Stolen Pixels #221: After Curfew, Episode 9

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Aug 17, 2010

Filed under: Column 119 comments

Dr. Breen is back! I gave After Curfew a break after the big seven part series leading up to strip #200, but I think it’s time for another.

What gets me: As of the first 9 comments at the the Escapist, it was obvious that 3 of them didn’t read the side text. I always knew this was probably the case, but I didn’t want to know, if you see what I’m saying. I’ve come to accept that a good portion of the coming generation are a bnch of txt spk-ing lzrs, but have we really come to the point where 1 in 3 human beings will look at this:


…and say, “Oh man. No way am I going to read that whole thing.”



From The Archives:

119 thoughts on “Stolen Pixels #221: After Curfew, Episode 9

  1. SolkaTruesilver says:


    (Oh, and Shamus, your website was down all morning. Hope everything is ok-ay.)

    (Oh, and Shamus, what do you think about Cameron directing a 3d Lovecraft movie? Will insanity reach into our world?)

    Next thing that you will tell us, Shamus, is that there were author’s comments under your DM of the Ring comics :-D

    1. Jeremiah says:

      Are you talking about The Mountains of Madness movie? Last I heard Del Toro was directing that with Cameron producing.

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        Ohh.. he is Producing…

        I thought he would be co-directing.

        Still. Ennough to summon Yog-Sothoth?

        1. Mari says:

          Titanic nearly was. I’m sure with a little more lack of effort…

          1. SolkaTruesilver says:

            Titanic was powerful, but only powerful ennough to summon this Old One:


            If everything goes well, it might be the End, my friends.

    2. DarkLadyWolf says:

      Will 3 dimensions be enough for anything Lovecraftian?

      I’m sure it would be better in the original 13D

  2. Traska says:

    You need to stop with these novel-length blog posts, Shamus.


    (Joking, joking! I love the depths of your verbal affluence.)

  3. wtrmute says:

    tl; dr.

    (Just kidding. Also, ninjaed by Traska.)

    Anyway, nowadays graphics engines are usually modular. It’s probably easy for Carmack to swap his rendering pipeline to run at a *much* lower level, probably work on lowest LoDs, and I guess the thing can be rendered on an iPhone. Probably have to strip all the high-res stuff so it fits in storage, too. But it “runs”, for a suitable definition thereof.

  4. X2-Eliah says:

    O wow, a companion cube interview? That is for the next week’s panel, right? Are you doing this into a new series?

    Nah, I kid, I kid. To be fair, I am not sure how we are supposed to treat the sideline, though – read it before or after the actual comic strip?

  5. Eric says:

    My rule of thumb is if it’s shorter than half the comic, I’ll read the side text first. If it’s longer than that, I’ll read the comic first.

    I can’t go too far reading the side text without my eyes constantly flicking back toward the comic.

  6. Aldowyn says:

    Personally, I always liked the sidetext as much or more as the actual comic. Insane, I know.

    The “tl;dr” issue is probably my blog’s biggest problem. I have posts that are 4 printed pages of text. Actually, most of them are at least half that…

  7. Henebry says:

    Glad to see Dr. Breen is back!

  8. Gary says:

    I always read the comic first. Then the sidebar. Then I come back here to read the inevitable post about the post about the comic.

    Then I refresh the page to make sre Shamus hasn’t posted anything new in the last 3 seconds :D

    1. Benjamin Orchard says:

      Yeah, that’s about what I do.

      1. SnowballinHell says:

        Me as well
        Get out of my HEAD !!

  9. D says:

    I find the layout of the comic with its sidebar text kind of weird. I feel like I have to make an effort to read the sidebar text. It’s often ‘gone’ (scrolled away) by the time I get to the bottom of the comic. I can’t read the sidebar text first because it often spoils the comic somewhat. It’s sandwiched between the big, heavy presence of the comic and the big, heavy presence of the ads.

    I posit that a different layout could get more people reading the text.

    1. Shamus says:

      Hm. I will give this some thought.

    2. Moriarty says:

      I sometimes forget to read the sidetext until I visit the comic a second time to check for updates, and always wondered why I didn’t catch it the first time.
      At least not I have someone else to blame for problems caused by my short attention span.

      1. Michael says:

        See, I’ve got the opposite problem. I find the text SO MUCH more attractive than the comic.

        While the comic is often humorous, there’s inevitably something I’m not going to get because it either references current events (I don’t watch TV or read the news) or a videogame I haven’t played yet. It’s so much easier to read the explanation first, and then the comic.

        I suppose to solve the problem everyone else has – Shamus could change the format of the comic itself. Two panels wide seems like it would fit perfectly, given the screenshot.

        The text would then go above or below the comic, depending on the content of the commentary that week. (Or however often Shamus updates Stolen Pixels. I’m not really that big on comics, web or otherwise.)

        1. Timelady says:

          I’m as (if not more) interested in the side text as well. Occasionally I’ll have to stop myself from trying to read both at the same time (a slightly brain-frying activity).

    3. Soylent Dave says:

      Yeah, I was going to point out something like this.

      It requires more effort for the reader to read the side text (after reading the comic) than it does for him to click ‘comment’ – because you have to scroll all the way back up the page again to read the sidebar.

      I’d imagine most people don’t read the sidebar first – either because of presentation (the comic is first, left to right) or because it’s ‘commentary’ so you don’t really want to read that before you’ve read the content.

      And by the time you’ve scrolled down to the last panel – in this case at least – there’s no sign of any sidebar text (there is a lot of whitespace, so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there’s something above it all, but still), so people might forget or just be less interested in reading the sidebar.

      So it does, to some degree, come down to laziness on the part of the reader (if I was going to comment on something in the content of the strip, I’d read your commentary on it first), but it’s probably exacerbated by the presentation.

      1. LizJ says:

        If the side text was repeated in the first forum post, at least the forum people would read it. Would that be a good solution?

        1. DaveMc says:

          This seems perfect! It would make for an unusually long first comment, on occasion, but at least the text would be right there when people scroll past the end of the comic and go straight to the comments.

    4. A Different Dan says:

      That’s exactly what it is. Reading order in English is left to right, top to bottom. Your eye gets stopped at the comic, which is read in the same order, but down a much narrower column. The reader has to scroll to the bottom of the comic to get to the punchline and by then, the side text is long lost, way up there beyond the fold.

      Not only that, but this is the only way the sidebar text *can* be read, since it’s commenting on the comic, and must be read second.

      Putting it under the comic, or still as a sidebar, but bottom-justified with the comic, would make a significant difference.

    5. pulse says:

      I definitely agree with this. I usually do read the side text, but I suspect that I occasionally forget to scroll up after finishing the comic.

      Instead of a picture of the top of the page and “Oh man. No way am I going to read that whole thing.”, Imagine a picture of the bottom of the page along with “Ok, time to hit the comments then.”

      Actually, people who regularly comment at the Escapist might be less likely to read the side text, because they’d have to scroll down as they read the comic, then back up to read the text, then down again to get to the comments. It’s not difficult, but it’s also not exactly user-friendly.

      My preferred layout would be a full-width comic followed by text, then comments. A smaller change that might still help would be to just put the comments link at the bottom of the side text.

      1. Shamus says:

        I’ll bet there is a lot of truth to this. Not to mention people on laptops and mobiles. I didn’t think of it before, but with a smaller screen resolution (I run at 1920×1200) the side text would be long, long gone by the time you reached the bottom.

        This is certainly a lot to consider. On one hand, the side-text has been with us for 221 strips and is one of the iconic features. On the other hand, maybe it could be done better.

        I’m giving this careful thought.

  10. Meredith says:

    I always read the side-text. In fact, I wish more comics had author commentary.

    Definitely agree on the whole “I weep for the future” sentiment. ;)

    1. Michael says:

      Somehow the Escapist seems to be good at provoking that. Especially when one of their psychotic fan bases gets turned loose.

      To be fair, the Escapist does seem to have picked up a higher than average young teen audience, who may not have the patient for large chunks of words. But, I’m not sure if that’s my own biases seeping through or not.

      1. DaveMc says:

        I often weep for the future, too, but I also try to remind myself that I’ve read plenty of statements along the lines of “The youth of today are much degraded in virtue and merit, compared to their forebears” — and they turn out to be from 400 B.C. or some such. People have *always* thought that “kids today” were going to hell in a handbasket.

        1. Michael says:

          Or we stand on the shoulders of Giants and continue trying to curb stomp them… :p

      2. Irridium says:

        Yeah, Yahtzee is the main reason for that. As well as the site slowly but surely going for the more “mainstream” appeal. Which makes me sad.

  11. Tesh says:

    A college professor buddy of mine has lamented the lack of interest in reading that he sees in his students, with probably less than one in twenty who actually likes reading.

    He teaches English.

    1. guy says:

      It’s actually because people hate English class, not reading as such.

    2. swimon says:

      How is that even possible? I mean why did they choose to study English if they don’t like to read?

      What exactly is the criteria for “liking to read” here I mean did he/she ask them if they like to read or is it how much they read in their spare time or what?

      I would like to know because this just seems impossible to me. I mean I’m at that age, starting second year of college atm (physics sort of if you’re curious), and I like to read (haven’t had much time to though since, well college and all) and most of my friends seem to too. So the thought of English students not liking to read seems bizarre, which makes me think that liking to read means something else than what I’m thinking of?

      Also excuse the parentheses it’s a disease ^^

      1. Thomas says:

        You’re in your second year of college and you aren’t aware that English is usually a core class that everybody has to take a semester of?

        (fuck off yes I ended with a preposition)

        1. silver says:

          Besides, given the context of the previous conversation, I’m pretty sure the “people” we’re talking about in “English classes” who might like to read but hate the classes are people in High School, where it is mandatory for at least 3 of the 4 years.

        2. Primogenitor says:

          Depends on your country :p I stopped English at 16, but I still read books when I have time / no computer.

          Oh, and does reading blogs / websites count as reading?

          1. Michael says:

            It just might, actually. I do most of my reading online these days.

        3. Nathon says:

          I made it all the way through college without taking a single English class. I like to read.

        4. swimon says:

          Oh I had no idea, in Sweden swedish classes aren’t mandatory after what I’d call senior high (the swedish system works differently so it’s always hard to guess what I should call every step). We just read whatever is in the program (or whatever you want if you’re reading stand alone classes). Nothing is really mandatory and I guess I sort of assumed it was the same everywhere since college in itself isn’t mandatory so forcing you to take classes you don’t want seems weird, but ok that makes a lot more sense.

        5. Soylent Dave says:

          In most countries (by which I mean ‘not the US’), University courses teach one subject in-depth. We don’t ‘major’ in anything – the course we choose is the course we read.

          You might end up doing ancillary modules alongside your core degree (e.g. I did a bit of Biochemistry and a bit of Quantum theory as part of my Chemistry degree), but you wouldn’t study another subject entirely.

          US* university education is a lot more generalised than the rest of the world. It’s also often a year (or more) longer – some things that are postgraduate courses in the US are graduate courses in the UK, for example (because the UK course specialises from day one).

          *and some other countries, but I can’t remember which.

  12. Kritheon says:

    I read the comic then the side text. It usually wraps it all up in a nice friendly bubble of happiness. Love the side text.

    And don’t weep for the future. I’m guessing that humankind is much more smarter now then in any point in the past. People learn, have faith.

    1. Syal says:

      Had to be done.

      1. kasper says:

        in that case:
        *comic, then

        much more smarter

        you’re welcome

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Run for the hills,the nazis are invading!

  13. Robyrt says:

    Most sidebars do not revise the strip, rather commenting on it or on other topics entirely. Penny Arcade can safely be read without ever looking at the news posts, for instance.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I think that’s the real issue here. The side texts aren’t normally considered required reading for the comics. They can be entertaining, and I always read them because of that, but I never expected that I’d have to read them to enjoy the comics. So, even I’ll skim them on occasion and might miss something like this. So it’s not all that big a deal that some people missed the one little comment about the cube not being able to make it.

      Ultimately, for a comic, if you want to make sure that people know something, you have to put it in the comic. If you put it anywhere else, expect people to miss it.

      1. Primogenitor says:

        Shame Shanus’ musings are too long to alt-text aka XKCD.

      2. Viktor says:

        It also might well be that they read the comment, but still felt the need to express their love for the cube. I’ve done that sort of thing before, though I usually include some indicator that I’m in on the joke.

  14. Irridium says:

    I always read the sidebar first.

    The only exception was during your 100th comic, in which Claptrap completely screwed everything up.

    The bastard…

  15. Neil Polenske says:

    Screw the companion cube! Musical guest Eddie Riggs? I’m SO there!

    \m/_ >_< _\m/

  16. GuiguiBob says:

    Every Generation has been saying that the next one is worse than the previous one. But it’s mostly just a question of perspective. We don’t exactly remember how we were back then. We see the past through the rose tainted glass of nostalgia. Don’t worry those youger ones will say the same things in 20 years.

    Edit : one of my history teacher had a quetoe from Platon ranting about the youth of his time.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Wow,you expect us to read 8 lines of text?!EIGHT lines!Thats like…A hundred words or something…yeah…

  18. Ell Jay says:

    Sometimes I miss it because I scroll down to read the whole comic, then go somewhere else because I’m “done”. Maybe throwing it at the bottom?

  19. Maldeus says:

    Most people use sidebars or other Rant sections as a place to provide commentary which, like the commentary tracks on a movie, are not necessary to enjoy the whole experience, and which actually provide a very different experience than the movie/comic itself. In other words, it’s not that people are unwilling to read it, it’s just that they don’t think they’ll get anything out of it.

  20. Adam says:

    Why should they read the sidebar text? You usually don’t write anything interesting there. If there is something of note there, it is either something that should have been conveyed in the comic itself or something that is completely unrelated to the content of the comic. Stolen Pixels is a comic. You shouldn’t treat it as a cheap hook to get people to read your sidebar rants. People read the comic for the sake of reading the comic, not necessarily to read your writing. I think it is completely unreasonable to look down on people for not reading your Stolen Pixels side-bar text.

    In this particular case, the short length of the text probably made it more likely that people would not read it, simply because the short length makes it look like you had nothing to say. In fact, you didn’t have anything of note to say, except for some background information links and a weak attempt at humor while linking to someone else’s comic.

    1. Shamus says:

      You just scrolled past a dozen people who say they enjoy the side text so you could say there’s nothing of value there.

      I don’t look down on you for not reading the text. I look down on you for being rude and ignorant.

      1. Michael says:

        Or look on it as a kind of irony. He just spent two full paragraphs explaining why he doesn’t like to read what you write on a blog where the median post length is probably two or three lines of text.

        1. ;) Actually, I always read side-bar text. I figure it wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t meaningful.

      2. Adam says:

        Okay, how was my comment “rude and ignorant”? I can understand it coming off as a little rude since I was so blunt, but ignorant? That is simply nonsensical.

        Let me explain myself. You are the one who was being very rude in your blog post. There are dozens of legitimate reasons why someone would read the comic and not read the side-bar. All I did was list off a few of those reasons. However, instead of giving your readers any benefit of the doubt, you wrote off all of those people as blind idiots who are too illiterate to read three lines of text.

        Your entire post reads like someone whining after getting their ego bruised. Not everyone in the world will find your sidebars worth reading. Deal with it. The fact that I don’t find your sidebars interesting doesn’t mean that I am stupid or illiterate. It just means I don’t find them to my taste (the comics are usually much better written anyways). Not everyone finds the same stuff interesting. Saying that people are stupid or illiterate because they don’t choose to read something you wrote is childish and egotistical.

        For the record, I do usually read the sidebar. I just don’t find it to add much to the Stolen Pixels experience. In many cases, the comic would be better without using the sidebar as a crutch. Jokes aren’t very funny if you have to explain them.

        1. Raygereio says:

          I wouldn’t call your comment “rude”, but it is somewhat “ignorant” in that Stolen Pixels isn’t a comic; it evolved out of the format “blogpost + comic” into “comic + blog’ish post”.

          Also a general question, how many of the people didn’t read it because it was text – and text is very scary – and how many didn’t bother with it because they were driven by the odd and unexplainable urge to be the first to comment?

        2. Atle says:

          “You usually don't write anything interesting there.” is an ignorant comment, since you:
          – ignore the possibility that others might find it interesting
          – ignore the fact that many others have already explicitly stated that they like that part

        3. Shamus says:

          “Ignorant” because you ignored everything everyone else said about the side text and assumed that if it doesn’t entertain you it shouldn’t be there. You string together a chain of insults and then cower behind “I was only giving you criticism”. You say “let me explain myself”, and then you insult me some more. You are a jackass and I don’t care if you read my stuff or not.


          1. Adam says:

            What other people find interesting has no bearing on what I find interesting find interesting or what various third parties interesting. The very fact that there are people who tend to not read the sidebar could be a sign that there is some group of people who don’t find it interesting. I don’t even mean it as an insult. Not interesting doesn’t mean that it is a bad or needs to go away, it is just means that that is my subjective opinion. I am just a little insulted because you are calling people who have this opinion idiots.

            There was also a little bit of helpful criticism in my intentions, though I do admit it was a bit blunt. This is my honest opinion as one of your long time readers that you occasionally rely on your explanations in the sidebars and on your blog here in order to get the point of your comics across. I would suggest that you could try writing a comic without a sidebar for a week or two, and see if it is any harder to write and if it has any kind of positive or negative impact on your comic. The simple truth is that there are people who are not reading the sidebar. It is impossible to change this fact. As such, you should probably consider writing your comics with that truth in mind.

        4. Diamondwolf says:

          You type a whole lot into your reply, yet you don’t actually say much. I honestly got bored of reading it and quit halfway through.

          At least Shamus always gets to the point in an organized and well considered manner. I like his “sidebar rants” very much thank you.

      3. Daimbert says:

        Okay, so let’s all relax for a moment, and then maybe you can reply to JUST this part of the comment:

        “I think it is completely unreasonable to look down on people for not reading your Stolen Pixels side-bar text.”

        Now make a reply stating this:

        “You just scrolled past a dozen people who say they enjoy the side text so you could say there's nothing of value there.”

        And in this case the irony is that there are probably about a dozen people who essentially commented pretty much that statement I quoted above that it is unreasonable to say that people just don’t want to read text anymore if they didn’t read the side text, myself being one of them. In general, no one does or should need to read the side text to understand the comic. I always — or at least generally — DO read them. Sometimes, they’re more entertaining than the comic, to be honest. But I don’t think I’d have to read them to understand or enjoy the comic.

        I treat them like the annotations in Irregular Webcomic or Darths and Droids; often interesting side bars but not required for the comic. And note that in those cases you can turn the annotations off so that you never see them. I don’t really see how the side text in Stolen Pixels is or should be treated so much differently from those annotations.

        So, any chance of you admitting that maybe some people who don’t read the side text are perfectly willing to read things, but just don’t personally find them interesting or entertaining?

        1. Shamus says:

          “So, any chance of you admitting that maybe some people who don't read the side text are perfectly willing to read things, but just don't personally find them interesting or entertaining?”

          That’s a perfectly reasonable position. And if that’s all Adam had said then we wouldn’t have had a problem.

          1. Daimbert says:

            And all is right with the universe … [grin]

          2. Shamus says:

            And to expand on this a bit:

            My moderator instincts tell me that Adam is a discussion vampire, which is why I pushed back and drove him off. Vampires find a discussion and drain all the fun out of them. It was more about how he said things than what was said. I don’t bring this up much because I know people will take issue with it, but one of the reasons discussions are usually so temperate around here is because I weed out the vampires.

            “Men tend to have greater upper body strength than women.”

            “Men are stronger. Deal with it.”

            Both statements make essentially the same point, but the second is from a vampire. (Assuming the person always communicates this way.) Their abrasive style irritates people and tends to escalate hostility. Others respond in kind, and pretty soon I’m moderating some stupid flame war that never would have happened if the vampire had simply said the same thing with a little tact.

            When I see someone show up in the comments for the very first time and begin the engagement with rudeness, I usually push back. Maybe they didn’t realize how rude they sounded. Maybe we misunderstood each other. If they escalate again then I conclude that this person is a jerk and I give them the shove. If their argument has merit, someone else can take it up. I simply don’t value the input of people who only comment in abrasive, backhanded ways.

            “Nice to see a comic that’s actually funny for a change.”

            “Nice article but try proofreading next time.”

            “You actually like a GOOD game? I knew you could do it!”

            If you’re rude in real life, I won’t hang out with you. And if this is the way you express “appreciation” on the net or introduce yourself to people, then I don’t care to hear what you have to say. If this is how someone decides to interact with me then I chase them off. I’d rather not be insulted whenever I do something they like and I’d rather they didn’t needle other readers as well. Their comments not only inflame others, but will set the tone of the conversation for newcomers. “Oh, so THAT’S how they do things around here, eh?”

            I’m sure this site would see a lot more traffic if I used the usual internet “Everyone’s opinion is equally important no matter how rude they are”, but then running this site would be less fun. I’d have more comments to wade through and they’d be less fun to read. I’d rather have a small readership of fun interesting people than a huge crowd of people elbowing their way through a thread. My moderation style probably seems tyrannical to some, but it’s the only way I can do things.

            1. Raygereio says:

              My moderation style probably seems tyrannical to some, but it's the only way I can do things.

              I’m surprised no one has brought up their right at free speech yet. ;)

            2. Adam says:

              I am worried that you are being a little too eager to shut down criticism. You are being awfully hasty in labeling me a “vampire”. I am actually a long time lurker here. I have been reading your stuff here for years. I believe I was here when you were still on the Fellowship of the Ring with your Lord of the Rings comic. I have disagreed with you plenty of times in the past and agreed with you in the past, but I haven’t been in the habit of posting here until relatively recently. I have no intention of becoming some kind of continuous drain on the fun levels of your community.

              1. Shamus says:

                Thanks, I appreciate that.

          3. Adam says:

            That is all I was trying to say.

    2. acronix says:

      Wait! Why should we read your comment? If there´s something of note in it, you should make a comic with it!

      1. lazlo says:

        Yes, apparently anything worth saying must be said with pretty pictures. Text is no longer an acceptable medium for communication, entertainment, or discourse. Literature is dead; film at 11.

        A picture is worth a thousand words. If you can’t be bothered to read a thousand words, you don’t deserve a picture.

        I’m with you, twenty-siders, we shall build our fortresses with walls of text, and none but the literate shall find entrance.

        1. Daimbert says:

          If you really think that what you say here in any way follows from his comments, I think I have questions about your reading comprehension. You can get to “I don’t like side text” and it’s only a slightly implausible leap to “Side texts shouldn’t be written”, but leaping from that to “All important things can’t be said with text” is far too far a leap, at least in using a reasonable interpretation of the English language.

          So, assuming that you are, in fact, reasonable personages, the only proper course of action for me is to assume — and desperately hope — that you’re joking or at the very least engaging in strong hyperbole.

  21. KremlinLaptop says:

    Honestly, sometimes with the way you tend to roll jokes one after the other I think some of the stuff you do would benefit from the use of a stinger. I.e something like that alt-text of xkcd or far better the red button with SMBC which is just fantastic.

    Although I guess the Escapist overlords won’t make allowances for such extravagances. Like a panel there with Metro saying something about them cancelling and going to ‘that other show’ or such.

    Oh well. People would still ignore it. What, you mean I have to POINT my mouse over that thing? No way.

    1. Syal says:

      I had no idea SMBC had alt-text until just now.

      1. Ell Jay says:

        Did you know it regularly rips off “Perry Fellowship Bible Club”?

        1. KremlinLaptop says:

          Errr, I’m guessing you mean The Perry Bible Fellowship which I’d consider the absolute best in online comics, the golden standard in my mind. Hm, yeah they’re similar but rips-off is a bit strong.

  22. Fenix says:

    Whoa. I normally always read the sidebar, but today I must have missed it. Normally they are longer though. Maybe it was too short this time so that when I scrolled to the bottom to finish the comic the screen was too low to see it. Out of sight out of mind? (this post feels a little light headed… which is correct seeing as I felt light headed when writing this post.)

  23. eri says:

    It honestly, genuinely terrifies me that a comment on the Internet longer than two paragraphs is “tl;dr”. Seriously? Is reading such an arduous task for you that you can barely soak up more than fifty words without your brain going into Vegetable Mode?

    1. acronix says:

      I don´t think it´s that reading is hard for some people but that they find it boring. Remember children books? They are full of pictures and have a couple of sentences per page. It´s the same here. They can read the comic because it has pictures and a “couple” sentences per panel. Then we have the side-bar text that is plain text and seems to have more words. And words are boring. Let´s look at the shiny pixels instead!

      And I hope you all excuse my ignorance, but… what does “tl;dr” mean?

      1. Shamus says:


        Means “too long; didn’t read”.

        I’ve found it to be an interesting phrase as it insults both the reader and the writer.

        1. Greg says:

          Whether it’s insulting depends on context. I once struggled through the first chapter of Finnegan’s Wake. The rest of the book – tl;dr.

        2. Jarenth says:

          Yeah, I never really understood why people even post that.

          I mean, you think my writing is too long? Fine, don’t read it, don’t enter into the discussion, just ignore it. No skin off my nose, tastes differ.

          But posting tl;dr essentially conveys “I thought your writing was too long. In fact, I felt this sentiment so strongly that I had to reply to whatever discussion it has spawned, expressly to make this known to you.”

          I understand it’s supposed to be some sort of insult to the writer, but all it does it make the poster look asinine and lazy.

        3. Kristin says:

          I’ve seen tl;dr used preemptively by people who post a big long well-reasoned rant, and then sum up at the bottom.

          “Blah blah blah opinion because reason, reason, reason, reason. Example, counterexample and rebuttal of counterexample. Reason, reason, example.

          tl;dr: Opinion.”

          1. mewse says:

            I find it really interesting that when used by the author, TL;DR is a slight variant of BLUF, which has been around for an awful lot longer.

            BLUF is “Bottom Line Up Front”; a conclusion stated before the body of the document. By comparison, TL;DR (when used by the author) is a conclusion stated separately, after the body of the document.

            The interesting difference is that while they’re so similar, they imply entirely different things.

            TL;DR implies that the author thinks people won’t read the document either because they’re lazy, stupid, or bad readers. By contrast, authors provide BLUF out of respect for the reader’s time, indicating that they’re aware that the reader is a busy person who may not actually require all the details, as long as they get the final take-home message.

            Bearing in mind that one is a vaguely implied insult to the reader, and the other is provided out of respect for someone else’s time, it’s really interesting that TL;DR is popular on the Internet, while BLUF is popular in the military and in professional organisations.

        4. Atle says:

          Actually, I think it only insults the reader.

          1. Michael says:

            It insults the writer, in that, whatever they spent their time writing isn’t worth reading.

            EDIT: And I’m probably parroting something I read a couple days ago on this thread, and forgot about, ironically, because I didn’t reread it this morning.

      2. Tzekelkan says:

        It means “too long; didn’t read”. I too was confused at first.

        And it’s not necessarily that people don’t like to read. I love to read everything Shamus writes, but sometimes I forget to look at the sidebar of the comic because it’s scrolled out of my view by the time I reach the end of the comic (and I like it that way: Stolen Pixels strips are great when they’re long).

        And like it’s been said, every generation finds the previous one to be uneducated and uninterested in the “right” things.

  24. Vegedus says:

    While I accept that people often don’t read stuff, I find it funny that they more often write. As in, people can be assed to leave comments, but not read the whole thing they’re commenting on.

    1. Nathon says:

      Nor read their comments. Look at craigslist sometime to get a feel for how important proof reading is.

    2. Trix says:

      Probably because they treat it more like talking – which parallels somewhat with people who talk a lot but don’t listen very well.

    3. Galad says:

      Now where’s my “remember kids, the bigger your post count, the bigger your e-peen is” poster..

  25. TheZoobler says:

    Yeah, this whole outbreak of “tl;dr” is really kind of sad. It’s like, just read the damn thing if you’re gonna talk about it lol.

    Sometimes it even feels like some people have lost their inherent human curiosity, and can’t be arsed to read anything over a page because they very simply don’t care about gathering new information. I dunno. It’s kind of creepy to see people who aren’t piqued by new things, especially if the article falls within their interests but they ignore it due to length (‘length’ referring to ‘anything over 100 words’.). But that kind of person is rare.

    This reminds me of the emotion you were talking about in one of your archive posts, about Fallout original, how we feel satisfied if people are interested in the same things we are and frustrated if they aren’t. You get that little kick when you link one of your friends a single one-page article and they just shrug it off. “Too long” or “I skimmed it. A little” lol.

    And yeah I wonder what the etiquette should be for comments and forums posts. It’s all well and good to ask that someone read all the comments/posts before they talk in a thread, but that gets hard with hundreds of (sometimes verbose) pages of the latter or the former to drill through lolol.

    1. Zukhramm says:

      It surprises me sometimes how sometimes a short text of two or three paragraphs gets called “wall of text”. Walls of text, at least in my mind are those page-long texts not split into paragraphs and with long oddly structured sentances. Unreadable “bricks” of text.

      Long forum threads are hard to follow, but not because they have a lot of text. With people replying back and forth, jumping in and out of discussions, quoting posts pages back and lots of users making a single post then leaving it just becomes hard to read through, especially if you come in late and just wants to comment on something in the original post.

      Forums where thread that reach that many pages are too big for their own good, or at least too big for me. If a single page in general has no or very few users posting more than once, it’s too big, it just becomes hard to keep anything resembeling a discussion.

  26. Kameron says:

    The “already booked” punchline lost a lot of its impact for me when you linked to a 3-yr old comic. I read (and always read after the comic) the side text and still wondered why we couldn’t have an interview with the cube. :)

  27. toasty says:

    I read the sidebar every time. Its really a really cool little thing, and I often enjoy it more than your comics, which I sometimes find lacking. I also have to say your After Curfew comics, or anything with Breen, is really, really, really fun and I enjoy them a lot: You should do more of them.

  28. Galad says:

    Since I like playing devil’s advocate, maybe some of them read the pictures first, thought “haha, this line in that panel was so funny, I just have to post my appreciation of it”, went to post and forgot to read the side text. I know I get confused whether to see the comic first or read the side text. Why can’t the companion cube appear in both PA and in your comic anyway? :P

    1. Jarenth says:

      Time constraints.

      The Cube has a very busy agenda, you understand.

      1. swimon says:

        He’s both a celebrity and a research assistant clearly it can’t be bothered with every evil overlord^^

  29. First, I am sorry to say that almost passed on reading the comic all together since the After Curfew ones don’t usually do it for me. But I read this post here and went and read both the comic and the sidetext. Just. Because. Do I get a special nice guy trophy? No? Okay then.

    It’s kind of funny because there’s actually a lot of text in the comic itself today, but I think it may have to do with the length of the comic that may or may not be stopping people from reading the sidetext. It was a pretty long one(in an image size kind of way) today.

  30. Joshua says:

    I’ve always read the comics first, read the text, and then re-read the comic if needed. I guess most of us who have been around since early DMotR value the following text/commentary as required accompaniment of the comic.

  31. Caffiene says:

    Have the comments changed? The first 9 now seem to be mostly about the companion cube being funny, or saying the jokes were amusing…

    1. Greg says:

      The comments saying they were looking forward to the companion cube’s appearance obviously missed the note that that wouldn’t actually happen.

      1. Caffiene says:

        Huh. I read all of those as tongue-in-cheek, and trying to ‘add’ to the joke.

        A sort of a “When it comes back from the ad break we’re going to be so disappointed”.

  32. Sean Riley says:

    Personally, I’m wanting an interview with Eddie Riggs. He’s already there, right? Playing Clementine. Just call him down.

  33. Atle says:

    I like the format. I always read the comic first, then the sidebar.

    And I don’t think it needs changing to get everybody to read everything. You can never satisfy everyone anyway, and you can’t babysit and spoon feed everyone who thinkg it’s too much work to scroll back up again.

  34. Yerushalmi says:


    Your conclusion may be too hasty. First of all, nine commenters is a small sample size – a very small one – that shouldn’t be assumed to be a representative one.

    But more importantly, think about it this way. Most of the people who will be the first to comment are those who are more slavishly “hooked” to the Escapist site and are therefore the first to show up when something new is posted. They’re more likely to be part of the instant-gratification crowd, and who’s more likely to write “tl;dr” than someone from the instant gratification crowd?

    More intelligent people who have, you know, lives, will come across the comic a few minutes or hours or days later – and they’re more likely to read the side text. I know I do.

    (Of course, the drawback to being one of those people is that when posting to tell you this there are already 86 people above who’ve also expressed their opinions. It’s likely that someone else may have already made my point.)

  35. Conlaen says:

    Being a bit too snappy there Shamus. You make it out like it’s obligatory to read the side texts and in in the process also indirectly make people who didn’t read it for “bnch of txt spk-ing lzrs”.

    I often read the side texts, I didn’t this time. No need to be offended about it, it’s nothing personal. If people reading it is that important to you, maybe you can add a “please see side text” at the bottom of your comic.

  36. Duoae says:

    bnch of txt spk-ing lzrs

    A bunch of text speaking lasers?

    Wow… i had no idea that humankind would transcend the physical realm so quickly….

  37. Dragomok says:

    Actually, there could be another reason why people don’t read your sidebars. They are just used to not read them.
    In most other webcomics the side text contains very useful and interesting pieces of information such as
    “What you see in this strip is what you see, which is what you see, in case you were wondering.”, “Yay, [insert mook’s name here]!”, This is the first strip.” this one is a joke), “I just ate something bad, I’m gonna be sick.”, as well as bad puns, spoiler-filled movie *cough* reviews *cough* too short to be enjoyable, cliffhanger announcements, temporary hiatus announcements and links to random YouTube videos. Not to mention that some really are walls of text – no commas, no paragraphs, no caps, no anything. And one full stop per five lines.

    Offtopic: PS How can you insert your avatar here? Do you need to create an account or register at Gravatar? I can’t find any registration or login links.

    1. Dragomok says:

      Note to moderator:
      I meant to enclose “this one is a joke” and the whole “Offtopic: PS[…]” paragraph in <s> tags but appareantly it didn’t work – I can’t find them (the tags) in HTML source.

      I’m sorry for inconvenience.

    2. Adeon says:

      I agree. In fact Stolen Pixels is one of the few webcomics where I do make a point of reading the sidebar since they are generally interesting.

  38. General Karthos says:

    Looking at the post, it’s way to long for me to want to read the whole thing. So I looked at the picture. Can somebody summarize the post for me in five words or fewer?

  39. Zaghadka says:

    I think those people were saying “Hey, I liked your companion cube joke.” It’s a compliment, man.

    I would consider the sidebar a clever way of crediting Penny Arcade for the joke. They might have felt the same way.

    I doubt this has anything to do with the decline and fall of western civilization via SMS. I think the way you put it (riffing on txting) had the potential to insult anyone under the age of 35. It is totally unfair to equate a style of English that exists because it is hard to type fully on a 123 phone with the intelligence of those using it.

    It’s a rant that gets pretty old, and belongs in the “Get off my lawn” category, IMHO.

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