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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Revision as of 23:07, 7 August 2012

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki! We currently have 11 comic explanations. Come and add yours!

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edit this explanation!

Fixing Problems
'What was the original problem you were trying to fix?' 'Well, I noticed one of the tools I was using had an inefficiency that was wasting my time.'
Title text: 'What was the original problem you were trying to fix?' 'Well, I noticed one of the tools I was using had an inefficiency that was wasting my time.'


This comic is clearly remarking upon whether or not the benefits of the mentality "If it ain't broke, break it and fix it" are outweighed by the massive waste of time that can result from trying to solve any problem. As Cueball attempts to solve whatever computer issue he feels is causing him to be less productive, he creates more problems along the way. Attempting to solve all of these problems results in more time wasted than he was likely already wasting by using the inefficient tool described in the title text.

The title is surely a reference to the Fixed-point combinator which, if used unwisely will lead to infinite recursion.

This comic is remarkably similar in thesis to 1445: Efficiency and 1319: Automation.

Relevant comics include 1171: Perl Problems, where using regular expressions causes more problems than it solves, 349: Success, where Munroe comments on the goals of a project decreasing in optimism as a project goes on due to more and more problems distracting from the original, and 1579: Tech Loops, which shows that attempting to fix one problem in a piece of software can force a developer to delve into seemingly irrelevant parts of the relevant tech loop that the software in question is trapped in.


[Single square panel]
[Cueball sitting in front of a laptop]
Off-screen person: What are you working on?
Cueball: Trying to fix the problems I created when I tried to fix the problems I created when I tried to fix the problems I created when...

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