Characterization of a (graphical) user interface. Often misused. People say "user friendly" when they mean "easy to learn" and not "easy and efficient to use". For instance, command line user interfaces are hard to learn but very efficient in use. People using Windows are terribly inefficient, but they are happy because they learn the interface easily.

User Friendly is a free daily internet cartoon found at www.userfriendly.org. It details the lives of A.J., Miranda, Greg, Dust Puppy, Stef, the Chief, Smiling Man, Erwin, and Sid (to name a few) as they work and play at their job at a ficticious company called Columbia Internet.

Common themes are Information Technology/Computer Science oriented but includes most topics that geeks (a.k.a - computer nerds, techies, techs, etc.) would find interesting and/or compelling.

Also features the 'Link of the Day' which is always a non-business site of interest to geeks. In the past they have featured a website that provides magic 8 ball answers by actually turning an 8 ball using automated motors connected to the web server, an Anime Title Generator, and the Darwin Awards.

Time magazine stated that User Friendly was "a strip in the wry, verbal vein of Doonesbury...the humor is a combination of pop culture references and inside jokes straight outta the IT department."

Where do I begin with User Friendly? How do I start without being perceived as a total asshole? I won't. At one time I was a fan of User Friendly, always awaiting the next day's strip, but then I realized something: I was waiting for poorly-drawn, monotonous drivel pertaining to the greatness of Linux and the depravity of anything Microsoft.

First (and really the only part that I feel hasn't been expressed somewhere on Everything2) substantial part of this diatribe: the writing/jokes/whatever the hell it is. When you really look at the comic, the realization sets in that the vast majority of Illiad's ideas are actually just Slashdot headlines. Not that Slashdot is a bad thing, but to base an entire comic strip on it is both insane. This is especially apparent in the Sunday strips, but it shows up often enough in the regular strips to be annoying. The Metallica ordeal is an ideal example because the transition from headline to strip was virtually frictionless. Simply personify Metallica's request to ban Napster users into an overzealous man in black, and you get the same shit, only a different color. Don't even get me started about the tech support jokes. I believe Scott Kurtz sums it up better than I ever could in the tech support comic rant at PvP:

Guys, do you realize that there is only so many jokes that you can tell about video games? I mean, there is a fixed amount and then it's not funny anymore. It's like tech support jokes. I heard them all the first month I worked tech support. http://www.pvponline.com/newspro/archives/arc3-2003.html

Second point: see User Friendly Media. No words can express how I felt when I saw the site.

Now that I've lifted the major things that piss me off from my chest, I can take a quick jab at the drawing. I could accept the fame of User Friendly more easily if not for the atrocious drawing. Penny Arcade's strip with the characters of User Friendly all decked out in whore gear makes this distrubingly apparent. Gabe literally took stick figures and turned them into objects that actually made the cast look humanoid. It wasn't like going from one style to another, as seen in many crossover comics, but an evolution from child-like to at least sophomoric. Goats, Sinfest Red Meat, PhD, PvP, Penny Arcade, and many other comics have good, and even creative artwork, even if some of them have less-than-spectacular writing. And that's it for this rant.

Ah yes, User Friendly. I will help elaborate how exactly User Friendly sucks. Feel free to /MSG me if I've left anything out.

Firstly, everyone bitches about the art's quality. Now the quality of art isn't always the most important thing in a comic, the art should be tolerable atleast. I'll gladly admit that the first year or so of Sluggy Freelance didn't look so hot, but Pete got better. UF looks like Adventurers....well, those parts they didn't steal from Bloom County.

Secondly, UF works on the concept that Windows or anything related to it is funny because it's mindless, while Linux is elevated to Godlike status. I got nothing against bashing MS or Windows..but when the point of the comics is "Ha ha, you use Windows. You're stupid!", that is not comedic gold my friends. "We're using Linux, we're superior to you Cromags." "Ha ha, Windows users can't spell cromags, they're stupid!" That is your average UF strip. UF uses "humor" like Windows and marketing like how the Japanese use "humor" in their anime series. In anime, food is considered highly hysterical. Characters eating a lot of food, whining about food, still hungry after said binge, or any possible combination thereof in anime is comedy. Food is not the award winning source of comedic gold the Japanese think it is, just as Windows isn't the source of funny that UF thinks it is.

As I mentioned above, UF borrows a lot of elements from Bloom County. Some jokes/style of humor, some of the characters and characterizations...it was cool, back in the 80s. I prefer my Steve Dallas and Opus to remain in their original forms...not to be transmogrified into some doofy marketing guy because "marketing people are funny". Oh, and a dust ball with feet. That's fucking great.

And then there's UF Media, which is inherently wrong in itself. I mean, I'm not above someone getting paid for their contributions, but usually people wait until they're successful until they whore out their characters. Alls I know is that from what I can tell, the most successful Net comic is Sluggy Freelance, and Pete's just selling books and T-Shirts. But I believe Tycho Brahe from Penny Arcade said it best in their strip about UF Media. You have to check it out for yourself, but in the meantime I can say that what UF Media strives for, Jeff K. has done already at http://www.somethingawful.com/features/usarfreindley/.

So, in conclusion, I hope I have illustrated why User Friendly sucks. Bad art + Lame Writing + "Borrowed" Character elements = bad strip. I hope you have enjoyed my points, and will come to the light. (BTW: For those wondering, I read all of UF from its start until the Sluggy Freelance/UF Crossover).

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