explain xkcd


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5 stars
If you have to explain a joke, it's not funny -- or is it?

xkcd (reviews) is a lovely, nerdy webcomic and occasional canvas for larger scale experiments such as "Click and drag" or "Time". It’s also full of subtle references, inside jokes relying on technical or scientific domain knowledge, and easter eggs. explain xkcd, with the not-so-subtle tag line “It’s 'cause you’re dumb”, is a wiki that provides background, transcripts, and trivia on each episode.

And it doesn’t really matter how obvious the joke is — explain xkcd will still spell it out, like so:

Despite the skyline being clearly recognizable as St. Louis due to the Gateway Arch, Black Hat calls it New York City. However, the nickname he gives is neither a common New York nickname (such as “The Big Apple”) nor a St. Louis nickname. Megan tries to correct him, but it becomes clear that Black Hat is making up nicknames. Many of his suggestions are puns for real nicknames of other places.

But then look a bit further, and the same page contains a long table of all the various nicknames referenced in the comic, making the whole page a rather delightful expansion on the content of the strip.

And so it goes for almost every episode. It’s a beautiful idea, well-executed, and it’s being expanded into explain penny arcade, for the eponymous gaming focused web comic which also contains many references which may not always be obvious.