Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 00:41, 4 March 2013 by Davidy22 (talk | contribs) (Made main page title bigger cuz it looked wierd.)
Jump to: navigation, search

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained 6 xkcd comics, and only 2145 (35750%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

A/B
We wrote our site in Linear A rather than Aksara Kawi because browser testing showed that Crete script rendered faster than Java script.
Title text: We wrote our site in Linear A rather than Aksara Kawi because browser testing showed that Crete script rendered faster than Java script.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Written in MYCENEAN GREEK. Please mention here why this explanation isn't complete. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

A/B testing is a form of controlled experiment in which test subjects are randomly split into two groups, A and B, and each group is shown a slightly different version of the same thing. This is most often used for market research, as it allows researchers to discover which of two options are received more favorably by consumers. For example, a website might employ A/B testing by randomly showing 50% of visitors a version with a different font. By checking their site traffic analytics afterward, the site operators can see which version of the site received the most user engagement, which might tell them that the alternate font is a better choice.

Linear A is an as-of-yet undeciphered writing system of the ancient Minoan civilization (a civilization based on the island of Crete). It appears similar to the deciphered Linear B writing system, but if the pronunciation rules of Linear B are applied to Linear A, it produces a language unrelated to any known language.

Linear B, on the other hand, has been deciphered. It is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest form of Greek for which we have evidence. It predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries and likely evolved out of the earlier Linear A writing system.

While not completely consistent with the definition of A/B testing presented above, the comic jokingly suggests that the choice of writing system could be decided through A/B testing, with the "A" and "B" literally being Linear A and Linear B. The test subject apparently can read Linear B (which encodes Mycenaean Greek), but not Linear A (which produces what's seemingly gibberish when read through the rules of Linear B). It is also a pun on the common phrase "[it's] Greek to me", which people use to refer to something as gibberish, but here, it is the Greek text which is comprehensible to Cueball, while instead the other one isn't.

The title text explains the selection of script code (i.e. programming language) used to create the web site. Aksara Kawi is a script (i.e. a writing system) that was used on the island of Java (today part of Indonesia) from the 8th century until 1500 AD. Referring to it as "Java script" is a pun on JavaScript, which is a browser scripting language for creating web pages. Here, Linear A is selected as the "script" language over Aksara Kawi because it rendered faster in testing.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Cueball is sitting behind a computer desk, facing to the right, gesturing at the screen. Ponytail stands behind him and Hairy stands in front of him, both taking notes in a pad.]
Cueball: I like this one more because it encodes Mycenaean Greek. The other one just looks like gibberish.
[Caption below the panel:]
Linear A/B testing

Trivia

Versions of the script engine used in early versions of the Opera web browser were named after ancient writing scripts: Linear A, Linear B, Futhark (the oldest form of the runic alphabets used by Germanic tribes), and Carakan (Javanese script known as Aksara Jawa, a modern variant of Aksara Kawi).


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

New 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, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! Here's how.

Rules

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, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is here.