10 Clever and Confusing Flowcharts


It's been almost a year since I shared my ever-growing collection of helpful and not-so-helpful flowcharts found on the internet. The list has grown, and some of the latest flowcharts explain everything from how to date your cousin to picking up food from the floor.

1. Should I Work for Free?

This may sound like a silly question, but sooner or later, each of us will confront a situation in which we are asked to provide free labor, time, or talent. Don't dismiss the question; there may be intangible rewards to consider. This handy chart by Jessica Hische starts in the middle (shown here) and leads you through many possibilities before helping you decide. Bonus: you can select this flow chart in different languages and even the original "sailor-mouth" version.

2. Na

Song lyrics lend themselves well to flow charts. Leave it to Randall Munroe to come up with a multi-use flow chart. This one at xkcd charts several songs at once. Of course, it ultimately highlights the importance of a melody.

3. Should You Eat Dropped Food?

You dropped food on the floor. Should you eat it? Audrey Fukuman and Andy Wright constructed a flowchart with their advice. Whether you follow their advice is up to you.

4. Understanding the Web

Since you are here, you probably know how to get around the internet. However, there exists a flowchart designed for explaining it to those who don't: specifically, to a 19th century street urchin, as depicted in the works of Charles Dickens. Doogie Horner produced this chart for his book Everything Explained Through Flowcharts. The flowchart does not so much explain the internet as it explains the importance of relating to your student's background and level of understanding when explaining anything.

5. Forgetfulness

What do you do when you're talking to someone you know, but you can't recall his name? This tongue-in-cheek flowchart from MontyGeer at College Humor gives you some strategies to try out, which ultimately lead to other results besides remembering your friend's name.

6. Can We Date?

One person is not asking the other person to date here. The question concerns the appropriateness of the potential relationship. The helpful flowchart by Jennifer Daniel begins with three reasons you might ask such a question: do the two of you have a professional relationship? Are you related by some kind of kinship? And then there's the "other" category which is just plain weird. Only a few of the many scenarios are shown here. You will have to enlarge the chart to follow any of these convoluted decisions.

7. Dear Happy Internet Traveler

Orange Coat Web Design has such a popular error page that they eventually felt obligated to make it available even where there is no error. A couple of suggestions for what to do is standard on a 404 page, but sympathetic text on a geeky flowchart goes a long way toward deflecting anger over the error. Only a portion of the chart is shown here.

8. What Would Richard Feynman Do?

This flowchart explains physicist Richard Feynman in the most simplistic terms possible. It was produced by Wellington Grey, who has deleted his original posts from the internet without explanation. And that's a pity.

9. Learning to Cook

Learning to prepare food is a lifelong process, with stops and starts depending on your ambition and confidence level. This flowchart from xkcd is not advice; it's a schematic of what actually happens.

10. A Place to Pee

A decision no adult should need a flowchart for is where to relieve oneself. However, if there's one thing the internet has plenty of, it's charts we don't need. They can be entertaining, after all. This one was produced by Jeff Wysaski at Pleated Jeans. Only the beginning is shown here.

See more funny and/or useful flowcharts in these other mental_floss posts:
Run Your Life with Flowcharts!
Fun with Flowcharts
7 Geeky Flowcharts
7 Brilliant and/or Baffling Flowcharts
7 Flowcharts for Fun
10 Funny Flowcharts