At the bottom of the xkcd comics beneath Randall's list of Comics I Enjoy there is a footnote written in a very tiny font, as to make it almost unreadable. There have been two footnotes displayed over the course of xkcd's history, with a gap of 22 days without any footnotes after the first footnote's removal.
See Design of xkcd.com.
As of October 2016 the footnote/tiny print at the bottom of xkcd.com pages reads:
The text gives questionable advice on how to view xkcd.com. Using a discontinued browser on an Apple computer released in 1986 with a screen resolution one pixel tall would be extremely difficult.
- Netscape Navigator 4.0 or below
- It is normal to specify browser and minimum version, as all later versions typically retain needed features from previous versions. Instead, the footnote claims that older versions are better (perhaps due to reliance on a bug fixed after version 4.0). No version of Netscape Navigator is currently maintained.
- on a Pentium 3±1
- Pentium was a brand of processors made by Intel. Instead of specifying a minimum processor generation (as in software system requirements), both a minimum and maximum are given. This syntax is often used for specifying tolerances, usually of a physical property (e.g. electrical resistance) - a tolerance range of "Pentium 3, plus or minus one" indicates anything older than Pentium 2 or newer than Pentium 4 is sub-optimal.
- on an Apple IIGS
- The Apple IIGS was a computer made in the 1980's. Even the slowest Pentium computers are hundreds of times faster than the Apple IIGS. Combined with the inefficiencies of processor emulation, this would result in a painfully slow experience, if it worked at all.
- at a screen resolution of 1024x1.
- If the dimensions given are in pixels, as they usually are, then the recommended display setting would only show one horizontal line. 1024 pixels is wider than the maximum supported display width of the Apple IIGS.
- Please enable your ad blockers,
- Many sites ask users to disable ad blockers, either so the owner can get ad revenue, or because blockers sometimes inadvertently block other parts of the page. But here it is recommended to enable the blockers, even though there would be nothing to block since xkcd does not have advertisements.
- disable high-heat drying,
- This appears to be referring to clothes dryer heat settings, which are irrelevant to websites. Some clothing is damaged if dried with high heat.
- and remove your device from Airplane Mode and set it to Boat Mode.
- Many portable devices, especially cell phones and tablets, have an "Airplane Mode," which disables the wireless radios to avoid potentially interfering with an aircraft's operation while flying. "Boat Mode" is fictional. (Though it might be nice to have a boat mode that turns the phone off if dropped, to reduce water damage, although this wouldn't help much, as the phone would probably never be found.)
- For security reasons, please leave caps lock on while browsing.
- Having caps lock on would not improve security. It may reduce your security if it prevents you from using lower-case letters in passwords.
Previously the footnote was (the earliest webarchive with it is from May 2007):
- BTC 1FhCLQK2ZXtCUQDtG98p6fVH7S6mxAsEey
- We did not invent the algorithm. The algorithm consistently finds Jesus. The algorithm killed Jeeves.
- The algorithm is banned in China. The algorithm is from Jersey. The algorithm constantly finds Jesus.
- This is not the algorithm. This is close.
- BTC means bitcoin. The string of alphanumeric characters is his bitcoin address.
- The algorithm killed Jeeves.
- The algorithm is banned in China.
- The algorithm is from Jersey.
- The algorithm constantly finds Jesus.
It was added by Randall in April 2007, according to his April 19th, 2007 Blag post as a response to random billboards appearing in the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco areas. It turned out these were a viral marketing campaign by the ask(jeeves) search engine to drive publicity around their new search algorithm. The campaign is long over, but Randall kept the text there (apparently) as a self referential advertising campaign. Specifically, people who find the small text will use a search engine to see what it means and the search engine will likely lead them back to xkcd — where they saw the text initially.
Removal of original footnote
The entire old footnote was removed on September 12th, 2016 as was the xkcd warning above it. The last day these were on the page was September 12th, 2016 when 1732: Earth Temperature Timeline was released.
It was maybe due to the popularity of the comic that this footnote was removed along with the warning to not scare new fans away.
Four hours later that day the page looked like this with no footnote or warning.
There was then a span from the 12th September until the 5th of October where there where no footnote, before the Current footnote was added.