Things to do on dates

A friend recently pointed me to a webcomic called xkcd. (In the same email, she asked how I was doing, but I still haven't replied because I got sucked into the site she pointed me to.) It's a very geeky three-times-a-week strip; some of it annoys me, some of it leaves me cold, but some I liked, and I suspect some of y'all might like it too. Note that some of it is serious rather than funny.

(Also note that a fair bit of what I'm pointing to in this entry isn't work-safe.)

Also note that, as with the otherwise unrelated A Softer World, you can point your mouse pointer at any given strip and it'll pop up a coda or explanation or punch line or comment. In fact, some of the xkcd strips would almost work as Softer World strips, only in general I like the timing/pacing better in A Softer World.

Here are some of the xkcd strips I liked:

But that's not what I'm here to tell you about. The same people also host a site called BestThing where you're presented with two items and you can click whichever one you think is better (and then it presents you with another two, and so on). You can also add your own items. The site tracks which things are considered better than other things, and provides a list of the Best Things Ever.

But that's still not what I'm here to tell you about. The same people also put together BestDate: "like BestThing, but with ideas for dates!" Yes, it's a collection of things to do on dates, and you can indicate, one pair at a time, which ones you like better than other ones; also, you can add your own.

The other night when I first encountered this, the collection of items was pretty paltry; I kept seeing the same dozen or two dozen items in various combinations. So I started adding items. It's kind of addictive.

Meanwhile, other people were also adding items--the collection grew as I watched--and the top Best Date Ideas list kept changing. At this point, roughly half the items on that best-ideas list are things I suggested, but I suspect that's primarily due to too little data.

So, if you have ideas (serious, wacky, funny, insane, or otherwise) for things to do on dates, stop by the site and suggest them. And compare suggestions with other suggestions.

Last time I stopped by, it presented me with this choice of things to do on a date:

Which is better?

  • Subverting the dominant paradigm
  • Smashing the state

. . . I'm still trying to decide.

5 Responses to “Things to do on dates”

  1. Twig

    Wow, that’s addictive. I haven’t gotten any of my suggestions onto the top 20 list yet, but I have managed to shift the rank of some other options.

  2. Jed

    I should have mentioned, btw, that I wasn’t particularly trying to get my suggestions in the top-20 list; in fact, some of my suggestions were terrible ideas for things to do on dates. I’m pretty sure that the reason so many of my suggestions got onto the top-20 list is that my suggestions made up a significant percentage of the total number of items in the database. So I’m hoping/expecting that if a bunch of people go play with it and add items and rankings, my suggestions will become less of a factor (and the top-20 list will get less volatile).

    Interesting side point: The list was a top-10 list when I first stopped by, but turned into a top-20 list by the end of the evening. I don’t know whether that was an automated thing or whether the people in charge noticed a bunch of items were being added and decided to change the number of items on the list.

  3. Dan P

    Reminds me of the now-defunct I like that it’s text-only; whatsbetter, allowing small pictures of the contestants, degenerated quickly into swimsuit pictures and gross-outs that necessitated a whole system of filtered categories and MPAA-style ratings.

    My favorite not-yet-existing web site is called, which presents you with three statements at a time which you rank according to how much you agree or disagree with them. It would be pre-seeded it with statements from places like personality tests, purity tests, politics (minimally), horoscopes, and basic demographics, but people could add their own. Having three comparison pairs at once would allow correlation of opinions without needing an account system (or even requiring people to be consistent from answer to answer), and the payoff would be seeing how the various opinions do or don’t form clusters.

  4. Randall Munroe

    Hey. Yeah, the 20 thing was me changing it as the database got bigger. I’m kind of tweaking all the algorithms in general and getting the kinks worked out, and we might be adding a few new subsections and changing BestDate a lot. Interesting times!

    Proportionally, the date version gets a lot more votes vs. suggestions — I guess it’s harder to come up with good stuff there.

    It was interesting — I started it out with more funny suggestions, jokes and stuff, but very quickly as people flooded in they got overwhelmed by very sincere suggestions. It’s really neat to see what gets voted to the top, but it also makes the list more bland overall. I’m gonna try to encourage people to vote more for the funnier options, one way or another.


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