Dilbert search engine

Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to search through the Dilbert archives using text?

This used to be possible at Dilbert.com some years ago, as a paid service. In late 2003, I needed to find some Dilbert strips for a client, so I’d subscribed for a year. I could then search for the quotes (I happened to be looking for "outsourcing", so you can guess the context).

But I can’t seem to find the feature any more, even as a paid service. The site looks a lot better, of course. But I can’t find strips.

Well, why not type them out? After all, I’d done that with Calvin and Hobbes.

This would be a much larger exercise, though. And I’m hoping to take your help. I’ve set up a site at dilbert-search.appspot.com. You can type in a comic randomly, starting from 2000. These will be made searchable on my Dilbert page. You can export the data and use it yourself, of course.

When typing in Calvin and Hobbes, I did have a few volunteers willing to pitch in, but collaboration tools weren’t easy to set up, and I ended up typing the whole thing myself. This time, I’d be delighted if even 10 people typed in just a strip each.

So, here’s my request, to all you Dilbert fans.

  1. Please go to dilbert-search.appspot.com
  2. Log in using your Google account and type in as many strips as you like
  3. Bookmark it for the future, whenever you’re bored

As I said, the data is readily exportable from the page, so if you’re looking to do cool mash-ups with it, great! And if you want the data exported in other formats, please let me know.

Incidentally, I created the site using Google AppEngine. The source code is at dilbert-search.googlecode.com.

  1. Dibyo says:

    Stud: I suggest that you add an option of putting tags on the comic strip apart from just the transcribed script. It might be useful while searching. I’ll contribute in the meanwhile.

  2. S Anand says:

    Thanks, Dibyo.

    Regarding the tags, since full text search will be supported, you could just add any additional tags in brackets at the bottom. I don’t want to complicate the data structure just yet.

  3. Vanaja Sarma says:

    Hey Anand

    How about using these links…the first to search by keyword and the second for the actual strip using date


  4. S Anand says:

    @Vanaja: I’ve used the Dilbert strip finder before, and it’s great. But it doesn’t seem to be updated, and it doesn’t have the actual words in the comic, which is what I’m hoping to correct.

  5. Thangaraj says:

    I found a list of characters with image in the URL below. Guess you could link it to this in the typing page since its easier to check which character it is.


  6. Elleana says:

    I can’t wait until we’re done with the Dilbert database. I actually found your site a while ago because I was searching for a Calvin and Hobbes strip.

  7. S Anand says:

    @Thangaraj: Thanks. Will link to it.
    @Elleana: Me too! We’re done with about a year’s worth of work now. Hope to have everything done by end of 2008.

  8. Marty says:

    I’ve been using Dilbert search engines to find a specific cartoon for a while now. I read it in one of the books. I recall it being a square book with four frames per page. A woman is telling a man about how her husband mooned a zoo animal and was killed by it. The man in the frame is trying not to laugh so hard that his heart blows out his back. Can anyone help me find this cartoon? I’d love to see it again.

  9. CCurly says:

    This list (http://john.ccac.rwth-aachen.de:8000/ftp/dilbert/dilbert.txt) is almost complete, but for years earlier than 1995 the index is not a date but a reference to a Dilbert book. I see some spelling errors also, and it’s missing the “who said it” part. Perhaps it’s usable as a way to get some content, and you could let people check the text in stead of having them type it.

    Love the idea !!

  10. S Anand says:

    Thanks CCurly! This looks to be a useful resource. A lot of strips are incomplete, but it will definitely help accelerate the effort. I’ll see if I can parse it and get the data in.

  11. Sid Shniad says:

    I’m looking for the following Dilbert cartoon, but had no luck on your site. Is there any chance you could find it and send it my way? Thanks. (It ran in 2003, possibly August 9.)

    Sid Shniad

    dilbert: i have some disturbing news.

    dilbert: we outsourced our customer-service function to india a few years ago.

    pointy haired boss: so?

    dilbert: apparently, they subcontracted the job to mexico.

    dilbert: then mexico sub-contracted to vietnam, who sub-contracted to the philippines…

    dilbert: …who subcontracted it to us.

    dilbert: it turns out that we’re the lowest cost provider, because we lie about our hold times.

    dilbert: in summary, we pay ourselves to hose ourselves.

    dilbert: are you thinking what i’m thinking?

    pointy haired boss: we should raise our prices?

  12. BlueBird says:

    I sent Scott Adams a suggestion and he made a strip from it, and like a dummy I put the paper in recycling before I saved the strip. Can you help me? It was about a co-worker who stood and talked to someone else, killing time at another co-worker’s expense, until it was time for him (1st guy) to either go to lunch or go home. Then he leaves and his victimn has to stay late to get his/her work finished. Since the boss doesn’t know from computers, the guy just stands and throws out computing terms in relative nonsense until he’s ready to clear out.
    I think it ran on a Thursday about a year, to two years ago. I’d love to find a copy of it. (He’s still doing it)I suggested to Mr. Adams that he make the character very fat, with suspenders, and I think he did. Thanks!

  13. Paul says:

    I have transcribed the text from 11-14-2003 to the present, including which character say it. You could probably reformat it to work for you. Also, on dilbert.com you can now view strips all the way back to the beginning. Let me know if you want me to email it to you or something.

  14. adrian says:

    Heya! I love the Dilbert search page. I made my own and typed a lot of strips, but deleted the database without a backup. Doh! Then I found yours. But, the page seems to have issues right now. It’s slow to view and usually crashes with an error. Please fix it so I can enter lots of strips!~ Also thanks for making the data easily downloadable.

  15. TelDaMan says:

    Hey Anand, this is really excellent work! About a year ago I started trawling for the text and strips and found some really good resources, including yours. Thanks!!
    My website http://dilbert.is-a-geek.com/ automatically updates every day with new strips. It also OCR’s the text on the strip and comes up a 80%+ guess on the words and then indexes them. Sadly I have to manually edit each strip to fix up the words to 100%. My next phase is to get visual recognisation going for the characters so it knows ‘who said what’. My final aim is to get “deep searching” setup. This should help find strips really easily (based on test, pictures, etc) as well as suggest other strips 🙂