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Explain XKCD Is a Black Hole

I cannot believe I have just now discovered the Explain xkcd wiki. Randall Munroe’s xkcd comic about science and technology is wonderful, but my academic background isn’t always sufficient to understand the joke. (Or as the wiki’s sardonic tagline puts it: “Explain xkcd: It’s ’cause you’re dumb.”) Started in 2009, Explain xkcd provides detailed explanations of all 2775 (so far) comics. If you’ve ever wanted a detailed explanation of the oft-linked “correct horse battery staple” comic about password strength, look no further.

As with Wikipedia, anyone can edit Explain xkcd pages, but the editors enforce a matter-of-fact style meant to be understandable to a broad range of readers. Some explanations thus become insanely detailed. More amusing are the discussions, where users debate the explanation, contribute additional background, and riff off the original joke. If you thought clicking around the xkcd website was a time sink, beware of Explain xkcd, where you’ll be both entertained and educated.

explain xkcd

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Comments About Explain XKCD Is a Black Hole

Notable Replies

  1. Oh, this is wonderful. Thanks.

  2. Great site. It’s my go-to link any time Randall posts a comic that I don’t completely get, or where I want more details.

    It’s also great for the occasional giant-map comics (typically where there’s a giant scrolling map/world to interactively explore), because after a few days, someone inevitably develops a script to extract the entire world, so i don’t need to waste days of my time in order to see where all the jokes are hidden.

  3. I have the RSS feed for Explain XKCD rather than XKCD because the hidden comment to each comment is shown which is helpful on an iPhone or iPad. Plus, it’s helpful to explain some of the more esoteric comics. Sometimes I need an Explain Explain XKCD.

    My favorite thing is that Explain XKCD goes through just as much trouble to describe the simplest XKCD strips as the most esoteric ones:

    Cueball threw a pie at Ponytail. This is a classic slapstick schtick. Slapstick is a form of physical humor derived the 17th century Punch and Judy show where the humor came from one of the main characters hitting the other with a stick. The term schtick is a Yiddish word from Jewish comedians who performed in the borsch belt…

    This explanation will go on for paragraphs explaining the origins of Punch and Judy, puppets, 16th century Italian Comedie, the Germanic root of the word schtick, where Yiddish came from and on and on.

  4. Well don’t get there right now. :face_vomiting: Yikes.

    Edit: Fixed. Back to normal again. Phew. :relieved:

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