At some point, almost 10 years ago, I was surfing the web and stumbled upon this Wikipedia article: Toilet Paper Orientation. Don’t ask me how I got there.
2 things got my attention about this insignificant and yet controversial debate:
- People have strong opinions about simple things, supported by crazy reasons that are only thought of because someone asks “why”.
- People are drawn to these debates because you can voice an opinion supported by pseudo-facts that, like any opinion, are basically irrefutable.
Since that story by Ann Landers featured on the Wikipedia article happened in the 80’s much has changed. With the internet, you can voice any opinion, regardless of its stupidity, and reach a sizable audience. Since the world is big and crazy enough, chances are you’ll find a fool or many that think alike. I’m moving away from toilet paper orientation though, which is the subject at hand.
Inspired by the article, I came up with the idea of a website that would allow you to vote for your favorite orientation and voice your opinion about it.
I bought the domain toiletpaperorientation.org in 2012, envisioned this crazy website, and dreamed about it going viral and becoming an internet sensation. Like many projects or ideas of mine, it got imagined in unnecessary detail and thus gave a “simulation“ of the satisfaction of doing something, without actually doing anything. So, the domain was renewed every once in a while without being used, gathering digital dust. The dream never died though.
Enter COVID and the isolation policies. I finally had ran out of excuses: it had to be done. Specially considering the initial toilet paper panic. I started thinking (not a good start for me) that this project would be the perfect opportunity to finally do something on python and django. I went through some tutorials, researched how to deploy with Heroku, and invested (wasted) some time on other useful things. Alas, the website I envisioned so long ago was no closer to being than the end of toilet paper usage.
So I thought “to hell with django, I can learn another time” and somehow decided a php framework would be a better idea. I fooled around with some nano frameworks and got myself up to date with the latest php developments, but got no closer to having anything on toiletpaperorientation.org.
After those very “productive“ nights I finally saw the light and focused on delivery. I got the simplest and freest html template I liked, put together some php scripts to handle voting and captchas, uploaded everything to godaddy (yes, it was the fastest and easiest at the time), and finally had a working website.
It was a long long very long journey for this platform to come to life, maybe more than it was necessary. Although it’s a tiny fraction of what I had originally envisioned, it’s there, in the wild, gathering votes. I learned about django, php, captchas, and deploying to heroku, but mostly, I learned about myself.
This post was brought to you by the Toilet Paper Orientation Foundation, the organization helping humanity answer its ultimate question. Help us with your input!