But what about troughs?

Urinal protocol vulnerability:
[Via xkcd]

When a guy goes into the bathroom, which urinal does he pick? Most guys are familiar with the International Choice of Urinal Protocol. It’s discussed at length elsewhere, but the basic premise is that the first guy picks an end urinal, and every subsequent guy chooses the urinal which puts him furthest from anyone else peeing. At least one buffer urinal is required between any two guys or Awkwardness ensues.


Check out the great discussion and the nice mathematical formula derived to determine the optimal number of urinals. And the comments are great, bringing in the timing factor as will as the P-shy variable.

Unfortunately, this describes the situation when discrete urinals are provided (quantized). What happens when only a trough is provided, so that the distances are more dynamic? Does it still follow the same principles as the Urinal protocol or do other factors result in a different distribution?

I would speculate that as the trough becomes more crowded the Stall Protocol becomes more prominent. That is, I chose to wait for a stall and a little privacy. But how crowded does the trough have to be before that Stall Protocol overrides the Urinal Protocol and does this vary for different cultures?

All great questions but I think there would be a real problem. The xkcd post deals with the abstract. No where was there any real measurement of what actually happens. It is theoretical.

So realtime observation would be necessary. However, the presence of a man with a clipboard, taking notes would most likely alter the normal protocols, as would a closed circuit camera.

It might require the observer to go underground, either by pretending to use a urinal (not optimal) or pretending to wash their hands and slowly drying them (not too hard to fake since so many of the newer faucets, as well as paper towel dispensers require some sort of odd hand-passing routine to get them to work).

Anyway, a fascinating discussion of what appears to be a male-only problem.

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