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Why are xkcd mentions on HN always prefixed with Obligatory?

Because it's one of the Laws of the Internet that there is a relevant XKCD for every topic. The prefix "obligatory" means "it obviously should be here already, but for some reason it isn't".

XKCDs are also sometimes prefixed with "relevant", for obvious reasons.

Prior to xkcd, I recall seeing Obligatory Simpsons Quotes on either usenet or slashdot back in the late 90's.

"Obligatory xkcd reference", based on the idea that there are so many xkcd comics, at least one of them will be relevant to any given thread.

It's not so much about HN, it's a meme that's been around nearly as long as xkcd has. I recall seeing "Obligatory xkcd" on Fark.com as far back as 2007 or so. I've also seen it on Reddit and similar forums over the years; hell I've even seen it in Usenet discussions.

> nearly as long as xkcd has

It's been around a lot longer than that; I first saw it in version 3.0.0 of esr's Jargon File, which was released in 1993, and I doubt it was newly added then.

Well, I was referring specifically to the use of "obligatory/relevant xkcd", not the use of "obligatory/relevant" period. :-)

Fair. Seems like that's always #927, though, at least around here...

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