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<   No. 2727   2010-07-15   >

Comic #2727

1 Ophelia: So you want to go back in time to talk to Professor Tolkien.
1 Ophelia: How, exactly, do you propose to do that?
2 Shakespeare: I'll ask the Internet Oracle for advice.
3 Mercutio: Internet Oracle? Wow, we've already gone back 15 years!

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The Internet Oracle is a humorous question-and-answer service operated by Indiana University. It began life as the Usenet Oracle, back in the days before the World Wide Web.

The Oracle essentially consists of an automated e-mail server which accepts questions from users, then redistributes the question anonymously to someone volunteering to be an answerer. The answerer writes a response to the question and sends it back to the Oracle mail server, which anonymises the answer and sends it to the original questioner.

What began as a neat and simple idea quickly grew in popularity during the early 1990s. Various administrators began selecting the funniest question/answer pairs from the mail logs and posting them to the Usenet newsgroup rec.humor.oracle. Various conventions gave rise to an Oracle culture consisting of various in-jokes and mannerisms of the fictional "Oracle" character that supposedly answers all the questions. Eventually the Usenet Oracle expanded from Usenet to the Web and was renamed the Internet Oracle.

The Oracle still operates. If you've never used it before, give it a try! The help file and usage notes are available here. In simple terms:

With any luck, this will waste almost as much time for some of you as linking to TV Tropes.

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Last Modified: Thursday, 15 July 2010; 03:11:01 PST.
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