This Page Intentionally Left Blank
December 10, 2004 9:24 PM   Subscribe

This Page Intentionally Left Blank. You just figure someone had to do it. In fact, it appears to be catching on all over.
posted by Devils Rancher (59 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Oops, I missed a pretty good one.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:27 PM on December 10, 2004


[this comment intentionally left blank]
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:28 PM on December 10, 2004



posted by neckro23 at 9:29 PM on December 10, 2004


[this comment intentionally left blank]

Eeexcellent. As a rank newbie, I feel humbled an honored by your contribution to the discussion of my second FPP. *blush*
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:36 PM on December 10, 2004


An interesting BBC article on this practice. It's an interesting read.

My favourite quote:
Some theorize that it is a koan, a statement devoid of meaning designed to bring the minds of those that read it to a higher state of being. Others believe that its purpose is to generate confusion in the hardy souls who actually attempt to read instruction manuals, thus making it even more difficult to understand what the manual is about.

Funny. That last part could summarize a vast majority of the web content that I'm subjected too on a day-to-day basis.
posted by purephase at 9:36 PM on December 10, 2004


People are bitchin' about a helicopter survival story cuz it's a self post, but this is Best of the Web?

Matt- can I have my $5 back?
posted by Doohickie at 9:38 PM on December 10, 2004


oblig
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:41 PM on December 10, 2004


And me, huh, how about me? Are you honoured by me, huh?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 9:43 PM on December 10, 2004


Sometimes you can just smell someone trying to start a meme, hoping it will catch on so they can say they started it, even going so far as to justify them philosophically. These tend to be pretty stupid and have a fake vibe to them anyway, until they are lent credibility by other people who are so desperate to be a part of anything that they'll grab on to even the stupid ones.

Anyway, this one's particularly dumb. Although I guess most memes are, even the real ones... and here I am wasting my time talking about it...
posted by theslarty at 9:47 PM on December 10, 2004


This post is like that guy who got in the Guinness book by collecting the largest amount of coyote feces by volume.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:48 PM on December 10, 2004


People are bitchin' about a helicopter survival story cuz it's a self post, but this is Best of the Web?

Matt- can I have my $5 back?


From the "about" page: Metafilter is a weblog that anyone can contribute a link or a comment to. A typical weblog is one person posting their thoughts on the unique things they find on the web. This website exists to break down the barriers between people, to extend a weblog beyond just one person, and to foster discussion among its members.

Nowhere there, or on the front page do I find anything about this "best" business. I submit that the web, such as it is, wouldn't be itself without the cruft, lunacy, inanity and wastes of space. Humanity in all it's tattered pageantry is what it's all about. Think I'll scan some old phone bills and up the imgs to my site.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:49 PM on December 10, 2004


After becoming a member, check out some of the links and think about leaving a comment or two. If you stick around for a while, you'll get a feel for what types of things are posted as links, and if you find something amazing and/or enlightening, please post it.

Some theorize that it is a koan, a statement devoid of meaning designed to bring the minds of those that read it to a higher state of being.

Seems to go hand in hand with what Metafilter is looking for.

*transcends physical reality*
posted by mic stand at 9:50 PM on December 10, 2004


And me, huh, how about me? Are you honoured by me, huh?

Where's quonsar?
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:53 PM on December 10, 2004


Re: 'best of web'

You was thinkin' what I was thinkin' Devils Rancher. Must be that higher state of being we've obtained.
posted by mic stand at 9:54 PM on December 10, 2004


From the article: In former times printed manuals had some blank pages, usually with the remark “this page intentionally left blank”. In most cases there had been technical reasons for that.

Anyone want to enlighten me as to what those technical reasons were? I thought those pages were for notes.
posted by dowingba at 9:55 PM on December 10, 2004


This is the perfect example of inane.
posted by Plinko at 9:56 PM on December 10, 2004


"Where's quonsar?"

The fish in his pants had an emergency, so he had to go to the hospital for a sea-section.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:57 PM on December 10, 2004 [1 favorite]


This page intentionally left incrediblyinane.

On preview: there's that higher state, Plinko.
posted by metaculpa at 9:57 PM on December 10, 2004


Where's Corey Feldman when you need him?
posted by WebToy at 9:58 PM on December 10, 2004


The beauty of it for me is the contradiction. A page with the phrase smack dab in the middle of it, by definition, is no longer blank. For some reason, I've always enjoyed the irony of that since I first caught one in a phone bill 20 years ago.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:00 PM on December 10, 2004


best of the web.
posted by quonsar at 10:00 PM on December 10, 2004


I'll give you a higher state!

[groan]
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:01 PM on December 10, 2004


The fish in his pants had an emergency, so he had to go to the hospital for a sea-section.

you sunk my battleship!
posted by moonbird at 10:01 PM on December 10, 2004


A mere tragedy of the commons, that's all.
posted by WebToy at 10:02 PM on December 10, 2004


Anyone want to enlighten me as to what those technical reasons were? I thought those pages were for notes.

Book are bound in signatures, or sheets of paper folded over and sewn together. If you have two sheets of paper, place them on top of each other and fold them over together, you have eight pages. If your book has only seven pages of text, one would be blank.
posted by marxchivist at 10:07 PM on December 10, 2004


Devils Rancher... don't worry, your chance is coming. One of these days I'll make my first FPP and you can ream me. Then we'll buy each other a beer at a Meetup and laugh about it.
posted by Doohickie at 10:09 PM on December 10, 2004


For some reason, I've always enjoyed the irony of that since I first caught one in a phone bill 20 years ago.
Well, let this be the end of it then.
posted by WebToy at 10:10 PM on December 10, 2004


I know this should be in meta, so don't mention that it should be. Also, don't mention that it should be and I posted it here anyway.

for fucks sake. this is best of the web huh? jesus. this is really going downhill.
posted by puke & cry at 10:18 PM on December 10, 2004


Devils Rancher... don't worry, your chance is coming. One of these days I'll make my first FPP and you can ream me. Then we'll buy each other a beer at a Meetup and laugh about it.

Deal. I won't let 'em rattle me in the meantime.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:18 PM on December 10, 2004


The fact that a huge number of these damned pages are all collected in one FPP (plus thread) makes this, if not the Best Thread About Blank Pages On The Web, certainly way the hell up there.

We're achieving "Best Of The Web" without even trying.

Fer g-d's sake, people. Chill. Thirty-seven-thousand-odd posts in, and you still don't know what "Best" means?
posted by chicobangs at 10:24 PM on December 10, 2004


I always found it funny too - used it for a zine cover a long time ago: issue 1 & 2 are here but never scanned the third which was a failed report card...
posted by mdn at 10:24 PM on December 10, 2004


This mind / cartridge / facial expression / verse / check intentionally left blank
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:27 PM on December 10, 2004


Actually, when you are talking about technical manuals or blueprints, pages that are left blank for future use are important to be labelled as such. I always thought it was goofy when I saw that, but it really makes sense sometimes.

This isn't that bad of an FPP. Doohickie, maybe you should take your 5 bucks back.
posted by Eekacat at 10:32 PM on December 10, 2004



posted by AlexReynolds at 10:46 PM on December 10, 2004


Anyone want to enlighten me as to what those technical reasons were? I thought those pages were for notes.

Book are bound in signatures, or sheets of paper folded over and sewn together. If you have two sheets of paper, place them on top of each other and fold them over together, you have eight pages. If your book has only seven pages of text, one would be blank.


It does apply to bound books to a certain extent, but much more so to manuals produced for a three-ring binder, which describes a lot of non-retail software documentation. A blank page could be an assembly or photocopying mistake.

There is also an aesthetic desire to start new chapters on a right-sided page, so a lot of chapter-endings have 'intentional' blanks rolling over to the next left side.
posted by dhartung at 10:59 PM on December 10, 2004


The reason they mark the pages "This Page Intentionally Left Blank" is so someone knows for sure they aren't in fact missing a page from a document. If it were merely blank, there could be some doubt as to whether it just got skipped in the copy machine. This seems kind of ludicrous nowadays, but it wasn't so long ago that copier page feeders and sorters were notoriously unreliable, and getting a few blank sheets by mistake was too common.

And I was just kiddin' about the five bucks. Matt's got a growing family to support.
posted by Doohickie at 11:02 PM on December 10, 2004


A blank page could be an assembly or photocopying mistake.

in which case it wouldn't be "intentional".
And you really don't see the phrase in actually bound books. There are just occasionally some blank pages, but not with claim stamped across them...
posted by mdn at 11:02 PM on December 10, 2004


I first learned about it as a geeky 8th grader playing Zork I on my buddies Commodore 64. It was an inside joke within the game. After having played Zork I and becoming a geek with an EE degree a lot of the inside jokes became clear, or I became part of the actual insiders I guess. Even when I started working at the Cray side of SGI and I first saw it on an actual paper manual for a product I was working on my first thought was Zork.
posted by substrate at 11:03 PM on December 10, 2004


.
posted by Vidiot at 11:20 PM on December 10, 2004


god damn dhartung, you just confused the shit outta me.
posted by puke & cry at 11:43 PM on December 10, 2004


We still use this in our manuals at work. Then again, most of the folks who wrote them worked with mainframes the size of small buses "back in the day."
posted by pzarquon at 11:45 PM on December 10, 2004


I used to know a web personality named LeftBlank. He was pretty cool.
posted by Slagman at 11:59 PM on December 10, 2004


Aw, I was gonna be the first smartass to leave my comment intentionally blank. Damnit.
posted by jimmythefish at 1:31 AM on December 11, 2004


I think this is a fine post.

used it for a zine cover a long time ago

The year 2000 is "a long time ago"?!
*mutters unintelligibly*
posted by languagehat at 7:19 AM on December 11, 2004


A blank page could be an assembly or photocopying mistake.

in which case it wouldn't be "intentional".


Right. So for those ones, the owner of the manual would investigate. Are they missing a page? Is this blank page merely an extra sheet of paper? While the ones that were intentionally left blank would be marked as intentional, so no one would have to wonder if there was a problem.

Someone once told me that 'intionally left blank' was invented by IBM for their mainframe manuals, but, frankly, if you work at IBM for long enough, someone will tell you that IBM invented the wheel, and fire, too, so I have no idea if that's actually true or not.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:40 AM on December 11, 2004


This chapter intentionally left blank.
posted by kenko at 7:52 AM on December 11, 2004


And there's a plastic card in my wallet with the printed statement, "This Card Intentionally Left Blank". It came with my Blue Cross card. I don't know what the technical reason could have been for stamping two cards out of the envelope-sized plastic sheet.
posted by sighmoan at 10:19 AM on December 11, 2004


MetaFilter: You can ream me at the meetup.
posted by jefbla at 10:34 AM on December 11, 2004


The practice did originate to prevent people from wondering if there was a production error.

However, it's stupid. First, by printing that phrase on it, you ensure that the page is not, in fact, blank. Second, most manuals have a header and a footer on each page. A totally blank page is definitely a sign of trouble. (If your companies are producing manuals that don't, I suggest they start, to avoid the temptation to use this stupid phrase.) Third, it's common practice to generate page numbers as "page x of y." So there's an easy way to check if the blank page is a problem.

It was always inane. Let it die.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:34 AM on December 11, 2004


Kirth gets it.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:39 AM on December 11, 2004


Back in the day, IBM mainframe manuals had a generous sprinkling of "This page intentionally left blank" pages for the reasons mentioned above. Amdahl, an IBM competitor, made it a point to never duplicate anything IBM did. So, their manual pages were marked "This page left blank intentionally".
posted by Daddio at 10:51 AM on December 11, 2004


The year 2000 is "a long time ago"?!
*mutters unintelligibly*


ha. It feels like a long time ago. But you're right, it's not really... maybe just the print culture seems so long ago. Maybe I'm just feeling old, and I remember feeling (mostly) young when I was writing that stuff (yes kids, it can happen quick).

Right. So for those ones, the owner of the manual would investigate. Are they missing a page? Is this blank page merely an extra sheet of paper? While the ones that were intentionally left blank would be marked as intentional, so no one would have to wonder if there was a problem.

Sure, but the problem was, what possible purpose would there be to intentionally leave a page blank? I thought the person above was suggesting that sometimes a mistake would lead to a blank page which would get stamped with this in the next copying (ie, if it were on the back of a page that needed to stay, etc) to assure people that although there's a blank page, nothing's missing - but then it wouldn't actually be "intentional", though I suppose you could argue that it would have been "intentionally left" that way.

Notes? You would just create a page that said "notes"... Aesthetics of starting on the right hand side? If it's actually aesthetically preferable, it should look natural, which is to say, no one will wonder if the page is blank on purpose... but again, I suppose this is possible, as people (non-professionals putting together a manual) might not think it would look natural to start on the left, despite the fact that when book chapters do this, readers won't generally notice.

posted by mdn at 11:51 AM on December 11, 2004


If you revise a manual, you sometimes delete whole pages. Back in the day before word processors that could repaginate on a whim, it would be easier just to leave a blank space to keep the page numbering consistent and so that you wouldn't have to reprint the whole manual. You see lots of intentional blankness in 1960's technical documentation. It's like a step up from the "errata" sheet.

Sighmoan: my bet would be that your blank card is there in case a poilcy-holder has a spouse entitled to coverage and a card of their own. Not having one (and here I am assuming), they would leave your second card blank.
posted by cardboard at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2004


It's obsolete and anachronistic; it always was an oxymoron (and on many oxymoron lists, including mine).

So, obviously, its a viable meme. And, if not the Best of the Web, the Good of the Web.

Of course, the critics of this post would've made their points much better if This Comment Thread Were Left Intentionally Blank. But that applies to most of the criticisms here...

I don't WANT to be exposed to blank.
posted by wendell at 12:14 PM on December 11, 2004


Metafilter: lots of intentional blankness
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:50 PM on December 11, 2004


I once finished an exam an hour and a half early, so wrote "Ode to a Blank Page" on one of the many intentionally left blanks. Good times.
posted by Orange Goblin at 2:54 AM on December 12, 2004


This page intentionally Left Banke.
posted by flashboy at 3:37 AM on December 12, 2004


This reminds me of those "end of the Internet" pages that used to be so popular.
posted by etoile at 7:27 AM on December 13, 2004




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