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Puppy hiatus! Reruns daily; new comics restart 3 December 2018
All Previous Polls: 451-500Poll 451: How many things do you own that tell the time? (Don't forget computers, appliances, phones, cameras, etc!)
Total votes: 2965
Poll 452: Which would you find a less objectionable format for ads on a DVD movie? The ads are completely unskippable, with any technology whatsoever (this is a hypothetical, okay?).
Total votes: 3204
For those curious to know, 217 people elected to submit the poll with <choose> as their response. Which is actually fewer than I thought.
This poll generated some interesting discussion on the IWC forums. Several people expressed the opinion that neither option was even remotely acceptable, and declared their decision to refuse to vote. While perfectly within their rights to not bother answering my poll question, I found this rather frustrating.
Many of the poll questions I post are, by design, difficult decisions. I find the collection of data on how people think about such decisions to be interesting. In this case, I certainly agree that either option is pretty awful, and if I was faced with this sort of choice in real life, I would consider very strongly the option of not buying either sort of DVD.
However, this is a poll question, not a real life decision in which that "opting out" option is available. My goal here is to make you, dear reader, think about the relative pros (if there are any) and cons of these two options, and decide which one might be slightly better than the other. (Or which one is slightly even worse than the other, if you prefer to think of it that way.) Because that, to me, is the interesting answer, rather than the fairly obvious answer that "they're both terrible".
I think enough of you understand that to make the result of this poll truly interesting. It seems the front-loaded half hour of ads is perceived to be not as bad as enforced ad breaks. Presumably because you can set up your player in advance, read a book for half an hour, then enjoy your movie without interruption. The people who prefer the ad break format might have been thinking that waiting that long for the start of the movie would be worse than the sort of ad breaks you're used to on broadcast TV anyway. Whichever way you voted, thanks for taking the time to consider the question in the spirit intended.
For the people who voted <choose>, or refused to vote at all, I'd like to leave you with a thought. With these poll questions, I'm trying to learn something about how people think about difficult questions. I'm building a little confined box, with limited choices in it, and (for some of my polls anyway) the choices might all be ones that are unpalatable. I'm really hoping people will apply their minds to the question inside the box, and pick whichever of the options they find least horrible.
But you're clever people, and we live in a world where individuality, initiative, and thinking "outside the box" are valued. So naturally the reaction of some of the clever people who read these polls is to rebel and refuse to select any of the nasty options. Unfortunately, this is getting out of the hypothetical box I've constructed, and depriving us of some of the opinions of the people who would give the question the most careful thought!
I can't force you to select an option if you really don't want to. But in future, I'd be delighted if you gave a bit of thought to these really difficult poll questions and tried to pick one of the options, rather than just declaring them all to be so bad that you refuse to pick any of them. :-)
Poll 453: How are you going to pronounce the name of next year (in English)?
Total votes: 4280
Poll ResultsPoll 454: Would you prefer to lose all of your hardware home contents (books, CDs, furniture, etc) or all your software and data (including all backups)?
Total votes: 3323
Poll 455: Can you whistle significantly better inhaling or exhaling?
Total votes: 4148
Poll 456: Which would you prefer?
Total votes: 3717
You folks are weird.
Poll 457: Did you know that integration is the inverse process to differentiation?
Total votes: 3507
Poll 458: Your eyes are destroyed! You can get a bionic vision implant, but forevermore you will see with a Photoshop filter applied to your vision! Your options are shown in this image. ("Original" is shown for comparison only, and is not an option.) Which filter do you choose?
Total votes: 4809
Poll 459: If you turn a sandwich upside down, does it taste different?
Total votes: 4666
Poll 460: A well-known rich eccentric announces publicly that he wants to do a random act of kindness. He picks your name randomly and offers you ten million US dollars equivalent in your currency, no strings attached. Do you accept?
Total votes: 4811
Poll 461: How do you pronounce the first vowel in "envelope"?
Total votes: 3797
Poll 462: Have you just lost The Game?
Total votes: 2785
For those who don't know, The Game is encapsulated by the following simple rules:
(Aside: In one of his xkcd comics, Randall Munroe deconstructed The Game by declaring that his readers had in fact won it, and were now free of it. It's not clear whether this ruling carries any weight, although judging from the volume of e-mail I received on the subject, many people are willing to accept Randall's word and claim to not be playing The Game any more.)
To some people this whole thing is just an amusing diversion that encompasses the idea of metagames and unites similarly minded people in brief moments of shared obscure knowledge. To other people this is just a patently ridiculous concept with no apparent rhyme or reason.
Some people actively resent being told that they "are" playing a game, with no apparent consent on their part. They feel violated in some fundamental sense.
This simple exercise in attempting to determine how many of my readers are aware of "The Game" concept caused so much vitriol and hostility between people on the Irregular Webcomic! forums that I had to delete the entire discussion thread about this poll.
But The Game is nothing more than an exercise in semantics.
Words have power. They have power to do good, and they have power to cause great harm. Do not doubt it.
Poll 463: Which fruit combines best with chocolate?
Total votes: 3751
Poll 464: A well-dressed man on the street approaches you. He shows you a suitcase full of cash. He says he's a rich eccentric, and he's giving you ten million US dollars equivalent in your currency, no strings attached. Do you accept?
Total votes: 4795
Poll 465: How often do you have a cold shower?
Total votes: 4088
Several people wrote to tell me that they only have cold showers in the winter. They're variously into this thing where you jump into frozen rivers, or roll around in the snow naked or somesuch. Apparently in summer it's too hot for this sort of activity, so they don't bother having cold showers then. Only in the depths of winter.
The really interesting thing was that every single person who wrote to tell me this was from Denmark. I'm not sure what this says about Danish culture.
Poll 466: Which of these instruments should be used more by rock bands?
Total votes: 4611
Poll 467: What should we really have by now?
Total votes: 4608
I'm very pleased to see that result for the top pick, as I was inspired to write this poll question after wondering why we don't have decent voice recognition systems yet. (I added all the other options after deciding on that first one.)
Poll 468: Audio cables:
Total votes: 4102
Poll 469: If you don't like any of the options in a poll, is refusing to vote a valid response?
Total votes: 1419
I suppose in the interests of curiosity it may be worth revealing that there were also 2053 recorded submissions of the non-available non-option "<choose>", which is normally not reported for any of these polls. The question is, is submitting that equivalent to not voting, or equivalent to voting but not picking an available option?
Poll 470: Let's play Twenty Questions! The classic first question (slightly enhanced):
Total votes: 3924
Animal then! The next question will appear in a poll or two's time.
Poll 471: The Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel is:
Total votes: 3218
I'm claiming the lack of the option "Music, Sound, and Silence" was deliberate, to avoid including the most obvious answer.
Yeah, that's my story, and I'm sticking with it.
Poll 472: What is breakfast?
Total votes: 3870
Poll 473: Twenty Questions, question 2. I know it's an animal. Is it a human being?
Total votes: 3710
So, non-human. The next question will appear in a few polls time.
Poll 474: What's the best (approximate) shape for solid food?
Total votes: 3535
Poll 475: If you could start your life over, would you make the same choices?
Total votes: 3942
Of course there were a lot of unspoken assumptions you needed to make to have a go at answering this question. Would you remember your previous choices and be able to change your mind? Or would it be a knowledge-free replay and therefore you'd probably end up making the same choices since you're in the same situations? Or would you end up in split-second decisions where you really could have gone either way at the time, and just picked oine essentially at random, so this time through you might go the other way?
Presumably most of you came up with your own interpretation of the question, and that led you to your answer. Which is good - I like to create poll questions that make you think, rather than just pick the obvious answer.
Poll 476: Twenty Questions, question 3. I know it's a non-human animal. Is it a specific individual animal (as opposed to a generic member of a species)?
Total votes: 3908
Hmmm, okay. The next question will appear in a poll or two's time.
Poll 477: This poll has 60% less fat!
Total votes: 4704
Poll 478: What is the atomic number of iron?
Total votes: 3603
Well well well.
The motivation for this poll was simply "What would happen if I did a poll which had an objectively correct answer and some incorrect answers?" Nearly all my previous polls have been either asking for opinions or demographic type data, where there is no one objectively correct answer. I was just curious to see what would happen.
The correct answer is indeed 26, as 15 seconds of research can tell you, if you didn't already know it.
I'll admit that I chose the second-most popular response, 56, because 56 is the atomic weight of the most common isotope of iron, and so many people have probably heard the combination "iron 56" at some point. So if you picked that one based on an inkling in that direction, don't feel too bad. The other two options were merely random numbers.
Even so, I find it interesting that I can ask a question for which there is an inarguably correct answer and get less than two-thirds of responses choosing that answer out of four options. It wasn't really intended to be a trick question.
Poll 479: Twenty Questions, question 4. I know it's a specific individual non-human animal. All right, let's get it out of the way then. Has this animal been twice elected President of the USA?
Total votes: 4452
Okay, fair enough. The next question will appear in a poll or two's time.
Poll 480: If you were immortal, would you eventually do everything a human could do?
Total votes: 4090
Several people either e-mailed or wrote in the forums that if you're immortal, you can't die, so clearly there's something you can never do, so therefore the answer must be no.
That's a very literal and logical minded approach to the question. It's also valid to interpret it in other ways, which clearly many of you chose to do. I don't pose these questions intending them to be interpreted in a strictly literal fashion. Certainly if you want to do so, that's fine, but please don't feel that interpreting these poll questions in looser terms is bad. In fact, I encourage you to answer these questions more in the spirit of the question, rather than by a strictly literal-minded fashion.
I often make the questions somewhat ambiguous or open to interpretation. That's part of the fun, from my perspective - seeing how people choose to interpret the questions.
Poll 481: Favourite Christmas food (from this list)?
Total votes: 3713
Poll 482: What's the minimum number of people you need to have a party?
Total votes: 3883
Poll 483: Twenty Questions, question 5. I know it's a specific individual non-human animal. Is it a fictional animal?
Total votes: 3888
Okay, cool. The next question will appear in a few polls' time.
Poll 484: Go load the mezzacotta Café menu, once. How many of the dishes on the menu would you eat?
Total votes: 3304
Poll 485: Favourite type of milk?
Total votes: 3909
Poll 486: Twenty Questions, question 6. I know it's a specific fictional non-human animal. Is it of a species that exists (or existed) in reality?
Total votes: 3400
Okay, cool. The next question will appear in a few polls from now.
Poll 487: Which would you prefer to do for 30-60 minutes of exercise?
Total votes: 3987
I deliberately omitted bicycling, because I thought it would probably dominate the responses. It certainly dominated my mailbox with people wanting to vote for it, even though it wasn't an option.
Poll 488: Should Tom Bombadil have been in Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring movie?
Total votes: 4767
Poll 489: Is it better to know stuff or not?
Total votes: 3857
Poll 490: Twenty Questions, question 7. I know it's a specific fictional non-human animal of a real species. Is it (primarily) an animated cartoon character?
Total votes: 3561
Okay. The next question will appear in a few polls from now.
Poll 491: I've generated a random integer from 1 to 1,000,000 and looked at it before writing this question. Is it 329,218?
Total votes: 4473
Interesting. I was discussing this question with friends and we basically agreed that if you look at a random number and then ask a yes/no question about it, the probability of a person guessing your yes/no question correctly is, essentially, 50%. It's hard to argue for any significantly different result without appealing to subtle psychological factors. I was actually expecting the poll responses to be close to a 50/50 split. That it's not is fascinating.
And for the record, the random number I generated was 617,220. I considered typing that in as the number in the question... but in the end I tossed a coin for it.
Poll 492: You are cryogenically frozen. When would you prefer to be revived?
Total votes: 4099
Poll 493: How many keys do you normally carry when you leave the house?
Total votes: 4307
I was inspired to ask ths question when I noticed that of the 5 keys on my keyring, I use 4 regularly. The fifth one... I don't even know what it's supposed to open.
Poll 494: Twenty Questions, question 8. I know it's a specific non-animated, fictional, non-human animal of a real species. Is it (originally) a character from literature or poetry?
Total votes: 3402
Very well! The next question will appear in a few polls from now.
Poll 495: Funniest non-reproductive organ?
Total votes: 3618
That's pretty definitive!
Poll 496: These polls deliberately don't include an "other" option. Do you ever wish they did?
Total votes: 4599
Poll 497: Twenty Questions, #9. I know it's a specific non-animated, fictional, non-human animal of a real species, originally from literature or poetry. Is it a mammal?
Total votes: 3531
Okay, the next question will appear in a few polls time.
Poll 498: When playing a tennis rally, how do you carry an extra ball?
Total votes: 3862
I was prompted to ask this by recently taking up tennis again myself. I carry a spare ball in my off hand, while the guy I play against sticks them in his pocket.
Poll 499: Have you ever been to Europe?
Total votes: 3774
Poll 500: Twenty Questions, #10. I know it's a specific non-animated, fictional, non-human mammal of a real species, originally from literature or poetry. Can it talk?
Total votes: 4713
Okay, cool! The next question will appear after another few polls.