1305: "Undocumented Feature"

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1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby dalcde » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:07 am UTC

Image
Title text: "And it doesn't pop up a box every time asking you to use your real name. In fact, there's no way to set your name at all. You just have to keep reminding people who you are."

The second panel seems to contradict the title text.

EDIT: Unless those people keep typing their names at the beginning of every line

P.S. What do you mean by video ads? I've never heard of them on IRC.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby rhomboidal » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:08 am UTC

But I'll still bet PRISM is all over it.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby Eternal Density » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:18 am UTC

I can't find this utility.

Also once I got to 'Nobody' I started feeling deeply sad.
And then when it ended with a video ads joke I felt disappointed.

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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby ysth » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:50 am UTC

dalcde wrote:The second panel seems to contradict the title text.

EDIT: Unless those people keep typing their names at the beginning of every line

No, when you connect you are assigned an arbitrary "User7", "User13", etc.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby RogueCynic » Wed Dec 18, 2013 5:57 am UTC

I thought it ended at the sixth panel and found it quite profound. When I got to this thread and read the rest, up to the last panel it was deeeeeep. The last panel blew it for me.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby Jorpho » Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:04 am UTC

I might have found it profound if I hadn't been thinking a lot along those lines lately.

I feel obliged to pop in and state the obvious: this board does not actually exist. If it did, it would be overflowing with the unseemly. Surely?
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby Copper Bezel » Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:14 am UTC

It's a standard formula; Bill Watterson's Sunday "wagon" strips often used it. Something snarky, something intriguing, a buildup into something profound, a moment of wonder, and then, "Yeah, we're assholes."

I love it. The profundity isn't somehow erased by the fact that it ends as a troll, but the snap back to the real world echoes the "ephemeral" theme, and I enjoy both beautiful things and a good troll.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby blob » Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:31 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:I feel obliged to pop in and state the obvious: this board does not actually exist. If it did, it would be overflowing with the unseemly. Surely?

I assume this forum is still linked to from the outside world, but traffic has definitely died down since it was removed from the main comic page.

Also it seems sites like reddit and tumblr are taking over from forums in general. Though God knows why - I mean reddit's hierarchical voting system is interesting, but tumblr is so badly formatted you can't even see who's replying to whom.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby BlitzGirl » Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:44 am UTC

I googled to see what this was about, and saw that Facebook is planning to put automatically-playing video ads in its newsfeeds. Sigh.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby CharonPDX » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:11 am UTC

blob wrote:I assume this forum is still linked to from the outside world, but traffic has definitely died down since it was removed from the main comic page.

Also it seems sites like reddit and tumblr are taking over from forums in general. Though God knows why - I mean reddit's hierarchical voting system is interesting, but tumblr is so badly formatted you can't even see who's replying to whom.


I still visit from time to time (about once a week to read the comic threads of the week,) or when I have something to say about something xkcdish in particular. (Funny, I sort-of-noticed that the Forums link had disappeared, and just couldn't place if it used to be there, or if I had always just manually gone to the forums.....)

As for forums dying, it's sad. Reddit and tumblr have their place (as do Twitter and Facebook, and even LinkedIn - although I haven't quite figured Google+'s place out yet...) But forums are still the haven of the niche.

Hell, check out the 'daily threads' at User Friendly! It's a webcomic that has been in reruns for over 4 years, yet people still show up every day to chat.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby dash » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:28 am UTC

CharonPDX wrote:I still visit from time to time (about once a week to read the comic threads of the week,) or when I have something to say about something xkcdish in particular. (Funny, I sort-of-noticed that the Forums link had disappeared, and just couldn't place if it used to be there, or if I had always just manually gone to the forums.....)


My take on the link being removed from the main page was the burden of running the forums was getting to be too much ($$$) so whoever pays for it (Randall?) decided there was no need to invite more people to join the forums, there were enough already. I'd be surprised if the usage on the forums is thinning out though.

2nd point about Randall having $$$ issues is the new promotion artwork on the main page inviting people to make purchases.

I've never really been able to understand the xkcd business model. It seems like there is a huge following requiring a lot of bandwidth and cpu power to support, but I don't imagine there is enough money coming in from the business side to even cover expenses. Like American Splendor, fellow published comic books because it was his passion. Never made much money at it.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby Noir_Desir » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:29 am UTC

The forum link is on the "about" page.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby filecore » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:42 am UTC

dash wrote:My take on the link being removed from the main page was the burden of running the forums was getting to be too much ($$$) so whoever pays for it (Randall?) decided there was no need to invite more people to join the forums, there were enough already.


I shouldn't imagine so; even a hosted webserver at a decent webhost with easily enough horsepower and bandwidth to handle a site like this is available for pennies nowadays. I have several myself, one of which has a moderately-trafficked wiki on it - and hosting for the whole domain (multiple subdomains, multiple databases, email, the works) only amounts to a few dollars per month. The sale of a few XKCD books or other tat throughout the course of a year should be able to cover the hosting expenses (and yes, I own a copy of Volume 0).

dash wrote:2nd point about Randall having $$$ issues is the new promotion artwork on the main page inviting people to make purchases.


I saw that, but I just assumed it was standard Christmas-season advertising to drive people to buy XKCD tat as gifts for their loved ones.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby blob » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:43 am UTC

CharonPDX wrote:Hell, check out the 'daily threads' at User Friendly! It's a webcomic that has been in reruns for over 4 years, yet people still show up every day to chat.
I remember User Friendly! Didn't know it had gone into reruns. The discussion threads were pretty funny; apparently a community can form in almost any space.

dash wrote:I've never really been able to understand the xkcd business model. It seems like there is a huge following requiring a lot of bandwidth and cpu power to support, but I don't imagine there is enough money coming in from the business side to even cover expenses.
According to Wikipedia, Randall is one of few (considering how many 1000s of webcomics there are) self-supported artists. I guess it's mostly merchandise and possibly invited speaking events?
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby willpellmn » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:50 am UTC

*chokes up* That was beautiful.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby kelvinc » Wed Dec 18, 2013 7:57 am UTC

This triggered a former Microsoft employee to tweet about a story about Clippy, uncannily timely considering the upcoming film Her:

So http://xkcd.com/1305/ exists, which reminded me of the woman who talked to Clippy. This is a true story.

What a lot of people didn’t realize was that Clippy, by default, sent anything you asked it to Microsoft, anonymized.

No evil intent. We had no idea who asked what. It was a way of knowing what we’d screwed up. Lots of queries on a topic? Bad feature design.

One day one of the PMs in charge of monitoring Clippy’s logs found a story, told in fragments.

Somebody, probably a woman in the US Midwest, was typing a sentence at a time. Clippy would answer nonsensically. She’d type another one.

She’d lost her job. Her boyfriend was beating her. She was so lonely, and so afraid. All her waking nightmares, told to a paperclip.

We couldn’t help. We didn’t know who she was. We’d gone to great lengths to make sure that we COULD not know who she was.

So we read her story. One sentence after another. Soul-searing honesty, told to a little paperclip that could never, ever answer her.

I often wonder what happened to that woman. I hope she’s okay. I hope she’s happy.

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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby astralfrontier » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:12 am UTC

This strip is MUCK/MOO culture in a nutshell. I got started thanks to an obscure blurb buried in the 4th issue of Wired, and I've been on MU*s with adult players younger than the server they're logged into. Fun times.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby dalcde » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:13 am UTC

ysth wrote:
dalcde wrote:The second panel seems to contradict the title text.

EDIT: Unless those people keep typing their names at the beginning of every line

No, when you connect you are assigned an arbitrary "User7", "User13", etc.

Seems to but does not.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby LockeZ » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:19 am UTC

I've been playing the same MUD for fourteen years, have been a developer on it for nine, and have been the effective administrator of it for the last year since the actual admin gave me root privs and quit. This comic is basically the story of my life.

Though, the MUD is also still being developed and improved, and a few times a month we still get new players... so it hasn't totally devolved into a chat room. I wonder if the support chatroom in the comic still ever gets used for questions about the old software. Or ever did. Or is real.

I choose to believe it's real.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby thehardmenpath » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:27 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:I feel obliged to pop in and state the obvious: this board does not actually exist. If it did, it would be overflowing with the unseemly. Surely?


Yep, when the link was removed, this forum became an undocumented feature.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby dalcde » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:34 am UTC

thehardmenpath wrote:
Jorpho wrote:I feel obliged to pop in and state the obvious: this board does not actually exist. If it did, it would be overflowing with the unseemly. Surely?


Yep, when the link was removed, this forum became an undocumented feature.


It's primarily due to what-if, thoguh
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby Antior » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:44 am UTC

Come on, there's place for a sixth link in that box. Or they could move the Archive link elsewhere, like next to the Random button.

Copper Bezel wrote:It's a standard formula; Bill Watterson's Sunday "wagon" strips often used it. Something snarky, something intriguing, a buildup into something profound, a moment of wonder, and then, "Yeah, we're assholes."

I love it. The profundity isn't somehow erased by the fact that it ends as a troll, but the snap back to the real world echoes the "ephemeral" theme, and I enjoy both beautiful things and a good troll.


I believe SMBC has been known to do it, as well.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby LockeZ » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:47 am UTC

thehardmenpath wrote:
Jorpho wrote:I feel obliged to pop in and state the obvious: this board does not actually exist. If it did, it would be overflowing with the unseemly. Surely?


Yep, when the link was removed, this forum became an undocumented feature.


The link was just moved, not removed. As someone else said already, it's linked to on the About page. Two degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon XKCD.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby filecore » Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:59 am UTC

kelvinc wrote:This triggered a former Microsoft employee to tweet about a story about Clippy, uncannily timely considering the upcoming film Her


Wow, that was quite a story. It must be heartbreaking to be on the receiving end and not be able to do anything but sit, wait and watch.

Also, the movie looks interesting. I hadn't heard about that one.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby saengerbeatle » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:00 am UTC

I totally choose to believe it's real.
it's kinda beautiful to think you have found a little quiet place in a world that never listens. I hope the chatroom keeps running for years to come.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby flamewise » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:13 am UTC

I have an IRC channel like that... Back when I joined it I thought it was an unruly chaos of op wars and server splits, and really detested it. Then people invented bots and well, a little later came AOL. Today it's an oasis of peace and calm in a world of ad block, no script and finding out how to disable UPNP on your TV.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby sehkzychic » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:39 am UTC

kelvinc wrote:This triggered a former Microsoft employee to tweet about a story about Clippy, uncannily timely considering the upcoming film Her:

Spoiler:
So http://xkcd.com/1305/ exists, which reminded me of the woman who talked to Clippy. This is a true story.

What a lot of people didn’t realize was that Clippy, by default, sent anything you asked it to Microsoft, anonymized.

No evil intent. We had no idea who asked what. It was a way of knowing what we’d screwed up. Lots of queries on a topic? Bad feature design.

One day one of the PMs in charge of monitoring Clippy’s logs found a story, told in fragments.

Somebody, probably a woman in the US Midwest, was typing a sentence at a time. Clippy would answer nonsensically. She’d type another one.

She’d lost her job. Her boyfriend was beating her. She was so lonely, and so afraid. All her waking nightmares, told to a paperclip.

We couldn’t help. We didn’t know who she was. We’d gone to great lengths to make sure that we COULD not know who she was.

So we read her story. One sentence after another. Soul-searing honesty, told to a little paperclip that could never, ever answer her.

I often wonder what happened to that woman. I hope she’s okay. I hope she’s happy.



Reminds me a little of the show Person of Interest, except without the heroes. :(
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby StClair » Wed Dec 18, 2013 9:56 am UTC

As someone who is both Easily Sad and prone to consider and dwell on this sort of thing (and has been doing so a fair bit recently), I actually really liked the last bit. It's the tug on the sleeve (or, if you like, the back of one's shorts - wwwwwedgie!) that keeps one from tipping forward entirely into the pit of maudlin.

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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby doug1984 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:05 am UTC

This particularly resonated with me today as I used to play on a old MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) that has recently shutdown (it was a long time coming really, but still). Most of the players have joined an alternative MUD but its clear the memory of the game is going to fade over time, until eventually disappearing all together.

All we can do is enjoy the good times and try and bear the bad.

As for the punchline, I actually found it a very funny (and defiant) punch at the modern net. Well done sir, well done.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby Klear » Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:34 am UTC

kelvinc wrote:This triggered a former Microsoft employee to tweet about a story about Clippy, uncannily timely considering the upcoming film Her


I didn't like today's comic too much, but this story more than made up for it. So sad.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby squonk » Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:39 am UTC

I find it really hard to believe that nobody would have reverse engineered this functionality, discovered the server, and exploited it somehow.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby Andromeda321 » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:07 am UTC

Hah- this one struck me, as 10 years ago or so I joined an obscure Internet forum. It's still obscure, but maybe 15 people post there regularly even today, and it's an amazing thing how the Internet can draw so many people together, and how yeah even though we're all Facebook friends whenever our forum's server goes down it's just not the same at all.

During the years we've lost two members, and a few more have been struck ill along the way... it has occurred to me that someday that community will someday disappear even though it's been a huge part of my life, and it makes me sad every time.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby BlitzGirl » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:30 am UTC

We can relate over on the OTT...
Spoiler:
Image
We also don't have video ads, but that's the kind of snark-joke that only works once.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby Flumble » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:58 am UTC

What's with that youtube-hating thing? Surely Randall knows of vimeo, dailymotion and the likes that don't have nearly as many ads and don't want to assimilate your google account.
I believe pointing out the alternatives helps a lot more than bashing the giant.

BlitzGirl wrote:We can relate over on the OTT...
Spoiler:
Image
We also don't have video ads, but that's the kind of snark-joke that only works once.

You have too much time on your hands, don't you?
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby BlitzGirl » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:05 pm UTC

I think Randall's objecting to Facebook video ads, not YouTube.

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Not anymore. :( Our supply of Time ran out.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby webdude » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:12 pm UTC

I laughed out loud. Thanks for the humor!


To those who were enjoying the melancholy: yes, Randall could've kept it philosophical. As I progressed through the panels, I wondered if the kicker would be some comment on how much time, money and energy is wasted on ephemeral entertainments, or how this primitive species on this puny planet we're progressively destroying isn't worth much in the really big picture, or....

As much as I like philosophy, I need to laugh from time to time.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby Flumble » Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:26 pm UTC

BlitzGirl wrote:I think Randall's objecting to Facebook video ads, not YouTube.

Ah, my bad, I didn't know of facebook ads. (mostly because I don't facebook but also because everyone in my vicinity has adblockers... or no facebook)
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:01 pm UTC

Am I the only one who got half-way thru the strip and was reminded of the "inside-out e-mail drop" site known as the Walled City ?
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:34 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:
BlitzGirl wrote:I think Randall's objecting to Facebook video ads, not YouTube.

Ah, my bad, I didn't know of facebook ads. (mostly because I don't facebook but also because everyone in my vicinity has adblockers... or no facebook)

They're usually textual with a layout that fits with the remainder of the webpage. So they're not overly annoying.
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Re: 1305: "Undocumented Feature"

Postby XbHW_TestEngr » Wed Dec 18, 2013 1:44 pm UTC

Rats. I got to the 3rd or 4th panel was jumped into the forums. I was hoping someone would know what version of Windows and which utility. Only in the forums did I read to the end.

Well played.
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