Wait But Hi – Full Report

August 23, 2016 By Tim Urban

Last weekend (August 13th and 14th) was Wait But Hi—a global hangout weekend for Wait But Why readers.

It started with a survey we sent out to the WBW email list in early July. Using what we learned from the surveys, our team spent a large part of the summer strategically matchmaking groups of people together and creating customized activities to fit each group.

Then, on Saturday, it all happened at once—over 3,500 people participated in over 400 events that took place in 168 cities, in these 48 countries:

And Sunday was big group day, with large picnic gatherings in cities all over the world.

It was exciting:

And a lot happened.

Like this dinner in Germany:

Or this one in Portugal:

Or this one in Singapore:

And the US:

And Austria:



Hong Kong:



New Zealand:


South Africa:

And the Czech Republic:

People picnicked in Paris:

And Los Angeles:

And Amsterdam:

Painted graffiti in London:

Got a lesson on blockchain in Chicago:

Looked through telescopes in Berlin:

Exchanged gifts in Moscow:

Played Shuffleboard in Brooklyn:

Mini golf in San Francisco:

And escaped the room in Lagos:

There were big groups:

There were small groups:

People met at the beach:

At the pool:

At the river:

At the lake:

On the rocks:

In the park:

And on the street:

They went to the Louvre:

The Museum of Natural History:

The Cabinets of Consequence Exhibition:

And the dinosaur museum:

Some people went to restaurants:

Other people—over 50—went on blind dates. (But people don’t tend to be into having a picture of them on a date posted on the internet so we’ll leave it at that.)

A bunch of people hosted hangouts in their homes. All over their homes. Like in the living room:

On the terrace:

Around the counter:

On the deck:

In the kitchen:

On the patio:

In the backyard:

In the playroom:

On the roof:

Even in the treehouse:

Empty tables turned into full tables:

And then came dinner.


And drinks. Like tea:

And liquor:

Bar beer:

Brewery beer:

Street beer:

Homemade beer:

And boot beer:

There were Denver dogs:

And Cluj-Napoca cats:

There were lights in Japan:

And there was darkness in San Francisco:

There was snuggling:

There were rides:

And lots of games:


There was yodeling:

and Ws:

And neighbors who were sick of your heady shit:


We made a few rules for everyone. One rule was that no one could talk or ask about anyone’s job for the first hour of the night.

So people learned about each other in other ways. Like guessing which fun fact about their life was written by which person:

Or explaining why a certain random object defines you:

Or making a plan for if a shark ever bites you:

Another rule was that people had to bring a king of spades card to help identify each other. So there were kings:

Lots of kings.

Finally, we asked each group to make a stick drawing about their night. We didn’t specify much more than that—so things varied. A lot of groups drew the scene:

Others depicted the characters involved:

There were team efforts:

And solo projects:

There were artists:

There were not artists:

There were bikes:

There were lobsters:

Some went artsy:

Some went Wait But Why-y:

And some blew my mind:

There was a Vietnamese tea ceremony in Houston:

A slanty wine bottle in Poland:

And Tinder profiles in Hong Kong:

A bunch of groups depicted the great conversation:

About all kinds of things:

There were thought-provoking questions:

Controversial opinions:

And pressing debates:

Some drawings revealed that things got weird:

And apparently some events didn’t go at all as planned. Like when these two militant Red Cross workers forced another attendee to donate blood:

Or when these two chickens morphed into a person:

Or when these six people forced a baby to dump his things in a river:

Or when this happened:

And then there were some that are hard to describe. Like these solemn people underneath a large spoon holding a cherry:

Or this zany man:

Or these four psychos:

Or whatever the fuck is happening here:

But something the drawings did make clear is that a lot can happen in one night with a group of strangers:

Wait But Hi turned out to be a lot of things.

It was far from perfect. We were only able to set up events for 22% of the 16,000 people who applied. And there were mishaps—which people handled the best they could:

But mostly, Wait But Hi was full of good things.

Like laughter:

Fabulous conversation:

Unexpected fun:

And amazing strangers:

Who became friends:

The weekend was full of wonderful people:

Who made some souls grow more vibrant:

It was something like magic:

It was the internet in your living room:

Or for me and the WBW crew, it was the internet in Central Park:

Which was a reminder that WBW readers are the best.

So thanks for throwing yourselves into our summer experiment—an experiment that taught us that we most definitely want to do more stuff like this.

Stay tuned.


There are many more pics than I had room to post here—you can see the full set of pictures here and here.


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