802: Online Communities 2
A larger version of this picture can be found here: http://xkcd.com/802_large/.
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Not all of the regions are fully explained.|
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
This comic shows a map of internet communities where the size of each region roughly corresponds to its size, and its proximity to other regions indicates similarities.
This is the successor of 256: Online Communities. It differs in that it is updated, and furthermore, instead of using the membership of whichever service to determine its size on the map, it uses its "daily social activity."
The map actually has two super−maps: the online community map is surrounded by the "countries" of E−Mail and SMS ("Instant Messaging"). These, in turn, are surrounded by the "Spoken Language" country (which is odd, considering that e−mail, SMS, and the Internet in general are based on written language) with its own sub−country, "cell phones" (which do involve e−mail and the Internet while being the mean medium of SMS's).
At the title text Randall explains that, using his definition of "most activity per day", Farmville is actually the second most popular "Facebook farming game". This will strike many as odd, because Farmville is by far the most famous, leading one to wonder how the most famous could not be the most played. The phrase "browser-based social-networking-centered farming game" is an example of an overly-narrow superlative.
The Facebook region deals with social networks, that is, websites oriented towards having people meet.
Facebook is a social networking site that allows people to meet old real−life friends and make new friends that share similar interests. One of its most notable features is that a member can update a "status" or make normal posts about the happenings of the member's life, complete with pictures, other members "liking" these posts. The size of the Facebook region is not exaggerated; most websites seem to allow "liking" their content or allow/require logging in the website with a Facebook account. There even are cell phones with a "Facebook" button!
Farmville, Happy Farm, and Farm Town are all Facebook games. The "Unethical Bay" refers to how these games tend to addict players into constantly buying virtual items of questionable value.
The People You Can't Unfriend refer to people whom, due to real-life expectations and relationships, unfriending them is difficult, no matter how you really feel about them.
The Data Mines refer to the data mining that Facebook does with the interests of its members. This fuels the profitable advertising business at the expense of customer trust.
The Plains of Awkwardly Public Family Interactions refer to how interactions with family members on Facebook suddenly become more awkward because everyone on Facebook (and sometimes off Facebook, given that you do not necessarily need to log in if you want to see someone's Facebook account) if you are discussing with your family through post comments.
"Old Facebook" Resistance refers to Facebook's earlier users, who have often resisted (and resented) changes made to Facebook as it became more popular.
While Facebook is the largest "country" of the Facebook Region, there are a lot of smaller "countries" that represent smaller social networks.
- Below Facebook (and "'Old Facebook' Resistance") is Diaspora, a fully open-source, decentralized, privacy-respecting-and-expecting alternative to Facebook. From what this map tells, Diaspora is little-known, even if Facebook is taken out of the context.
- Taringa! is a Spanish-speaking social network that is based on a forums. Copyrighted material is frequently found there.
- Classmates.com is a services in which the user can meet fellow classmates that came from the same high school. The website is probably best-known by its memetic advertisement that said "She married him??!! And they've got 7 kids??" (Incidentally, there is more to the coupled picture than what the advertisement says.)
- MySpace is a social networking website that is a kind of proto-Facebook: users could customize their one-page websites with whatever they wanted, make their interests and daily lives public, and interact with other users. Back in the mid 2000's, MySpace was the largest social network, many people using the website; however, the surprisingly-less-customizable Facebook ended up taking the place of MySpace. The "bands" country of MySpace refers to how a lot of bands in the day advertised and interacted using the website. Indeed, the latest incarnation of MySpace (in terms of 2013) is more oriented towards band members.
- LinkedIn is a social network aimed towards people in the workplace.
- Orkut is one of Google's first social networks before Google made Google+.
- Hi5 is a social network that is very popular among people in Latin America.
- Renren (「人人」, "people" in Chinese) is "a Chinese copy of Facebook."
Other areas of note are the Niche Market Mountains, where social networks aimed towards more niche markets are located. Similar to how mountains tend to be isolated from mainland, niche social networks tend to be just that: niche, without much interaction with the general populace. Above the Niche Market Mountains are the Charred Wasteland of Abandoned Social Networks. Given the popularity of MySpace and Facebook, there would be no doubt tons of websites wanting to take advantage of the success of these websites or even wanting to compete or even overpower with them. Even so, these websites tend to not have the userbase or even the expertise towards the long-term, hence they become wastelands: environments devoid of life, except the few life forms that are from these wastelands (in this case, the ones who are loyal to the website or which are sadly few). Within the Charred Wasteland of Abandoned Social Networks stands Ozymandias, the titular broken statue of Shelley's poem. In the poem, only "two vast and trunkless legs of stone" and a "shattered visage" are all that remain of the once-great statue and both of these features are present in the comic.
Also visible are the Duckface Mountains and the Red Cup Mountains. "Duckface" refers to this incredibly obnoxious facial expression, and "red cup pictures" are any pictures containing party-goers holding disposable red plastic beverage cups. Facebook is absolutely flooded with both types of pictures.
MMO's (short form of "MMORPG", short form of "Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Player Game") are websites that host online games where multiple people take the role of a character and play in a setting hosted by the website. These types of games tend to be fantastical in setting. Frequently, missions are added to the game, giving current player more incentive towards playing more.
- Habbo Hotel is a website where someone creates a human avatar an interacts in a virtual world that is not that different from the one in real life.
- Club Penguin is Disney's MMO where someone creates a penguin avatar and interacts with other in a more polar, cartoony setting. Club Penguin is aimed towards children.
- Maple Story is an MMO that has a more natural setting. The most distinguishing feature of Maple Story is its cartoony pixel art.
- GameFAQs, while not an MMO, is a website that has the largest repository of walkthoughs, that is, guides that help someone beat a game. GameFAQs is notable for not only its large repository of walkthroughs of games that are across an extreme variety of consoles, handhelds, and even computers (not all of them MMOs), but also the drama that is rumoured to happen in the GameFAQs forums.
- IGN (full: Imagine Games Network), while also not an MMO, is the largest website that gives news on video games in general, not just MMOs. Each of the games mentioned in the site have pages that have summaries, reviews, screenshots, other art, videos, and links to news related to its games.
- FFXI (full: Final Fantasy XI) is an MMO from SquareEnix, being the first MMO of the popular Final Fantasy series.
- Runescape is an older MMO.
- Starcraft II is a realtime strategy game with a science fiction setting that heavily involves space travel. While technically not an MMO, it has a significant online multiplayer component.
- WoW (full: World of Warcraft) is the definitive MMO, being not only the most popular and one of the longest-running but also the most expansive (having its own spinoff games, comic books, novels, and even figurines), WOW giving the idea of how an MMO should be. A player can choose from a variety of races, each with its own heavy history.
- Second Life is similar to Habbo, albeit with a bigger suspension of disbelief (one example being that the player does not need to be a human) and in a 3D setting.
- NationStates is a text-based political simulation game. Notably, some of its traffic comes not from the actual game (which is optional), but the extensive set of political, roleplaying, and general forums attached.
- Eve Online is a science fiction MMO which is notable because of its virtual economy.
- Gaia (full: Gaia Online), while not an MMO, is a forums oriented towards pop culture, including video games and Japanese media. Its most notable feature is the heavy customization possible of a member's pixel-art avatar. Its members tend to roleplay a lot, albeit in a more written, story-based form. Gaia has gained a revaination of its members stealing art and causing drama.
Other notable regions include:
- The Mountains of Steam, referring to the game distribution service Steam where people could buy and download video games in general, not just MMOs.
- River Grind refers to "grinding." In most MMOs, the character is a fighter of some sorts, yet starts at a level 1, signifying the character's aptitude level in combat. The character can level up and gain more aptitude levels through earning experience, of which the most reliable and otherwise common way is the process of "grinding," that is, repeatedly fighting opposing monsters (sometimes of a level notably lower that your character's), gaining experience points from winning these battles until your character gains a level, that is, "levels up". While a practical necessity in strengthening the character, this process can be tiresome, hence the expression "grinding."
- Spawn Camp refers to "spawn points", the places in combat-oriented MMO's tend to produce ("spawn") random AI-powered creatures, and the act of "spawn camping", in which the player character simply stands behind or around the spawn points to fight the enemy creatures as soon as they appear.
- Gulf of Lag refers to how the MMO can be slowed down a considerable amount doe to the large amount of players simultaneously using the same server, this congestion bogging down the server and frustrating the users.
- End Guy for the Internet refers to "end bosses", the last -- and usually hardest to defeat -- "bad guy" in a game (or a section of a game).
The YouTube region refers to websites that are based on user-created content.
YouTube is the definitive video website where people can upload videos with the purpose of public viewing, ranging from home movies through official music videos through Let's Plays of people playing video games to questionably-legal uploads of cartoons and films. Google had purchased YouTube.
- Viral Shores refers to how viral videos (whether they be viral marketing or simply memes) tend to proliferate on YouTube.
- Britney likely refers to pop singer Britney Spears and the "Leave Britney Alone" guy.
- Maru Gulf refers to Maru the Cat, a YouTube celebrity also mentioned in xkcd.
- Prairie Dog Habitat likely refers to the viral video Dramatic Chipmunk (which is actually a Prairie Dog).
- Rick Rolling Hills references, well, Rickrolling. More information here. The "deserted" note likely refers to how Rick Astley himself is tired of the meme, or again, how people tend to leave the video upon getting "Rick Roll'd," never actually going to the video with the express purpose of viewing the video.
- Lunar Landing Soundstage is, of course, a reference to the Moon landing conspiracy theories, which Randall has railed on before.
- OK Go Bay refers to the band "OK Go" who have multiple viral music videos on YouTube, most famously "Here it goes again" featuring treadmills.
The HTML5 swamp refers to the spotty support of HTML 5 (an update on HTML that is frequently touting its media capabilities, making HTML 5 a viable alternative to Flash) YouTube has. (Of course, by the time the comic was written, HTML 5 was still in its infancy.) The Music Video Bay refers to the amount of music videos (official or otherwise) are present in YouTube.
Other counties of the YouTube region include:
- Flickr, a website where people can upload and share photographs they took.
- Fotolog, a photo website very popular in South America in 2004-2008, which was used as a social network.
- vimeo, a website where people tend to showcase artistic content that they made on their own, notably independent studios.
- Last.fm, a music website that is notable of its "scrobbling" feature.
- Newgrounds, a website that hosts art, (Flash-based) videos, audio, and (Flash-based) games to which other users can comment and rate. Even so, content from Newgrounds tends to be obscene, though there is a filtering system if a viewer does not wish to see obscene content.
- deviantArt, the largest art website, where people can upload, sell, and buy not only art itself, but also video, audio, Flash-work, and even skins (the original purpose of deviantArt). While many big-name/professional people and organizations have their works in deviantArt, the site is more infamous for the large amount of people who upload low-quality fan-art and fan-characters, most notably of media from Japan. Another point of infamy is the large amount of drama that can happen in the website.
- Chatroulette is a website where people are randomly paired up with each other and video/text chat.
- Tumblr, where people could make a blog and post text, pictures, video, audio, quotes, and links. The most distinguishing feature is the ability to "reblog" these posts from other's people's blogs into the user's own blog. Notable features of Tumblr include sketchblogs (where people upload their sketches), Ask blogs (where people answer questions other users ask, the moderators of these blogs usually pretending to be a character from a form of media), and the large amount of "social justice" (where people fight against racism, sexism, and other forms of negative discrimination). (See also 1043: Ablogalypse.)
The Isle of teenagers who just discovered macroeconomics is a joke about how teenagers tend to think that the world and the economy are a lot simpler than they actually are. Combined with the typical internet mindset, this leads to a lot of teenagers posting blogs and videos and comments on blogs and videos describing how idiotic the government and other red-tape-related adults are. The Snob Sound could refer to the large amount of people who look down on others in the surrounding websites (one example being an original artist looking down on people who draw mainly fan-art).
- Bieber Bay is a reference to Justin Bieber a pop singer who became very popular on Twitter and other social media.
- Google Buzz is a former social network attempted by Google. It has since been shut down.
- Bit.Ly Mountains is a reference to the URL shortening service bit.ly.
- Kayne's Isle of Sadness is a reference to the musician Kayne West.
- Sarah Palin USA is the twitter handle of former politician Sarah Palin.
- Clueless Politician Coast is a reference to the number of politicians on Twitter and other social networks who repeatedly share clueless updates that more often create an uproar than help their election chances.
- Desert of Food Updates is a reference to the number of pictures of food that are shared on social media (especially Twitter).
- Journalists Trying to Find the Cutting Edge is referencing journalists on Twitter trying to keep up with the way that news is gathered and delivered now, despite usually working for a newspaper that publishes once a day.
- SHAQ is a reference to the former NBA basketball player, Shaq.
- identi.ca is an open source social networking and micro-blogging service.
- Breaking! Waves is a pun on the fact that so many people used the word "Breaking" at the beginning of tweets that do not warrant that tag that the word has lost most of its meaning and become a joke. It is a pun because waves "break" on the shore.
Troll Bay and the Sea of Memes
Alright, let's get this ball rolling:
- Wikipedia talk pages
- Slashdot, labeled "/." on the map,
- YTMND -- an acronym for "You're The Man Now, Dog!" --
- IRC isles
The Skype Region refers to different IM, or Instant Messaging services, that enable almost-real-time text chatting between multiple people. These often allow services like voice chat and even video calls.
- xkcd is "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language." The comics are stick figures that talk about technological things, bigger philosophies, or simply events in the author's life. More information about the webcomic can be found here.
- Skype is, according to Randall, the most popular of these among the internet. It has many features to allow peer-to-peer voice chats, as well as allowing calls to be made (at a price) to actual phones.
Blogosphere (Core Region)
- Baidu Baike (「百度百科」, "Baidu Encyclopedia") is a Chinese search engine.
- The Ma Le Ge Bi and the Grass Mud Horse Bay could refer to the Baidu 10 Mythical Creatures.
- Tencent QQ is a Chinese instant messaging program.
(Incidentally, in English-speaking communities "QQ" has several more common definitions:
- An emoticon, representing a face with two large, crying eyes.
- A synonym for "rage quit", in which a video game player quits the game out of sheer frustration. It originated in Warcraft II multiplayer, where pressing Ctrl+Q+Q would quit the game, and became more widely known in World of Warcraft.
- These definitions are commonly combined, usually to mock the "rage quitter".)
The Gulf of China refers to how sites in the region are based in People's Republic of China ("Red China"). The Great Firewall refers to The Great Firewall of China, a pun on The Great Wall of China. Similar to how The Great Wall of China was meant to keep intruding nations out of the then-capital of the city, The Great Firewall of China is meant to keep visitors from visiting censored websites. However, either a VPN or remote access to a computer in a "freer" country can circumvent the Firewall.
Forums are websites where one person post a topic to which other people can discuss.
While the map has a zoomed in version, this article shall discuss the two bigger islands, first.
- 2channel is a Japanese imageboard that was actually the original inspiration for 4chan.
- Craigslist is a classified advertisement website with sections devoted to just about everything... which formerly included prostitution services, hence the The Former Site of Adult Services.
In the zoomed-in map, there is...
- 420chan and 7chan, other imageboards in the style of 4chan (see below). Their relative lack of popularity and derivative nature leads a lot of 4chan users to mock them (hence, their position on Randall's map suggests that they're mere wads of semen).
- Encyclopedia Dramatica, labeled ED on the map , is a wiki site dedicated to chronicling internet memes and other noteworthy sites, events, people, and anything else that catches their attention in an incredibly arbitrary and vulgar manner. The site is heavily steeped in the attitude of veteran, vulgar 4chan users. People who have articles in the website tend to react with despair, given not only the cruelty in which the articles talk about the person in question, but the presence of the article means that the person is now an eternal target from the trolls. The user can not retaliate, since the userbase of Encyclopedia Dramatica and 4chan tneds to overpower the victim easily...
- ...usually. Due to the founder's talk against the Australian Aborignals (the founder is Australian), legal action has gone against the founder to the point of the founder having to shut down Encyclopedia Dramatica, founding the far tamer Oh, Internet! website, instead. Trolls responded by not only uploading their own mirror of the website but also vilifying the former founder forever.
- (Please note that, due to the malicious nature of the pop-up advertisements of Encyclopedia Dramatica, the link above points to its safe-for-work successor, Oh, Internet!)
- 4chan.org is an imageboard in which people can upload pictures while others comment on them. The website is infamous for its loose/often non-existent rules, incredibly vulgar userbase, source of new memes, and spawning of trolls. 4chan's random board, known internally as /b/, is almost constantly flooded with porn and image macros. This is why Randall's incarnation of 4chan is shaped like a penis.
- Tunnel to Habbo is a reference to the 2006 Habbo Hotel Raids, in which hundreds of 4chan Anons simultaneously logged onto Habbo Hotel and proceeded to be as obnoxious as possible, standing in formations of swastikas and penises or body-blocking the swimming pools.
- Catbus Route is likely a reference to Lolcats in general.
- eBaum's World is a media-hosting website founded by Eric Bauman. The site has lost a lot of traffic after (quite valid) accusations of stolen content.
- The gulf labelled Anonymous is a reference to the trolls that label themselves "Anonymous" who recently had gained national acknowledgement because of the group's real-life tirades, including cracking attacks against the Church of Scientology and the founding of WikiLeaks (a website that leaks confidential material related to governments).
- SomethingAwful is a website that is meant to showcase all things "awful". SomethingAwful also has a large trollbase, but they tend to be more honorable than the ones from Encyclopedia Dramatica and 4chan. One example is there being a spotty holding of the no-furries rule in the forums. The forums themselves are famous because of the holding of the Let's Plays of Dangan Ronpa and Super Dangan Ronpa 2, which had cooked up public interest to the point of there being an English-language release of the games.
Please note that, due to these Let's Plays being in a forums that frequently hides behind a "paywall" that requires a paid account before accessing, the links provided go to their mirrors.
- Map of Online Communities
- Size on map represents volume of Daily Social activity (posts, chat, etc). Based on data gathered over the Spring and Summer of 2010.
- [Two insets on the upper left-hand corner shows that this map is a tiny portion of the huge continent of Spoken Language, encompassing portions of the Internet, Email, and Cell Phones (SMS).]
- [The largest landmass on the map by far, which takes up nearly the entire northern half of the map is "Facebook" - with large states in the south-east of the country labeled 'Farmville' and 'Happy Farm'. There is a much smaller state to the west of these called 'Farm Town'. To the north of these states is a large swath of unremarkable land entitled 'Northern Wasteland of Unread Updates.' This is directly north of the large Dopamine Sea.
- A peninsula on the south-west, just below the Plains of Awkwardly Public Family Interactions, houses many tiny states, such as MySpace, Orkut, LinkedIn, Bebo, & Hi5. It is bordered on the south by Buzzword Bay, which contains several islands of varying sizes. Among these are YouTube and Twitter (the largest), which are separated by the Social Media Consultant Channel. To the south-east of Twitter, across the Sea of Protocol Confusion, is another, equally large island. Most of it is Skype, with the north having two largish states called AIM and Windows Live Messenger. On the south-west part of the island are two smaller states called GG and Yahoo Messenger.
- The Island of Skype is extremely close to, but separated by the Great Firewall (a dashed line), the large landmass of QQ. It's north shore is the Gulf of China and Grass Mud Horse Bay. Outside of these bays, over the Great Firewall are two islands called Craigslist and 2Channel.
- In the Dopamine Sea, off the southern shores of Farmville and Happy Farm, is MMO Isle. Its largest state is WoW, with Runescape, Lineage, Maple Story, Habbo, and the Mountains of Steam among its notable landmarks. To the southeast of the island is the Gulf of Lag, in which sits the CDC Games island, with Eve Online.
- To the east of Twitter is Troll Bay, with such islands as Reddit and Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicio.us, and Wikipedia Talk Pages. To their south are the IRC isles, of which one is the tiny island of #xkcd.
- East of these islands, and north of Skype island, is the Sea of Memes. In this sea, to the north of Craigslist and 2Channel, is an archipelago of tiny islands. There is an inset, labeled 'Forums.' (See below.)
- To the southwest if Twitter island, in the Sea of Opinions, are the blog islands. These lie south of the islands in Buzzword Bay, as well. The northernmost islands in this group are centered around the Bay of Drama, on which can be found Diary Blogs, Gossip Blogs, and Livejournal. Gossip Blogs share an island with Political, Music, and Tech Blogs. To the north of this island is a smaller island called Photo Blogs. South of Diary Blogs, and off the southwest coast of Music blogs is a smaller island called Fandom Blogs. South of Tech Blogs, off of which sprouts the small peninsula of Business Blogs, is the Spamblog Straits. On the other side of the straits is a large island made up of Miscellaneous Blogs, with two states demarcated as Religious Blogs and Blog Blogs. Southwest of the Blog Islands is the Sea of Zero (0) Comments.]
- [An inset of a group of islands in the sea of memes located on the lower right corner of the map, labeled 'Forums'. The largest by far is 4chan and /b/. Also found here are D2JSP, JLA Frums, Fan Forum, Something Awful, and many smaller ones, too numerous to list here.]
- [The northeastern third of Gossip/Political/Tech Blogs island is another inset labeled 'Blogosphere (Core)'. This can be found on the lower left corner of the map. Two peninsulas in Political Blogs bookend the Bay of Flame -- these are Liberal Blogs and Conservative Blogs. Between them lie several tiny islands such as Politics Daily, CNN Politcal Ticker, and Mediaite. Off the coast of Liberal Blogs lies the island of NYTimes, off the coast of Conservative Blogs is Libertarian Isle. Between the two lies The Talk. The northern peninsula of Tech Blogs contains places such as Gizmodo, Engadget, Joystiq, and Kotaku.]
- [Text found between the two insets, which are directly below the main map.]
- ABOUT THIS MAP
- Communities rise and fall, and total membership numbers are no longer a good measure of a community's current size and health. This updated map uses size to represent total social activity in a community -- that is, how much talking, playing, sharing, or other socializing happens there. This meant some comparing of apples and oranges, but I did my best and tried to be consistent.
- Estimates are based on the numbers I could find, but involved a great deal of guesswork, statistical inference, random sampling, nonrandom sampling, a 20,000-cell spreadsheet, emailing, cajoling, tea-leaf reading, goat sacrifices, and gut instinct (i.e. making things up).
- Sources of data include Google and Bing, Wikipedia, Alexa, Big-Boards.com, StumbleUpon, Wordpress, Akismet, every website statistics page I could find, press releases, news articles, and individual site employees. Thanks in particular to folks at Last.fm, LiveJournal, Reddit, and the New York Times, as well as sysadmins at a number of sites who shared statistics on condition of anonymity.
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