1665: City Talk Pages

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
City Talk Pages
I don't think the Lakeshore Air Crash Museum really belongs under 'Tourist Attractions.' It's not a museum--it's just an area near the Lake Festival Laser Show where a lot of planes have crashed.
Title text: I don't think the Lakeshore Air Crash Museum really belongs under 'Tourist Attractions.' It's not a museum--it's just an area near the Lake Festival Laser Show where a lot of planes have crashed.


The comic makes fun of Wikipedia talk pages. On Wikipedia, every article has a place to discuss the content of the page, called a "talk page". This comic presents the table-of-contents of the talk page of an article about a city, showing all headers and subheaders used by Wikipedia editors to organize discussions by topic. Unusually, many subsection headers are used to react directly to previous subsections (i.e. "Not how Wikipedia works"; "Also bleak"). While some of the topics are normal for a talk page (e.g. "Origin of city's name"; "Discuss: New picture") others are increasingly absurd. The topics discussed suggest that the city has many problems and is a bad place to live in or visit.

The topics show a common problem at Wikipedia's talk pages: People often use them as a place to talk about the subject of the article, but it is for talking about the article itself. Someone near the top of the talk page is suggesting a better name for the city.

The article repeatedly refers to "the murders", suggesting that the city might be well-known for them. It seems that the editors cannot agree on how notable "the murders" are. "Not that notable" refers to Wikipedia's general criteria for including information in articles.[1] Material which is not noteworthy should be removed; however, different editors often disagree about what is notable, which may result in text being inserted and then removed (an "edit war"). Someone creates a section on how "all cities have murders." While true, most cities would not have a series of them so well-known that when someone talks about "the murders" any reader could be expected to know what they are talking about, making this sound like an attempt to make the city sound nicer than it is. "I think the murderer is reverting my edits" suggests the murders are being committed by one person who is influencing how they are shown on Wikipedia - perhaps trying to prevent Wikipedia from publishing evidence of them or possibly publicise them by adding more information about them. This raises the possibility that the discussion of the murder visible in the infobox picture may have been initiated by the murderer.

The infobox is a short fact sheet that many articles in the (English) Wikipedia have; it generally includes the main image illustrating the subject of the article. The question of which picture is best for the prominent infobox can cause arguments, as it is preferred to be high-quality, accurate, and pretty. It seems that the people who are editing the article are getting desperate to find a non-bleak picture of the city. When a non-bleak picture is added, it turns out to be from the 2016 Disney film Zootopia. The fictional city which is the setting and title of the film has a distinctive look which is far from bleak, but is not a picture of the city. (Zootopia is called Zootropolis in many European countries for trademark reasons.)

It is discovered that the photograph of the city has a murder in it. Instead of forwarding the picture to law enforcement, someone uses the image editing software Photoshop to erase the murder so the picture might be less objectionable. It appears that murders are so common in the city that any random photograph of the city has a chance of showing a murder, to the point where a second photo proposed as a replacement for the infobox picture is found to show another murder.

Voltaire was a French Enlightenment writer. As a prominent and very opinionated intellectual, he gets a lot of quotes falsely attributed to him; most famously, he did not actually say "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" (that was Evelyn Beatrice Hall). Restaurants as they are understood today only developed near the end of Voltaire's life in the 18th century, and Voltaire is not known for writing about food establishments.

The city apparently is a mining town and there have been multiple mining disasters. An editor is complaining that this section is too long, but another editor points out that this is because there have been so many mining disasters that a large section is needed to cover the topic. It is absurd to attribute local mining disasters to the city being "bad at mining," mainly because such disasters are significant tragedies for the worker communities in which they occur.

"1982 Secession" refers to Key West, Florida symbolically seceding from the United States in 1982 to form the Conch Republic, a micronation. Presumably the city discussed in the article did something similar, or the user posting this is confused and trying to discuss the article for Key West.

A known problem on Wikipedia is "coatracking", where people use articles to promote topics that are not strictly the subject of the article (perhaps by writing far more about them than is necessary, when they could just be mentioned in passing). Here, it emerges that someone used this article to express a completely irrelevant and weirdly dubious opinion on condom use.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is an English composer famous for writing The Phantom Of The Opera. Webber is also known for writing the music for Starlight Express, a rock opera about anthropomorphized trains, which is probably another factor in the train station joke. Meanwhile, Frank Lloyd Wright, who shares his middle name and last initial, was an American architect, who designed more than 1,000 structures. As it turns out it was the composer who was responsible for the train station. Another editor announces that they're putting a mention of a collapse of the station roof (presumably recently), the implication being that Andrew is a lot better at composing than architectural engineering.

In the title text, it emerges that the Lakeside Festival's eponymous Laser Show is so impressive that it has caused a number of aeroplanes to crash. This refers to the dangerous behavior of deliberately aiming laser pointers at aircrafts, as they can be distracting or even blinding to the pilots, putting the flight at risk. The article has been promoting a location as the "Lakeshore Air Crash Museum", despite it having no such official status, and seems to just be the local scene of multiple accidents resulting from the recklessly recurring laser hazards.


  1. "Notable" is technically incorrect, as Wikipedia's Notability guideline only applies to whether an article can be written on a larger subject. "Undue weight" is the appropriate guideline for article content.



[Caption above the panel:]
I love reading the Wikipedia talk pages for articles on individual cites
[A list of contents for a Wikipedia talk page regarding an article about a city. Except for the header and the square brackets, which are written in black text, the rest is in a blue font.]
Contents [hide]
1 Origin of city's name?
1.1 Idea for a better name
1.2 Not how Wikipedia works
2 Too much promotion of the lake festival
3 Should we mention the murders?
3.1 Not that notable
3.2 All cites have murders
4 Quote verification: Even if Voltaire did visit (unlikely), why would he get so angry about our restaurants?
5 Discuss: New picture
5.1 Current one looks awfully bleak
5.2 Gray sky
5.3 What about this
5.4 Also bleak
5.5 Maybe this place just looks that way
5.6 Found a better picture, more colorful
5.7 That's a shot from Disney's Zootopia
6 "Mining disasters" section too long
6.1 Not really Wikipedia's fault
6.2 Why is this town so bad at mining?
7 Infobox picture: I just realized you can see a murder happening in the background
7.1 This city is terrible
7.2 Photoshopped out murder
7.3 Can someone just take a better picture
7.4 Okay, uploaded a new picture
7.5 Wait, never mind, I just noticed there's a murder in this one, too
8 1982 secession still in effect?
9 I think the murderer is reverting my edits
10 Why does this article take any position on correct condom use, let alone such a weird and ambiguous one?
11 Train station "Designed by Andrew Lloyd Webber"?
11.1 They probably mean Frank Lloyd Wright
11.2 I thought so too, but it's apparently not a mistake
11.3 Didn't know he did architecture
11.4 Roof collapse


  • In the comic Webber was once spelled Weber. This was a mistake by Randall, as it has since been corrected.
    • Find the original here.
  • In 2022, Randall commented on Twitter that "I don’t usually laugh at my own comics, but every time I stumble on this one and read through it again, it gets me".
comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


I redid the numbering in the transcript to be consistent with the comic. Unfortunately that added blank lines around the indented section, which looks a little awkward. Perhaps someone with better markup skills than me can fix it.NotLock (talk) 16:51, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

You didn't need to say font color blue over and over. Just once for the whole list was enough. Numbermaniac (talk) 00:32, 9 April 2016 (UTC)
That wasn't me NotLock (talk) 02:40, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

So now does Wikipedia have to lock down every talk page to prevent xkcd-inspired vandalism edits? Z (talk) 17:14, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Aren't all of these points based on actual wikipedia talk pages? I came by to find the links to them. Maybe this is a big Whooosh for me, but i'd bet i'll not be the last person to think this. Harodotus (talk) 17:23, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Not ACTUALLY, directly based, no. I believe that Randall is engaging in what Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory declared as being called "reductio-ad-absurdum", taking an idea to an extreme in order to then make fun of it. It's definitely an xkcd staple, we see it often. In this case, Randall has seen ridiculous talk pages, and has come up with even more ridiculous "suggestions" if you will (for example, I doubt there's any city with such a huge murder problem that nobody can find a nice picture without a murder happening in the background). People here could find ridiculous city talk pages and link them here as examples, but it's unlikely any/many will have these exact entries, so linking them would be more of an opinion ("Here's one I personally find ridiculous"), which makes it less than ideal for linking to in what should be a fact-based environment. - NiceGuy1 18:07, 8 April 2016 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 09:29, 9 June 2017 (UTC)
"What sheldon on the Big Bang Theory called" *facepalms hard* Reductio ad absurdem was a logical fallacy and rhetorical tactic long before that godawful show. 21:37, 8 April 2016 (UTC)
Well, of COURSE I know they didn't invent it, I'm just pointing out a more accessible place where people may have heard the concept. And I didn't say he called it that, I said that he DECLARED that it's called that. I never suggested I thought he named it. That's one thing I love about the show, that it brings intelligence out to the masses. - NiceGuy1 10:58, 9 April 2016 (UTC) So's this! NiceGuy1 (talk) 09:29, 9 June 2017 (UTC)

Andrew Lloyd Webber has two "b"s. Shakhteremeslo (talk) 17:41, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Wonder if it is a mistake or to make it look real. Talk pages are probably often filled with spelling errors and mistakes that do not get fixed. So maybe it was intentional. Else it might get fixed in an update later. Mentioned this in the explanation now. Kynde (talk) 19:27, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Is the "it's apparently not a mistake" line a possible reference to citogenesis? 17:43, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Probably, that seems to be the only logical explanation for how it's possible for that NOT to be a mistake, LOL! - NiceGuy1 18:10, 8 April 2016 (UTC) Also my comment! Oh, and 978: Citogenesis NiceGuy1 (talk) 09:29, 9 June 2017 (UTC)

I assume the reference to the 1982 secession is referring to Key West, FL, which "seceded" from the United States and formed the Conch Republic in April 1982, to protest Border Patrol roadblocks in the Keys. It makes sense to me -- If you have to deal with the Border Patrol, you must be leaving the country. They still celebrate Independence Day every April 23. Miamiclay (talk) 21:57, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

"Mining disasters" section too long

Why is this comic so bad at mining? 17:46, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

I just *couldn't resist* coming to the talk page of this particular comic to say "hello world". LOL -JP (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I think that's why we're all here. 14:06, 10 April 2016 (UTC)

I tried clicking on [HIDE] but it didn't. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Too blue (DISCOSS!)

The article has too many hyperlinks. Can we make them green instead of blue? Mike (talk) 22:38, 8 April 2016 (UTC)

Nah they should be red Moderator (talk) 01:39, 6 February 2024 (UTC)

I think the murderer is here now

He's also reverting my edits? 00:15, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

Random examples

Wikipedia has a special page for random pages in a category. This link finds random pages related to cities, which might help in finding amusing talk pages. .42 (talk) 00:20, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

I just had to go check out the talk page on my hometown. Oh my goodness, I didn't realize... 02:03, 9 April 2016 (UTC) sam


Notability is not really a criterion for including material in articles. It is a criterion for whether to create an article based on a particular topic. Big difference there. There is plenty of information that will never meet notability thresholds that is perfectly fine to include in an article. Complicating this problem is the fact that many Wikipedians do not understand this distinction. It is therefore an entirely plausible situation that some Wikilawyer would try to suppress useful information by denying its notability. This would not be an actually tenable position, though, and therefore the above "explanation" of it is incorrect and incomplete. 02:42, 9 April 2016 (UTC)

Out of curiosity, what is the wikipedia rule then that prevents facts like "On 12 August, 1989, Famous Person X had a Turkey on Rye sandwich, featuring mustard and pickles" or "City Z has many fire hydrants. Here are the GPS coordinates of each fire hydrant: ..."? Although, that fire hydrant edit would be interesting.... NotLock (talk) 06:48, 9 April 2016 (UTC)
While the common-sense is most time enough, there is a rule that you can only include things for which you have a source (and not every source is ok, blogs for example may be problematic). There are also rules about the scope of an article, which kind of articles are ok (that topic differs MUCH between the several Wikipedias) and for what Wikipedia is not in general. --DaB. (talk) 12:17, 9 April 2016 (UTC)
Possible Link to XKCD 463?

While it isn't particularly likely, is it possible that this comic references Voting Machines? The article taking a position on correct condom use is odd, but it is possible there is some metaphor (such as the one in Voting Machines) that involves condom usage that is in the article but isn't visible to us. On a related note, I would love to see this hypothetical Wikipedia article. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Andrew Lloyd Webber vs. Frank Lloyd Wright
Randy, Please add them to the next Bracket! (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Randall did updated Webber's last name in the original comic, maybe this page is up for update (I am not sure how ot properly do it, so can someone who is more experienced in editing do this?) 16:50, 16 September 2016 (UTC)