155: Search History

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Search History
SomethingAwful has a wonderful compilation of crazy AOL searches in their Weekend Web archives, 2006-08-13.
Title text: SomethingAwful has a wonderful compilation of crazy AOL searches in their Weekend Web archives, 2006-08-13.

Explanation[edit]

The comic references the AOL search data leak, where users had potentially identifying and embarrassing search histories published. Randall, drawn as Cueball, thus publishes his own potentially embarrassing searches in solidarity with the AOL users.

All of his searches relate to his fear of dinosaurs, mainly velociraptors, as a consequence of the Jurassic Park movie he saw when younger. The search "Utahraptor" may be a reference to Dinosaur Comics, which xkcd has parodied in 145: Parody Week: Dinosaur Comics. Alternatively, "Utahraptor" may be referenced because the raptors portrayed in Jurassic Park were much more like utahraptors than velociraptors in terms of size.

The title text refers to a document posted on a humor site: link (part 1) link (part 2), link (part 3).

Search history[edit]

  • Although it is true that a real search history would list the most recent search at the top, it is clear that Randall intended us to read from top to bottom, as if it was that order he made the searches.
    • Randall is most likely aware of this, but this is a comic, and it is much more funny if we are reading his searches in search order, and to ensure this he list them with the first search at the top.
  • Here follows each search in order with an explanation given:
velociraptors He is searching for Velociraptors now, so he should have all the information he needs to hold off small fast dinosaurs.
site:imdb.com "jurassic park" imdb is a website for reviews, so Randall is now looking at reviews/writing a review for Jurassic Park.
raptors Randall is continuing to research raptors, as he really wants to be safe against them.
dromaeosaurids This isn't a type of raptor, but it now seems that Randall is now paranoid about smaller, fast dinosaurs in general. Dromaeosauridae is the taxonomic family that encloses all types of raptor.
utahraptor He now wants to get information about different raptors, so in this case Utahraptors (bigger raptors basically).
"home depot" deadbolts Randall is so paranoid about raptors existing and being able to pick locks that he is installing deadbolts. He is choosing to buy the deadbolts from Home Depot, a common American home improvement store.
security home improvements He is now reinforcing his home against possible entry points (e.g. the windows).
surviving a raptor attack Randall has entered survival mode. Literally. He now just wants to survive the perceived raptors.
robert bakker paleontologist Randall is now looking for more general information on Robert Bakker. He has presumably included "paleontologist" to filter out results about Robert Bakker the Dutch rower.
robert bakker "possible raptor sympathizer" Robert Bakker is an American paleontologist who has written a book (Raptor Red) about the life of a female Utahraptor (see below). This has apparently caused Randall to suspect he is a "raptor sympathizer".
site:en.wikipedia.org surviving a raptor attack “site:” is a google operator https://searchengineland.com/what-you-can-learn-from-googles-site-operator-14052. He has inevitably gone on wikipedia on how to survive a raptor attack, as Randall heavily relies on wikipedia for anything he wants to know.
learning from mistakes in jurassic park If you google this search term, the results are about where Jurassic Park got its dinosaurs wrong, but he probably wanted to know where Jurassic Park made mistakes in keeping the dinosaurs in captivity.
big-game rifles Having thought about getting close to raptors to hit them, he realized that it's not a very clever idea, so he is now planning to shoot them from a distance.
tire irons Since velociraptors do not fear fire, he wants tire irons to hit them with. Tire irons are heavy, so they should hurt raptors.
treating raptor wounds In the unlikely event that he gets wounded by a raptors and actually survives, he wants to know how to treat the wounds.
do raptors fear fire Having seen how to make molotov cocktails, he is having doubts on whether they will work.
how to make a molotov cocktail As a precaution, he wants to know how to make molotov cocktails to fight off raptors if needed.
do raptors fear death To see if the scare tactic will work, he sees whether raptors fear death. Unfortunately, they don't, which is also shown in the next search.
can raptors pick locks Randall wants to know if raptors can enter his house if he locks it
How to tell if my neighbors are raptors Randall is starting to become paranoid about raptors, and this is his first search term on the matter. He wants to know if his neighbors are raptors, presumably to move house if they are, even though Velociraptors died out 71 million years ago.

Transcript[edit]

[In a slim panel at the top of the comic Randall (drawn as Cueball) stands to the left and his speech is written in the rest of the panel to his right.]
Randall: In solidarity with the many AOL users whose often embarrassing web searches were released to the public, I offer a sample of my own search history:
[The long panel beneath the first panel shows a screenshot of Google's front page. The Google logo is partly cut through the top third of the logo. It is in the typical Google color code. Beneath the logo are six links for where to search, one of them is black, because it is chosen, the others blue. One has a red super script indicating there are news there. Below is the search bar. To the right of this, there are three lines with links, for what type of search preferences etc.]
Google
Web   Images   VideoNew!   News   Maps   more>>

Advanced search
Preferences
Language Tools
[Below the search bar is a box with a thin line around, which comes up when Randall presses the bar, it has the following 20 entries that Google suggests for autocompletion:]
velociraptors
site:imdb.com "jurassic park"
raptors
dromaeosaurids
utahraptor
"home depot" deadbolts
security home improvement
surviving a raptor attack
robert bakker paleontologist
robert bakker "possible raptor sympathizer"
site:en.wikipedia.org surviving a raptor attack
learning from mistakes in jurassic park
big-game rifles
tire irons
treating raptor wounds
do raptors fear fire
how to make a molotov cocktail
do raptors fear death
can raptors pick locks
how to tell if my neighbors are raptors


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Discussion

Here's a link to the somethingawful page mentioned in the title text (part 2, part 3). ‎141.70.81.143 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

People of the distant future, this is what google looked like today. Kripmo (talk) 00:50, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

Google actually looked like that?! Truly, the modern world is a wonderful place, compared to the drop-shadow hellscape pictured in this comic. Just look at all that font hinting, and no anti-aliasing in sight! The horror! ~AgentMuffin

Should we create a table explaining each one? 172.68.47.6 01:24, 17 November 2017 (UTC)

Yes! I know what I will be doing for the rest of this lesson. Beanie (talk) 09:32, 15 December 2020 (UTC)

It has been just shy of five years since Kripmo's. Google has changed very little, the fonts having slimmed down slightly and very little else.

Either they have reached stability or it has not been long enough. 172.68.38.98 03:06, 23 July 2020 (UTC)

I think the table is in the wrong order. It makes more sense for Randall to search "robert bakker paleontologist" first before moving on to the more specific query about bakker. Similarly, it makes more sense for the more general search term "raptor" to be search before more specific queries about types of raptors. Finally, if read top to bottom, the search results present a reasonable line of thought that gradually devolves into absurdity, a common theme that shows up across xkcd comics. I know that this is the opposite of how actual google searches would be presented in real life, but it's reasonable to think that Randall would have sacrificed exact accuracy in favor of a more easily readable format. 108.162.210.104 05:53, 17 December 2020 (UTC)

In google, the most recent search terms are on the top. I did the table with the most recent on the bottom, to make it easier to follow. Beanie (talk) 10:15, 17 December 2020 (UTC)
Although yes, Randall didn't seem to pay much attention to how the searches were organized. Beanie (talk) 12:43, 17 December 2020 (UTC)
For sure he intended it to be read from top to bottom, even though this would not look like this on Google. I have corrected the table to be in reading order as in the comic. And made a note that this is the wrong order if in real life. --Kynde (talk) 15:01, 26 May 2022 (UTC)