The fact that it was badly-drawn (*) and not actually that clever in itself- so much as giving its oft-maligned (**) target audience an excuse to feel superior to others- didn't seem to matter.
As I once commented elsewhere:-
Compare that to User Friendly. Aside from its "moderately-promising 14-year-old still showing too much influence from the Teach-Yourself-Cartooning book" drawing style, User Friendly has always relied on its geek-friendly subject matter and viewpoints to flatter the audience and obscure the fact that it's neither creative nor funny.
Here's a good example:-
There's nothing creative about this. The "news" was a real-life item reported in many tech outlets about a year back. The strip itself is just a lazy excuse to let the audience laugh again at that story- it adds nothing to it except an audience-pandering but uncreative aside.
xkcd has a long way to go before it gets *that* lazy.
(*) XKCD isn't exactly detailed in the artwork stakes either, but that comes across as an intentional style, whereas User Friendly just looks like a wannabe of better-looking cartoons.
(**) This is before it was (allegedly) cool to be a geek.