802: Online Communities 2

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Online Communities 2
Best trivia I learned while working on this: 'Man, Farmville is so huge! Do you realize it's the second-biggest browser-based social-networking-centered farming game in the WORLD?' Then you wait for the listener to do a double-take.
Title text: Best trivia I learned while working on this: 'Man, Farmville is so huge! Do you realize it's the second-biggest browser-based social-networking-centered farming game in the WORLD?' Then you wait for the listener to do a double-take.

A larger version of this picture can be found by clicking the comic on xkcd.


This comic shows a map of internet communities where the size of each region roughly corresponds to its size, and its proximity to other regions indicates similarities.

This is the successor of 256: Online Communities. It differs in that it is updated, and furthermore, instead of using the membership of whichever service to determine its size on the map, it uses its "daily social activity."

The map actually has two super−maps intended to show the relative usage of types of communication: the online community map is surrounded by the much larger "countries" of E−Mail, SMS ("Instant Messaging") and "Cell Phones," which in turn are surrounded by the even huger "Spoken Language." It is unclear whether "Cell Phones" is intended to represent an independent region, or whether it is meant to be a sub-region of "Spoken Language." The ambiguity is exacerbated by the fact that cell phones are the primary medium of SMS, and are also used to access email and online communities. It's also unclear why other forms of communication, such as handwritten letters, are not included.

At the title text Randall explains that, using his definition of "most activity per day," Farmville is actually the second most popular social-network farming game - the Chinese game Happy Farm was more popular at the time. This strikes many English-speaking xkcd readers as odd, because Farmville is much more famous, leading one to wonder how it could not be the most played. The phrase "browser-based social-networking-centered farming game" is an example of an overly-narrow superlative.

Facebook Region[edit]

The Facebook region deals with social networks, that is, websites oriented towards having people meet.

Facebook is a social networking site that allows people to meet old real−life friends and make new friends that share similar interests. One of its most notable features is that a member can update a "status" or make normal posts about the happenings of the member's life, complete with pictures, other members "liking" these posts. The size of the Facebook region is not exaggerated; most websites seem to allow "liking" their content or allow/require logging in the website with a Facebook account. There even are cell phones with a "Facebook" button!

  • FarmVille and Farm Town are Facebook games in which users manage farms. Happy Farm, the Chinese game that inspired the other two, does not require Facebook integration, so it is separated by a solid line from Facebook. The "Unethical Bay" refers to how these games tend to addict players into constantly buying virtual items of questionable value.
  • People You Can't Unfriend refers to people whom, due to real-life expectations and relationships, unfriending them is difficult, no matter how you really feel about them.
  • Blatherskite River refers to the conversations on Facebook, which may be long yet devoid of general meaning or logic.
  • Data Mines refer to the data mining that Facebook does with the interests of its members. This fuels the profitable advertising business at the expense of customer trust.
  • Plains of Awkwardly Public Family Interactions refer to how interactions with family members on Facebook suddenly become more awkward because everyone on Facebook (and sometimes off Facebook, given that you do not necessarily need to log in if you want to see someone's Facebook account) if you are discussing with your family through post comments.
  • 524,287 Strong for Mersenne Primes refers to the communities who gain followers for a cause. A Mersenne prime is a prime number that is 1 less than a power of 2; 524287 is the 7th known Mersenne prime.
  • Jungle-Bay Mountains of "It's Complicated" refers to one of Facebook's options as to what a user's relationship status currently is. A Jungle-Bay Mountain is a complicated and undefined climate, hence the complication.
  • "lamebook bay" refers to the online website "lamebook", where users post photos of funny things that happen on Facebook (these can include statuses, "fails", put-downs and images.)
  • "Old Facebook" Resistance refers to Facebook's earlier users, who have often resisted (and resented) changes made to Facebook as it became more popular.
  • Privacy Controls is located on the map surrounded by a Lava Pool, which is a reference to how difficult it is to find the privacy controls within Facebook.
  • Niche Market Mountains refers to social networks aimed towards more niche markets are located. Similar to how mountains tend to be isolated from mainland, niche social networks tend to be just that: niche, without much interaction with the general populace.
  • Charred Wasteland of Abandoned Social Networks refers to the tons of websites wanting to take advantage of the success of websites like Facebook to compete or even overpower with them. Even so, these websites tend to not have the userbase or even the expertise towards the long-term, hence they become wastelands: environments devoid of life, except the few life forms that are from these wastelands (in this case, the ones who are loyal to the website or which are sadly few).
  • In the Charred Wasteland stands Ozymandias, the titular broken statue of Shelley's poem. In the poem, only "two vast and trunkless legs of stone" and a "shattered visage" are all that remain of the once-great statue and both of these features are present in the comic. According to the poem, the pedestal before the broken statue reads "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings..." hence "friend of friends" below Ozymandias on the map.
  • In the north are the Duckface Mountains and the Red Cup Mountains."Duckface" refers to this incredibly obnoxious facial expression, and "red cup pictures" are any pictures containing party-goers holding disposable red plastic beverage cups. Facebook is absolutely flooded with both types of pictures.
  • In the south is Buzzword Bay. Buzzwords are words and phrases that make you sound a lot more topical than you actually are, used to garner attention; again, Facebook status updates are commonly filled with buzzwords.

While Facebook is the largest "country" of the Facebook Region, there are a lot of smaller "countries" that represent smaller social networks.

  • Below Facebook (and "Old Facebook' Resistance") is Diaspora, a fully open-source, decentralized, privacy-respecting-and-expecting alternative to Facebook. From what this map tells, Diaspora is little-known, even if Facebook is taken out of the context.
  • StudiVZ is a German-speaking social network similar if not a ripped-off version of Facebook.
  • XING is a German-speaking social platform similar to LinkedIn.
  • Ning is a service to create custom social websites. Its free services shut down in 2010.
  • Taringa! is a Spanish-speaking social network that is based on a forums. Copyrighted material is frequently found there.
  • Next to the Euro(pean) Gulf is Skyrock (social network site), a French-speaking social network.
  • Wer-kennt-wen is a German-social network somewhat like MySpace.
  • Nasza-klasa.pl or NK (misspelled on the map as nasa-klasza.pl), is a Polish-speaking social network based on school relationships.
  • Badoo is a social network primarily based on dating and picture-sharing.
  • Classmates.com is a service in which the user can meet classmates that came from the same high school. The website is probably best known by its memetic advertisement that said "She married him??!! And they've got 7 kids??" (Incidentally, there is more to the coupled picture than what the advertisement says.)
  • Myspace is a social networking website that is a kind of proto-Facebook: users could customize their one-page websites with whatever they wanted, make their interests and daily lives public, and interact with other users. Back in the mid 2000s, MySpace was the largest social network, many people using the website; however, the surprisingly-less-customizable Facebook ended up taking the place of MySpace. The "bands" country of MySpace refers to how a lot of bands in the day advertised and interacted using the website. Indeed, the latest incarnation of MySpace (in terms of 2013) is more oriented towards band members.
  • LinkedIn is a social network aimed towards people in the workplace, which is why it is adjacent to Corporate Bay.
  • Orkut was one of Google's first social networks before Google made Google+. It shut down in 2014.
  • Hi5 is a social network that is very popular among people in Latin America.
  • Renren (「人人」, "people" in Chinese) is "a Chinese copy of Facebook."
  • Bebo was a social network popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It went bankrupt in 2013 and will move away from social networking and into apps.
  • Friendster - One of the first major social networks, it has fallen way off in usage in recent years and was eclipsed by MySpace. It is still popular in Asia.
  • Vkontakte or VK, is the second largest social network service in Europe after Facebook. It is available in several languages, but particularly popular among Russian-speaking users around the world.
  • Netlog is a Belgian social networking website specifically targeted at the global youth demographic.
  • Mixi is an online Japanese social networking service.
  • Qzone is a social networking website, which is big in China. According to a report published by Tencent, possibly surpassing other social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace in China.
  • Tuenti is a Spain-based, social networking service, that has been referred to as the "Spanish Facebook."
  • Cloob is a Persian-language social networking website, mainly popular in Iran. After the locally (and internationally) popular social networking website Orkut was blocked by the Iranian government, a series of local sites and networks, including Cloob, emerged to fill the gap.
  • Kaixin001 is a social networking website which ranks as the 13th most popular website in China and 67th overall.
  • Piczo was a privately held blog website for teens. In November 2012, Piczo.com shut down.
  • Odnoklassniki is a social network service for classmates and old friends. It is popular in Russia and former Soviet Republics.
  • Adult FriendFinder is a pornographic dating site.
  • Match.com is a dating site, mainly targeted at people looking for marriage.
  • Ok Cupid is another dating site, however it has been owned by Match.com since 2011.
  • PlentyofFish is yet another dating site, also owned by Match.com since June 2015.
  • Sulawesi is a real-life island in the Indonesian archipelago. It also appears in 256: Online Communities.

MMO Isle[edit]

MMOs (short form of "Massive Multiplayer Online Game") are online games where multiple people take the role of a character and play in a setting hosted by the game.

  • Habbo Hotel is a website where someone creates a human avatar an interacts in a virtual world that is not that different from the one in real life.
  • Club Penguin is Disney's former MMO where someone creates a penguin avatar and interacts with other in a more polar, cartoony setting. Club Penguin is aimed towards children. It has been shut down near the end of March 2017.
  • Maple Story is an MMO that has a more natural setting. The most distinguishing feature of Maple Story is its cartoony pixel art.
  • GameFAQs, while not an MMO, is a website that has the largest repository of walkthoughs, that is, guides that help someone beat a game. GameFAQs is notable for not only its large repository of walkthroughs of games that are across an extreme variety of consoles, handhelds, and even computers (not all of them MMOs), but also the drama that is rumoured to happen in the GameFAQs forums.
  • IGN (full: Imagine Games Network), while also not an MMO, is the largest website that gives news on video games in general, not just MMOs. Each of the games mentioned in the site have pages that have summaries, reviews, screenshots, other art, videos, and links to news related to its games.
  • FFXI (full: Final Fantasy XI) is an MMO from SquareEnix, being the first MMO of the popular Final Fantasy series.
  • Runescape is an older MMO.
  • Starcraft II is a realtime strategy game with a science fiction setting that heavily involves space travel. While technically not an MMO, it has a significant online multiplayer component.
  • WoW (full: World of Warcraft) is the definitive MMO, being not only the most popular and one of the longest-running but also the most expansive (having its own spinoff games, comic books, novels, and even figurines), WOW giving the idea of how an MMO should be. A player can choose from a variety of races, each with its own heavy history.
  • Second Life is similar to Habbo, albeit with a bigger suspension of disbelief (one example being that the player does not need to be a human) and in a 3D setting.
  • NationStates is a text-based political simulation game. Notably, some of its traffic comes not from the actual game (which is optional), but the extensive set of political, roleplaying, and general forums attached.
  • Urban Dead describes itself as "A Massively Multi-Player Web-Based Zombie Apocalypse", which sums it up pretty well.
  • KoL (full: Kingdom of Loathing) is a comedic browser-based MMO-ish RPG with minimalistic stick-figure art.
  • CDC Games is a Chinese company reputed to be the largest MMORPG distributor.
  • EVE Online is a science fiction MMO which is notable because of its virtual economy.
  • Gaia or Gaia Online, while not an MMO, is a forum oriented towards pop culture, including video games and Japanese media. Its most notable feature is the heavy customization possible of a member's pixel-art avatar. Its members tend to roleplay a lot, albeit in a more written, story-based form. Gaia has gained a reputation with its members stealing art and causing drama. The ferry that links the gaia island with 4chan was most likely due to the "boxxy" row, where vlogger boxxy posted videos of her using gaia, which then were circulated on 4chan. This resulted in a division of the sites users, and many more hacking attacks, including a DDOS attack on 4chan itself.
  • EverQuest (full: EverQuest) is one of the first MMO's, it's still running and has a huge number of expansions.
  • UO (full: Ultima Online) along with EverQuest this was one of the first and longest running MMO's.
  • CoH or City of Heroes was a superhero-based MMORPG that was shut down November 2012.
  • Atlantica (full: Atlantica Online) is a turn-based MMORPG.
  • Lineage is a Korean MMORPG, it's North American servers were closed 2011/06/29 due to being unprofitable.
  • Lineage II is a Korean MMORPG, mainly played in Asia along with its predecessor. It adopted a Free to Play model on 2011/11/30.
  • SubSpace was a 2D, topdown shooter released in 1997. The servers have been shut down, but it continues to operate through the work of fans. It's widely considered an early entry into the MMO genre due to its unprecedentedly high player count.

Other notable regions include:

  • The Mountains of Steam, referring to the game distribution service Steam where people can buy and download video games in general, not just MMOs. There is also an extensive community where users can share content, and instant messaging chat by text, voice, or game streaming.
  • River Grind refers to "grinding." In most MMOs, the character is a fighter of some sorts, yet starts at a level 1, signifying the character's aptitude level in combat. The character can level up and gain more aptitude levels through earning experience, of which the most reliable and otherwise common way is the process of "grinding," that is, repeatedly fighting opposing monsters (sometimes of a level notably lower that your character's), gaining experience points from winning these battles until your character gains a level, that is, "levels up". While a practical necessity in strengthening the character, this process can be tiresome, hence the expression "grinding."
  • Spawn Camp refers to "spawn points", the places where AI-powered enemies and players who have died in-game respawn, and the act of "spawn camping", in which the player character simply stands behind or around the spawn points to fight the enemy creatures or respawning players as soon as they appear.
  • Gulf of Lag refers to how the MMO can be slowed down a considerable amount due to the large amount of players simultaneously using the same server, this congestion bogging down the server and frustrating the users.
  • End Guy for the Internet refers to "end bosses," the last — and usually hardest to defeat — "bad guy" in a game (or a section of a game).

YouTube Region[edit]

The YouTube region refers to websites that are based on user-created content.

YouTube is the definitive video website where people can upload videos with the purpose of public viewing, ranging from home movies through official music videos through Let's Plays of people playing video games to questionably-legal uploads of cartoons and films. Google had purchased YouTube.

Many of the sites on the map are just references to viral videos at YouTube:

  • Viral Shores refers to how viral videos (whether they be viral marketing or simply memes) tend to proliferate on YouTube.
  • Britney likely refers to pop singer Britney Spears and the "Leave Britney Alone" guy.
  • Maru Gulf refers to Maru the Cat, a YouTube celebrity also mentioned in xkcd.
  • Prairie Dog Habitat likely refers to the viral video Dramatic Chipmunk (which is actually a Prairie Dog).
  • Rick Rolling Hills references, well, Rickrolling. More information here. The "deserted" note likely refers to how Rick Astley himself is tired of the meme, or again, how people tend to leave the video upon getting "Rick Roll'd," never actually going to the video with the express purpose of viewing the video. It could also refer to the lyric in the song, "Never gonna tell a lie and desert you".
  • Lunar Landing Soundstage is, of course, a reference to the Moon landing conspiracy theories, which Randall has railed on before.
  • OK Go Bay refers to the band "OK Go" who have multiple viral music videos on YouTube, most famously "Here it goes again" featuring treadmills.

The HTML5 swamp refers to YouTube's spotty support of HTML 5 (an update on HTML that is frequently touting its media capabilities, making HTML 5 a viable alternative to Flash). Of course, by the time the comic was written, HTML 5 was still in its infancy. The Music Video Bay refers to the amount of music videos (official or otherwise) are present in YouTube.

Other counties of the YouTube region include:

  • vimeo, a website where people tend to showcase artistic content that they made on their own, notably independent studios.

Snob Sound:

  • Flickr, a website where people can upload and share photographs they took.
  • Fotolog, a photo website very popular in South America in 2004-2008, which was used as a social network.
  • Last.fm, a music website that is notable of its "scrobbling" feature.
  • deviantArt, the largest art website, where people can upload, sell, and buy not only art itself, but also video, audio, Flash-work, and even skins (the original purpose of deviantArt). While many big-name/professional people and organizations have their works in deviantArt, the site is more infamous for the large amount of people who upload low-quality fan-art and fan-characters, most notably of media from Japan. Another point of infamy is the large amount of drama that can happen in the website.
  • Newgrounds, a website that hosts art, (Flash-based) videos, audio, and (Flash-based) games to which other users can comment and rate. Even so, content from Newgrounds tends to be obscene, though there is a filtering system if a viewer does not wish to see obscene content.
  • Chatroulette is a website where people are randomly paired up with each other and video/text chat.
  • Brickshelf is the online resource for LEGO fans.
  • Tumblr, where people could make a blog and post text, pictures, video, audio, quotes, and links. The most distinguishing feature is the ability to "reblog" these posts from other's people's blogs into the user's own blog. Notable features of Tumblr include sketchblogs (where people upload their sketches), Ask blogs (where people answer questions other users ask, the moderators of these blogs usually pretending to be a character from a form of media), and the large amount of "social justice" (a highly controversial political movement). (See also 1043: Ablogalypse.)
  • b3ta is a popular British website, described as a "puerile digital arts community" by The Guardian.

The Isle of teenagers who just discovered macroeconomics is a joke about how teenagers tend to think that the world and the economy are a lot simpler than they actually are. Combined with the typical internet mindset, this leads to a lot of teenagers posting blogs and videos and comments on blogs and videos describing how idiotic the government and other red-tape-related adults are. The Snob Sound could refer to the large amount of people who look down on others in the surrounding websites (one example being an original artist looking down on people who draw mainly fan-art). The Iraq is a reference to Miss Teen USA 2007, in which Ms. Teen South Carolina, Lauren Katlin, said "I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as...the US should help the US and should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we are able to build up our future." The usage of "the Iraq" has became a meme.

Twitter Region[edit]

  • Bieber Bay is a reference to Justin Bieber, a pop singer whose singing sprouted on YouTube and became very popular on Twitter and other social media. He is very much vilified because of his rather feminine appearance and his hordes of fans (called "Beliebers") that seem to support him to ridiculous extents. Lately, though, Justin Beiber has taken a "bad boy" attitude because of all the Beliebers who are willing to defend him no matter what, him partaking in a lot of questionable activities that include tattoos, questionably-legal substances, and buying prostitution, thus lowering his popularity in the general populace.
  • Google Buzz is a former social network attempted by Google. It has since been shut down.
  • Bit.Ly Mountains is a reference to the URL shortening service bit.ly.
  • Kanye's Isle of Sadness is a reference to the musician Kanye West, whose Twitter, at the time, was famously introspective and stream-of-consciousness.
  • Sarah Palin USA is the Twitter handle of former politician Sarah Palin.
  • Clueless Politician Coast is a reference to the number of politicians on Twitter and other social networks who repeatedly share clueless updates that more often create an uproar than help their election chances.
  • Desert of Food Updates is a reference to the number of pictures of food that are shared on social media (especially Twitter). There has even been some controversy on posting such pictures.
  • Journalists Trying to Find the Cutting Edge is referencing journalists on Twitter trying to keep up with the way that news is gathered and delivered now, despite usually working for a newspaper that publishes once a day.
  • SHAQ is a reference to the former NBA basketball player, Shaq.
  • identi.ca is an open source social networking and micro-blogging service, being an alternative to Twitter.
  • Breaking! Waves is a pun on the fact that so many people used the word "Breaking" at the beginning of tweets that do not warrant that tag that the word has lost most of its meaning and become a joke. It is a pun because waves "break" on the shore.
  • Web 3.0 refers to the unofficial term Web 2.0. In this case, "Web 1.0" refers to websites that give information to users. Web 2.0 refers to websites where the users themselves create content. Web 3.0 has sometimes been used as a term for semantic web, a machine-readable version of the web, but this usage is far from universal.
  • Hashtag games whose popularity confuses and depresses you refers to the game where a user posts something under a particular hashtag and others respond with their own ideas, all tagged under the same phrase. This has been very popular for no clear reason, as Randall notes.

Geotagged Bay[edit]

  • Yelp is a website where people post reviews of real-life public locations (one example being restaurants).
  • Geocaching is a worldwide GPS scavenger hunt where users upload positions of caches and others will find them and log it online.
  • Foursquare is a location-based social network.
  • Latitude refers to Google Latitude.

Troll Bay and the Sea of Memes[edit]

  • Reddit is the self-described "front page of the Internet" in which users submit stories, photos and videos and the best are "up-voted" to the top of the page.
  • Wikipedia Talk Pages refer to the pages where Wikipedia editors ostensibly discuss how to improve articles.
  • Wikia (later Fandom) is a website offering free-of-charge wiki hosting, using a variant of Wikimedia's MediaWiki, allowing users to create user-editable encyclopedias of just about any subject matter, although it has more recently introduced an entertainment blog named "Fandom powered by Wikia" and eventually adopted that branding for the wiki farm as well.
  • StumbleUpon was a website-sharing service, it shut down in 2018.
  • Delicious is a bookmarking and bookmark-sharing service.
  • Digg is a former competitor to Reddit in the social-news sphere, but now has been sold and restarted as an aggregator of news stories. The lifeboats refer to the mass exodus of users from Digg to rival news aggregator Reddit that occurred after Digg's glitchy and unpopular "v4" redesign in August 2010.
  • Slashdot, labeled "/." on the map, is a technical news site.
  • MetaFilter, labeled "MeFi" on the map, is a long-running community blog.
  • Fark is a community website that allows members to comment on news articles from other sites.
  • YTMND is an acronym for "You're The Man Now, Dog!" It's also a community in which users can create meme-type nonsense by playing music over an image (either static or animated).
  • Free Republic is a right-wing conservative activist forum.

Skype Region[edit]

The Skype Region refers to different IM, or Instant Messaging services, that enable almost-real-time text chatting between multiple people. These often allow services like voice chat and even video calls.

  • Skype is, according to Randall, the most popular of these among the internet. It has many features to allow peer-to-peer voice chats, as well as allowing calls to be made at a price to actual phones.
  • AIM or AOL Instant Messenger is a chat client created by AOL.
  • GG or Gadu-Gadu is an instant messenger client popular in Poland.
  • Yahoo Messenger is an instant messenger client by Yahoo.
  • Google Talk is a voice/video chatting service from Google (that Google has been replacing with Hangouts). Google Talk also has an invasion fleet at its shores.
  • ICQ is an older messaging service, albeit with an 18+ requirement (despite pornography not being the point of ICQ).
  • Windows Live Messenger, or "MSN", was the messaging service of Microsoft before Microsoft bought Skype. MSN was useful in that people could draw and send pictures to other chatters.
  • Usenet was one of the original ways to communicate on the internet, though people can download (copyrighted) files through the service. Since it is still in use by some, it gets the tag "Still Around!" on the map.
  • IRC Isles refers to the ancestor of Internet-powered chatting. People would have connected to a server and spoke publicly. IRC is still in use (as of 2014), notably in getting help from other users. One of those isles is #xkcd which is an IRC community around xkcd.

Bay of Drama[edit]

  • FanFiction.net is a website where people can submit their fanfiction (stories by fans written about other peoples' media, normally that about popular media). The website tends to have people that are not helpful to those who legitimately want critique of their own stories.
  • Xanga is a blogging service that, while popular at its time, lost out to...
  • LiveJournal was the most popular blogging service before Tumblr.
  • ONYD - Reference to Oh No You Didn't, which is explained in the Blogosphere region.
  • Dreamwidth is a LiveJournal fork emphasizing its open-source nature.


The Blogosphere region contains several general blog topics.

  • Photo Blogs are commonly used to chronicle the lives of the authors through photographs.
  • Diary Blogs are another popular use of blogs (and, in fact, the original use) where authors write commentary about their lives.
  • Bay of Grammar Pedantry deals with the fact that, whether due to a lack of proper education, a habit of using "chat-speak" in the text-limited SMS and MMS, or simply due to the (generally) more relaxed nature of the Internet, blog authors tend to write with horrible composition, a point of annoyment to a lot of other people due to the subsequent increased difficulty of reading the horribly-written material.
  • Fandom Blogs are blogs created by a "fandom" which is a community of fans. A fandom blog deals with the subject matter of the respective fandom.
  • Sea of Zero (0) Comments refers to blogs that get very little attention and therefore have no comments.
  • SpamBlog Straits references spammers who use blogs to increase the number of links to their site to try to game search engines.
  • OffTopic.com is a general interest forum that refers to itself as "the largest general discussion forum on the internet."
  • Many more straightforward blogs, including:
    • Writing/Poetry
    • Gossip Blogs
    • Political Blogs
    • Music Blogs
    • Tech Blogs
    • Business Blogs
    • Corporate Blogs
    • Religious Blogs
    • Miscellaneous Blogs
  • Blog Blogs - These can refer to blogs that talk about the matter about blogging itself, though they can also refer to blogs which authors use in talking about blogging.

Blogosphere (Core Region)[edit]

Gossip Blogs: Each blog below focuses on gossip surrounding celebrities and other well-known persons.

  • Jezebel is a liberally feminist blog, hosted by Gawker.
  • Deadline is an online entertainment news magazine.
  • TMZ is a celebrity news website.
  • Gawker is a blog that is the host of other blogs.
  • LJ Oh No They Didn't - LiveJournal Oh No They Didn't - Oh No They Didn't, also known as ONTD, is the largest community on LiveJournal with over 100,000 members. The community focuses on celebrity gossip and pop culture with most of its posts aggregated from other gossip blogs.
  • Doucheblog refers to blogs that were once insightful but that spiraled into long rants due to relationship changes of their authors.
  • Isle of Mockery is a reference to the fact that some of what these blogs do is mock celebrities or other for doing or saying stupid things on camera.

Liberal Blogs: Each blog below focuses on American political news with a "liberal" or "progressive" slant. These blogs tend to lean for the Democratic party.

  • Huffington Post is a news blog.
  • Paul Krugman is an American economist who considers himself a liberal.
  • Daily Beast is a news and opinion website focusing on politics and pop culture.
  • TPM is a political journal run by Josh Marshall.
  • Ezra Klein used to have his own site at the Washington Post, but is now the editor of [Vox.com].
  • Think Progress is a political news blog.
  • Kos is another political blog.

Bay of Flame:

  • Politics Daily is a political journalism website launched by AOL.
  • CNN Political Ticker is CNN's political blog.
  • Mediaite is a news and opinion blog covering politics and entertainment in the media.
  • NY Times is one of the most famous newspapers, thus the comparatively large size of its island.
  • The Talk is a talk show on CBS that discusses the latest headlines "through the eyes of mothers."
  • Libertarian Isle (shaped like a Nolan Chart)

Conservative Blogs: Each blog below focuses on American political news with a "conservative" or Republican slant.

  • Pajamas Media is a media company and operator of conservative news.
  • Michelle Malkin is a conservative blogger, political commentator, and author.
  • Hot Air is a news blog founded by Michelle Malkin.
  • Red State is a political blog.
  • American Thinker is a daily online magazine focused on politics.
  • Townhall is a web publication and print magazine.

Tech Blogs:

  • Boy Genius Report is a weblog that focuses on technology and consumer gadgets.
  • Gizmodo is a news and opinion blog, hosted by Gawker, that talks about life's more technological matters.
  • Engadget is another technology-oriented, albeit independent, blog.
  • Crunchgear is a blog that reviews gadgets and other hardware.
  • Techcrunch is an online publisher of technology industry news.
  • Joystiq is a news and opinion blog that focuses on gaming.
  • Kotaku is another gaming-oriented news/opinion blog, the main difference being that Kotaku is owned by Gawker.


  • BoingBoing is "i blog about wonderful things", the topics being quite random.
  • Lifehacker is another Gawker blog, is a blog that teaches people how to simplify their lives through 'lifehacking', that is, using their resources in creative wayss. While the subject matter is life in general, there is a significant technological slant.
  • Deadspin is a sports and sports gossip blog founded by Will Leitch. It has since been acquired by Gawker
  • Meatorama is a blog that talks about cooking meat.

QQ Region[edit]

  • Baidu Baike (「百度百科」, "Baidu Encyclopedia") and Hudong (「互动百科」, "Interactive Encyclopedia" ) are two Chinese online encyclopedias. Baidu Baike is powered by the same company as Baidu, the search engine popular in China.
  • The Ma Le Ge Bi and the Grass Mud Horse Bay could refer to the Baidu 10 Mythical Creatures.
  • The Location of Jia Junpeng refers to the Internet meme of Jia Junpeng in 2009 in China.
  • Tencent QQ is a Chinese instant messaging program.
  • In English communities "QQ" has several more common definitions:
    • An emoticon, representing a face with two large, crying eyes.
    • A synonym for "rage quit", in which a video game player quits the game out of sheer frustration. It originated in Warcraft II multiplayer, where pressing Ctrl+Q+Q would quit the game, and became more widely known in World of Warcraft.
    • These definitions are commonly combined, usually to mock the "rage quitter".
  • The Gulf of China refers to how sites in the region are based in People's Republic of China ("Red China"). The Great Firewall refers to The Great Firewall of China, a pun on The Great Wall of China. Similar to how The Great Wall of China was meant to keep intruding nations out of the then-capital of the city, The Great Firewall of China is meant to keep visitors from visiting censored websites. Oddly other Chinese websites (Qzone, Renren etc.) are not enclosed in this zone.

Forums Islands[edit]

Forums are websites where one person post a topic to which other people can discuss.

While the map has a zoomed in version, this article shall discuss the two bigger islands, first.

  • 2channel is a Japanese imageboard that was actually the original inspiration for 4chan.
  • Craigslist is a classified advertisement website with sections devoted to just about everything... which formerly included prostitution services, hence the The Former Site of Adult Services.

In the zoomed-in map, there is the following:

  • 4chan.org is an imageboard in which people can upload pictures while others comment on them. The website is infamous for its loose/often non-existent rules, incredibly vulgar userbase, source of new memes, and spawning of trolls. 4chan's random board, known internally as /b/, is almost constantly flooded with porn and image macros. This is why Randall's incarnation of 4chan is roughly shaped like a penis.
  • 420chan and 7chan, other imageboards in the style of 4chan. Their relative lack of popularity and derivative nature leads a lot of 4chan users to mock them; hence, their position on Randall's map suggests that they're mere wads of semen.
  • Encyclopedia Dramatica, labeled ED on the map, is a wiki site dedicated to chronicling internet memes and other noteworthy sites, events, people, and anything else that catches their attention, generally in a very satirical manner. The site is heavily populated by 4chan users. Many people are offended by the articles and talks that go on in the wiki and forum, which is perhaps the reason that it appears to be represented as a wad of sperm. The image of sperm also makes sense since ED is used as a messaging center for the group "Anonymous" which is represented in the map as part of the testicles of the 4chan island(see below at the gulf named Anonymous).
  • Tunnel to Habbo is a reference to the 2006 Habbo Hotel Raids, in which hundreds of 4chan Anons simultaneously logged onto Habbo Hotel and proceeded to be as obnoxious as possible, standing in formations of swastikas and penises or body-blocking the swimming pools.
  • Catbus Route is likely a reference to Lolcats in general.
  • eBaum's World is a media-hosting website founded by Eric Bauman. The site has lost a lot of traffic after (quite valid) accusations of stolen content.
  • The gulf labelled Anonymous is most likely a reference to the leaderless, anonymous international network called "Anonymous" which is composed of (mainly) anarchic activist hackers. Anonymous was created on the /b/ messaging board of 4chan, hence why the bay of Anonymous is on the coast of /b/. Also, the fact that the bay is in the "testicles"(/b/) of the 4chan island "penis" is referring to how Anonymous was created on 4chan, in the same way that sperm is created in the testicles of a penis, possibly a subtle jab at the group.

To the south and east is an archipelago of islands representing various regional and special-interest forums. Moving clockwise from 4chan island is

  • Storm 2K is an online website hosting information on tropical cyclones and tools for tracking them, and has a forum with multiple categories and threads for discussion on tropical cyclones, as well as multiple tropical cyclone models and reconnaissance information.
  • Skyscraper city is an internet forum website for skyscraper hobbyists and enthusiasts.
  • An island containing two websites related to women, namely
    • Wizaz.pl is a Polish website, presumably for women, with a forum filled with discussions mainly about beauty, health, women, hobbies, and fun.
    • Baby and bump is a self-described "pregnancy forum, baby and parenting community."

An island contaning

    • ForoCoches is a very popular Spanish (as in from Spain) forum mainly about automobiles, but holds discussions on virtually any topic.
    • Bodybuilding.com is(as you can hopefully tell) a website for bodybuilders. It contains a forum for general discussions on bodybuilding that includes topics such as supplements, exercises, and nutrition.
    • Bokt.nl calls itself the largest community on the topic of horses. A Dutch website, it holds topics about virtually anything involving horses.
    • Cruise Critic is a website with a large forum about cruises in general.
  • Lay it low is a website for discussing lowriding(changing a car so that its ground clearance go lower than the clearance of the original design from the manufacturer.
  • Two plus two is a poker & gambling forum
  • An island containing:
    • Fan forum
    • Face the jury is an online forum, originally founded for users to upload pictures of themselves to be judged by other users
    • A smaller nearby island is Datalounge
  • An island containing gaming-related sites
    • D2JSP
    • EA UK
    • Gametrailers
  • Smaller islands next to the D2JSP island are
    • Steam powered
    • World of players
    • Nedgaf
    • Overclock
  • A smaller island of regional and special-interest forums:
    • Digital Spy, a British media and entertainment news service
    • onliner.by, a Belarusian digital technology forum
    • Zona Ford
    • lowyat, a large Malaysian technology forum
    • exbil
    • MacRumors, an Apple news and discussion site
    • Adjacent to this, an island labelled Whirlpool Forums, a large Australian broadband and technology forum. The drawing reflects Australia being an island continent separated from other countries.
  • An island made up of several European forums:
    • JLA Forums
    • fok.nl, a Dutch forum site that is one of the largest internet communities in the Netherlands
    • The Student Room, a British forum and wiki for secondary and tertiary students
    • boards.ie "Now Ye're talking", a popular Irish forum site
    • forum.hr, a Croatian forum
    • rus-chat, possibly a reference to rus-chat.de
  • The largest single-site island is SomethingAwful, a website that is meant to showcase all things "awful". SomethingAwful also has a large trollbase, but they tend to be more honorable than the ones from Encyclopedia Dramatica and 4chan. One example is there being a spotty holding of the no-furries rule in the forums. The forums themselves are famous because of the holding of the Let's Plays of Dangan Ronpa and Super Dangan Ronpa 2, which had cooked up public interest to the point of there being an English-language release of the games. (Note that, due to these Let's Plays being in a forums that frequently hides behind a "paywall" that requires a paid account before accessing, the links provided go to their mirrors.)


Map of Online Communities
Size on map represents volume of Daily Social activity (posts, chat, etc). Based on data gathered over the Spring and Summer of 2010.
[Two insets on the upper left-hand corner shows that this map is a tiny portion of the huge continent of Spoken Language, encompassing portions of the Internet, Email, and Cell Phones (SMS).]
[The largest landmass on the map by far, which takes up nearly the entire northern half of the map is "Facebook" - with large states in the south-east of the country labeled 'Farmville' and 'Happy Farm'. There is a much smaller state to the west of these called 'Farm Town'. To the north of these states is a large swath of unremarkable land entitled 'Northern Wasteland of Unread Updates.' This is directly north of the large Dopamine Sea.
A peninsula on the south-west, just below the Plains of Awkwardly Public Family Interactions, houses many tiny states, such as MySpace, Orkut, LinkedIn, Bebo, & Hi5. It is bordered on the south by Buzzword Bay, which contains several islands of varying sizes. Among these are YouTube and Twitter (the largest), which are separated by the Social Media Consultant Channel. To the south-east of Twitter, across the Sea of Protocol Confusion, is another, equally large island. Most of it is Skype, with the north having two largish states called AIM and Windows Live Messenger. On the south-west part of the island are two smaller states called GG and Yahoo Messenger.
The Island of Skype is extremely close to, but separated by the Great Firewall (a dashed line), the large landmass of QQ. It's north shore is the Gulf of China and Grass Mud Horse Bay. Outside of these bays, over the Great Firewall are two islands called Craigslist and 2Channel.
In the Dopamine Sea, off the southern shores of Farmville and Happy Farm, is MMO Isle. Its largest state is WoW, with Runescape, Lineage, Maple Story, Habbo, and the Mountains of Steam among its notable landmarks. To the southeast of the island is the Gulf of Lag, in which sits the CDC Games island, with Eve Online.
To the east of Twitter is Troll Bay, with such islands as Reddit and Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicio.us, and Wikipedia Talk Pages. To their south are the IRC isles, of which one is the tiny island of #xkcd.
East of these islands, and north of Skype island, is the Sea of Memes. In this sea, to the north of Craigslist and 2Channel, is an archipelago of tiny islands. There is an inset, labeled 'Forums.' (See below.)
To the southwest of Twitter island, in the Sea of Opinions, are the blog islands. These lie south of the islands in Buzzword Bay, as well. The northernmost islands in this group are centered around the Bay of Drama, on which can be found Diary Blogs, Gossip Blogs, and Livejournal. Gossip Blogs share an island with Political, Music, and Tech Blogs. To the north of this island is a smaller island called Photo Blogs. South of Diary Blogs, and off the southwest coast of Music blogs is a smaller island called Fandom Blogs. South of Tech Blogs, off of which sprouts the small peninsula of Business Blogs, is the Spamblog Straits. On the other side of the straits is a large island made up of Miscellaneous Blogs, with two states demarcated as Religious Blogs and Blog Blogs. Southwest of the Blog Islands is the Sea of Zero (0) Comments.]
[An inset of a group of islands in the sea of memes located on the lower right corner of the map, labeled 'Forums'. The largest by far is 4chan and /b/. Also found here are D2JSP, JLA Frums, Fan Forum, Something Awful, and many smaller ones, too numerous to list here.]
[The northeastern third of Gossip/Political/Tech Blogs island is another inset labeled 'Blogosphere (Core)'. This can be found on the lower left corner of the map. Two peninsulas in Political Blogs bookend the Bay of Flame -- these are Liberal Blogs and Conservative Blogs. Between them lie several tiny islands such as Politics Daily, CNN Politcal Ticker, and Mediaite. Off the coast of Liberal Blogs lies the island of NYTimes, off the coast of Conservative Blogs is Libertarian Isle. Between the two lies The Talk. The northern peninsula of Tech Blogs contains places such as Gizmodo, Engadget, Joystiq, and Kotaku.]
[Text found between the two insets, which are directly below the main map.]
Communities rise and fall, and total membership numbers are no longer a good measure of a community's current size and health. This updated map uses size to represent total social activity in a community -- that is, how much talking, playing, sharing, or other socializing happens there. This meant some comparing of apples and oranges, but I did my best and tried to be consistent.
Estimates are based on the numbers I could find, but involved a great deal of guesswork, statistical inference, random sampling, nonrandom sampling, a 20,000-cell spreadsheet, emailing, cajoling, tea-leaf reading, goat sacrifices, and gut instinct (i.e. making things up).
Sources of data include Google and Bing, Wikipedia, Alexa, Big-Boards.com, StumbleUpon, Wordpress, Akismet, every website statistics page I could find, press releases, news articles, and individual site employees. Thanks in particular to folks at Last.fm, LiveJournal, Reddit, and the New York Times, as well as sysadmins at a number of sites who shared statistics on condition of anonymity.


This comic used to be available as a poster in the xkcd store before it was shut down.

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I believe I can explain why the e-mail, SMS and Internet areas of the map are surrounded by the "Spoken Language" country. Yes, SMS, e-mail and most of the Internet are "written", but they're more of a "written spoken language", sharing many traits with informal spoken language. Maybe Wikipedia articles and blog posts can be classified as "standard written texts", but most other forms of electronically-mediated communication bare more resemblance to the way we speak: forums, chatrooms, Facebook posts, SMS texts, the usage of acronyms and smiley faces, etc. It's a widely researched phenomenon, and it continues to be a topic in the fields of linguistics, psychology, sociology and education (literacy attainment). As an aspiring linguist myself, I smiled when I noticed that these so-called "written" forms were next to spoken language :) 22:16, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

I wonder if it's intentional that 4chan looks like a penis... ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

It needs to explain the ferry between 4chan and Gaia. Although, so does a lot of other stuff. 07:58, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

I am still working on this. However, not only is this a big job, but I also have a lot to do outside here. In fact, I might even take a break from the Internet. I am simply warning others here. Greyson (talk) 04:37, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

about the Catbus Route on 4chan island in the Forums inset: Might it have something to do with the catbus in the animated film Totoro? In the film, the bus appears to have a regular route, or at least standard bus stops. 07:55, 13 February 2014 (UTC)

Has anyone calculated the size of this (using Sulawesi for scale)? 00:22, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

This comic makes a brief guest appearance at 4:25 in the MinutePhysics post about magnets. Fewmet (talk) 01:46, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Is there an explanation of why the Twitter area more or less resembles the shape of US/Mexico? If you have a look at the Youtube area then there's Alaska, too. And since Justin Bieber is Canadian and the "Bieber Bay" seems to resemble the Great Lakes... Was Twitter an "US only thing" back in 2010? Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 10:11, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

Pareidolia. 22:39, 10 January 2016 (UTC)

Kind of cruel that someone linked to TV Tropes up there.-- 06:16, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

The "Russia (DJ)" island just next to Sarah Palin's area is probably a reference to her very commented statement that you can see Russia from Alaska,[1] somehow implying that it gave her some kind of expertise in international relations.--Pere prlpz (talk) 10:06, 18 December 2015 (UTC)

I looked, couldn't find anything about the Hidden Internet, Dark Web, Deep Web, etc. I sort of imagine it looks like a deep chasm or river (Styx?) to another world with the likes of the NSA, Wikileaks, Electronic Frontier Foundation on the outskirts. Tor is one entrance (or ferry?) to the Netherworld. -- GeoWendy 5:41 PM Tuesday, January 26 (UTC)

In what way is this explanation "incomplete" still?! It's marked as today's "incomplete explanation of the day" but it's already sixteen printed pages long. How much more content does there need to be before this site will consider this page to no longer be "incomplete?" Yikes... 20:20, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

MMO is not short for MMORPG. It's just not. MMO means Massively Multiplayer Online. Like Dota 2, which is in no way an RPG. Or maybe Realm of the Madgod. Also not and RPG, but YES an MMO. that little gripe having been posted publicly, however, I've just realized that even if it's the day's incomplete article, nothing's going to happen, so fair warning: I'm going to do it meself. 10:48, 5 February 2016 (UTC)

Annoying pedant again, here with another annoyingly pedantic statement. (https://xkcd.com/1405/) RPG is short for ROLe PLAYING GAME. NOT "ROLE PLAYER GAME" It doesn't matter now, because I fixed it, but if someone who doesn't understand the difference between MMO and MMORPG, they can at least remember to fix "Role Player Game." Annoying Pedant out. 10:54, 5 February 2016 (UTC)

There are many things wrong with the part about MMOs. AnnoyingInconsistentPedant (talk) 20:25, 19 March 2016 (UTC)

I added some things to MMO isle. Someone should probably give better descriptions though. I didn't have the time to research: Active Worlds, Smallworlds, UO, EQ. Feel free to add those in if you are looking for something to inprove. PowerKitten (talk) 15:45, 30 March 2016 (UTC)

It seems like this comic has been "incomplete" for all eternity. This comic is in the "Incomplete explanation spotlight" more than ANY OTHER COMIC. The thing's huge! That's natural! I say this explanation does a pretty good job of explaining most if not every grating detail about this comic! I think we should use the Incomplete Spotlight for comic explanations that are ACTUALLY BAD. So can we stop giving this explanation grief for maybe leaving out a few 5-pixel towns? Thank you and stop fussing. -A person who thinks this explanation is good

Hey, you can play Club Penguin at https://play.cprewritten.net/ now. Just saying. Sarah the Pie(yes, the food) (talk) 13:24, 1 March 2021 (UTC) 11:34, 23 April 2016 (UTC)

No. If an explanation is incomplete, an explanation should be edited until the point where it is as complete as possible. 16:04, 24 April 2016 (UTC)

I'm not arguing that. I'm saying that there are other explanations that are more incomplete than this one. 21:04, 26 April 2016 (UTC)

Hold it. Did no one else notice the "Edit War Memorial" in the Wikipedia Talk Island? It's not in the explanation or transcript anywhere. If it's too insignificant to be considered part of an "official" transcript, that's a shame, because I think that's one of the funniest parts, Trogdor147 (talk) 00:48, 3 June 2023 (UTC)

Sad to not see the beamNG.drive forum on here162.158.63.6 20:21, 30 December 2023 (UTC)

Is the link to explanation of classmates.com couple's story on seattletimes.com broken for anyone else? I get redirected to the main page, no story in sight. But it could be because I'm on mobile. 04:45, 27 February 2024 (UTC)