Mitt Martin told us about XKCD and we haven’t let a week pass without checking out the site. The comics are mind blowing. Remember to let your mouse hover over the comic for additional insights.

Randall Munroe
Contact: — All store-related email. — Press questions, etc (may take a long time to get to me).

Note: You are welcome to reprint occasional comics pretty much anywhere (presentations, papers, blogs with ads, etc). If you’re not outright merchandizing, you’re probably fine. Just be sure to attribute the comic to

If you have a question or comment about xkcd, you may want to try sharing it on theforums or the IRC channel.

IRC: #xkcd on
Wikipedia article: xkcd

Translations (unofficial):
Spanish, Russian, German. updates without fail every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.


 Who are you?

I’m just this guy, you know? I’m a CNU graduate with a degree in physics. Before starting xkcd, I worked on robots at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. As of June 2007 I live in Massachusetts. In my spare time I climb things, open strange doors, and go to goth clubs dressed as a frat guy so I can stand around and look terribly uncomfortable. At frat parties I do the same thing, but the other way around.

 What else do you do?

Occasionally produce a few extra comics such as a pair of comics for IBM’s A Smarter Planet initiative (also archived here as they are released).

Encourage people to get out and meet each other in, hopefully, interesting places via geohashing.

Host a gallery of photos inspired by comic #249.

 Who else are you?

Server maintenance and most of the coding for these sites is done by my friend davean, who tries hard to remain invisible but can be reached

 What does XKCD stand for?

It’s not actually an acronym. It’s just a word with no phonetic pronunciation — a treasured and carefully-guarded point in the space of four-character strings.

 Where did all this start?

I was going through old math/sketching graph paper notebooks and didn’t want to lose some of the work in them, so I started scanning pages. I took the more comic-y ones and put them up on a server I was testing out, and got a bunch of readers when BoingBoing linked to me. I started drawing more seriously, gained a lot more readers, started selling t-shirts on the site, and am currently shipping t-shirts and drawing this comic full-time. It’s immensely fun and I really appreciate y’all’s support.

 Why can’t I read the whole comic mouseover text in Firefox?

They can be read with extensions like Long Titles, or by right-clicking on the images and going to ‘properties’, then clicking and dragging to read the whole thing. This is a bug in Firefox, Mozilla Bug #45375. It has been outstanding for many years now.

Note: It looks like it’s been fixed in Firefox 3.0. Now, as an added tweak, to keep the tooltips from expiring while you’re reading, you can use this.

 Can we print xkcd in our magazine/newspaper/other publication?

If it’s a not-for-profit publication, you need no permission — just print them with attribution to If it’s a for-profit operation, I will probably give you permission if you email me to let me know. You can post xkcd in your blog (whether ad-supported or not) with no need to get my permission.

 How can I reach you?

I frequently lurk on as ‘Randall’ — if you leave a message for me there I will probably get it. If you have a general question about xkcd, you may also want to try the fora.

Note: I don’t use submitted comic ideas and I have already heard about every company making human hamster balls and any news story about velociraptors.

 How can I find the date a comic was posted?

The posting date is in the mouseover text on the archive page.

 Is there an interface for automated systems to access comics and metadata?

Yes. You can get comics through the JSON interface, at URLs like (current comic) and (comic #614).

 Is xkcd translated?

Translating humor is often difficult between groups that speak the same language, let alone totally different cultures. So it’s inherently a hard problem. However, a reader does translate xkcd strips into Spanish, which can be found at

 How do I write “xkcd”? There’s nothing in Strunk and White about this.

For those of us pedantic enough to want a rule, here it is: The preferred form is “xkcd”, all lower-case. In formal contexts where a lowercase word shouldn’t start a sentence, “XKCD” is an okay alternative. “Xkcd” is frowned upon.

 Which sorting algorithms should I use? They taught me so many.

This is tricky. Most of what they teach you in school is just as an example of how to think about algorithms; 99% of the time you shouldn’t worry about optimizing your sorts. Just learn to implement Quicksort (which is very good) and use that without fretting about it too much. People overfocus on efficiency over clarity and simplicity. And most of the time the environment you’re coding in will have an efficient sort function built-in anyway.

Note: If you’re interviewing for a company for a position with a focus on algorithms, the above is not an excuse not to know your stuff.

 What is your favorite astronomical entity?

The Pleiades.

Leave a Reply