Talk:1572: xkcd Survey

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 12:16, 3 September 2015 by (talk) (sure on joke status of 'maple syrup'?)
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Mildly interesting to note that the ordering of most of the checkbox/radiobutton lists randomise each time the survery is loaded. Also, there is at least one other comic where Randall comments about not having figured out HTML imagemaps. Anyone remember which? --Pudder (talk) 10:52, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

It was in one of his "under the logo" news bars, about him starting What If, iirc --Aescula (talk) 11:28, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I wonder how many people, on reading 'Type "cat" here:', typed '"cat" here:'? I know I did... 11:58, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Guilty...--Pudder (talk) 12:08, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Me too... However you could have typed '"cat" here:', as well... (/edit: I wonder how many different entries the survey's result will reveal) (/edit2: I did not read properly... sorry. I typed '"cat"' not '"cat" here:' -.-)Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 12:27, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
I typed meow - 12:41, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Where it said "Type five random words" I typed "five random words" (without the quotes).
--Lou Crazy (talk) 11:24, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

Not sure if it was just me, but the comic wasn't a link at all! The cursor changed into a No cursor for me everytime I mouseover'd the comic. I went to survey using the "Bonus Link!" below the comic page. Brilliantnut (talk) 12:01, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Never mind, this was probably due to the WebComics reader extension that I have in my browser. Brilliantnut (talk) 12:03, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

From hearing people on reddit comment about not being able to completely fill the text box (not just the visual box) with the error "Answer too long", it's caused by a 10k character limit. Presumably by Google Docs. 13:18, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Can we get a note on the title text? Something about the 1493-like vacuousness of "Big Data for a Big Planet". Also, I added a defn for "revergent"; future researchers, anyone who knows that one is probably a fern biologist. FourViolas (talk) 20:51, 2 September 2015 (UTC)


The validation choices are interesting.

  • "Enter a number between 1 and 100" rejects numbers outside this range (e.g. -1) but also reject valid responses (e.g. π).
  • "Enter your age" and "Enter the number of $SIBLING" accept invalid responses such as -1. Paddles (talk) 13:29, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
I (with fairly honest intention) tried to give non-numeric answers to the two Think Of A Number questions and my the age one (honestly, I had to actually think about that one, for a moment) and found them restricted to numbers only. So obviously Randall's not so subversive as to allow free text. (BTW, I've only driven 'stick shift', though an old friend of mine has just gotten an automatic, I think for the first time, which said was rather posh of him.) 15:55, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I used an HTML inspector tool to create a unique response to one of the radio button questions. The form claimed to submit successfully; it should be obvious in the results if it worked. - Frankie (talk) 16:29, 2 September 2015 (UTC)


"it's possible that someone may be able to identify you by looking at your responses" Then why send those informations to Google ? I find the idea of thee survey interesting but why Google doc ? There are other options like Lime Survey. Seipas (talk) 13:37, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Given the stated intention to make the collected dataset available publicly, there's no information-security reason to prefer another survey tool over Google. Paddles (talk) 14:21, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Technically Google could de-anonymize the data if you're logged in or otherwise identifiable when submitting the survey. When Randall publishes the data set it can be completely anonymized. Not that I care if Google knows I claim to consider myself half-cat, half-person. Jestempies (talk) 21:15, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Not a transcript

This is mildly interesting, but it is not a transcript. Transcripts are meant mainly for blind people and search engines. Different letter sizes and a frame are not needed. Xhfz (talk) 12:54, 2 September 2015 (UTC)



A search for weird correlations
Note: This survey is anonymous, but
all responses will be posted publicly
so people can play with the data.
Click here to
take the survey

Or click here, or here.
The whole comic is a link,
because I still haven't gotten
the hang of HTML imagemaps.

The transcript is not only for blind people. And an enhanced layout doesn't harm them but instead it would help them. A speech synthesizer would tell them something like "headline" or "small text at bottom" so that the impaired people would get a much better feeling of the comic. --Dgbrt (talk) 15:12, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I wonder how many people included "battery, horse, staple, correct" in the five random words box. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I typed ');drop table survey; -- at the end of the random characters text box. I must have been the first person to think of that because the survey was still working. Jeremyp (talk) 13:46, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I wish it was funny. 16:20, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Tables Vs Bulleted List

The list of questions and possible responses has been added to the explanation by myself and xhfz, in different formats. I went for a wikitable, xhfz used a bulleted list. Rather than just overwrite each other, I think we need to have a discussion on which is the best choice. The reasons I believe a wikitable is the best option:

  • Far better expandability, in anticipation of survey results
  • More structured and neater presentation

In general I tend to lean towards tables, but it is probably a constructive discussion to have for the wiki as a whole. I would be interested to hear opinions of bulleted list vs tables in these types of situation.--Pudder (talk) 13:42, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

If we have a table we need colspan instead of rowspan. On the other hand a table is very difficult to maintain. In addition, the table didn't have space for explanations (another column, maybe). Xhfz (talk) 13:44, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

If you used colspan, questions like "How many of these 20 words do you know" would be excessively wide. Perhaps a combination of colspan and rowspan, or simply a single cell with the responses listed as comma seperated list. As far as adding a column for explanations, its pretty trivial. What I'm getting at is that perhaps the format of a table would need to be optimised, but that is entirely feasible.
I agree with you as far as tables being more intimidating to edit and maintain, but once set up they aren't that bad.
Bulleted lists (to me at least) look messy, and tend to lack a coherent structure. As more information is added, sub-levels and sub-sub-levels are added without much thought as to the overall intent. --Pudder (talk) 14:14, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

By colspan I mean this:

Question Possible Answers
When you think about stuff on the internet, where do you picture it being physically located? Even if you know it's not really how things work, is there a place you imagine websites and social media posts sitting before you look at them? If so, where is it?
Multi-line text box
Which of these words do you know the meaning of?
Have you ever thrown out all your different pairs of socks/underwear, bought a bunch of replacements that were all one kind, and then told all your friends how great it was and how they should do it too?
I did the throwing out thing, but didn't talk to everyone about it
No, but I'm totally doing that now

Xhfz (talk) 14:44, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Yeah, if someone just did that, that would be great. The Twenty-second. The Not So Only. The Nathan/Nk22 (talk) 18:54, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Missing questions

Something notably missing which would have greatly helped later analysis was a question about where someone is - Country and/or State. Some of the questions and answers will be differently understood because of that (eg meaning if 'sandwich') -- 14:23, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

I think that is the whole point though, to provide a data set that actively attempts to prevent the obvious simple analysis. There are plenty of statistics on how people from place A are more likely to do thing B. What I want to know is "How many people who would class a taco as a sandwich and can drive stick shift are able to juggle?". Also, is it true that most people think they are above average drivers? --Pudder (talk) 15:09, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
Subsections were added for ease of editing

You can delete the subsections later. Xhfz (talk) 15:30, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Ok, I agree on that. --Dgbrt (talk) 15:42, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
I think we shouldn't force the reader to go to Wikipedia

I added explanations in "Activities" and twice they were deleted. Why? [1] [2] Xhfz (talk) 15:39, 2 September 2015 (UTC)

Personally, I think those activities are so easily understood, that adding an "explanation" is not necessary. I think wiki links are sufficient, so that if somehow people don't know what the activities are, they can go look. --Pudder (talk) 15:45, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
I know 20,000 words in I also know soliloquy, modicum, amiable and salient. I had never heard of dunk, sheet bend, bowline, or stick shift, but I know the meaning of manual transmission without going to Wikipedia. Xhfz (talk) 15:47, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
For the record, it wasn't me who deleted the explanations. The fact that Randall included those words in his survey without any explanation shows that they are fairly common words. In the context of the question, the meaning becomes clearer (Tie a sheet bend or bowline = its very likely those are knots), and if people still don't know, they can click on the wiki link. --Pudder (talk) 16:14, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
From a different perspective, I understand a number of the words and terms, even though they aren't the ones I'd use, locally. i.e. gas/petrol, stick-shift/gears, cell phone/mobile phone, soda/pop (and where would cordial, to be diluted with water, sit in that list of drinks..? either way, I chose "fruit juice" so maybe that covers it). Also I think I would call an "open-faced sandwich" a 'Smorgasbord', but that seems to be a childhood misunderstanding of what the scandinavian term actually represents (the whole buffet, not any individual item bread-and-topping construct that you end up with on your platter). "Condiments" obviously means something differently, too. For me that's the likes of salt, pepper and vinegar - along with other chopped herbs at a push - but from context it sounds like it includes dips such as mayonnaise, and/or sauces like ketchup/brown/tartar. A different world, truly! 17:46, 2 September 2015 (UTC)
It's a poorly worded question to which people in some countries would answer the opposite of that intended because of the way the question is worded. Very few cars run on gas (a friend's van runs on LPG), but many use petrol or diesel. 05:55, 3 September 2015 (UTC)
Fellow Brits? No, IP of the latter appears to be Arizona (or at least the ISP, in Phoenix). Strange. Anyway, thanks to copious imports of 'Merkin TV and film, it'd be obvious to most(/all?) people I know that gas(olene) would be the common word in the US for the fuel that I'd call petrol(eum). Or so I was under the impression of, until now. Of course there is actual gas (modern LPG or wartime contingencies) but so far liquid hydrocarbons seem to still be king, inclusive of DERV. 07:51, 3 September 2015 (UTC)
Can we access the results now?

Are the contents available at a known URL? I use Google Docs but have never done a survey before... 06:03, 3 September 2015 (UTC)

Maple syrup

The current article comments that the "Maple syrup" option to the any that you drink question is a joke. Are you sure? I have met several people (to clarify, adults, I'm not even considering children) who drink straight maple syrup, and many times more who pour maple syrup into their drinks (notably coffee, tea, and milk are the most common I see people pour it into). There are webpages devoted to maple syrup drink recipes (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and people debating other people's opinions on whether maple syrup is better drunk hot, cold, or room temperature. There is a possibility that Randall was not intending this question as a joke since it seems to be "a thing" among some people. 12:16, 3 September 2015 (UTC)