart?'


The main point of this comic is that many tech-savvy people really don't know much about computers. They just have developed an intuition which works in many situations. This intuition is shown here in the form of a diagram. In particular, the chart exposes the computer expert's secret ingredient: trial and error.

A flowchart is an organizational tool for showing process flow. A box is an instruction, a diamond indicates a question, and the arrows control the flow from one symbol to another. Other flowchart comics can be found here.

The title text is a sad admission that even knowing the procedure for how to fix the problem, many people will not follow it and still call tech support.


Dear various parents, grandparents, co-workers, and other "not computer people."
We don't magically know how to do everything in every program. When we help you, we're usually just doing this:
[There is a flowchart there. Numbers are included to improve clarity, and do not appear in the original.]
Rectangle: Start.
[Go to 1.]
[1. Diamond] Find a menu item or button which looks related to what you want to do.
[I can't find one - go to 2.]
[Ok - go to 3.]
[2. Diamond] Pick one at random.
[I've tried them all - go to 4.]
[Ok - go to 3.]
[3. Rectangle] Click it.
[Go to 5.]
[4. Rectangle] Google the name of the program plus a few words related to what you want to do. Follow any instructions.
[Go to 5.]
[5. Diamond] Did it work?
[Yes - go to 8.]
[No - go to 6.]
[6. Diamond] Have you been trying this for over half an hour?
[Yes - go to 7.]
[No - go to 1.]
[7. Rectangle] Ask someone for help or give up.
[End of flowchart.]
[8. Rectangle] You're done!
[End of flowchart.]
Please print this flowchart out and tape it near your screen. Congratulations; you're now the local computer expert!
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I think he forgot one: "Use the built-in help, it's magic!" Zilti (talk) 19:48, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Most people I know that have to ask for computer help couldn't read a flowchart in the first place. This may be the problem. 23:01, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

This comic is so true, I just printed it out for my mom (though I doubt it will help much). She always asks questions like “how do I change the language?”, “where did my song/book/website/photo/document/tab/window go?”, or “how do I log in?”, providing no context whatsoever. I tell her to show me her screen (often AirPlayed to the TV (which she forgets how to do every other time)), and often immediately see a button doing exactly what she wants (or she closed her browser window, thinking it was a tab again 😑).

A slight complaint with the explanation, it states that tech-savvy people don’t know much about computers, which isn’t necessarily true, I could tell you how your computer works from the UI level, down to the components, and logic gates in the CPU. What I don’t necessarily know is how the designers of every single program in the universe laid out their user interface, which is when I use the method depicted in the comic. PotatoGod (talk) 17:10, 17 December 2017 (UTC)

This issue doesn't apply to me since my parents and I are quite tech-savvy, meaning we don't need any help.Boeing-787lover 14:59, 1 July 2018 (UTC)

who asked Beanie (talk) 11:02, 20 April 2021 (UTC)
me :^] 14:19, 28 August 2021 (UTC)Bumpf

I suspect that in a few cases, the person might have tried to follow the flowchart, but still ended up at the "Ask someone else for help or give up" step. Make of such a result as you will, but I suspect if that happens for printing out that flowchart, it doesn't speak well for one's ability to become more tech-savvy. 14:22, 3 August 2018 (UTC)