Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

A Web game to test your linking skills.
March 7 1998 3:30 AM

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

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The rules are simple. We give you two Web addresses. You start at the first one and try to hot link your way to the second using as few links as possible. For example, you can get from the White House to the FBI in a scant four links (a more direct route than most subpoenaed documents take).

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Start:

Seth Stevenson Seth Stevenson

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

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Obviously, you don't have to count every page you visit as you search for the shortest route--only the shortest route itself. But:

Each link to a new page (even within the same site) counts as one step.

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Links to Web search engines are not allowed.

It's cheating to link through a Web page you control or have created.

(It's also cheating in spirit to use site-specific search engines instead of roaming the sites yourself, but we have no way to catch you.)

We reserve the right to add new rules as you figure out new loopholes.

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Puzzle No. 2, linking French philosopher Michel Foucault to TV star/dolphin Flipper, proved far more difficult than puzzle No. 1. One frustrated reader wrote in: "If there were only five links on each page, do you realize that there would be over one hundred and fifty billion (152,587,890,625) permutations? ... Heck, it'd be easier to win the lottery than it would be to guess which 16 links you'd taken to get to Flipper!" Still, many intrepid souls found solutions, and almost all of them did it in fewer than 16 links. Our winner? Mike Daddino, the first person to go from Foucault to Flipper in nine links, used what he refers to as "one cool, soon-to-be-outlawed loophole." Daddino's solution, in his own words:

Start here. Click either Ben's Home Page or Ben Attias. This takes you ...

here. There's a list of links toward the bottom. Click Electronic Frontier Foundation Alerts, which takes you ...

to this site. Click Free Speech (blue box) to go ...

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here. Near the very, very end, click Volokh's article. (I'm sure you're beginning to see the monkeyshines I'm up to here.) This leads you to ...

http://www.slate.com/Feature1/96-07-18/Feature1.asp. Go to the top-right corner and the black rectangle that says Return to Compost--Search. You are inexorably led to ...

"The Compost." Click the arrow to the right of the page number in the upper-right-hand corner to go to ...

this page. Go all the way to the bottom, and click the small Contents in the bottom-left-hand corner. And you're at ...

http://www.slate.com. Click Six Degrees of Francis Bacon to go ...

here. Click TV star/dolphin Flipper, and ...

you're there, dude! (This worked when Daddino came up with his solution. Of course, the site now features a new puzzle.)

Daddino brilliantly doubles back to the Francis Bacon page, using our own link against us. As he predicted, this loophole is now outlawed: You may no longer link back to the Francis Bacon page as part of your solution. Congratulations to Mike for finding a clever new twist, and for winning last week's contest.

Puzzle No. 3

This week's puzzle was submitted by a Slate reader. Kim Scarborough challenges us to get from this page of "yo mama" jokes ("yo mama's so fat ...," etc.) to this page on cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

We did it in 13 links. If you can tie or beat that, e-mail your solution (with instructions and URLs) to FrancisBacon@slate.com. (All submissions will become the property of Slate and will be published at Slate's discretion. Slate may publish your name on its site in connection with your submission.)

Results will be announced Thursday, March 12, at about 5 p.m. PT, along with a new puzzle. Readers are also invited to submit their own puzzles (along with a solution path).

Happy surfing!

--Seth Stevenson