Does Max know about the RMCS?

We were talking one evening and Max came up with the idea of some sort of interactive comic thing. I hacked out a successful proof-of-concept, and told him that it was going well and that I'd like to continue messing with it. He seemed OK with the idea.

Max hasn't been good at answering his email, so I don't know what he thinks of the site. I'm keeping the same policy as my original, unofficial Red Meat website; If this offends him, at any point he's free to let me know and I'll take the site down.

Does Max have a userID? Does he vote?

Nope. Though I'd be interested to know how he'd vote on certain comics.

Can I vote a whole bunch of times for a comic?

Sure, but only the last vote counts. The RMCS keeps your ballot around: when you vote on a previously voted-for comic, your old ballot is discarded and your new ballot is used to figure the new comic's score. No one can stuff ballot boxes. You can change your mind as often as you want.

How are votes tallied?

Formerly, votes were averaged per-comic to create a comic score. Due to differences in voter behavior, a z-score adjustment is applied to each vote, per voter. Basically, your mean vote score is subtracted from each of your votes, then this number is divided by your votes' standard deviation. This equalizes "lowball" and "highball" voters, among other things. Above-average comics are above 0, below-average comics are below 0. Z-scores are averaged to form a comic score, and each comic is averaged to create a user score. Z-scores basically take into account that a vote of 9 on a comic is harder to get (and therefore worth more) from someone who typically votes low on everything than it is for someone who votes high on everything.

For more information, read the discussion on the RMCS Forum.

What do you use to make this site work?

I use php for the main content generation. There's a mySQL database back-end for storing the comics, user information, and votes.

You seem to take this thing pretty seriously.

Well, yes and no. Technically, getting this thing working is fun. But what really interests me is what people find funny. The abstract concept of humor: what makes something really hit you as being humorous. Your sense of humor is just as sensitive as your sense of smell: I'm intrigued how subtle changes in timing or word order can alter the effect of a comic so much. This is probably why I've put so much time into vote statistics and the ability to associate votes and comics with users. Some day I hope to provide a general, unified theory for why some things are funny.

I think this would be funnier if we could add our own characters

Theoretically, I agree that more characters can concievably open more humor possibilities. Realistically, people have a hard enough time writing good stuff with current comics. If you want you can ask me to add a character and I will if your comic idea is brilliant and won't fly without him/her. If you really want you can just hack the site and fool the CGI into substituting a nonstandard character. It's been done.

So, any tips on how to write a good comic?

First, let me say that I'm definitely not the authority here. Everyone (including me) gets one vote, and my opinion isn't any more valid than anyone else's. Except that I run the site so I get to write this here and they don't. Neener neener.

First and foremost, read the original! Not every comic would rate a 10 in my book, but Max is an absolute genius when he's in prime form.

  • Elements that work for me:

  • Themes that don't work for me:

    Every rule has its exception. For every "tip" above, I can point to a comic written here or by Max or someone else that flagrantly violates it with positive, impressive results.

    If you think you're the first smartass to try writing a comic that simultaneously violates every above rule, you're not.