How to Help a Friend Answer Deep, Troubling Questions

Good news everybody, we have a new sponsor! For the next two weeks Basic Instructions is being brought to you by the good people at Diffen, the website where you can compare anything.

Diffen is one of those ideas you can’t believe you didn’t think of first. It looks like a search engine where you search for two things at once, but when you’ve entered your two searches, instead of web links, you’re given a very clean looking breakdown of how the two things are similar, and how they are different.

If you’re like me, your first thought was to compare two things you’re considering buying, but there are other possibilities. Diffen has been hard at work creating unbiased comparisons of the policies and histories of various politicians as a tool for the undecided voter.  Here are two examples. (Example 1, Example 2) Just like Wikipedia, you can create new comparisons or improve existing ones.

Please go to to check them out, and also, please join me in thanking them for their support of Basic Instructions.

And, as always, thanks for using my Amazon Affiliate links  (USUKCanada).

« How to React When Someone's Beliefs Sound Crazy to You | How to Tell a Tale of Suspense »

Reader Comments (28)

I of course saw the banner and immediately checked out how it compared Scott and Jenkins. Then I came back to scroll down and read the comic and news post.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNonsensicles

Custom ads! I think more highly of Diffen already. I also have a strange urge to pronounce it diff-EN, with an absurd emphasis on the second syllable.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSoul of Wit

I love Ric's argument in panel 2. As for panel 4, now I'm curious.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaige

Your Diffen ads lead me to believe Jenkins now gets less respect in the comic than Rick does. If that's even possible.

September 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermisterfweem

Thank you, Scott, for the all-around awesomeness. I probably told you this earlier... this is the first time we've done advertising for Diffen. There could have been no better start.

Note from Scott: No, thank you for supporting this weird comic of mine.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick Jasuja

Quick suggestion about the advertisements, is it possible to have them be grayscale to match the comic/website?

Note from Scott: I tried that with my first sponsor. People complained that they didn't notice the ads without a pop of color.

Also, people tend to want you not to mess with their logo. If someone colorized my logo, I'd probably ask them to change it back.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFranpa

Diffen looks useful and fun. A bunch of my searches worked well, but I stumped it with Kirk vs Spock as well as Sulu vs Chekov. Seems we have work to do.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave

it's true and I hated the red border, I guess I just will never agree with you about the ads.


September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFranpa

I only disabled the one near the Donate button, the one up top I didn't block as it kept the page balanced with your DI logo.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFranpa

I am bookmarking apples vs oranges for future reference.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Miller

I wanted to see how diverse Diffen was. But I didn't come up with much insight when I compared "Ford Fiesta vs. Mitt Romney" or "Bacon vs. Turtles".

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKozz

i hope scott _always_ appears on the right hand side of the diff en comparrison (he did in vs jenkins, vs mitt romeny, and vs barak obama no matter which search box i put him in) since his 'picture' has a menacing glare towards to left box.


September 10, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterirrogical

Oh, this is a great day. Loved panel 2!

Then I decided to take a quick look at Diffen -- and now I have a tv-tropes-load of tabs open. Sheesh, thanks!

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I had a quick look at the Obama vs Romney comparison. I was interested to note that Obama's political party is listed with dates (1979 - present) as is Romney's wife (1969 - present). Is the implication that Obama is going to choose a new party and Romney is considering a new Mrs?

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoss

I tried Ginger vs. May Ann. Nada. Maybe I wasn't giving it enough to go on...

Also, Rick has legitimate concerns about cremation. Could end up with an out of control grease fire.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterR. Dan

Can you people please stop complaining about the ads?
It's obvious Scott won't be able to please everybody, so as long as they just sit there, and don't try to scroll down the page when we do or otherwise interrupt our comic-reading pleasure,
PLEASE, live with it.
By the way,
LTIS (laughed 'till I squeaked)

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDee

Diffen completely failed when I asked it Lewis Carroll's "why is a raven like a writing desk?" Hmph. I suppose it could be useful for some things.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRedshift

Scott, not sure how well Diffen works. I tried comparing a ham sandwich to a Honda Accord. Not much info I could use there. Guess I'll have to taste both in order to figure it out.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric

Your funeral is the only thing you can totally blow off without suffering any consequences...

What a great nugget of wisdom. I love it - it's going to be one of my 'favorite quotes' from now on. You will be immortalized in my circle of friends.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBuck Flicks

@Dave: Yeah, I tried William Shatner vs. Wil Wheaton and got nothing.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGiondi

I tried asking about "man vs. nature", "man vs. superman", "man vs. beast", and comparisons of various sexual body parts. I also compared Star Trek characters, historical dictators, and actors. It was difficult to think of something that Diffen is capable of comparing. This website couldn't even do "shark vs. crocodile" and compare them on any of the same standards. But now that I know you use it to compare products to buy, I imagine it is useful afterall.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrady Kj

@Dave, @Brady, @Giondi, @RedShift, @R. Dan, @Kozz and everyone who tried Diffen,

1. Thanks!
2. Diffen is like Wikipedia and not Google or Siri. It's not really a search engine. If it has the info, it shows you the info. If it doesn't, it allows you to create the comparison.

September 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick Jasuja

Good funny strip. And in my experience, a fair number of Boomers (I'm one) have definite opinions about the future disposal of their remains. I know one person who vows to come back and haunt anyone who puts artificial flowers anywhere near her grave, a couple of people who want to be buried in cheap cardboard coffins and are adamantly against any kind of embalming, someone else who wants to be sent to a body farm, and two or three cremate-me-and-scatter-me-in-rivers people. I'd like to be set out in a remote area as vulture food, but it's apparently illegal. Dang.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

I just checked out Diffen, and read the differences between gas dryers and electric dryers. I decided that my next dryer will be an electric one. Thanks. :-)

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouise

" If someone colorized my logo, I'd probably ask them to change it back."

I see what you did there.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeekoid

I like the splash of color on the page myself. Frames the comic nicely.

diff en looks like it has some potential, but having to enter a Captcha every time is deal-breaker for me. Can even read the things half the time.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersnowdog

I feel so gratified to have been the first person to edit "Man vs Muppet' on Diffen. Thank you, Scott.

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLibby

Panel 2 ftw!

Maybe you can blow off your funeral without suffering consequences, but you'd better get your obituary written anyway!!! My sister and I have a collection of obituaries from the local paper that are hilarious--one of them talks more about the achievements of the deceased's relatives than the deceased.

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna
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