Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Title text: I mean, it's been almost twenty years. Now, it's possible you're simply embedding Windows directory paths in your URIs, but in that case you need more than just a short lecture.
The forward slash (/) is the correct way to separate distinct parts of a web address; for example in the address "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slash_(punctuation)", a forward slash follows the "org" and the "wiki". However, some newscasters are unfamiliar with the distinction between the different types of slashes, thus confusing the forward slash with the backslash (\), the wrong character. They may also be somewhat overzealous by trying to specify forward- or backslash since just saying "slash" would be sufficient.
The title text refers to how in the Windows operating system, the backslash is actually used instead of the forward slash as a separator (in contrast to Unix-based systems, which use the forward slash). Thus, the path to any Windows file encoded in a URI (uniform resource identifier) would correctly contain the backslash character. However, placing such a URI into a web address to be shared on a news show would be completely useless, as they are only accessible inside of a local Windows domain (usually one's own computer) and no one would be able to access that file over the Internet.
- [Anchorman sitting at newsdesk.]
- Anchor: (to camera) And for more on the summit, we turn to trade expert Dr. Steven Berlee. Steven?
- [Dr. Steven Berlee is sitting to the right of Anchor at newsdesk.]
- DSB: I'm not actually a doctor or a trade expert. I'm just a programmer who lies to get on news shows.
- [Close-up on DSB.]
- Anchor: (off camera) What? Why?
- DSB: To share a message with newscasters.
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- [Pull back to shot of both men.]
- Anchor: Which is?
- DSB: Every time you say "backslash" as part of a web address on air, I die a little.
Most modern browsers will convert backslashes in a URL into forward-slashes on submit anyway. And typing a file path into Windows Explorer's address bar using forward-slashes will usually work as well. Not to say that I also despise people incorrectly referring to web addresses as much as the next programmer (probably more), mixing slashes doesn't really break anything. bungeshea (talk) 10:25, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that the explanation is incorrect, and should rather say something like:
The forward slash (/) is the correct way to separate distinct parts of a web address (for example, the web address 'en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slash_(punctuation)'). However, Dr. Steven Berlee has apparently heard newscasters say 'backslash' instead of 'slash' or 'forward slash'. Therefore, this annoys him.
As referenced in the title text, the backslash serves as a separator in file paths on the Windows operating system. Thus a Windows file path embedded in a URI would contain the backslash character. However, Dr. Steven Berlee thinks that if you embed a Windows file path in a lecture, then 'in that case you need more than just a short lecture' because this is not a good practice.
01:48, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
I can't believe nobody has pointed this out: Steven Berlee? Steven (Crocker|Wolff) and Tim Berners-Lee... Steven Berlee! Founders of the internet (ARPANET and whatnot). 220.127.116.11 13:36, 21 February 2014 (UTC)
This issue doesn't seem to crop up as much now--it's easier to irritate programmers by calling the # symbol (by itself) a "hashtag."
Note for those who may not know: Acceptable names for # include hash, mesh, number sign, pound sign, octothorpe, grid, crosshatch, hex, sharp, or even "tictactoe" or "waffle iron" if you're feeling silly. "Hashtag" refers to a post tag which uses the octothorpe as a delimiter. 18.104.22.168
03:24, 2 March 2015 (UTC)