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The meaning of «xkcd»

xkcd, sometimes styled XKCD,[‡ 2] is a webcomic created in 2005 by American author Randall Munroe.[1] The comic's tagline describes it as "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language".[‡ 3][2] Munroe states on the comic's website that the name of the comic is not an initialism but "just a word with no phonetic pronunciation".

The subject matter of the comic varies from statements on life and love to mathematical, programming, and scientific in-jokes. Some strips feature simple humor or pop-culture references. It has a cast of stick figures,[3][4] and the comic occasionally features landscapes, graphs, charts, and intricate mathematical patterns such as fractals.[5] New cartoons are added three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.[‡ 2][6]

Munroe has released four spinoff books from the comic. The first book, chronologically, published in 2010 and entitled xkcd: volume 0 was a series of select comics from his website. His 2014 book What If? is based on his blog of the same name that answers unusual science questions from readers in a light-hearted way that is scientifically grounded.[‡ 4][‡ 5][7] The What If column on the site is updated with new articles from time to time. His 2015 book Thing Explainer explains scientific concepts using only the one thousand most commonly used words in English.[‡ 6][8] A fourth book, How To, which is described as "a profoundly unhelpful self-help book", was released on September 3, 2019.[‡ 7]

As a student, Munroe often drew charts, maps, and "stick figure battles" in the margins of his school notebooks, besides solving mathematical problems unrelated to his classes. By the time he graduated from college, Munroe's "piles of notebooks" became too large and he started scanning the images.[9]

xkcd began in September 2005, when Munroe decided to scan his doodles and put them on his personal website. According to Munroe, the comic's name has no particular significance and is simply a four-letter word without a phonetic pronunciation, something he describes as "a treasured and carefully guarded point in the space of four-character strings." In January 2006, the comic was split off into its own website, created in collaboration with Derek Radtke.[10]

In May 2007, the comic garnered widespread attention by depicting online communities in geographic form. Various websites were drawn as continents, each sized according to their relative popularity and located according to their general subject matter.[‡ 8][11] This put xkcd at number two on the Syracuse Post-Standard's "The new hotness" list.[12] By 2008, xkcd was able to financially support Munroe and Radtke "reasonably well" through the sale of multiple thousand T-shirts per month.[10]

On September 19, 2012, "Click and Drag" was published, which featured a panel which can be explored via clicking and dragging its insides.[‡ 9] It immediately triggered positive response on social websites and forums.[13] The large image nested in the panel measures 165,888 pixels wide by 79,822 pixels high.[14] Munroe later described it as "probably the most popular one I ever put on the Internet", as well as placing it among his own favorites.[9]

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