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 Amazon.com 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. [‚Ķ]

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.

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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. J√∂kull S√≥lberg Au√įunsson

    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.