The webcomics blog about webcomics

It’s Scientific!

  • Randall Munroe is unleashing upon the world his latest Bigger and Better Webcomics Thing; in the past these have been webcomics that were physically huge, or of extreme duration, or sometimes both. Sometimes they were just deep holes where it’s not possible to stop digging.

    Today’s strip is pretty modest, though. At least until he releases the data set:

    The xkcd survey
    This is an anonymous survey. After it’s done, a database of everyone’s responses will be posted.

    There’s no specific reason for any of the questions. The goal is to create an interesting and unusual data set for people to play with. (This is obviously not going to be a real random sample of people, but in the interest of getting cooler data, if you’re sharing this with friends, try sending it to some people who wouldn’t normally see this kind of thing!)

    WARNING: This survey is anonymous, but your answers WILL BE MADE PUBLIC. Depending what you write, it’s possible that someone may be able to identify you by looking at your responses. None of these questions should ask about anything too private, but don’t write anything that you don’t want people to see. If you’re not comfortable answering a question, just skip it.

    I’m taking bets on what the over/under on the number of responses will be … given Munroe’s audience size (couple million), audience engagement levels (high), and the likelihood of his audience to promote the survey on his behalf (like hack webcomics pseduojournalists), I’ma start at 2.73 million responses. Which means for once in my time of doing mathematical calculations on this site, I don’t have to bitch about the sample size being too small¹; it may even be large enough to engage in higher moments of analysis like skew and kurtosis, hooray!

  • Speaking of webcomics and statistics, a comic to teach the idea of data analysis (the result of a grant received by Dante Shepherd to use comics to teach STEM concepts) is up today at Surviving the World. Here’s hoping for more of the science comics to get shared, and for more on data crunching specifically. My favorite part is how I’m pretending that that narrator character is Shepherd as a Muppet. Now when I see him next month at TopatoCon, I’m going to insist that he flail his arms around like Mister The Frog.
  • News from the Erf front today: Erfworld creator Rob Balder announced that artist David Hahn will be leaving after Friday’s update. Balder’s getting to be like Frank Zappa, a relentless creator trying to find collaborators that can execute the thoughts coming out of his brainmeats for the world to experience the way he intended them to. It’s a tough gig, given that he’s got one of the most relentlessly pedantic audiences around:

    Consider the page a little while ago where David missed the fill on Ansom’s decrypted dwagon, and nobody else on the team (there are four people who look at the art) caught the error. Instead of a red eyeball, the page posted with the dwagon having a white eyeball. This led to a discussion in Reactions about whether that was an art mistake or an important clue about the dwagon’s Signamancy.

    Not to mention lacking in certain senses of boundaries:

    I must admit I have greater frustration with your closemouthed management style than I do with the loss of an artist. You have a tendency to keep problems close to the chest and decline to tell your (by all accounts of this thread) very loyal fanbase any negative information until it has escalated to a point where a crisis is happening and you have literally no choice but to divulge information. And even when you do this, it is in the most circumspect fashion, using vague apparently details intended to conceal the breadth of the problems going on, perhaps from some heightened sense of privacy conservation?

    . . .

    These ‘creative differences’ between you and David have clearly been growing over time, to the point where something happened on Monday that was ‘the last straw’. At yet, it’s only now, once you have officially ended your creative relationship, that you inform us as to what is going on. And your plan before this mystery event was evidently to spring a new artist on us after you had found one, and David has moved on.

    . . .

    All of this gives a certain vibe that you mistrust your fanbase. When problems arise, you don’t let them know about it, until you no longer have the option to keep it concealed. Whether this is because you worry that they might leave reflexively if another problem starts showing up, or because you feel that the affairs of your creative activities and interactions with your artist are not our business, you need to open up a bit more if you want this project to succeed. Because it now is, quite literally, our collective business now. ($882 [community support donations] per update?) [emphasis added]

    Apropos of quite a lot, I met Neil Gaiman once. Had dinner with him (in the sense that we sat next to each other at an event, and he was charming). I read everything of his I can lay my hands on and pay good money to do so. And you know what? Neil Gaiman and I are not friends. I am not entitled to any more of him than he is willing to give. If I disapprove of his work or his business affairs or his personal life, my entire remedy — provided I don’t want to be a sociopath about it — is to choose to not read his stuff any longer. That’s it. He is, to paraphrase the man himself, not my bitch.

    And because Rob Balder was too polite to say it to the personquoted above, allow me: Entitled Commenter At Erfword, Rob Balder is not your bitch. Your reading of Erfworld, even your financial support (if in fact you do support it) does not entitle you to the details of Balder’s business relationships, much less obligate him to violate the privacy of others. Get over yourself.

Spam of the day:

Gtyrrell OrdernMedicaments

What a coincidence! I’m in the market for medicaments!

¹ Although the population of said sample will probably skew heavily towards representative of the sort of people that read xkcd.

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