Sandman and ChatGPT

I was watching a video on YouTube yesterday, with Neil Gaiman and a few other folks talking about Sandman, and reminiscing about the early days of the comic. It was fun, and it got me thinking about doing a Sandman reread. There’s a podcast about Sandman called Endless, and they’re going through a reread of the book right now, so I could follow along with that while I’m reading.

And that got me looking for a list of the original Sandman issues, with story titles and artist names. The Wikipedia entry has a lot of info, but no complete list of issues. The DC Universe Infinite page shows all the covers, and has all the art teams, so that’s probably good enough. But I thought it would be fun to ask ChatGPT, and some related chatbots, to give me an issue list and see what I got.

Here’s the prompt I used: “Can you give me a list of all 75 original issues of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic, with creator credits and story titles? Format as a table or list.”

And here’s the results:

  • Bing – gave me a table. On my first try, it gave up at issue 8, and told me “and so on up to issue 75.” (So it knew it was giving up!) On my second try, it got up to issue 31, and then just gave up. (And it took a long time to get that far.) Interesting feature: you can open a table from Bing in Excel.
  • Poe, “web search” bot – gave me a numbered list, but lost track of what it was doing after issue 25 and started repeating itself. Then gave up at list item 50. Definitely the worst result I got.
  • Poe, “assistant” bot – gave me a numbered list. Stopped at issue 72.
  • Poe, Claude-instant-100k – gave me a table. Gave up after issue 66.
  • ChatGPT 3.5 – Returned a table. Got all the way to issue 75, but, double-checking it, I see that a lot of it is wrong.

So I guess my conclusion is that this isn’t a great task for ChatGPT or similar chatbots. ChatGPT was the only one that returned all 75 issues, but it got a bunch of stuff wrong. I didn’t check the other results too closely; they looked right, as far as they went. But I just went back and looked again, and they’re all not quite right.

I like the Bing feature that lets you open a table in Excel. None of the other chat interfaces make it easy to do anything useful with the table. I managed to copy & paste the table out of ChatGPT, but it was a bit of a hassle. I’m really surprised that, with all the fancy tech behind ChatGPT, they don’t just have a simple “export to text / Markdown / PDF” button for chats. (Maybe there’s a way to do that, and I just haven’t stumbled across it yet.)

So, anyway, that was all probably a waste of time. I should spend less time screwing around with chatbots and more time reading comics.

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