Glass Half Empty

Most of the sites that win the Davis Freeberg site of the week award tend to be focused on the positive things in life. Whether it’s a site that gives you quick access to information, some kind of a game or a neat community that has developed, it is the ones that contribute something positive, that tend to do the best in the voting. This week was a little bit of an exception though. Instead of a feel good winner, we had a dark horse canidate take the weekly award.

This week’s winner was the complaint generator. The site allows you to enter in anyone’s name and it will randomly “customize” a complaint against that person or business. The site was originally created by Scott Pakin as a gag, but I’m sure that there are plenty of frustrated customer service reps, who didn’t get the joke. When I entered in my own information on the site, here is the letter that it sent me.

Okay, let’s do it. Let’s exercise all of our basic rights to the maximum. One of the first facts we should face is that Mr. Davis Freeberg wants us to believe that we can solve all of our problems by giving him lots of money. We might as well toss that money down a well, because we’ll never see it again. What we will see, however, is that at this point in the letter, I had planned to tell you that the pragmatist position is that stereotyping and victim-blaming is not more respectable when it is performed by a member of the group being demeaned. However, one of my colleagues pointed out that he has made a big mistake. Hence, I discarded the discourse I had previously prepared and substituted the following discussion, in which I argue that Mr. Freeberg wants us to emulate the White Queen from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, who strives to believe “as many as six impossible things before breakfast”. Then again, even the White Queen would have trouble believing that honesty and responsibility have no cash value and are therefore worthless. I prefer to believe things that my experience tells me are true, such as that Mr. Freeberg does not tolerate any view that differs from his own. Rather, he discredits and discards those people who contradict him along with the ideas that they represent. Mr. Freeberg knows how to lie. It’s too bad he doesn’t yet understand the ramifications of lying. Imagine a world in which he could create new (and reinforce existing) prejudices and misconceptions whenever he felt like it. I would like to go on, but I do have to keep this letter short. So I’ll wrap it up by saying that Mr. Davis Freeberg finds it easier to discuss other people’s problems than his own.

What’s funny about the letter is that if I really received this as an email or a comment, I would think that it was real and that I had actually upset someone. The letter goes off on a few tangents, but it is ambiguous enough, that it would make me wonder who I had offended. While the site is really a joke, I could see how people could take this seriously, if they received it from someone that they didn’t know. I can also see how the social networks could use this site as a new weapon against businesses that they are upset at.

A few years ago, I never would have thought that an online mob was possible, but it’s starting to become increasingly common for mobs to form at places like Digg and use their numbers to go after businesses that they are upset with. These mobs extract their own brand of justice by crank calling companies and posting slams against them in online forums. If one of these mobs got ahold of the automatic complaint generator, things could really get dicey. There are many businesses that are legally required to respond to complaints and if someone started snail mail spamming complaints, they could come up with some really crazy letters, that would be hard to respond to. I’m not advocating that someone should do this, but I still bet that we do see someone use the complaint generator in this way.

Overall, I found the complaint generator to be very entertaining, even if I could not understand half of what it randomly writes. Congratulations to Scott Pakin on winning this week’s site of the week contest. The nominations for next week’s site of the week are listed below. You can vote in the side bar. If you know of any sites that should be considered for nomination, please feel free to email them to me at Davis at and I will add them to the pool of weekly canidates.


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