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Advice Animals, sometimes referred to as "Advice Dog spin-offs", are a type of image macro series featuring animals of some kind (including humans) that are accompanied by captioned text to represent a character trait or an archetype that fits the role of a "stock character". While many Advice Animals use a color wheel background, some use unedited versions of the original photo.
The name "Advice Animals" is taken from the Advice Dog image macro series that originated on September 7th, 2006. The image was first posted on the Mushroom Kingdom forums, and displayed a labrador puppy with the iconic color wheel background. The creator, Evan Herrington, said he was inspired by the "royal rainbow" from the Katamari Damacy video game series.
Image Macro Applications
The first web application to create this kind of image macro was built by Ferenc Somos and hosted on the website Memegenerator.net registered on March 18th, 2009. The interface allows a user to caption an image with custom text, and commonly apply a watermark to the image to display where it was created. Other builders can be found on Memebase, Quickmeme, and an Advice Animal iTunes application.
The /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit was created on December 7, 2010. Several Advice Animals originated on the subreddit including Misunderstood D-Bag, Rasta Science Teacher, Hood Dad, Internet Husband, Harmless Scout Leader, and Schrute Facts. As of August 2011, the subreddit has over 56,000 subscribers.
Tumblr has also become a popular hubsite for Advice Animals and there are numerous single topic blogs dedicated to cataloging notable series. A number of artworks initially shared on the microblogging service have been used as the source image for Advice Animals, such as Craig Wheaton's Hipster Kitty, Art Student Owl and others. Various Advice Animals can be found under the tag "#advice animals", and on the single topic "Advice Animal" Tumblr.
Since rage comics employ the use of stock characters and shared experience as well, many rage comic faces have become Advice Animals as well. The most successful examples are Forever Alone and Y U No Guy.
Certain popular subcultures and memes created their own type of Advice Animals. These are used mainly within its own fanbase, using jokes that are commonly understood only by people familiar with the community. So has Pokémon created Pokeparents, Dat Ash and Professor Oak. Whereas Lolcats spawned Business Cat and Lenin Cat.
Periodic Table of Advice Animals
A visual analysis was created by Olivia Gulin, and published April 29th, 2011.
Dank Learning System
On June 8th, 2018, researches at Stanford University announced a study entitled "Dank Learning: Generating Memes Using Deep Neural Networks". The study proved that they were able to create a meme generation system that could not be differentiated from human generated memes. Using a pre-trained Inception-v3 and a long short-term memory model, the system produces captions that apply to the picture, which humans then assess (examples below).
The experiment was successful enough to lead researchers to believe that at a certain point, meme generation could be fully automated. They wrote:
We acknowledge that one of the greatest challenges in our project and other language modeling tasks is to capture humor, which varies across people and cultures. In fact, this constitutes a research area on its own, and accordingly new research ideas on this problem should be incorporated into the meme generation project in the future. One example would be to train on a dataset that includes the break point in the text between upper and lower for the image. These were chosen manually here and are important for the humor impact of the meme. If the model could learn the breakpoints this would be a huge improvement and could fully automate the meme generation. Another avenue for future work would be to explore visual attention mechanisms that operate on the images and investigate their role in meme generation tasks."
Search queries for "advice animals" picked up in December of 2010, the same month the Advice Animal subreddit was created. Courage Wolf appears to have been one of the more popular Advice Animals in Google search, but began to rapidly decrease after its highest peak in December of 2010.
 The Mushroom Kingdom – Guide to Kissing
 Memegenerator – Meme Generator Imgflip
 Quickmeme – quickmeme – make and share your meme
 iTunes (via Wayback Machine) – Advice Animals for iPhone iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes Store
 Reddit – Advice Animals
 Wikipedia – stock character
 Tumblr – Advice Animals
 Tumblr – #advice animal
 TechCrunch – Dank learning system autogenerates memes
 ARXIV – Dank Learning
Bill-Stan, Gaijin Supreme
Jun 16, 2018 at 04:01PM EDT
Jun 16, 2018 at 05:51PM EDT
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