Wait But Why

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Wait But Why
Wait But Why Logo.png
Available inEnglish, Chinese
EditorTim Urban
Launched2013; 7 years ago (2013)
Current statusOnline

Wait But Why (WBW) is a website founded by Tim Urban and Andrew Finn and written and illustrated by Urban. The site covers a range of subjects as a long-form blog.[1] Typical posts involve long-form discussions of various topics, including artificial intelligence, outer space, and procrastination, using a combination of prose and rough illustrations.[2][3]


Early in the site's history, it focused on social media and funny quips about technology such as "7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook"[4] and "11 Awkward Things About Email",[5] but over time Urban focused on deeper, more data-driven topics. On May 21, 2014, Urban posted "The Fermi Paradox," a post that became extremely popular.[6][7]

The site's original slogan was "New post every Monday and Thursday". As post lengths increased and the content became more detailed only weekly updates were possible, and the slogan became "New post every Tuesday" at first, "New post every Tuesday(ish)" later, and "New post every sometimes" since 2015.[8]

With the new focus on science and technology, Wait But Why gained the attention of Elon Musk, which led to the series of posts on Musk.[9] In June 2015, Elon Musk asked Urban if he would be willing to write about his companies and their surrounding industries, leading to a five-part series of Wait But Why posts on Musk and his companies.[10] Urban interviewed Musk multiple times, and the two discussed sustainable transport,[10] solar energy,[11][12] and the future of space exploration.[13] On April 20, 2017, Urban posted the first deep look at Musk's transhumanist brain-machine interface company, Neuralink, after Musk had asked Urban to write an explanatory article about a month and a half before.

Content has been syndicated on The Huffington Post,[14] Lifehacker,[15] as well as being referenced on other sites.[16][17]

In February 2016, Urban gave a TED talk on procrastination.[18]


  1. ^ Davis, Noah (30 October 2014). "How Do You Make a Living, Email Newsletter Writer?". Pacific Standard. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (27 August 2015). "Tech nerds are smart. But they can't seem to get their heads around politics". Vox. Vox Media. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  3. ^ Grothaus, Michael (5 March 2015). "The Secrets Of Writing Smart, Long-form Articles That Go Absolutely Viral". Fast Company. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  4. ^ "7 Ways to Be Insufferable on Facebook - Wait But Why". Wait But Why. 2013-07-08. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  5. ^ "11 Awkward Things About Email - Wait But Why". Wait But Why. 2013-12-04. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  6. ^ "The Fermi Paradox - Wait But Why". Wait But Why. 2014-05-21. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  7. ^ Klein, Ezra (2020-02-10). ""We're in the climax of a movie": Tim Urban on humanity's wild future". Vox. Retrieved 2020-04-25.
  8. ^ Urban, Tim (3 March 2015). "Trying Something Different With the Schedule". Wait But Why. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Elon Musk: The World's Raddest Man". 2015-05-07.
  10. ^ a b Urban, Tim (7 May 2015). "Elon Musk: The World's Raddest Man". Wait But Why. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  11. ^ Harrington, Rebecca (16 December 2015). "Elon Musk just made an incredibly important point about solar energy". Business Insider. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  12. ^ Chow, Lorraine (17 December 2015). "Elon Musk: We Can Power America by Covering Small Corner of Utah With Solar". ecowatch. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  13. ^ Hays, Brooks (21 December 2015). "SpaceX makes history, successfully lands reusable rocket". UPI. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  14. ^ Urban, Tim (11 November 2013). "20 Things I Learned While I Was in North Korea". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  15. ^ Urban, Tim (28 August 2014). "Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think". Lifehacker. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  16. ^ Bendix, Aria (19 August 2015). "A Typical American Life, Week by Week". CityLab. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  17. ^ Swanson, Ana (3 September 2015). "How so many of the world's people live in so little of its space". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  18. ^ Urban, Tim. "Inside the mind of a master procrastinator". TED. Retrieved 8 June 2016.

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