Automatic Complaint-Letter Generator
It allows users to submit the name of the individual or company that the complaint is directed toward. The program then generates a complaint letter that is "general enough to be true or fit anyone and everyone, yet specific enough to mean something".
Scott Pakin started the website in April 1994. While he was an undergraduate student studying computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, he began thinking of creating a program that would generate complaint letters. The idea originated after he looked through "pointless ramblings" in a student newspaper. Pakin criticized the letters' quality. One of his friends remarked that the letters sounded so arbitrary that a computer could have written them. Pakin pondered over this comment and decided to write a program that would generate complaints.
The website allows users to specify the name of the individual or company that the complaint is directed toward, as well as the number of paragraphs the complaint will be. After submitting the data, the computer generates sentences that are composed of arbitrary verbs, nouns, and adjectives.
In 1995, the generator had "282 sentence skeletons, 170 independent clauses, 183 adjectives, and 123 nouns". The combination of these elements can form more than one billion sentences. As of September 2009, the generator has expanded to 3379 independent clauses, 618 adjectives, and 497 nouns. The complaint letters are randomly generated, so each insult is different.
Pakin said that people who read the letters were inclined to pay attention to the sentences that were accurate about them but ignored the statements that were obviously wrong. He noted that the complaint generator is "general enough to be true or fit anyone and everyone, yet specific enough to mean something".
In 2001, Paul Weyland was chosen by his Austin Toastmasters club to present Kirk Watson, the mayor of Austin, Texas. When a Toastmasters member asked Weyland about his speech, he went to the Automatic Complaint-Letter Generator and typed in the mayor's name. After the generator churned out a four-page complaint letter, Weyland accidentally emailed it to the mayor, even though he meant to send it to his fellow Toastmaster member as a joke.
Watson learned about the joke and indicated that he would not be attending the club meeting because of "security issues". Then, his aide e-mailed Weyland and said the mayor was just joking. At the meeting, Weyland apologized to the mayor in a "fawning introductory speech". The mayor then responded: "[y]ou know, in Paul's rant, he accused me of having my lips planted to the posteriors of drug-addled sycophants. If you'll notice, Paul's lips have been attached to my posterior all evening."
- Case, Karin D. (1998-04-30). "Ranting and Raving is Therapeutic". Investor's Business Journal. Archived from the original on 2007-10-16. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
- Pakin, Scott (2009-09-19). "Automatic complaint-letter generator -- new and improved". Automatic Complaint-Letter Generator. Archived from the original on 2009-10-04. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
- Sulkes, Stan (1999-07-20). "Let computer write pesky love, hate notes". The Cincinnati Post. Archived from the original on 2007-10-16. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
- Wesley, Ann (1995-11-16). "Love and anger easily expressed on the Web". The Herald-Times. Archived from the original on 2007-10-16. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
- Scalzi, II, John M. (1995-01-18). "Article by John M. Scalzi, II". Fresno Bee (The McClatchy Company). Archived from the original on 2007-11-26. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
- Aron, Wendy (1995-06-27). "Hate mail". XS magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-10-16. Retrieved 4 September 2009.
- Pakin, Scott (2009-09-19). "Statistics for Scott Pakin's automatic complaint-letter generator". Automatic Complaint-Letter Generator. Archived from the original on 2009-10-04. Retrieved 4 October 2009.
- Kelso, John (2001-08-19). "Biggest e-mail blunder? This takes the cake". Austin American-Statesman. Archived from the original on 2002-03-07. Retrieved 4 September 2009.