The Wadsworth Constant: Ignore 30% of Everything

I’ll start with a story.

Last year my girlfriend and I watched the pilot episode of a new TV show and were immediately hooked. The pilot episode was refreshingly complex and forced us to guess missing plot details continuously: it’s adventurous to make your audience work so hard during a pilot, we surmised.

We later discovered that, due to a technical glitch, we actually missed the first fifteen minutes of the show (about 30%). The ‘complete’ version of the episode was less satisfying.

Last year Steve Yegge wrote about life at and what it’s like working under Jeff Bezos. On the topic of presenting to Bezos, Yegge gave this tip: delete every third paragraph.  Why?

Bezos is so goddamned smart that you have to turn it into a game for him or he’ll be bored and annoyed with you. That was my first realization about him. […]

So you have to start tearing out whole paragraphs, or even pages, to make it interesting for him. He will fill in the gaps himself without missing a beat. And his brain will have less time to get annoyed with the slow pace of your brain.

Around the same time as Yegge’s posting, a Reddit user known as Wadsworth pointed out that the first 30% of “nearly every video in the universe” can safely be skipped. As such things go, this soon became a YouTube URL parameter: just add &wadsworth=1 to skip the first third of the video.

This ‘law’ soon became known as the Wadsworth Constant. It works.



4 responses to “The Wadsworth Constant: Ignore 30% of Everything”

  1. Len

    The first time I watched The Usual Suspects in the theatre I walked in late missing the opening sequence. I started watching the movie where the suspects were being rounded up. I absolutely loved the movie. A few days later I watched it again in the theatre but I arrived on time. It is in my opinion a FAR better movie without the opening scene showing the fighting on the boat.

  2. You’re right! When I think about the film I can barely remember the opening scene. It’s almost an irrelevant section of the film.

  3. Jökull Sólberg Auðunsson

    Try skipping the first paragraph of this blog post : )
    Lately, I’m making a habit of writing all emails twice. Once for brainstorming, and again for consumption. Extreme rewriting.

  4. Haha, exactly, Jökull. I should have taken my own advice.

    Good advice: extreme self editing… something we should all do a lot more often.