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A Moral Quandry About Posting - Advice Sought

Hi all,

I'm having a bit of a dilemma regarding an Instructable for April Fool's Day. I was considering posting an idea I had for pulling the classic schoolboy Flaming-Bag-Of-Poo-On-The-Doorstep prank, only at great distances. It's a thought I had several years ago when a colleague was irritating me, and I thought "I'd really like to leave a flaming bag of poo on his porch. Too bad he lives 2000 miles away."

Obviously, this is not something that I would actually do. It's intended as an amusing article about the theory of the thing, not something to make in real life and use. Mailing combustible materials is illegal and dangerous, potentially lethal, prosecutable under terror laws, and just generally a bad idea all 'round. Also, the mechanism of the thing could be easily repurposed to initiate a much more dangerous payload than a paper bag full of poo. Honestly, the device is pretty much a mail bomb with a joke payload.

My major concerns are 1) there are people out there who would be dumb enough to build it and prank someone, thinking they could do it safely; 2) there are people out there who are malicious enough to build it and use it for intentionally destructive purposes; 3) The mere presence of the article on the site could potentially attract government scrutiny, and if someone actually were to get injured by such a device built from plans found on this site....

On the other hand, Kiteman's 0th.

I have considered redesigning it so that the payload involves something innocuous, like a spring-loaded confetti launcher or a recorded message, but the humor of the thing really depends upon the absurdity of mailing someone a flaming bag of poo. Mailing someone a sound bite that says "YOU SUCK" just doesn't have the same impact. Plus, it costs more to make. Poo is free.

Anyway, what do my esteemed colleagues think? Am I being overly cautious, or am I right in just shelving the whole thing?

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lemonie7 years ago
What about custard instead? (and no fire)

L
RavingMadStudios (author)  lemonie7 years ago
You mean like the classic pie-in-the-face gag? That would be great, but it does present the problem of getting the mark to stand in the right place to get hit with the custard. Any thoughts on that front?
Yes, the same "in the right place" would apply to anything you're flinging though. Substitute custard for your original payload.

L
RavingMadStudios (author)  lemonie7 years ago
I think the easiest thing would be to package the gimmick in a box with a hinged lid, like a small footlocker. Most people will open that kind of box while facing the opening, the better to see what's in it. That should put them within the appropriate arc of fire.

I wonder how much pressure it would take to push a pint or so of custard through a fan-shaped sprinkler nozzle at about 75 fps....
I neglected to mention that I was thinking of a gelatinous-blob rather than liquid.

L
skunkbait7 years ago
I say "post it".  Give stern warnings, and don't mention possible mods to accomplish more dastardly goals.  List it as a "gag",  "joke" or "prank", and hopefully no one will take it too seriously.
RavingMadStudios (author)  skunkbait7 years ago
I have seen way too many potentially lethal instructables on this site to muster up the necessary level of faith in the common sense of the community as a whole. Most of us are rational people who know where to draw the line, but it only takes one bonehead to blow the whole thing. If I were just saying "send someone flaming poop in the mail - ha ha" it would be one thing, but providing detailed instructions and photos is a whole different ball 'o wax.
NachoMahma7 years ago
.  The main problem I see is that, as you point out, mailing things that explode and/or catch fire easily is illegal (and I'll bet it ain't one of those slap-on-the-wrist-and-a-$50-fine crimes) "and just generally a bad idea all 'round." Can you modify the project so that it doesn't involve the USPS?
RavingMadStudios (author)  NachoMahma7 years ago
It could work with any of the non-government delivery services, but I believe the same restrictions apply. The only other option I can think of is personal delivery, and that sort of defeats the whole purpose.
Kiteman7 years ago
How about a compressed-gas device to fire cloud of flour over the recipient?  Or soot-like powder for that stylish it-blew-up-in-my-face look?


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