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I got twenty questions, but "Animal, vegetable, or mineral?" ain't one
December 10, 2009 9:11 PM   Subscribe


 
It asked me if my person was Older then 40, I said no. Later it asked if it was younger then 50, and I said no. Later still it asked if they were younger then 30 and I said no.

Then it guessed Donald Knuth.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 PM on December 10, 2009


I hate this game. The MGM lion, Pikachu, Lenny from "Of Mice and Men" and Honor Harrington, won't this bastard even give me a face saving win?
posted by MikeMc at 9:24 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ha! I stumped it with the president of Ukraine, Victor Yushchenko!


(why does that give me such satisfaction?)
posted by too bad you're not me at 9:24 PM on December 10, 2009


I love these. I just tried Alien, Predator & Jaws (because I just watched all those RiffTrax) and it got every one of them. Now I'm going to try the Alligator from Alligator
posted by Brainy at 9:24 PM on December 10, 2009


IT FUCKING KNEW I WAS THINKING OF ABBATH OF IMMORTAL! HOW THE FUCK?!
posted by rainperimeter at 9:26 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


It guessed a generic crocodile. What the fuck.
posted by Brainy at 9:27 PM on December 10, 2009


Tried a local politician, which of course it didn't get -- but was asked whether the character was Australian (yes), and then whether he was Israeli (??). Then it showed me a picture of some Korean dude and asked if I was thinking of Malcolm Turnbull. WTF?

Seems like there's some data poisoning going on.
posted by nonspecialist at 9:28 PM on December 10, 2009


This is actually pretty impressive. It's nicely done. It got every one of mine:

Richard Feynmann
Vladmir Putin
Luke Skywalker

then I tried doing "me", and it guessed "your clone" :) ha.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:30 PM on December 10, 2009


Bob McKenzie from SCTV/Strange Brew stumped it. He guessed Bozo.
posted by unixrat at 9:30 PM on December 10, 2009


Up to question 40, and its questions are getting more and more frantic, random and self-contradictory.

I remember writing something like this for the C-64 back in about 1986, playing an animal guessing game. That was before I got a 1541 drive, though, so when I turned the machine off, it was gone. Shame, it worked better than this.
posted by nonspecialist at 9:30 PM on December 10, 2009


I am surprised....stumped it with two pretty well-known characters: Veronica Sawyer and Dominique Francon.
posted by lalex at 9:31 PM on December 10, 2009


Ha! I stumped it with the president of Ukraine, Victor Yushchenko!

I didn't stump it with Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, former president of Iceland. I thought I was going to when question 15 was 'Is she from this solar system?', but it seem to narrow the field down from 'solar system' to 'Scandinavia' with surprising alacrity.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 9:32 PM on December 10, 2009 [4 favorites]


It got Cthulhu. Now trying Tsathoggua, which I expect to bring me sweet victory.
posted by Caduceus at 9:32 PM on December 10, 2009


It got El Cid after 20 questions but I stumped it with Origen.
posted by Avenger at 9:34 PM on December 10, 2009


It guess Hastur instead of Tsathoggua, but that in itself is impressive.
posted by Caduceus at 9:35 PM on December 10, 2009


Seems like there's some data poisoning going on.

Like even the most powerful meatspace intelligence, the AI can be easily corrupted by malicious intent.
posted by Avenger at 9:35 PM on December 10, 2009


It got Robert Mugabe and Data, who are pretty much my two favourite characters ever. What's left?
posted by bicyclefish at 9:36 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is your character a porn actor?

Unless, Emma Goldman has a history we don't know of, probably not.

(Although, he did get there in the end.)
posted by Sova at 9:37 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems to be horrible with genre writers, which I guess makes sense... there are so many of them. Stumped it with Sharon Green... it guessed William Gibson... and then with Stephen Gould, who wrote Jumper. It guessed Ray Bradbury.

I thought it had a chance with Gould, since they made an apparently horrible movie out of Jumper, and it seems good with the pop culture stuff. It got Jackie Chan, no problem, and Tony Jaa as well.

One interesting problem... it never asked the gender of the writers, and then always guessed male.
posted by Huck500 at 9:37 PM on December 10, 2009


Aaaaand I broke it.
posted by Caduceus at 9:39 PM on December 10, 2009


Hmmm. . . I was thinking Ben Shahn, and it gave me Benedict Arnold.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 9:40 PM on December 10, 2009


Oh wait, I know what's left.

CORY DOCTOROW, IN 18 QUESTIONS.

This decade cannot end soon enough.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:42 PM on December 10, 2009


Stumped it with Old King Cole, George Eliot, and Franklin Bluth. Questions about Franklin were by far the most fun to answer. ("Does your character have white skin?" "Partially!")
posted by greenland at 9:43 PM on December 10, 2009


Yeah, Naomi Novik, it asked mostly pointless questions, never asked gender, then guessed Neil Strauss.
posted by Huck500 at 9:43 PM on December 10, 2009


It just got Vidkun Quisling after 24 questions. Not bad, really.
posted by Avenger at 9:45 PM on December 10, 2009


I stumped it with Byron the Bulb from Gravity's Rainbow.
posted by Schmucko at 9:46 PM on December 10, 2009


I was trying to get it to guess Matt Haughey, but then it asked 'Does this character make people scream?' and I honestly didn't know what to answer. So I said 'yes', and it guessed Drew Curtis.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 9:46 PM on December 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Now it knows about Richard Belzer.
posted by lumensimus at 9:47 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, it got Tyrone Slothrop, so I guess that's pretty good.
posted by Damn That Television at 9:50 PM on December 10, 2009


6. Is your character an adult man?
Yes.
7. Is your character a female?
??!?!
posted by estlin at 9:52 PM on December 10, 2009


Mikael Blomkvist - stumped it
Angus Young - got it
Kent Hovind - got it (ok, which MeFite tried Kent before me?)
Mr. Slave - got it
Sasha Gray - stumped it
Brad Snider (soap character) -stumped it
Steve Ballmer - got it
Raskolnikov - got it
posted by MikeMc at 9:53 PM on December 10, 2009


Sasha Gray - stumped it

Granted, this would be pretty easy to do in real life.
posted by Avenger at 9:57 PM on December 10, 2009


Sasha Gray - stumped it

It got this one right just now, but I was confused that, after it asked if she was a porn actress, it asked me if people sometimes pray to her. What?
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:02 PM on December 10, 2009


eatyourcellphone, after 2 rounds of extra guessing, I got Matt Haughey (Runs Metafilter). It's first 2 guesses were Tom from Myspace and Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia.
posted by JauntyFedora at 10:02 PM on December 10, 2009


got: elizabeth bennett and ayaan hirsi ali (both pretty quickly)
didn't get: dorothy day (guessed emma goldman and helen keller) or louisa may alcott (again, guessed helen keller - apparently she's the universal dead female non-singing american).
posted by anshuman at 10:02 PM on December 10, 2009


It correctly guessed M. C. Escher, based solely on the information that he was a dead European artist with a beard. Impressive.

No luck with cortex, though. (Best question: "are there any derogatory rumors about your character?")
posted by teraflop at 10:03 PM on December 10, 2009


Dirk Gently, really? Yes it did. I wasn't positive about some of the answers either and yet it managed quite well.
posted by bfootdav at 10:04 PM on December 10, 2009


For some reason I was sure I'd beat it with Jean Valjean, but pretty early on it was clearly trying to narrow it to Valjean vs Javert ("Is your character a detective?" then "Has your character been in jail?" followed by "is your character in a special costume?" presumably to remove the man in the iron mask from the running).

Stumped it with Sneaky Pete though.
posted by librarina at 10:05 PM on December 10, 2009


He got Paul Erdos, seemingly out of the blue.
posted by anshuman at 10:09 PM on December 10, 2009


Blargh, that thing thinks the Doctor is less than 40 years old. Goddamn David Tennant is fucking it up for everyone.
posted by maqsarian at 10:11 PM on December 10, 2009


Got Umberto Eco, and guessed Ansel Adams when I was thinking of Arnold Newman (close enough).
posted by bradbane at 10:16 PM on December 10, 2009


The best is the leading questions, where you know who they're going for:
Is your character a scientist?
Does your character always wear black?

(I'm stumping it with Hooper from Jaws, surprisingly)
posted by Brainy at 10:19 PM on December 10, 2009


I was thinking of Sebastian Flyte, it came up with Peter Wimsey - not a bad guess.
posted by betweenthebars at 10:25 PM on December 10, 2009


Stumped it with Qfwfq from Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics, but its guesses were interesting (The Man in the Moon)...
posted by Schmucko at 10:27 PM on December 10, 2009


Got James Randi in 19. It took 22 for Alan Moore. No luck for either St. Athanasius or St. Anthony, but it did get St. Augustine, which impressed me.
posted by Hactar at 10:46 PM on December 10, 2009


Great Gatsby, Monica Gellar, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bertrand Russell, Reza Pahlavi... Finally stumped it with Adam Lambert of all people, but to be fair it gave me this picture of Gerard Way, whoever that is.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 10:49 PM on December 10, 2009


Completely stumped it (that's more than 40 questions, ugh) with Gandalf. I think that's because I was a little too Likert on it and always answered probably.
posted by librarylis at 10:51 PM on December 10, 2009


I wanted to see what it would guess if I answered for me.

It came up with "your mother."

There's no way I'm going to tell my mom about this.
posted by Ruki at 10:52 PM on December 10, 2009 [10 favorites]


...it got Buckaroo Bonzai.
But not Cesare Borgia.

Huh.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:57 PM on December 10, 2009


Interesting, I tried Tyrone Slothrop and it failed. Ah well, there are at least a couple hundred other characters from Pynchon novels to try.
posted by xil at 10:57 PM on December 10, 2009


It got Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple. WTF
posted by Demogorgon at 11:00 PM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


I tried St. Bernadette and it came up with St. Therese of Lisieux. Which is a pretty good guess for a Muslim.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 11:03 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


..and then got Hal Incandenza on like, "male, "not adult", "not famous from tv" and "plays a sport". Ok, now I'm creeped out.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 11:08 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


..and then got Hal Incandenza

lol, I was going to try Hal Incandenza.
posted by MikeMc at 11:15 PM on December 10, 2009


So it asks its twenty questions, and guesses Agent 47. I say no, that is not my character. It asks "Is your character Russian?". I say yes, and it immediately correctly guesses the Heavy from Team Fortress 2. I don't know why I find this so amusing.
posted by maqsarian at 11:22 PM on December 10, 2009


Hah, finally found a real life person that stumped it on my fourth try. It got Audie Murphy,Togo Heihachiro, and Charles Martel within twenty. But it didn't get Thales of Miletus. Kept coming up with Greek philosophers, so it was close, though...
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:25 PM on December 10, 2009


It also failed to guess Lincoln Hawks, Sly Stallone's character from Over the Top (the arm wrestling movie).
posted by clockworkjoe at 11:36 PM on December 10, 2009


I also find it kind of sad that it incorrectly guessed Rorschach from Watchmen, and required another ten questions before correctly guessing the Question.

I stumped it with Mr. A, though.
posted by maqsarian at 11:39 PM on December 10, 2009


See also: 20Q (The original online version has only gotten better, and the 'toy' still makes a great Christmas gift!).
posted by sophist at 11:39 PM on December 10, 2009


It got Harold from Harold and Kumar. That kind of blew my mind.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:40 PM on December 10, 2009


And then I taught it about Robert Frank. My work here is done.
posted by wemayfreeze at 11:46 PM on December 10, 2009


"Does your character have long hair?"

YES

"Was your character popular during the 80s?"

NO

"Is your character still in his band?"

NO

"Has your character died?"

YES

"Is your character's wife famous?"

I wasn't going for Kurt Cobain, but it's still an impressive line of questions.

A few questions later, it asked me if he had "special eyes," which I have to admit I have no idea what it was even going for there.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:50 PM on December 10, 2009


I stumped it with Dylan Thomas, which I thought would be pretty easy. It did manage to guess both James Joyce and Oscar Wilde though.
posted by frobozz at 11:51 PM on December 10, 2009


Also, I managed to stump it with Bora Horza Gobuchul, but it did figure out that I was going for a Banks character. It took a while to convince it that I really wasn't going for someone from the Warhammer universe, though. I guess there is a certain similarity there....
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:53 PM on December 10, 2009


I was thinking of Terry Gilliam and it guessed Michael Bay. it must die.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:53 PM on December 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I used 2401 Penintent Tangent, the floating artificially intelligent caretaker orb in charge of the Forerunner construct called "Delta Halo"... and it guessed 343 Guilty Spark, the floating artificially intelligent caretaker orb in charge of the Forerunner construct called Alpha Halo!

Take that, stupid genie!
posted by Rhaomi at 11:55 PM on December 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's funny—I used Seymour Glass and while answering questions I thought, 'hm, maybe I'll choose Yossarian next' and then it guessed Yossarian after Q21.
posted by carsonb at 11:56 PM on December 10, 2009


I stumped it with the great poet Robinson Jeffers.

Oh, and nebulawindphone: it was probably going for David Bowie. Or Stevie Wonder?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:59 PM on December 10, 2009


Akinator went on to choose Llewelyn Moss after further questioning, but I was thinking of picking Yoko Ono next! Ha!
posted by carsonb at 12:00 AM on December 11, 2009


Rhaomi: "Take that, stupid genie!"

I take that back. It guessed mathowie. On the first try.

Holy crap.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:01 AM on December 11, 2009


OK, interesting: so it gives up and asks me to choose my character from a list or if he's not listed to enter his name carefully. Well, he's there on the list but the name is misspelled and the name of his infamous short story is wrong. 'Seynour Glass(A Good Day f...'

So, do I check the box for the misspelled entry or do I type the correct one into the database?
posted by carsonb at 12:05 AM on December 11, 2009


It could not get Jake Cisco from DS9. It nailed Keyser Soze though.
posted by 517 at 12:06 AM on December 11, 2009


... and I just can't spell today.
posted by 517 at 12:08 AM on December 11, 2009


So I'm trying to make it guess Matt again in order to submit an image, when it asks:

Does your character come from the Internet?
posted by Rhaomi at 12:13 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is your character strange?
Is your character a pop singer?


It got Lady Gaga...
posted by autoclavicle at 12:14 AM on December 11, 2009


So I'm trying to make it guess Matt again in order to submit an image, when it asks:

Does your character come from the Internet?


Yeah, I had no idea how to answer that.

Also, I'll bet they're going to get a few pictures of Matt today.
posted by maqsarian at 12:19 AM on December 11, 2009


It couldn't guess caddis.
posted by caddis at 12:23 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Kurt Goedel. It guessed Erwin Schroedinger. Not toooo bad.
posted by syzygy at 12:30 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it on my first two tries with the Venerable Bede and Gerard 't Hooft, but I threw it an easy one with Saotome Ranme and it got it pretty quickly. It got Miles Vorkosigan in 15.

It kept asking me about Portguguese for 't Hooft. wtf?

(Haven't played with 20Q in ages. Someone did give me the pocket-sized version of 20Q once, though.)
posted by hattifattener at 12:35 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with engineer/inventor Harry Ferguson. Took more than 20 questions to get Dave Lister. It was pretty good otherwise.
posted by maxwelton at 12:43 AM on December 11, 2009


Twenty guesses and it got McGruff the Crime Dog. Thirty and it got the Buddy Christ, after initially guessing Dr. Hammond from Jurassic Park.
posted by beetsuits at 12:44 AM on December 11, 2009


Oh, and nebulawindphone: it was probably going for David Bowie. Or Stevie Wonder?

I thought of Bowie. Stevie Wonder didn't occur to me. But neither of those guys is dead — maybe it doesn't know that yet?

Still, "special eyes"? What a weird phrase.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:49 AM on December 11, 2009


I stumped it thrice with the current president of Cyprus, the ex-president of Cyprus, and Archbishop Makarios. I guess I am the only one feeding it answers from Cyprus.
posted by hariya at 12:51 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It got most of mine:

The Phantom
Tintin
Stringfellow Hawke (of Airwolf)
Stephen Fry
Mao Zedong
Zhou Enlai (24)
Magica De Spell (20)
Erlend Øye (Kings of Convenience) (26)
Alexander the Great (20)
Sacha Baron-Cohen (20)
Ben Roethlisberger (20)

New:
Shawn Fanning (inventor of Napster)
Damdin Sükhbataar (Mongolian revolution)
Daniel Boulud (French Chef)
Jonah Lehrer (Author; This blog)

Defeats:
J.M.W Turner
Bernard Fanning (lead singer of Powderfinger)
posted by flippant at 1:05 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Helena Blavatsky.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:21 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Omar Little in 14 questions that were getting eerily targeted.
posted by flippant at 1:25 AM on December 11, 2009


It's not very good at former presidents of small African republics...
posted by russm at 1:34 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


But it did get Fela Kuti!
posted by lalex at 1:37 AM on December 11, 2009


Also stumped it with Andre Breton.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:38 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


And it didn't know Pauline Oliveros either.

Also, I don't know the finer details of the citric acid cycle's regulatory mechanisms. So, seeing as how I've got a biochem final next week, s I should probably focus on that instead of reveling in the unbridled obscurity of my favorite cultural referents, via this thing.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 1:51 AM on December 11, 2009


CHRISTOPHER WALKEN! And I know I was wrong about some of the physical attributes.

I know that some people think this is lame and old hat, but I'm pretty sure this is dark magic in its purest form.

Also, one of the questions was "has your character ever been stuck in an object".
I cannot imagine what that would've lead to.
posted by lattiboy at 1:54 AM on December 11, 2009


Gurney Halleck in exactly 20. Jesus. Scary.
posted by Ryvar at 2:00 AM on December 11, 2009


This program will eventually absorb all nerd knowledge from the internet, like the Parasite run amok in a Comic-Con.
posted by benzenedream at 2:02 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I did it with Lazarus Long. The thing not only got it, but had a nice graphic of Lazarus I'd never seen. I'm impressed. I didn't think that many people still cared about Heinlein anymore.
posted by Goofyy at 2:38 AM on December 11, 2009


Holy crap.

It got The God Emperor of Mankind from Warhammer 40k in 20 questions. (Question 18: Is he an Emperor? Question 19: Does he wear armor?)

That's actually fairly impressive.
posted by Avenger at 2:38 AM on December 11, 2009


Nice. It got Death (YES THAT DEATH) in 15. It randomly asked me if my character used a Scythe and homed in from there.
posted by Mizu at 2:45 AM on December 11, 2009


Ha. Beat it with Andrew Jackson Libby Long. :-) Confusing character, both male and female.
posted by Goofyy at 2:45 AM on December 11, 2009


Great scott! It guessed Artie, the Strongest Man in the World, after 20 seemingly totally vague questions!

Dark magics indeed. And hey, now I get to give them a picture.
posted by Mizu at 2:52 AM on December 11, 2009


Did not get Enoch; did get Esau (eventually, and with the same contradictory frantic-ness others have noticed); got Jean Chretien very easily.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 2:52 AM on December 11, 2009


It didn't get Tariq Ramadan.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 2:59 AM on December 11, 2009


It also got .J.F Sebastian after 16 questions. (Most remarkable being: was your character in a movie? Did he die? Was he in love? Was he a scientist? Was he famous in the 80's?) Of course, that could have been Seth Brundle, too.
posted by Avenger at 3:06 AM on December 11, 2009


It didn't get Ralph Klein in 20, but got it in 40.
posted by Shepherd at 3:24 AM on December 11, 2009


I get confused by questions like "Is your character real?" I was thinking of Elvira. Is Elvira "real"? I went with "yes."
posted by Shepherd at 3:29 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Charles Atlas.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 3:30 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped with Charles Manson. It guessed Kenny Rogers. erm... I probably answered something wrong.
posted by tawny at 3:36 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I beat it a few times (characters from the musical Chess, John Reed, the main character of Green Day's American Idiot) but it has a surprising breadth - Lupin III, the God-Emperor Leto II, Beren Erchamion, Eugene Debs, Oscar Francoise de Jarjeyes... Also addictive. Must stop now.
posted by graymouser at 3:37 AM on December 11, 2009


How does it take 40 questions to get Osama bin Laden? Maybe when it asked "Is your character funny?" I shouldn't have said "Probably/Partially." I don't care what some cartoon genie on the internet says, *I* find him funny.
posted by him at 3:41 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It got Charles Darwin, and Che Guevara, but not C3PO (not in the 20 Qs anyway).
posted by jonesor at 3:43 AM on December 11, 2009


Clicking on 'Details' after answering the questions for yourself is enlightening. According to the chart, the genie expected me to be American and unmarried. When I said I wasn't either of those things, it got confused and took 40 questions to realise that I was thinking of myself. I guess we've learned something about web demographics today.
posted by him at 3:52 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pedobear in 12. Kind of creepy, kind of sad, kind of impressive.

"Has your character been accused of being a pedophile?"
posted by explosion at 3:57 AM on December 11, 2009


It wasn't able to get Starbuck from Moby Dick: it guessed Captain Ahab.
posted by gnossie at 4:05 AM on December 11, 2009


I knew it'd get Barack Obama, but I wanted to see the questions it asked. Essentially locked it in 11, but asked the 12th question anyway just to be sure:

"Has your character ever been in a Western?"
posted by explosion at 4:08 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Preserved Killick and Victor Calderone, but it guessed all my other characters so quickly and with such seemingly random questions that I am now searching my apartment for hidden cameras and wearing a tinfoil hat.
posted by elizardbits at 4:10 AM on December 11, 2009


It got Sgt. Hatred from the Venture Bros. ahhhhhhh creepy
posted by palidor at 4:28 AM on December 11, 2009


Without asking if the character likes young boy-girls.
posted by palidor at 4:29 AM on December 11, 2009


If you want to stump it, use characters from tabletop roleplaying games.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:29 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Peter Hogg, the pre-eminent scholar in canadian constitutional law. Interestingly, it asked me if my character was from the American continent, then brazil, latin america, etc, but never focused on Canada. Heartbreaking.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:39 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Le Corbusier and both Charles and Ray Eames.

Got Howard Roark. Easily. Bah.
posted by arha at 5:00 AM on December 11, 2009


Sonofabitch, it guessed the name of the guitarist from the metal band I was thinking of.

Which isn't all that impressive on its own, i guess, but the first three questions it asked were crazily on-point; most of these at least start broadly and then start narrowing it down by 6 or 7. This one opened with "is he a musician", "is he in a metal band", and "is the band a 5-some", and then went off the rails between 15 and 20 ("does he have a brother", "does he observe things", and another nearly-exact of a question asked earlier, slightly reworded) which leads me to think it probably had its answer in 6 or 7 questions. On a second replay, it's starting with broader questions, but it really zeroed in quickly the first time through. Creepy.
posted by Mayor West at 5:15 AM on December 11, 2009


Also, second in the list of recently-guessed people: zalgo. And it got it.
posted by Mayor West at 5:15 AM on December 11, 2009


I was thinking of Alexi Laiho and it guessed Petri Lindroos, but to be fair even experts can have a hard time telling the two apart. (It did eventually get Alexi, though).
posted by Wolfdog at 5:18 AM on December 11, 2009


Hot damn...it got John Glenn on the third guess.
posted by availablelight at 5:57 AM on December 11, 2009


I thought Janis Joplin and the FIRST question was "Is your character a singer?"
posted by cccorlew at 6:00 AM on December 11, 2009


Ah....but it couldn't guess Diane Arbus (though it offered me Ansel Adams at one point...sexist?)
posted by availablelight at 6:00 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Diana Krall.
posted by schleppo at 6:01 AM on December 11, 2009


I stumped it in 40 with Jonas, the main character from The Giver.
posted by The Confessor at 6:07 AM on December 11, 2009


Got Bob Mould in 20. Wow.

NOW, can it get Grant Hart?
posted by josher71 at 6:08 AM on December 11, 2009


I beat it with John Dee, Garry Winogrand and Raymond Carver.
posted by unSane at 6:10 AM on December 11, 2009


Caligula in 21, after guessing Cesar in 16. Did Caligula know Cleopatra and have blond hair? I'm guessing no to the first (he was born in 12 AD, she died in 30 BC), but I have no idea about the second.

The winning question was "did your character have a sister?". Why yes, Little Boots had his sister. Many times.
posted by autopilot at 6:20 AM on December 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Not only it knew Angua rather quickly, it has a quite nice picture of her.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:22 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stumped it with Joel Cairo from Casablanca.

20 degrees of Kevin Bacon. "Can your character be defeated?" Probably/partially.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:27 AM on December 11, 2009


I couldn't believe it didn't get Thomas Hardy. It was on roughly the right track - guessed Conan Doyle, then Charles Dickens, then Bram Stoker, then it conceded defeat.
posted by buxtonbluecat at 6:35 AM on December 11, 2009


Miles Vorkosigan in 18.
posted by Michael Roberts at 6:47 AM on December 11, 2009


It hasn't guessed any of mine yet:
James Burke
Doug Melton
Peter Singer
Seiji Ozawa
Adele Astaire
Hector Berlioz
Tim Powers (I thought it'd get that one!)
posted by underthehat at 6:48 AM on December 11, 2009


It got Linus Pauling in 30.
posted by underthehat at 6:51 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it entirely with Trent the Uncatchable.

I win!
posted by Michael Roberts at 6:53 AM on December 11, 2009


6. Is your character an adult man?
Yes.
7. Is your character a female?
??!?!


Orlando?
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:54 AM on December 11, 2009


I was amused by:
Q12. Does your character have a long tail? (A: YES)
Q13. Is your character a porn actor?
posted by Wolfdog at 7:00 AM on December 11, 2009


It's pretty awesome how powerful the "20 questions" algorithm can be. It has a lot more trouble with ancient people (got Justinian I but thought Lucretius was Ovid; it really wants people to have been politicians) because it has to go further to get them. But I did it with Alejandro Jodorowsky, and it was amazing how it meandered a while and then asked a couple of the right questions and it was inevitable (film director, Latin America, known for comics...).
posted by graymouser at 7:06 AM on December 11, 2009


I was thinking of Hank Kingsley, and it came up with George Bluth.
posted by Elmore at 7:20 AM on December 11, 2009


I stumped it with Bigwig from Watership Down, but it had him, Hazel and Fiver all on the checkbox screen at the end.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 7:23 AM on December 11, 2009


Ok, it got Johnny 5 and Poochie, but not Mary Bell or Damien Echols. I don't know what to make of that.
posted by giraffe at 7:24 AM on December 11, 2009


I stumped it. It asked me if my character was bad, I said yes, and it guessed Fat Charlie instead of Spider. Huh?
posted by arcticwoman at 7:26 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Orrin Hatch. Its guess was Barry Manilow.
posted by dickymilk at 7:31 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


How could it not have Joanne Woodward?! The woman won an Oscar.
posted by harperpitt at 7:33 AM on December 11, 2009


King of All Cosmos - correct
Jack Torrance - correct
Mark Sandman - thought it was Jeff Buckley at first, then got it
Woodstock - correct
The Narrator from Fight Club - thought it was Yossarian from Catch-22, then got it
Joseph Smith - thought it was Crazy Horse, then got it
Susie Derkins - thought it was my imaginary friend, then got it

this is fun.
posted by Lucinda at 7:39 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Kitty from Tipping the Velvet.
posted by arcticwoman at 7:44 AM on December 11, 2009


30: Are you the same age as your character? Yes.
31: Do you live in the same house as your character? Yes.
32: Do you share the same DNA? Yes.
33: Do you and your character have the same parents? Yes.
34: Does your character wear a medallion?
posted by wreckingball at 7:47 AM on December 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is great.

I thought I could stump it with Eric "Eazy-E" Wright and The Fall's Mark E. Smith, no such luck.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:17 AM on December 11, 2009


The crowdsourcing aspect of this is its genius. Of course it has all kinds of obscure people and characters- it has all kinds of people using them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:19 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with the the rapper Cam'ron. But, it guessed Dolemite, Chris Rock, George W. Bush, and Dr. Sheldon Cooper correctly.
posted by reenum at 8:27 AM on December 11, 2009


For Tyler Durden:
13: Does your character fight?
14: Is your character a member of a club?
posted by minifigs at 8:30 AM on December 11, 2009


For Tyler Durden:
13: Does your character fight?
14: Is your character a member of a club?


What, so Akinator gets to ask questions?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:32 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Has you character really existed? No
Is your character a human being? No
Does your character stand on two legs? No
Is your character an animal? No
Is your character a male? No
Is your character from a video game? No
Can you see picture of your character on the Internet? No
Am I too stupid to guess who your character is? No
Does your character use Linux? No
Do you know the name of your character? No
Has you character appeared in a romantic comedy? No
Is the name of your character also the name of another famous character? No
Does your character really exist? No
Has your character received any important awards? No
I think of: Someone who kept clicking on No to see what happens

Similar results for all yes, or all I don't know
posted by autopilot at 8:37 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


lattiboy:
Also, one of the questions was "has your character ever been stuck in an object".
I got that that question with my cat. It got it right, but the picture was not of any of my cats, so I feel like I won anyway.
posted by Epsilon-minus semi moron at 8:42 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Alexander Rozhenko.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:57 AM on December 11, 2009


I was going for Mr. Natural and it guessed John Arbuckle. He got Robert Crumb though
His smug expression when I was going for Mr. T and his eleventh(!) question was "is this character on a team?" pissed me off.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:57 AM on December 11, 2009


Blaine the Mono, from the Dark Tower series. In fourteen questions. How does it know? HOW?!

(I did, however, temporarily stump it with Vizzini from The Princess Bride. It got it in 26, though.)
posted by pseudonymph at 9:07 AM on December 11, 2009


Holy Crap, it KNEW I was thinking of "Sir Terry Pratchett."

Awesome. Despite asking me if my character was American, after I had already answered "yes" to, "Is your character English?"
posted by misha at 9:17 AM on December 11, 2009


Okay, I am now not so impressed. I thought of Agatha Christie's detective, Hercule Poirot, and it answered...Quasimodo.
posted by misha at 9:20 AM on December 11, 2009


CORY DOCTOROW, IN 18 QUESTIONS.

Is your character an insufferable douchebag?
posted by Ratio at 9:23 AM on December 11, 2009


STOP TEACHING IT. YOU ARE BRINGING ABOUT THE SINGULARITY.
posted by ErikaB at 9:28 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bugsy Malone - failed. It asked if he uses guns, but didn't ask if he used custard-shooting guns.

Stumped it with the Continental Op. The first guess, Philip Marlowe, was pretty close. The second, Odd Thomas [?], was way off. Third guess, Sam Spade.

#38. Is your character fat? Yes.
#40. Does your character live with his mother?

Fourth guess, Officer Farva from Super Troopers.

his eleventh(!) question was 'is this character on a team?'

I see what he did there.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:29 AM on December 11, 2009


I stumped it with Frank Gehry (it offered me Richard Meier). Then it took another 10 or so additional questions before it guessed Gehry.
posted by yeti at 9:32 AM on December 11, 2009


Hah! Stumped it with Bob "Bob2" Mothersbaugh from Devo after about 40 questions.

It's kind of interesting how even though I gave very clear and specific answers to most of the questions, the algorithm went progressively further and further off-track the longer it went. First it guessed Steve Albini, which I thought was admirably close. A few questions later, it guessed Mike Carden from The Academy Is..., which was still kind of close but veered into entirely the wrong era of alt-rock. After about another 10 questions that seemed to center around whether my guy had any tattoos, it guessed Angus Young from AC/DC, even after I had expressly told it twice that my guy wasn't connected to heavy metal. After that, it asked me if my guy was had white skin, and then it guessed ALAN ARKIN (of course!) before giving up. I don't know why Arkin was only one step away from Angus, but there you are.

It's almost as though my talking to it made it stupider. De-evolution in action?
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:34 AM on December 11, 2009


I was thinking of Ceiling Cat, and it first guesses "Long Cat". Then it narrowed it down, with questions like, "Does your character play the piano?" So I figured someone here *narrows eyes, looks around suspiciously* must have tried Keyboard Cat. Finally got Ceiling Cat, though.
posted by misha at 9:36 AM on December 11, 2009


Lemmy in 16 questions.
posted by fings at 9:46 AM on December 11, 2009


Spyware Alert - The sleazy ads on this site are triggering the Google Chrome spyware alert. The site tried to install "Antivar".
posted by chipr at 10:14 AM on December 11, 2009


I like how Jessamyn is already listed as a possible character, it didn't guess that when I tried playing with it though.
posted by so_ at 10:22 AM on December 11, 2009


I stumped it with Mentat Piter DeVries.
posted by Ratio at 10:43 AM on December 11, 2009


The Details is very interesting. It will actually ask questions where the expected answer is unknown, or where the expected answer is "not sure". I guess that's part of the beauty of learning from the answers.
posted by smackfu at 10:49 AM on December 11, 2009


It seems to always follow this line of questions:

Is the character a woman? Yes.
Is the character a singer? No.
Is the character a porn star?

Kind of depressing.
posted by smackfu at 11:12 AM on December 11, 2009


"Has your character played with Richard Gere?" Really?
posted by smackfu at 11:38 AM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Ricky Jay
posted by jefftang at 12:46 PM on December 11, 2009


Ha! It guessed Clippy.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:37 PM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it with Heber C. Kimball. For those who aren't Mormon history geeks, he was Brigham Young's right-hand man. It guessed Brigham himself, though. Then it guessed Joseph Smith. And then it guessed Anton LaVey. Oh dear.
posted by eritain at 1:43 PM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is pretty terrible at composers that aren't Wagner, Mahler, or Beethoven. It has failed on Rautavaara, Nielsen, Berg, Mendelssohn, Hindemith, and if I remember correctly it took more than 20 to get Stravinsky.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:45 PM on December 11, 2009


Stumped it on Mikhail Baryshnikov, but it did get my other few.

But as it says, we're all teaching it a lot today.
posted by NoraCharles at 2:03 PM on December 11, 2009


It didn't guess Binx Bolling. Then I gave it the answer and it still didn't get it. Hmmmm...and I so wanted to be awed.
posted by Skygazer at 2:03 PM on December 11, 2009


stumped with miguel cardoso
posted by Stewriffic at 3:00 PM on December 11, 2009


From April:

rubah wins: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rinoa Heartilly, Laika, Mr. Popper
Akinator wins: The Shrike, Elizabeth Bennett

posted by rubah at 6:40 PM on December 11, 2009


wow this thing is impressive. from me its got:

clippy (microsoft office paper clip)
glorfindel (obscure LotR elf)
Tom Bombadil's wife (forget her name now)
salacious crumb (jabba the hutt's weird pet creature)
posted by captain cosine at 7:35 PM on December 11, 2009


The Details is very interesting. It will actually ask questions where the expected answer is unknown, or where the expected answer is "not sure". I guess that's part of the beauty of learning from the answers.

Aha! Yes, and I wonder if that explains why it sometimes asks questions that it already "should" know the answer to. "Is your character an adult male?" YES. ... "Is your character female?"

I'm guessing it doesn't "know" that "male" and "female" are (usually) mutually exclusive. It just keeps track of the answers to both questions. And sometimes it turns out that it's figured out who you're talking about, it's got an answer stored for him on the "male" question, but it doesn't have an answer stored on the "female" one — so it asks.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:21 PM on December 11, 2009


it got talkie toaster in 26!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:40 PM on December 11, 2009


Hm. It gave me CJ Craig, and I managed to stump it with Iris Chang, Tara Donovan, Monica Ali, and the title character from the cartoon Calimero.
posted by vespertine at 11:58 PM on December 11, 2009


I picked CJ from the West Wing, too.

"Is your character a beautiful woman?”
Given answer: Yes Expected answer: Probably

That’s harsh man.
posted by oxford blue at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2009


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