958: Hotels

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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'Rating: 1/5. Room filled to brim with semen, and when front desk clerk opened mouth to talk, bedbugs poured out.'
Title text: 'Rating: 1/5. Room filled to brim with semen, and when front desk clerk opened mouth to talk, bedbugs poured out.'


Alright, it is pretty clear what Black Hat is doing here. He is putting bad reviews on all the hotels he has stayed at and likes and wants to stay in again, and it is true that this would lower demand for said hotel. Putting positive reviews on bad hotels, on the other hand, would steer other people there so there are more vacancies at good hotels. He claims he is not enough influence to put them out of business.

The Tragedy of the commons "is a dilemma arising from the situation in which multiple individuals, acting independently and rationally consulting their own self-interest, will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long-term interest for this to happen." This situation is not a complete example of this concept as Black Hat is the only one doing it. He understands, however, that if others do it, it would apply.

In the last frame, Black Hat references the invisible hand which is the term economists use to describe the self-regulating nature of the marketplace. Black Hat appears to be taking advantage of this invisible hand by literally cutting it with a knife and eating it.

The title text is an example of Black Hat's negative review.


[Cueball is sitting at a desk with a laptop, looking at a review website]
Cueball: What's with this negative review? You *liked* that hotel.
Black Hat Man: I have a script that posts a bad review for every hotel I stay at. It reduces demand, which means more vacancies and lower prices next time.
Cueball: What if the place sucks?
Black Hat Man: I change the review to positive to steer other people over there.
Cueball: You punish companies you like!
Black Hat Man: The odds of *my* review putting a hotel out of business are negligible.
Cueball: If we all did that the system would collapse!
Black Hat Man: Doesn't affect my logic. Tragedy of the commons.
Cueball: That's not even the tragedy of the commons anymore. That's the tragedy of you're a dick.
Black Hat Man: If you're quick with a knife, you'll find that the invisible hand is made of delicious invisible meat.

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I hardly ever visit the same place twice, so I'd have to give hotels bad reviews ahead of time so that I get lower prices when I get there. Hell, why doesn't Black Hat do that? That way, he can avoid paying full price on his first visit to the hotel, which is what he wants, isn't it? The dishonesty of writing a bad review before he visits shouldn't be a deterrent to a person like him, so why not? Davidy²²[talk] 08:39, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

How did cue ball find out he liked it. Although it is only one person, knowing him directly gives him extra influence. I would say it is about the amount of influence of a review.-- 02:02, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

Cueball seems to be friendly enough with Black Hat, so quite likely Black Hat simply mentioned that to Cueball before. Arifsaha (talk) 19:51, 21 November 2014 (UTC)
While lying to Cueball about the quality of a hotel would reduce the overall demand, it is unlikely that both Black Hat and Cueball would both be travelling to the same city over the same date range, effectively meaning they are not competitors. Furthermore, if they were travelling together it is more likely that they would share a room, rental car or other resource, so having Cueball know his preferences benefits Black Hat. 20:44, 12 December 2014 (UTC)

Is the title text a reference to a scene in a horror movie? Arifsaha (talk) 19:51, 21 November 2014 (UTC)

Highly unlikely, unless you can actually find a horror movie that incorporates those elements (I really hope you can't) -Pennpenn 02:59, 4 March 2016 (UTC)

"Confirmed buyer" tags exist. Maybe Black Hat thinks that reviews without that tags wouldn't be convincing enough to be effective.

On the tragedy of You-are-a-dick: this is the real Tragedy of the Commons. Indeed quite different from Black Hat's tragedy of you-are-a-dick. My uni has a well-drawn version of this image on posters all over. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-r-IYVLEtd7c/Te-HBryOP6I/AAAAAAAAANs/RC9LTMLSp9o/s1600/GDP+as+Tragedy+of+the+Commons.JPG (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)