929: Speculation

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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'I was pretty good at skeet shooting, but was eventually kicked off the range for catching the clay pigeons in a net and dispatching them execution-style.'
Title text: 'I was pretty good at skeet shooting, but was eventually kicked off the range for catching the clay pigeons in a net and dispatching them execution-style.'


During a basketball game, the players discuss the nature of universal conformity. Facebook and the now-defunct Google+ were competing social networks; at the time of this comic many people were switching to Plus over Facebook leading many to speculate that Facebook was in decline and that Plus would soon be the dominant social network. As of 2019, it seems that Facebook has successfully held its position as the Default Social Network™, while Google Plus was a colossal blunder for Google and was finally sunset for consumers in April 2019. The two players seem to have a disagreement over this. One player states that it would be ridiculous to expect everyone to move to Plus. The other player denies the notion that they have to, stating that he values his personal preference over conformity. He supports this idea by saying that his mother still uses AOL and other people continue using IRC and that if each time a new dominant social network emerged and everyone switched to it, neither of these things would stick around.

They are interrupted when they pass the ball to Black Hat, who immediately shoots it with a crossbow bolt. Their arguments and rather intelligent discussion are derailed by the absurdity of Black Hat's reaction, which is both humorous and puts the issue in stark contrast.

Black Hat neither joins in the discussion nor does he participate in the game. It seems that any offer to participate in either is met with a blunt and clear denial. He is simply not a conformist.

A possible explanation for the joke is that while tech geeks or Google enthusiasts might discuss whether the world will move from Facebook to Plus, a number of people might simply ignore the debate and "shoot" the discussion dead by just ignoring the existence of anything that isn't Facebook. Or even that of Facebook itself; Blackhat's attention appears to be on a phone, at least before and after having loosed the crossbow bolt, but there's no obvious clue here as to what he actually uses it for/with, at the time of this comic.

In the title text, Black Hat continues to provide an example of his tendency to play by his own rules. A clay pigeon is a clay disc that is thrown into the air and serves as a target on a skeet shooting range. Participants are expected to shoot the pigeons with a shotgun but Black Hat would rather capture the clay pigeons and shoot them from a very close range. (This is made even more humorous by the excellent crossbow skills he shows in the comic.) This practice eventually got him expelled from the shooting range. It is unclear whether Black Hat was good at shooting clay pigeons from farther away.


[Two Cueball-like guys are playing basketball. The right guy (Cueball) attempts to throw the basketball through the hoop, but it bounces off down to his friend. To the right Black Hat has his back to the other two while he is looking at his phone.]
Friend: Do you seriously think everyone will move to Plus? It was hard enough getting them on Facebook.
[The friend has caught the rebound and now passes the basketball back to Cueball. Black Hat is not shown.]
Cueball: Do they have to?
Cueball: My mom still uses AOL—it doesn't mean my social life has to happen there.
[Only Cueball is shown. He passes the basketball to the right towards the off-panel Black Hat.]
Cueball: Universal adoption isn't everything. I mean, IRC is still—
[Zoom in on the basketball as a crossbow bolt pierces the ball, forming a slight depression.]
[Cueball looks to Black Hat who has a crossbow in one hand, he is still looking at the phone in his other hand. The ball with the arrow lies between them.]
Cueball: You're not really the "catch" type, are you?
Black Hat: I am not.

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I love the comics like this that work on multiple levels. They really lend to the legitimacy of xkcd as a thinking man's webcomic, and they're great comics to link to when I'm trying to make a point. Davidy²²[talk] 09:24, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

It's a bolt. Longbows fire arrows, crossbows fire bolts. 'K?

That bolt looks maighte like an arrow to me... but let's not quarrel about this. --Qwach (talk) 23:35, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Crossbows do fire bolts, so the only reason you wouldn't want to quarrel about it is because you would be wrong.
However, the word "arrow" comes from the official transcript, so YOU don't want to quarrel about it either, 'K? 07:19, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Quarrel? [1]-- 12:57, 18 March 2014 (UTC)
Please check your adds on the preview before committing it here. Everything you do save here is viewable to everyone; that's just annoying. I just want to see your primary intention, because THAT'S IMPORTANT, if that doesn't work fix it at PREVIEW before we get a mess here. I'm just happy if I can understand what you are talking about. --Dgbrt (talk) 00:27, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

The explanation states that it is Black Hat speaking in the title text. It makes much more sense if it is Randall speaking, but just demonstrating a slightly black-hat tendency. In my opinion. 17:58, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, but in the original comic's title text, it uses the single-quotes--that wasn't just added by explainxkcd as a formatting thing. When Randall is supposed to be the one speaking, there are no quotation marks in the title text... that implies this one is a quote from Black Hat. 04:27, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

There's another joke not mentioned in the explanation. Cueball said "You're not really the catch type, are you." since Black Hat shot the basketball instead of catching it. 21:32, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

There is a community portal discussion of what to call Cueball and what to do in case with more than one Cueball. I have added this comic to the Category:Multiple Cueballs. I switched which Cueball is called Cueball in the transcript so now the one named Cueball has all the interesting comments of this comic and also he is the one shooting at the hoop and passing to Black-Hat. Also made a note that the other guy also looks like Cueball. --Kynde (talk) 08:23, 27 June 2015 (UTC)

Where'd Black Hat get that crossbow? Benjaminikuta (talk) 08:58, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

From the all-you-can-eat crossbow store. We're regular customers. Danish (talk) 00:06, 16 March 2021 (UTC)
Psst— answering six-year-old comments ain't cool. BlackHat (talk 20:44, 25 April 2021 (UTC
How else could I have answered? (And that was a month-old comment...) Danish (talk)) 15:27, 26 April 2021 (UTC))
Why the fuck not? 17:35, 31 May 2023 (UTC) (please sign your comments with four ~s)
Sarah, regarding your edits, just letting you know that:
  • You can use {{unsigned ip}} (or {{unsigned}}, for named accounts).
    • Simply enter {{unsigned ip|<the ip>|<the timestamp>}} - the timestamp is optional, but useful.
    • In this case, {{unsigned ip||17:35, 31 May 2023}} would have been Ok (I don't usually add the UTC bit, from the bare timestamp that I tend to copy).
  • To quote something markup-like such as "~~~~", literally, you need the <nowiki> tag. Plus the </nowiki> closer, naturally. But the above template does that for you.
FYI. On the offchance you'll read this reply, as you don't have a Talk page yet. 20:24, 12 June 2024 (UTC)

But as OF NEARLY 2023, I can say with certainty that Facebook’s “meta” project has failed miserably. SilverTheTerribleMathematician (talk) 11:02, 10 December 2022 (UTC)