Congratulations to Ella on winning the April 8, 2024 “Meaningless Questions” Contest. Everyone in the contest did amazingly well, and here are 400 of their questions.

Take part in this week’s Meaningless Questions Contest here. It’s free and you can win cool prizes.

400 “Meaningless Questions” about this source…

  • A cassette has six faces, so why do we only count its two largest sides?
  • Am I killing record industry profits if I tape at work instead of at home?
  • Are all cassettes the same size?
  • Are fingers and pencils the only tools for winding the tape forward or backward, or is there a specific tool?
  • Are tapes made differently in other countries? 
  • Are there any holes around the rim of the cassette that can’t be seen in the picture?
  • Are there any illustrations on side one?
  • Are there any secret messages to be revealed by playing this tape backwards?
  • Are there federal penalties for home taping?
  • Are there industry standards for what labels go on a tape?
  • Are these tapes made in different languages? 
  • Are they all made of plastic or some other material?
  • Are they produced in the US or another country?
  • Are those holes at the bottom?
  • Can I see inside if I look in those two holes in the center, and if I can (there’s light and peripheries), what do I see? 
  • Can you fix the tape ribbon if it’s broken? 
  • Can you play the tape if the holes on the bottom are broken?
  • Can you still use the tape if one of the teeth is broken?
  • Can you wind both wheels in different directions at once?
  • Could I turn it into a planter, stick succulents in it? 
  • Could this cassette or the tape inside be recycled? 
  • Could you play this tape in slow motion? In slow motion backwards?
  • Did a music video accompany this tape?
  • Did all tape players come with a recording function?
  • Did any cassette tapes or covers feature writing in Braille?
  • Did any universities or institutions of higher learning offer a class on manufacturing tapes? 
  • Did cassette tapes kill live music?
  • Did home taping kill the record industry but save the tape production industry?
  • Did home taping really mean people bought fewer commercial tapes?
  • Did leaving one side blank help to sell more tapes?
  • Did more people buy pre-recorded tapes or blank tapes? How would record companies figure out these numbers?
  • Did other tapes use the same font as this one?
  • Did people who home taped buy fewer commercial tapes?
  • Did tapes and tape recorders introduce new metaphors to the English language? Like, wind up, wind down etc.?
  • Did the artist of side one commission the illustrations on side two, or draw them themselves? How many drafts did they go through?
  • Did the person or people who recorded on side 1 ever hear the results of any home-taped versions of side 2? “
  • Did the printed message make its owners feel closer to the side-1-creator(s), or was it clear that side 1 was for artists, and side 2 for amateurs?
  • Did the record industry underpay recording artists?
  • Did the side-one-artist(s) leave side two blank because they didn’t have any more recording ideas?
  • Did they consider home taping as piracy of music?
  • Did they makes CDs like this too? 
  • Did this artist inspire other artists to do the same thing?
  • Did this tape need to be kept at a particular temperature to work? Could you put it in the fridge?
  • Do all tapes have the same numbers on the scale? 
  • Do tapes float?
  • Do you have to wind both wheels together, or does twisting a pencil in one move the other one? 
  • Does home recording affect all record companies equally?
  • Does home taping increase or decrease the number of fans that go to the live shows?
  • Does it require different technology to print the text versus the images onto the cassette?
  • Does tape have a melting point?
  • Does the recessed rectangle within the cassette have a functional purpose?
  • Does the size of the holes at the bottom matter for the functioning of the tape?
  • Does the tape come in another color?
  • Given that the tape inside is curled up, why aren’t cassettes round or figure of eight?
  • Had other recording artists left one side of their tapes blank before?
  • Have people recorded the music at home and tried to sell it?
  • How are the little drawings at the corners supposed to interact with the printed text?
  • How are the spokes attached to the internal wheels?
  • How can home taping kill an industry?
  • how come it’s audio and not visual? 
  • How could I turn it into a piece of jewelry? 
  • How did artists promote tapes?
  • How did cassette tapes become cool?
  • How did companies track how many tapes a recording artist sold?
  • How did home taping start? Who was the first to do it?
  • How did people decide how many copies should be produced for a first run?
  • How did tapes distort, reduce, or change the sound they recorded?
  • How did they leave this side blank if they wrote we left this side blank on it?
  • How did those who bought this tape feel about the record industry?
  • How do the artists feel about home taping versus the record industry?
  • How do they know home taping is killing record industry profits?
  • How do they put sound on a tape?
  • How do they put text on cassettes?
  • How do they wind the film in a tape?
  • How do you do home taping?
  • How do you know which direction to wind the internal wheels?
  • How does home taping affect radio play and the profits from that?
  • How does home taping effect the artist versus the record company?
  • How does home taping work? 
  • How does leaving blank help?
  • How does leaving the side blank help?
  • How does the record industry distribute profits to the artists?
  • How expensive was a tape player relative to the price of this tape?
  • How far could I throw it? 
  • How far was it possible to edit when home taping?
  • how hot would it have to be to melt it? 
  • How is audio data encoded onto the tape?
  • How is the tape secured to the internal wheels?
  • How long did opponents of home taping think the record industry had left until it became unprofitable?
  • How long did this tape take to record and edit?
  • How long does it take to manufacture a tape? 
  • How long does the tape play?
  • How long does this tape play? 
  • How long had home taping been “killing” record industry profits?
  • How long is the recording?
  • How many copies of this tape were produced?
  • How many copies of this tape were sold? 
  • How many different legal systems were involved in the production and dissemination of this tape?
  • How many free copies of this tape was the artist entitled to after it was produced?
  • How many km has this tape traveled since it was first assembled? On how many forms of transport?
  • How many machines are there in the world right now that could play this tape?
  • How many more hours of audio were recorded onto tapes compared with vinyl records?
  • How many of the buyers of this tape had used a computer/owned a computer?
  • How many of these cassettes could be produced in an hour?
  • How many of these tapes were produced?
  • How many owners of this tape actually used it to home-tape? 
  • How many people and with what jobs decided to leave side 2 blank?
  • How many people have owned this specific tape?
  • How many people have touched this tape?
  • How many people left this side blank? 
  • How many prices have been attached to this tape over the course of its life?
  • How many prototypes of cassette tapes were rejected before the first model was put on the market?
  • How many tapes are there in time capsules around the world (and in space)?
  • How many tapes had the side-1-creator(s) released before this? 
  • How many times can someone record over the same bit of tape?
  • How many workers does it take to produce 1 tape?
  • How much are buyers of this tape supposed to know about the record industry and its treatment of recording artists?
  • How much cassette tape technology was used in the development of CDs?
  • How much did home taping cost the record industry the year this cassette tape was made and sold?
  • How much did this tape cost to construct?
  • How much did this tape cost?
  • How much does the cassette weigh relative to the tape?
  • How much power did a tape and tape player use, in KwH?
  • How much waste is there for the production of 1 tape?
  • How much weight could the tape hold?
  • How much weight could the tape itself support?
  • How see-through is the tape?
  • How soon after falling into disuse did tapes become a nostalgia item?
  • How was such a straight, direct photograph of this tape achieved?
  • How was tape stored in factories prior to being wound inside cassettes?
  • How was the text font designed and manufactured before being transferred to the cassette?
  • How were tapes used by law enforcement in the USA in the 1980s and 1990s?
  • How were the contents and running order of this tape decided? 
  • How were the holes at the bottom made? At which point in production?
  • How were the pieces of the cassette tape case held together? On a hinge/pivot? Using glue? 
  • How were the two sides of the cassette attached to one another? What happened if they were slightly misaligned?
  • How were the wheels constructed?
  • How widespread was the idea that home taping was killing record industry profits? 
  • How would the buyer of this cassette tape know that Side 2 was blank without reading the printed message?
  • If an American librarian had to categorize this tape, where would they put it? Would the audio and the text belong in different parts of the Dewey-decimal system?
  • If I walked around and showed it to everyone I come across, what would they ask me about it?
  • If music piracy is referred to in the top left image, how did people get unauthorized musical tracks or sound files onto this tape? Was it done by recording from the tv, or was there a better way to do it?
  • If radio stations played stuff taken from side one, did they ever mention side two?
  • If the holes represent eyes in the image in the top left, does that make it weird for listeners to stick fingers and pencils into the real cassette’s eyes?
  • If the message is anti-authoritarian, does its form (on a mass-produced cassette whose design is regulated by corporate patent) undermine its message?
  • If the printed message helped to sell way more of these cassette tapes than otherwise, did that help or harm the record industry’s profits?
  • If the tape got a second production run, did they reprint this text, or would it have seemed stale?
  • if the tape is blank still, should I record something onto it or leave it be? If the tape is full, should I record over it or leave it be? 
  • If the tape were sold in France and the text translated into French, would the so you can help phrase use the singular or plural you form (tu or vous)? Should the reader think they’re being addressed personally, or as one of a crowd of fans?
  • If there are holes in the cassette rim, what are they for?
  • If this tape was accidentally put through a laundry cycle, would it still work?
  • If this wasn’t the creators’ first tape, was this one received differently than previous tapes?
  • If you burn the tape, is it carcinogenic?
  • If you copied the contents of this tape onto a smartphone, how much data would it occupy?
  • If you could design a compatible tape player, would it be possible to make and play a cassette tape with three or more sides?
  • If you could learn to make a tape at college, what department was instruction offered through? Computer science? Sound design?
  • If you detached the cassette halves and tried to stack one inside the other, would it fit? Would the holes line up?
  • If you left it outside in a park, how long would this tape take to degrade and disintegrate? What would be the last bit to go? 
  • If you piled enough tapes inside a wall cavity, would the interior empty space make for good insulation?
  • If you took all the materials used to make this cassette tape and mapped where they came from, what map would you end up with?
  • If you use the scale to check progress through the tape, there will (almost?) always be two possible readings, because the edges of two spools of tape are visible. Here it looks like you could have a reading around 30, and around 70. How do you know which is right?
  • If you wanted to publish your home taping, was there any way to do so? What was the largest audience a home taper could reach?
  • If you wanted to take the cassette apart and put it back together again, could you do that with your bare hands, or would you need a tool?
  • If you’re a fan of home-taping, why buy a half-blank tape instead of a completely blank one?
  • Is any part of it edible? Whether we *would* eat it or not… *could* we and not die? 
  • Is any part of this tape magnetic?
  • Is it music or a voice recording?
  • Is it still home taping if it’s done outside the home? On a run? At work?
  • Is leaving side 2 blank generous or lazy?
  • Is that a skull and cross bones on the upper left hand corner?
  • Is that a skull in bones reference?
  • Is the black text a choice?
  • Is the cassette crying in the top left image? Why is it personified?
  • Is the cassette that color to make it easier to print text onto?
  • Is the other side blank too?
  • Is the printed material flush against the cassette, or is it slightly raised when you run a finger over it?
  • Is the record industry referred to specific to one country or territory?
  • Is the rectangular window in the center to track how much is left of the tape?
  • Is the scale part of the text or part of the tape’s hardware?
  • Is the tape a popular song?
  • Is the tape that color because of the color of the plastic used?
  • Is the tape worth more now than when it was made? If so, why?
  • Is the text 3d/embossed?  Printed?
  • is the text on stickytape that’s stuck on the tape, or is it printed on the plastic itself? If I peel the tape off is there a hidden message.
  • Is the whole cassette smooth, textured, or some mixture?
  • Is the writing blurry or is it the picture resolution? 
  • Is there any printed text on side one? What does it say?
  • Is there anything significant about how far apart the spokes are?
  • Is there enough resolution to infinitely embed tape drawings in other tape drawings?
  • Is there printed text on side 1? What might it say?
  • Is this an art piece?
  • Is this photograph precisely to scale?
  • It’s probably possible to make a cassette at home but is it possible to make usable tape at home?
  • Something that looks like a tape, but not really a tape
  • The artist could probably claim copyright over the audio (or could they?), but did they have copyright over the message? Would they have wanted it?
  • The illustrations look a bit wonky were they wonkily applied to every cassette tape in this run or just this one?
  • the little cross bones(?) in the upper left are cut off by the left hole. why.
  • The picture looks cropped what is outside this boundary of the photo? 
  • The scale runs from 100 to 0 left to right, which shows that this is side 2, so why is it also labeled as side 2? Isn’t that redundant?
  • The skull and crossbones image makes me think of pirate flags – is the image in the top left something to do with music or audio piracy? Had the concept of piracy moved from the theft of physical property on the high seas to intellectual property by the time this tape is made?
  • There are x-shaped crosses in both illustrations does this connection mean anything? Was it relevant to the side one recording artist?
  • There is only one piece of punctuation why use punctuation at all?
  • Thinking of all the techniques and technological methods needed to construct a working tape and tape machine, what is the earliest possible date that humans had all the skills and materials necessary to create a tape?
  • To me, play means freeform, multidirectional action. Why do we call it playing a tape when the action of pushing a button or not pushing a button seems more like work?
  • Was a recorded anthology of music already called an album when this tape was made and sold?
  • Was home taping quite a tame form of rebellion against the record industry?
  • Was it possible to leave half a vinyl record blank for home taping, or is that only a practical possibility with tapes?
  • Was it possible to record over side 1 as well when home taping?
  • Was it possible to replicate the sound quality of side 1 by home taping side 2?
  • Was the blankness of side 2 advertised when the tape was sold, or was it advertised on the basis of what was on side 1 alone? 
  • Was the central area of the tape, containing the wheels and scale, constructed through molding or by sticking an extra prefabricated layer of plastic onto the base?
  • Was the creator of this tape making an artistic statement by asking people to home tape on side two, and therefore make every copy of the tape different?
  • Was the only way to find out how people listened to their tapes (favorite sides, home taping or not) by asking them?
  • Was the pirate supposed to be so cute? Or it is only me?
  • Was the price of this tape half as much as one without a blank side?
  • Was there a clause in the contract between the artist and production team about the form or content of the printed message? 
  • Was there a segment of the market who would have been put off by side two’s message?
  • Was there crossover between the technology used for this tape and for answering machines? Could you just pop side 2 of this tape into an answering machine and let it do its thing?
  • Was there space on the cover or case to create a label for how you had used the home taping feature? (As in, under the artist name, could you write + flute concert ’91 or something?)
  • Was this artist politically divisive?
  • Was this tape only sold in countries whose official language is English?
  • Was this tape, and the message on side two, tried out on a focus group? What was the feedback, and what changes did they make?
  • We left this side blank so you can help suggests that home taping is the only way the reader can help kill record industry profits. Were there other ways?
  • We left this side blank when? How long ago? At what point in the production of the tape?
  • Were cassette tapes and their cases manufactured in the same places by the same companies?
  • Were more machines involved in putting together the cassette or the tape?
  • Were more people involved in physically putting together the cassette or the tape?
  • Were people furtive about listening to side one? If you could interview on the street everyone who bought this tape, what percentage of people would tell the truth about owning and listening to it? 
  • Were tape recorders designed to fit tapes, or the other way around?
  • Were tapes divided into tracks, or was it just one continuous audio file? 
  • Were tapes invented before tape players, or were they necessarily created at the same time?
  • Were the mechanical sounds of home taping (pressing down buttons, pulling microphone cords etc.) ever audible on tape?
  • Were the recording artists more worried about factory working conditions or record industry profits? If so, why?
  • Were there tape players that could switch between sides on its own, without a user having to take the tape out and turn it over?
  • What am I helping with? 
  • What are the circular and square holes at the bottom for?
  • What are the dimensions of cassette tapes?
  • What are the dimensions of the actual tape itself? How long is it?
  • What are the little black things at the bottom?
  • What are we helping will the end of the music industry?
  • What are we supposed to help with, as the text says?
  • What artists agreed with the stand taken by the production of this particular tape?
  • What color is the actual tape? Why is it that color?
  • what company allowed this then, and what companies would allow something similar today? What would this look like in today’s contexts of things like Spotify – how do people show the same political critiques?
  • What copyright issues did tape recorders cause?
  • What did people use home taping for?
  • What did the record industry spend its profits on?
  • What do the numbers mean?
  • What does C90 mean in the world of tapes?
  • What does the exclamation point add? Why use an exclamation point instead of a period?
  • What does the printed message imply about the target demographic?
  • What does the scale measure?
  • What if I don’t have a tape deck to play it?
  • What if there’s a side three?
  • What institutions or bodies were disseminating the claim that home taping was killing record industry profits?
  • What is “home taping”?  Like… Taping songs from the radio?
  • What is a mixtape? Could this be a mixtape if someone home taped onto side 2 and then gifted the whole thing?
  • What is art
  • What is it used for?
  • What is the adhesive agent in the ink?
  • What is the average number of times an individual owner of this tape listened to side one?
  • What is the ink made of? Did it need to be composed specially to adhere to the cassette material?
  • What is the mechanical difference between playing a pre-recorded tape and recording new material onto a tape?
  • What is the most dangerous part of this tape to ingest?
  • What is the most flammable part of this object?
  • What is the physical difference between this tape and camera film (for stills or movies)? How does capturing light differ from capturing sound?
  • What is the profit margin for the production of tapes versus other types of media?
  • What is the relationship between the scale and the tape’s runtime? Could the runtime be divided into 10 neat, equal increments?
  • What is the relevance of the bat-like image in the circle in the bottom right?
  • What is the thin dark background immediately underneath the picture of the tape?
  • What is this tape made of?
  • What is this?
  • What is today?
  • What makes it a record industry? 
  • What other factors could have been harming record industry profits?
  • What other industries’ profits did the recording artist and their fans want to kill?
  • What other products did the factory that manufactured the cassette or tape make?
  • What sort of privacy issues did tape recorders cause?
  • What theme joined together the music or other audio recorded onto this tape?
  • What type of camera captured this image?
  • What was the budget for making this tape, from development to promotion? Did the project stay on budget?
  • What was the median number of tapes owned by teenagers in the year 1994?
  • What was the most specialized bit of equipment involved in constructing this tape?
  • What was the relationship between the audio on side 1 and the text on side 2? If I had heard side 1 before I saw side 2, would I have a different impression of the artist(s) and what they were trying to do?
  • What were the working conditions inside the factory where this tape was made? 
  • what would an ant think of its topography? 
  • What would be so bad about the record industry profiting?
  • What would happen (if anything) if you exposed the tape inside to direct sunlight?
  • What would happen if you cut a millimeter off the side of the tape? Would it still work?
  • What would happen if you touched the tape? Why is it hidden away?
  • What’s on side one? 
  • What’s on the other side?
  • What’s the diameter of the holes in the center?
  • What’s the image on the top left?
  • What’s the maximum length of recording it could hold?
  • What’s the tap about?
  • What’s the tape sitting on?
  • When and how did the mixtape become a symbol of young romantic love?
  • When did people first decide the music industry was a zero sum game between record companies, artists, and ‚Äòconsumers’? What artist or movement made record companies rich enough to seem like the corporate enemy?
  • When was it made?
  • When was this photograph taken? How old is the tape in it?
  • When was this tape recorded?
  • when would be the best time to listen to it, where, and in whose company?
  • Where can I buy a cassette player? 
  • Where can I buy this particular tape? 
  • Where inside the cassette does the tape begin and end?
  • Where was this tape made?
  • which part of it would be the “bullseye(s)” if I wanted to play darts on it?
  • Which part of the cassette would be most heavily handled? 
  • Who came up with the budget for this tape?
  • Who came up with the picture of the cassette and crossbones?
  • Who came up with the term home taping and when?
  • Who decided how many copies to produce? 
  • Who decided how much this tape was worth?
  • Who decided how wide the spool of tape should be? How did they decide?
  • Who decided on the diameter of the two internal wheels?
  • Who decided on the size of the recessed rectangle within the cassette?
  • Who decided to leave one side blank, and had this ever been done before?
  • Who does it help?
  • Who first thought of making notebook covers look like cassette tapes?(!)
  • Who first treated the record industry’s profits as an entity which could be killed?
  • Who had the largest financial stake in the production and dissemination of this tape?
  • Who is the you?
  • Who is/are the we in we left this side blank?
  • who made the physical item? Where did all the parts of it come from so that it could be made, and who was all involved in each of those parts, what places did the parts come from? Did every person know it was going to end up a tape?
  • Who or what institutions were claiming that home taping was killing the record industry’s profits?
  • Who produced this tape?
  • Whom does home taping help?
  • Why ‘Killing’ the industry? Why not ‘changing’?
  • Why are all three ‚Äòknucklebones’ at the edges of the crossbones different sizes?
  • Why are cassette tapes all the same size and shape? Given that the tape inside is curled up, why aren’t cassettes round or figure of eight?
  • Why are holes different shapes?
  • Why are some of the holes at the bottom squares and not circles?
  • Why are the circular holes at the bottom slightly larger than the square holes?
  • Why are the indentations of the text different in the first two lines from the bottom two lines?
  • Why are the letter black and the background white?
  • Why are the symbols different shapes?
  • Why are the symbols so blurry?
  • Why are the wheels, plastic window and scale set in a raised part of the tape? 
  • Why are there 6 spokes in each of the two holes? Why not 4?
  • Why are there grooves/inch markings?
  • Why are there only two illustrations?
  • Why are there two internal wheels? Would it have been possible to build tapes with just one central wheel?
  • Why can’t the record industry profit from home taping?
  • Why did the author of the printed text describe the absence of recorded sound with a word that originally means white?
  • Why do cassette tapes have holes instead of outward-projecting knobs or dials?
  • Why do cassettes need to be symmetrical?
  • why do I want to destroy it? 
  • Why do the square holes at the bottom have round edges?
  • Why do they make tapes out of plastic?
  • Why do we think of cassette tapes in terms of sides?
  • Why does it start from 100 to 0?
  • Why does the cassette and crossbones look so different from the cassette it appears on? Are the holes its ‚Äòeyes’?
  • Why does the illustration of a weeping tape in the top left feature the four circular and rectangular squares at the bottom, but not the plastic window in the center?
  • Why does the image in the top right look so much more professional than in the bottom right?
  • Why does the middle part of the tape have a dent?
  • Why does the picture of the tape on the top left not look like the actual tape?
  • Why does the scale run backwards from 100 to 0?
  • Why does the space for the top lines of printed text so much bigger than the space for the lower lines?
  • Why does the text apply the language of living, dying and saving (kill, help) to home taping?
  • Why does the text assume the tape’s owner knows how to do home taping?
  • Why does the top line have punctuation and the bottom doesn’t?
  • Why does this tape (or this side at least) appear not to be annotated with C90?
  • Why doesn’t the font have serifs?
  • Why doesn’t the scale begin at 1?
  • Why doesn’t the scale quite line up with the edges of the rectangular window?
  • Why don’t the illustrations use color? Would their meanings change if they did?
  • Why is “two” spelled out?
  • Why is 100 on the left and 0 on the right?
  • Why is all the text in all-caps?
  • Why is it called home taping instead of personal recording or something like that?
  • Why is it labeled side 2 and not B side?
  • Why is it still called the record industry when it’s selling way more cassette tapes than vinyl records? 
  • Why is part of the cassette a smooth texture and the other part rough looking? 
  • Why is the central plastic window so dark?
  • Why is the end of one of the bones cut off by the hole on the left?
  • Why is the label side 2 so much smaller than the rest of the text, when it is written in the same font as the other text?
  • Why is the lettering patchy? Was the text unevenly applied when the cassette was first produced, or has some ink worn away over time?
  • Why is the outline of the cassette and crossbones so much thicker and clearer than the circle in the bottom right?
  • Why is the scale divided into (presumably) equal increments of 10? 
  • Why is the scale sculpted into the plastic?
  • Why is the screen over the tape reel tinted?
  • Why is the tape white? 
  • Why is the text all capitalized letters? 
  • Why is the that missing in the purpose clause (i.e. it should read so that you can help)?
  • Why is there a black diagonal line at the bottom on the left side of the tape and not on the right side?
  • Why isn’t the scale colored in black?
  • Why not leave side 1 blank instead?
  • Why not make the whole cassette out of clear plastic?
  • Why print side two across 2 lines instead of 1?
  • Why Side Two and note Side One?
  • Why spell out two instead of writing the Arabic numeral 2?
  • Why write such a coy message? Why not just say something more overt like: Use this side for home taping destroy the record industry!?
  • why’d they make ’em rectangle? 
  • Without printing a message on a tape or incorporating it into an artist’s output, what other ways did recording artists have to get messages directly to their fans?
  • Would a cat be interested in playing with it more than they’re interested in playing with an official cat toy? 
  • Would a tape player that could play this run on batteries or connect to power? Or both?
  • would a taylor swift version be red? or, why’s it white? 
  • Would making the spokes a different color make it easier to use them? Would coloring the spokes separately be technically difficult?
  • Would most people have owned some tapes and some records the year this tape was produced? Or had one medium dominated?
  • Would the tape play after it had been submerged in water?
  • Would the tape still work if the cassette were made out of metal or wood?
  • Would the temperature of the room affect how the tape plays?
  • Would this tape float?