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. […]

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 thoughts on “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. Lloyd Morgan Post author

    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.

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