Main Page

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
(Compacted the main page by removing the main page title.)
(Made main page title bigger cuz it looked wierd.)
Line 1: Line 1:
__NOTOC__{{DISPLAYTITLE:explain xkcd}}
__NOTOC__{{DISPLAYTITLE:explain xkcd}}
<big>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</big>
<font size=5px>''Welcome to the '''explain [[xkcd]]''' wiki!''</font>
We have collaboratively explained [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9}}''' xkcd comics]],
We have collaboratively explained [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics}}-9}}''' xkcd comics]],

Revision as of 00:41, 4 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained 5 xkcd comics, and only 1810 (36200%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

Latest comic

Go to this comic explanation

There's a compromise bill to keep the notification bar but at least charge the battery.
Title text: There's a compromise bill to keep the notification bar but at least charge the battery.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Needs more detail on how flags and images, in general, are designed/edited using computers, and why what Randall did was wrong.

This comic is a joke on vexillology, the scientific study of the history, symbolism and usage of flags.

Randall was hired to propose a new flag for an unspecified new country. The process of him editing the flag into its final draft was done on a smartphone and involved taking a screenshot of the product (possibly a shortcut to avoid actually exporting it) which produced an iOS status bar (incorrectly referred to as a notification bar in the caption) at the top of the flag. He thus included both the weak strength of the outdated 3G connection his phone was on at the time, the time of the screen shot, and the low battery charge. Flags are often minimalist and involve geometric shapes and solid colors. A notification bar at the top of the flag would clash with these design elements as well as looking unprofessional.

Randall either did not catch this error or he did it on purpose. In either case he sent the displayed version to the committee with the status bar included. The design committee also missed the status bar and approved the design. From the caption below it seems that this new country is now stuck with the flag as it is displayed, including the status bar. It thus seems likely that no one realized the phone status bar was included in the actual design until after the committee had ordered actual flags with the bar from the manufacturer. Once the problem was pointed out, the design committee placed the blame on Randall, but could not immediately undo their decision until new suggestions had been submitted and a new committee could agree on another design. Thus the country is now stuck with this design, making it the only country with such a bar in the flag.

The reason such a status bar could be missed could be that most people today look at pictures on their smartphones all the time, and thus their own phones status bar is indirectly included at the top of all the pictures they see. People thus do not notice these status bars any longer as they are always there and clearly not important for the picture. Randall has mentioned before, in 1373: Screenshot, that he cannot take smartphone screenshots seriously if the battery of the device is low, as he cannot focus on the content becoming afraid his one device runs out of power. A problem that only occurs if he sees it on his smartphone, as he then becomes concerned that it is his phone that is about to run out of charge. But in this status bar there are still 39%, high enough not to cause immediate concern.

The elements of the flag's intended design—the colors red, white, and blue; the pattern of stripes; and the star emblems—are the same that are used in the American flag the Stars and Stripes. Since Randall was asked to crate this flag, it seems most likely that he would have to be a citizen of this new country. It could thus indicate that a group of states have broken free from the USA to form their own smaller union of three states, one for each star. With the current political situation in the states after Donald Trump’s inauguration there have been some talk about states leaving USA, and Randall has clearly been against the election of Trump, see 1756: I'm With Her, and he has been affected by the election result. Since Randall lives in Massachusetts, it could be this and two other nearby states that have formed their own new union of states.

The elements of this flag is, however, also present in several other existing flags like those derived from Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdoms, like the flags of Australia and New Zealand. They are also in the flags of North Korea, Liberia and Malaysia. However, only Australia and Liberia have white stars.

The title text mentions a compromise bill that will change the flag, but not by removing the status bar at the top to create the originally intended flag! Instead they propose keeping the status bar and only changing the displayed percentage of the battery from 39% to 100%. This is wordplay on the term "charge" as used in vexillology, where it refers to a figure appearing on the background of the flag. The low battery status might also imply that the country is low on resources. It thus seems like people have taken the reference to modern times smartphones to their hearts and actually wish to have this very modern design.

But if they indeed continue with this, thinking that their country would look better with a full battery charge, they might also consider changing the 3G connection to the newer 4G version and giving the phone a full signal (5/5 instead of only 3/5 dots), and maybe also choose a time that would mean something rather than 5:48 PM. For instance noon/midnight, or 8:00.

The bar in notification bar, is a vexillological descriptor, as in the "Stars and Bars," a term used for the first flag of the Confederate States of America.


[A two colored flag is shown. The left and rightmost parts of the flag are dark blue, and the center is red and each section has a large white star in its center. The colored parts are separated by thinner white vertical stripes. At the top of the flag, there is an off-white status bar like one found at the top of an iOS smart device. On the left it is displaying the strength of the connection (3/5 dots), in the center it is displaying the time and on the right there are three small icons the last is the battery charge:]
5:48 PM
[Below the panel there are two captions]
The design committee fired me once they realized that my editing process involved a screenshot, but it was too late.
Until they change it, our new country has the only national flag to include a phone notification bar.

Is this out of date? Clicking here will fix that.

New here?

You can read a brief introduction about this wiki at explain xkcd. Feel free to sign up for an account and contribute to the wiki! We need explanations for comics, characters, themes, memes and everything in between. If it is referenced in an xkcd web comic, it should be here.

  • List of all comics contains a complete table of all xkcd comics so far and the corresponding explanations. The red links (like this) are missing explanations. Feel free to help out by creating them! Here's how.


Don't be a jerk. There are a lot of comics that don't have set in stone explanations; feel free to put multiple interpretations in the wiki page for each comic.

If you want to talk about a specific comic, use its discussion page.

Please only submit material directly related to —and helping everyone better understand— xkcd... and of course only submit material that can legally be posted (and freely edited.) Off-topic or other inappropriate content is subject to removal or modification at admin discretion, and users who repeatedly post such content will be blocked.

If you need assistance from an admin, feel free to leave a message on their personal discussion page. The list of admins is here.

Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal?