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Getting Virtually Even

By Jim Bray

If you're harboring a grudge, there's a Web site that can help you balance the books.

InsultPro is an on-line “un-greeting card” site that gives wronged people a way to strike back and feel smugly superior for their blazing, store-bought wit.

Yes, friends, you too can send an anonymous and confidential message to the people who done you wrong. Isn't life grand?

Of course, such a tactic brings the sender right down to the level of the “sendee” in the process, but why let logic rear its ugly head when you're keen to inflict some virtual wounds onto a perceived enemy?

InsultPro’s on-line disservice - er, I mean service - works very much like those other on-line greeting companies you may have experienced except, of course, that this one represents the ugly dark side the beast.

According to a company flack, speaking anonymously in a press release I received recently, the InsultPro service is appropriate for anyone who feels that a face-to-face meeting with the recipient might be “ill-advised.”

No kidding! The company also claims there's no way the un-greetings can be traced back to the sender.

Sending your insult is easy. Just surf by, and you can partake of a “wizard-based” system to design your “surf-by shooting.”

Once you've decided upon whom you're going to unleash your attack, you can choose whether the assault will be by e-mail, including an optional “delivery confirmation” feature, by snail mail, or even by second day delivery air mail. Prices range from $5.99 to $22.99, depending upon which delivery method you choose.

There's also a $24.99 “insult-pack” that gives you a two pronged attack that uses both e-mail and air mail. It's undoubtedly for those who really want to beat their victims over the head.

For those who have a modicum of creativity, InsultPro lets you write your own slur. The rest of us can choose from the company's fairly wide selection of pre-made smears, which include such classics as “Sexist Pig” and “the Adolph Award,” which recognizes bosses who behave like little Hitlers toward their staff.

One of my favorites is the one that says “Ahoy Matey, Stop Pirating Company Software.”

I tried to figure out a way to send that particular one without paying, but InsultPro was a step ahead of me all the way.

Some of the insults are actually pretty choice and would be quite appropriate for corporate situations in which I've found myself over the years, like “Thanks for sacrificing the careers of others only to advance your own!”

Naturally, the site isn't totally dedicated to insulting bosses and co-workers. You can also hurl virtual venom at philandering spouses, secret admirers, stupid and/or trashy and/or ugly people.

Some of the digs are actually quite funny, such as “You buy cosmetics for a make-up exam!” but most of them are your most basic insults, and some are quite rude.

They even give you a chance to customize their sample abuse so it draws even more blood.

Okay, politically correct it ain't, but I daresay it isn't meant to be, either.

Once you've written or chosen your insult, you can couple it with a cartoon guaranteed to make even more subtle - like the venerable proffering of a pair of bare buttocks with an invitation to kiss.

The whole thing is pretty tasteless - and gutless.

When your card is ready to go you're taken to the most painful part of the exercise: paying for your dastardly deed. You can use your credit card or type in the code from an “InsultPro voucher” if you're lucky enough to have received one.

InsultPro bills itself as a proud affiliate of, and offers you a link from its “InsultPro” store page to the rest of that on-line store's products. I don't know if proudly proclaims its affiliation with InsultPro, but I wouldn't be surprised either way.

InsultPro prides itself on protecting its users’ anonymity, and I suppose that's a plus. I wonder, however, what the point is in sending such a thing anonymously. Isn't the whole purpose behind such assaults having your victim know who's twisting the knife?

Unless you just want the recipient to view his or her entire circle of acquaintances with suspicion...

Just what we need - more paranoia.

Oh well, this is the new e-commerce world we hear so much about.

Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.


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January 31, 2006