explain xkcd:Community portal/Miscellaneous

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Welcome to the Community Portal. This set of pages is used to discuss how Explain xkcd works, and is divided into five sections. Please use the table below to find the most appropriate section to post in, or post in the miscellaneous section. You can view all community portal sections at once here.

Community portal sections

Proposals (post)
Ideas to improve the wiki's design and organization.

Technical (post)
To discuss technical issues.

Coordination (post)
To coordinate content editing and maintenance tasks.

Admin requests (post)
User problems, changes to protected pages, etc.

Miscellaneous (post)
Messages that do not fit into any other category.

The Community Portal's design

{{Community portal}} looks too Wikipedia-ish (because that's where I got it). Someone who can design things should probably fix that. It isn't protected for the time being, though it probably will be in the future (high-visibility template). --Philosopher Let us reason together. 00:54, 4 August 2012 (EDT)

Common mistake

This affects all pages that ever say "alt text" in reference to the TITLE text on xkcd images. "Alt text" is incorrect; Alt text refers to the text that is shown as an alternative when images are not displayed. Title text is what xkcd uses and is shown as a tool tip-like bubble when images are hovered over.

I would correct this myself but I saw no way to edit the main page. --Jillysky (talk) 14:21, 6 August 2012‎ (UTC)

You actually don't need to edit the main page to fix it, as what's there is just a mirror (transclusion) of the actual content from the comic page, at Curiosity, which is open for editing by anyone. Then again, the "alt-text" in that case is generated by a template, {{comic}}, so that's where we should fix this. The template's code, however, is currently a terrible mess (sorry!), so I went ahead and took care of it. Thanks for catching that! --Waldir (talk) 16:24, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
Ah? So it's wrong, for instance, on http://m.xkcd.com? because of that I took it for granted that we could call it the alt-text... - Cos (talk) 17:38, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes. If you look at the page's html source, you'll see:
 title="As of this writing the NASA/JPL websites are still overloaded. Trying CURIOSITY-REAR-CAM_[256px_x_256px].torrent.SwEsUb.DVDRip.XviD-aXXo.jpg instead."
(line breaks added for clarity) --Waldir (talk) 23:54, 6 August 2012 (UTC)
That was my error in the template. I knew "image text" that has been commonly used by Jeff was not techically correct, but I didn't actually go back and confirm it was alt text before I included that tag in the template. That's to Waldir (I believe?) for correcting the template. TheHYPO (talk) 14:14, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

When the "official" transcript is wrong?

I did 903: Extended Mind. Interestingly, the transcript on xkcd.com is missing the bottom line "When Wikipedia has a server outage, my apparent IQ drops by 30 points." I assume we want a complete transcript, rather than whatever xkcd.com says it is...? Stevage (talk) 04:10, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

We're focusing on the actual transcript of the comic, not the xkcd.com transcript. The official transcript is usually right, but even Randall makes mistakes sometimes. Davidy22(talk) 04:24, 17 November 2012 (UTC)

Milestone: half the comics explained!!

Hi all! I'm pleased to announce that we have just broke the 50% mark for xkcd explanations! The page that balanced the count (568 explained, 568 to go, at the time) was 877: Beauty, created 01:31 UTC, 21 November 2012 by User:Davidy22. Congratulations!! :D --Waldir (talk) 03:10, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

The caterer's been called! The punch will be arriving soon! Go Davidy22! lcarsos_a (talk) 06:53, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
freedom.png Punch is served! Davidy22(talk) 07:11, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

But the Main page says 407 explanations, 731 to go! What's up with that? --St.nerol (talk) 21:00, 23 November 2012 (UTC)


Why in the Archive why are all the thing up until "Heatmap" in Reverse? Can someone please answer? Tmack3 (talk) 08:28, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Archive? Can you provide a link or screenshot? Davidy22[talk] 04:43, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

http://xkcd.com/archive/ Tmack3 (talk) 08:28, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Ah, that's because the comic right after that, rtl, has a right-to-left character in it that flips all the proceeding text. Davidy22[talk] 00:13, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Ah, ok, i see that now. When I 1st saw that RTL I just thought that it was random letters, thankyou for explaining it for me. Tmack3 (talk) 08:28, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

It also depends on what browser you are on because on Google Chrome it was normal. Tmack3 (talk) 09:08, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Do you think this question was asked by one of the xkcd people?

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090301060752AAtYugc Tmack3 (talk) 08:38, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Matthew Reilly

I would just like to tell everyone that I asked Matthew Reilly (the author) if he is ever scared that a velociraptor is going to attack him, and he said NO! He clearly needs to start worrying about them! Tmack3 (talk) 10:45, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

What can we learn section

First of all I love your work. I believe deeper understanding of each XKCD can make a world a better place and I thank you sincerely for starting this webpage. I wanted to ask what you think about "What can we learn?" section I've been adding to some of the pages. Thank you - E-inspired (talk) 13:27, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

This site is actually the work of multiple editors working slowly and steadily to fill in explanations for all the old comics. Some of the xkcd comics are incredibly deep - comic 956 is such a poignant comic that digs into the DRM issue on so many levels. Your reflections on many of the comics are very much warranted and you're helping us create talk pages with high-quality opening posts, which is great for future discussion on this wiki. It'd be nice if you could refrain from putting headers in talk pages, technical limitations of the wiki make long explanation pages choke when headings are in the discussion page. Other than that, keep up the good work! Davidy²²[talk] 13:42, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
I've put in my 2 cents to comic 956, and thank you for teaching me how to comment and link to other comics - E-inspired (talk) 13:58, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
FYI, you can always make pseudo-headings using a horizontal rule and a bold "header", but honestly I think a simple standard opening sentence would suffice. --Waldir (talk) 12:14, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
Oh, and the guy who draws xkcd is called Randall Munroe. So many glowing things to be said about him. Davidy²²[talk] 13:44, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I can't thank him enough for simplifying complex issues to funny stories, I think it's exactly what our generation needs - E-inspired (talk) 13:58, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm in favor of a Mr. Rogers style of 'what lesson can be learned' on the talk page, but make sure your comments don't come across as sanctimonious and holier-than-thou as that can be really off-putting. lcarsos_a (talk) 19:06, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
You are absolutely correct, I have not thought of that, please trust me I did not do it on purpose. Thank you Mr. Lcarsos - E-inspired (talk) 19:55, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Thank you David, and I apologize that I've not made it clear that by your work, I do mean your collective work (the wiki is only as good as all the people behind it). I was trying to put the headers to allow others to find the section easier in case they start looking for it, perhaps I could make a suggestion to make it a standalone section so that others would be encouraged to contribute their own understanding of lessons they have noticed from each comic. I know the lessons I've seen, but I would love to learn from others as much as I hope they can learn from me and Mr. XKCD, thank you. - E-inspired (talk) 13:48, 28 February 2013 (UTC)


Hello fellow editors. Do you remember the last time we were hit by a surge of automated spam? Neither do I. ConfirmEdit has really done a number on the volume of spam that we're eating - one spam account has been created since we finished configuring confirmEdit, and zero anon edits have been spam. Zero. Can you say happiness? Can you say party? Davidy²²[talk] 14:41, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

Hehe, I'm glad! Thanks for being so relentless on the spam-fighting all this time! Maybe we should make up a new reason to make Jeff remove the /wiki/ in the URL? ;) –St.nerol (talk) 18:11, 1 March 2013 (UTC)
Awesome news! Finally the patrolling feature will be usable: Unpatrolled changes by registered users / Unpatrolled changes by anonymous users :) --Waldir (talk) 12:27, 2 March 2013 (UTC)

1000th comic explanation!!

Hi all! It apparently went unnoticed that we have recently surpassed the mark of 1000 comic explanations! Some calculations based on Category:Comics and Special:NewPages led me to the conclusion that the 1000th explanation was 681: Gravity Wells, created by User:AlexRNL just yesterday! Yay! This calls for a celebration, no? Congrats to everyone who made this happen! I'll edit Mediawiki:Sitenotice with a congratulatory message. Way to go, guys! --Waldir (talk) 16:04, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

ps - I also took the opportunity to flesh out our about/history page. Please take a look and fix/add any details I might have missed. --Waldir (talk) 16:06, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Style guide

Is there a style guide for this wiki? --PeterMortensen (talk) 20:14, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Oh, sorry, I did forget to answer here. A guide on this is not easy, many individual comics do need special layouts because they have content never can match to a style guide. But I will give a try Help:Style Guide.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:18, 15 August 2013 (UTC)


I've whitelisted the site in adblock, but the ads are still blocked. Anyone know what' going on here and how I can fix it?--ParadoX (talk) 04:34, 27 September 2013 (UTC)

Huh. I was wondering why our impression counts weren't rising. I thought it was just because this site had high turnover. I've changed the webpage that the word whitelisting links to, try the instructions there instead. Project wonderful is our ad provider, and they've been pretty good to us so far. Also, thanks for helping to support the site! Davidy²²[talk] 04:40, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Great! I don't really mid ads as long as they aren't intrusive. Works now, Hope everyone else does it as well.--ParadoX (talk) 05:16, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
I saw you wrote "the webpage that the word whitelisting links to" so I went to the search box and typed whitelisting. My search didn't yield anything useful: [1]. I don't know how to create the missing page but there oughta be a link for someone like me who searches for whitelist or whitelisting, to take them to the instructions you refer to. SaxTeacher (talk) 10:59, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
We already have this linked somewhere, but this is the link you want. Davidy²²[talk] 13:41, 17 May 2014 (UTC)

I normally access this site through the android app "xkcd browser". That app only links to the content part of the site and doesn't show the side bar, so the adds aren't shown either. Might be worth discussing it with the author. 08:06, 27 September 2013 (UTC)

We support those avenues completely, you don't need to feel bad if you use an app to browse this site. We're only really concerned when we put up ads and our impressions are less than half our page hits, because that essentially means more than half our readers aren't contributing to server costs. That's really hard to deal with. We have enough daily page hits to qualify as web publishers at very big ad agencies, but we've had to settle for relatively low rates at the smaller Project Wonderful because 60% of our users were using adblock, so the agencies rejected us because our valuable "paying" audience was too low for them to consider us. That's been the difference between us using dedicated servers to host the site and hiring a contractor to set it up, and the (admittedly somewhat decent) shared hosting plan that we have to settle for now. We can only afford the shared hosting, because the small-scale advertisers at Project Wonderful don't even pay for full days of advertising; most of the time, we make less per day than the posted $3.90 price. That said, we're grateful that Project Wonderful would take us as a publisher when no one else would, but it really feels like the difference between being accepted to community college and being accepted to an ivy league school. For a similar reason, the Google ads route was not sufficient to satisfy our needs; not a large enough proportion of our users were looking at ads, so we either needed to spam them and degrade the site, or we needed to make them refresh, which makes pages slow and causes needlessly high traffic for a lot of users. We didn't want our ads to make the site worse, because that would drive away users and defeat the purpose of us being a public resource for xkcd readers. We actually decided to go the agency route pretty early, because adsense takes a massive cut of revenues and gives us little control over what ads or advertisers actually showed, which was not okay with us. Whoah, I wrote a lot. I hope it was coherent. Maybe someday I'll collect my thoughts and write a proper summary on how and why we advertise. Also, if you have any questions about anything ad-related, you can always ask us at explain xkcd talk:Advertise Here. Davidy²²[talk] 11:15, 27 September 2013 (UTC)


Feynman (both in living and zombie form) probably deserves an entry in the character navbox template doesn't he? 02:21, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

That's two comics out of 1200+. Three if you count the song. Not quite enough yet. Davidy²²[talk] 02:27, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
If that's the criterion, then we need to get rid of Brown Hat. Djbrasier (talk) 19:30, 11 March 2015 (UTC)

Job Interview (Electric Soup)

The soup is clearly being poured out of an electric socket. This "electric soup" is probably not a reference to the alcoholic brew favoured by Scottish tramps, but more likely to the virtual nature of the company. -- Sulis (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Hey, go here Talk:1293: Job Interview‎ for discussions. --Dgbrt (talk) 19:58, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Is there a similar, transcripted service for The Oatmeal?

Hi everyone - this site is a real gem, I've sent it to a friend of mine who can't read XKCD because she's blind. The transcripts on this site are a real boon!

Does anyone know if there is a similar service for The Oatmeal? I've searched and searched, but found nothing so far.

Thanks :)


As far as I know we are kind of unique in the web comics world. I think we get away with it because Randall publishes all his comics as Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial. We liberally link back to xkcd, and we don't make a penny (The ads are just to cover server expenses, because wikis and the databases that support them get big when you're covering a body of work like xkcd). I haven't looked into the copyright Matt uses for the Oatmeal, but he seems like a cool enough guy to not kill a community transcripting effort of his comics. lcarsos_a (talk) 20:32, 4 March 2014 (UTC)

what if 103: Vanishing Water - comics

Please explain the 2nd and the 4th comics from http://what-if.xkcd.com/103/

"Just tried to sail my boat over land, because I didn't learn from that kid in the Zephyr." (who's the kid from Zephyr?)

"A third time?" (maybe whales were dropped twice before in other what-ifs?) Daniel Carrero (talk) 21:57, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

"A third time?" is a reference to a whale falling twice in "Hitchiker's guide to the Galaxy". Been a while, so I don't remember the details of how this fit in, but the second time it happened to the whale, he thought "Not again" or something along those lines. Djbrasier (talk) 18:49, 11 March 2015 (UTC)

Raises the question of if we should explain jokes imbedded in What If comics. Djbrasier (talk) 18:49, 11 March 2015 (UTC)

Discussion usage

Am I being a killjoy in feeling that the discussion section should be mainly limited to discussion on improving the explanation, gathering consensus and that type of thing. Specifically, the discussion for 1418: Horse is quickly turning into every man and his dog posting a sentence in the style of the comic, which doesn't really add anything to the page other than clutter.

Personally, I'd just delete most of them, but I think I might be turning into a grumpy old bugger... --Pudder (talk) 20:32, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

The discussion is also there for just talking about the comic. Those guys aren't wildly off-topic, there's no need to clamp down on what they get to talk about. Davidy²²[talk] 17:44, 10 September 2014 (UTC)
Yep, I must just be grumpy and draconian! Lesson learned --Pudder (talk) 20:32, 10 September 2014 (UTC)

2014 Christmas header

Since the header for the site current contains a graphic link to the store that promises that Randall probably won't ship you a bobcat, it seems to me that probably ought to be preserved and explained somewhere. 17:45, 3 December 2014 (UTC)

XKCD at LanguageLog

Arnold Zwicky (of the well-known linguistics blog Language Log) has put together a list of linguistics-related XKCD strips, here: http://arnoldzwicky.org/the-language-of-comics/comics-lists/xkcd-cartoons/ I thought it might be appropriate for a copy of the list (maybe a category) to be created from it. 03:48, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

Category:Language Davidy²²[talk] 04:39, 28 December 2014 (UTC)


Hello there, I've created a little bookmarklet (https://ginkobox.fr/shaarli/?a77vQw) and I thought it might be useful for someone out there.

When launched, it adds the 'explain' before xkcd.com and the browser loads the explainxkcd page. I've tested it only on Firefox.

(Contact @ https://ginkobox.fr/wiki/doku.php?id=about) ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Is there a RSS feed for What If?

Is there a RSS feed for What If?--17jiangz1 (talk) 11:59, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

No, because we cover the comics. Davidy²²[talk] 18:57, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

My User Page

Can someone help me with my user page? I can't seem to remove the large space on top.--17jiangz1 (talk) 07:43, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

The only solution I've found is to remove the contribution scores (data6=...). Not sure what exactly is triggering this bug. --SlashMe (talk) 21:02, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
I am receiving "Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "?"." for
{{#expr: {{formatnum:{{#cscore:17jiangz1|pages}}|R}}/{{formatnum:{{NUMBEROFARTICLES}}|R}}*100 round 5 }}
--17jiangz1 (talk) 05:46, 10 April 2015 (UTC)
Bump?--17jiangz1 (talk) 06:48, 14 April 2015 (UTC)


It hasn't updated for 2 weeks. why?--17jiangz1 (talk) 06:50, 25 April 2015 (UTC)

Looks like they're on hold for a few months (Until July 14th). Too bad, I enjoyed them. (Look at the top of the What-If page) --Zman9600 (talk) 20:24, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
What is so special about the date and time? Seems very specific: July 14th, 2015 at 7:49:59 AM EDT. -- 12:48, 28 May 2015 (UTC)

Looks like it's set for the 40th anniversary of the Apollo-Soyuz mission launch. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

What If updates will resume on July 14th, 2015 at 7:49:59 AM EDT. By that time New Horizons will have it's closest approach to Pluto. See here: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/ --Dgbrt (talk) 20:34, 5 June 2015 (UTC)

thanks for having a working website

the search function on xkcd.com was taken off, and now the random function seems to be having issues, but it's nice that here both work 19:09, 9 June 2015 (UTC)