The DysFAQ v2.2 (Aug 1999)

Significant changes since v2.1 are marked with an asterisk.

How it works for you

Basic navigation

At the main DFC page, you'll see the list of available cartoons, with the number of accepted captions (if any) listed under it. Select a cartoon (or the non-frames version of one), and you'll see a page that goes a little something like this:

(Please note that this picture is currently out of date; when I settle on a new design, I'll update it.)

Caption sets: used to be three different types; currently two.

The good captions. These are the ones you see when you first view the cartoon. These will probably make it to the archive in the final editing pass. When new captions are accepted, they go to the top of this list. So they're not in actual accepted chronological order, but that does keep you from having to scroll down to see the latest.
The "okay" captions. These probably won't make it to the archive, but there's a slim chance. Editors may decide to add a comment to the captions to suggest how we think it could be improved. If you're stumped for an idea, feel free to raid these.
The stupid captions. This section no longer exists--it used to be a section for captions so stupid that I found them amusing. But I only find that sort of thing amusing when it's unintentional, and I finally learned that some people had been entering dumbass captions on purpose since day one. But, I leave this here, because there are some references to "red" captions in the archives.

Cartoon navigation: dunno why this confuses some people, but here we go:
Go to the first active cartoon.
Go to the previous active cartoon.
Go to the next active cartoon.
Go to the last active cartoon.
Some of these won't be available if it doesn't make sense, i.e., if you're at the first active cartoon, the "go to first active cartoon" button won't be there.

Last update: the last time an editor ran the gauntlet through the captions.

Link to main page: well, duh.

Editors' notes: editors have the option of putting a cartoon-specific note here.

Current cartoon: well, duh again.

Captions: the caption list of whichever caption set you're reading.

Caption submission form: it's always after the captions. Why do I still get questions from people who can't find this thing?

Submitting your own caption

Use the caption submission form to submit your own caption. Easy. There are three text boxes.

When you submit, you'll be shown what your caption will look like if it's accepted. If you didn't enter anything for name, it'll be attributed to "anon". If you did, your name will show up as the attribution. If you entered an e-mail address or URL, your name will be linked there.
Note: Here's how the "where to link to" thing works: if what you enter doesn't start with "http", the program assumes it's an e-mail address, and inserts a "mailto:" in front of it. Crude, but effective if you follow directions.
When you press the "Enter your own caption:" button, your submission is saved. If you look at it and decide there's something wrong, or you forgot to close a tag, just submit it again. The submission form is presented again with your submission to make it easier for you to edit.
Note: You can only use two types of HTML tags in a caption: <b> and <i>. If you try to use any other tags, the angle brackets will be converted to &lt;s and &gt;s (for the convenience of people who actually just want to use angle brackets).

In case none of that made any sense to you, here's how you do it: To make something bold, surround it with <b> and </b>; to make it italics, surround it with <i> and </i>. For example:

No <b>way</b> am I touching <i>that</i>, Dad!

will become

No way am I touching that, Dad!

How it works for us

The editors have an admin interface with which they edit the captions. It looks like this:

And there's the only reason why this section of the FAQ exists: we don't see who's submitted which captions. Honest. Some people get awful whiny over perceived favoritism. Uh, like what, we're getting thousands of dollars in kickbacks for accepting captions from government contractors, or something?

Submission suggestions

This one's fairly lengthy, and on its own page.


More of these as they occur to me.

Difficult Zone: Concepts which should generally be avoided, but can be accepted if you're extra slick. Concepts wind up here if they've been overused, or if they're just too easy.
Impossible Zone: Concepts that will be shot on sight. Don't bother.
Green Zone: Good captions. Also: Green.
Okay Zone: The captions under the yellow asterisk. Also: Yellow Zone, Yellow. Stupid Zone: The captions under the red asterisk. Also: Red Zone, Red. (Again, no longer exists, but listed for historical reasons.)

The actual questions

1) I keep submitting captions and I never see them anywhere.

Okay, this one's the most-asked question. If you're wondering why they don't even go to the Yellow area, see below. If you're wondering why they never get accepted...well, look, we can only repeat that this is a subjective process. As of this writing, there are four different editors, each with similar, but different, senses of humor. Who's to say where your humor and our humor intersect?

Besides, if this were an objective process, why would we need editors? I'd write a humor filtering program to read your captions and accept them or decline them instantaneously. Or, for that matter, I could write a program to generate them, then accept or decline them, at the rate of thousands per minute, and process each cartoon in an hour or so. Wouldn't that be efficient?

So if we don't accept your captions, it doesn't reflect on you as a person, and we're not personally insulting you. It just didn't strike the fancy of the person who read your caption(s) at the time. If we were handing out multi-million dollar grants for the best possible captions for each cartoon, it'd be a different thing. But we're not. Ultimately, I'm only going to publish what I like on my web site, so if you don't have a similar sense of humor as me, 1) you probably won't get accepted much and 2) probably don't like the overall humor of the accepted captions anyway.

2) Why don't you make the rejected captions available?
A few reasons, the most obvious of which is that if I wanted to keep them, they wouldn't have been rejected in the first place. Others include finite disk space and the basic annoyance of the "you rejected some funny captions, you idiots" mail that would inevitably result.

3) Why don't you keep the attributions for the stupid captions? (obsolete)
No longer applies. But I don't want to screw up the FAQ numbering.

4) Does Bil Keane know about this?
Apparently so, would you believe. From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, April 20, 1999, in an article that was more about the Amazon reviews:

Keane doesn't have a modem, he says, so he's not connected to the Internet. But he has heard of some of the Web sites inspired by (if not respectful of) his work, such as the "Dysfunctional Family Circus."

And he laughs when read a few reviews from's site. Some of it is in bad taste, he says. But some of it is funny.

"I assume my readers are intelligent enough to know I didn't do the bad stuff," he says. "But if they think it's funny -- well, I don't mind them thinking that I may have done it."

5) How are you getting away with this?
By the grace of God, apparently. If Bil knows, I'm sure King's lawyers know. I'd expect them to be much more rabid.

6) How do I submit captions for cartoons that have been archived?
You don't. That's what an archive is.
For those of you who accept this as obvious: for humor value, go to the archive page, then click on the "send feedback" link. Ever since I put that in, people trying to submit to the archives has finally gone down to almost nothing.

7) Can you make a voting interface so we can vote for our favorites?
I could. But it's fraught with problems. You know we'd get some people voting scads of times for their own captions, which would make it all meaningless. Then I could program something else to keep track of unique votes, but that would require giving a password to everybody and programming a password creating/tracking interface, which wouldn't keep people from getting multiple votes anyway. A big mess that really isn't worth it, especially considering a big fat cease-and-desist sledgehammer could hit me any day, you know?

8) My caption got cut off at a certain length, but I've seen much longer in the caption lists.
This is apparently a problem with some versions of Netscape, I don't know which. Some versions of Netscape will limit you to 255 characters in an input field. Or maybe that's part of an HTML spec? Who knows. Either way, it won't let you.

9) I submitted a caption, but I made a typo/thought of a better one. Could you fix it?
No--the interface that would make that possible is too unweildy. If you've just entered a caption, the "check to see if it's okay" bit comes up, and you decide it's not okay, submit another one with your correction/modification. We'll pick the correct/better one.
If your caption was accepted, and later you realize something is wrong, submit the corrected one and send feedback (with DFC as the subject) saying you sent a correction. Note: Only do that if you spot a typo or mistake. I don't want to encourage endless rounds of revisions and tweaking.

10) Are these real Family Circus cartoons, or are you drawing them yourselves? Some look real, some don't.
They're real. Some are from really old books (circa late 1960's).

11) I don't understand [repeating reference].
Raven is doing a super-swell job of keeping track of this sort of thing with The DFC Home Companion.

12) How do I enter a caption? There's no form or anything.
Probably because the cartoon's currently locked. Read the text at the bottom of the page. Either there are too many submissions waiting and the cartoon locks itself (which is a great sanity saver for us editors, believe me), or the cartoon is currently in the process of being edited and archived, and the editor locked it to prevent any more captions from coming in (because the way it worked previously, captions would come in during the archive process, and they'd just get lost without ever being seen).

13) Some cartoons aren't listed, but they're not in the archive either.
Here's how the editing process used to work: me and/or my editors would go through the captions over the course of its lifetime, and when it was done, we'd archive it. But that meant that my editors would have to be careful about not letting in repeating ideas, and generally needing to be more careful about what gets accepted.
Now, it works like this: when my editors lock down a cartoon, it goes to a holding area, where I do a final pass over the captions. I generally take the funniest of duplicate concepts, remove ones I don't like, or bump up yellow ones that I do. So the delay between the cartoon going away and the cartoon getting in the archive is the time it takes me to get around to doing the final edit.

14) I had a caption accepted, but now it's not in the archive!
See the notes on the process in the previous question. When I do the final pass, that means I may delete some that were previously accepted. This makes my editors happier, because they don't have to worry about keeping track of everything that's posted before it goes to the archive; this makes me happier, because I get to be sure that the archive contains things that are closer to what I think is funny; this probably pisses you off, because your limited fame can get taken away from you unexpectedly.
Sorry. But one of my concerns is my editors getting burned out, and the more they have to go over stuff with a fine-toothed comb, the more that becomes possible. And, I decided that if I'm the one who's worried about what goes to archive, I should take more responsibility for it.

15) What happened to #420 and #421?*
I had some problems with some program mods at the time, and lost a bunch of captions. I lost so many on these two as to make them pretty much useless to keep, so they're not in the archive.
Poor #52...nobody ever asks about it.

16) Bring back the red zone!*

17) Some characters I enter get replaced with a dot, and an Ñ is vitally important to the humor of my caption.*
When you enter a special character in an input form, there's no guarantee that other computers will display it correctly. Zo, to prezerve ze purity of ze code, any 8-bit characters you enter are replaced by a •, to let you know it didn't work. If you want to use special characters, you need to use the HTML encoding for it. Ö is "&Ouml;", for example. Or you'd type "se&ntilde;or" for "señor".
I just did a quick look on the Web and found this reference list of character entities. I'd much rather point you to my favorite HTML resource, but its character entity listing is kinda cumbersome.

18) What happened to [cartoon in the middle of the other active cartoons]?*
Cartoons don't necessarily have to be archived in order. Sometimes, if a cartoon in the middle of an active run loses steam sooner than older ones, we'll close it. And, due to #13, above, it probably hasn't made its way to the archive yet.

The Cat's Ass
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