Due to the attention that Consumatron.com has been receiving, I have decided to write a little introductory FAQ to acquaint readers with the site. This post will be accessible from the left sidebar menu and I will be updating the file as I see fit. Here we go!

Consumatron.com FAQ v1.0

Why did you start this site?

Consumatron.com was birthed one evening while working my restaurant job. Business was particularly slow and my good friend Josh and I were discussing how much crap we buy on a daily basis. We agreed that though there are several great sites out there that review music, movies and other media, there didn’t seem to be any sites dedicated to examining the little purchases we make on a daily basis. We kicked around a few names for the site (ninjareviews.com, plasticsauce.com, etc…) and decided on Consumatron.com. The next few weeks were spent coming up with layout and logo ideas. I designed the fist with burning money. Josh designed the robot design for Mediatron The Consumatron Minute. Being the obsessive person I am, I began keeping a blogspot blog in October of 2005 and site layout/design evolved as organically as website design can. I found that forcing myself to write short reviews of seemingly inconsequential purchases made me pay attention to how I spend money and caused me to write more outside of the site. Fortunately for you, I still enjoy doing the site and will continue to do so until it bores me.

Note: As of March, 2007, Consumatron has been moved to the Wordpress publishing software and I am much happier.

Are you a professional writer/journalist/napkin scribbler?

No. Though I would like to be some day. Ever since I began keeping a journal in a red Mead notebook when I was 15 years old, I have dreamed of making a living off of my writing. If you would like to hire me for any writing projects (review or otherwise), please send me an e-mail at consumatron(at)consumatron(dot)com.

Are you trying to make money off of this site?

Yes and no. I am not writing Consumatron.com to make a quick buck. If my sole intention was to make money off of the internet, I would sell porn or go into advertising. I do this for the pure fun and experiment of it. That being said, keeping a website of any size does cost money. There are server fees, etc… that I need to pay attention to. So, on the right-hand sidebar, I have included advertising that brings in a small amount of supplemental income (and I do mean small… my adbrite ads have only netted me $1.90 as of this writing four months after I began the site). I also include Amazon affiliate links in my reviews when I can so if any of you decide to give a product that I review a shot, I will receive a small percentage of the sale. I do have a Cafepress store where you can buy a custom-printed Consumatron.com hoodie, but I have tried to make it affordable for you by only setting the price at $1.00 more than the base Cafepress price. I’d rather have my site advertised than drain you of your hard-earned money. I am more concerned with attracting the largest readership possible than making a quick buck. I have even formatted the site so that if your computer display is set for 800 x 600 resolution, the right sidebar will be off of the screen, thus sparing you annoying ad sidebars.

Can I advertise on this site?

Absolutely! Here is a link to the Advertising Page!

This site sucks. Where is the message board so I can leave my two word, misspelled opinion about your site?

Don’t you have to clean your room before your parents let you on the computer? Go away.

If this site is called Consumatron, why do you only review everything you purchase and not everything you consume? Shouldn’t this site be called Buyatron?

Okay, first of all, I am obsessive, but not that obsessive! Do you realize what kind of considerations I have to make to my already busy schedule to bring you the reviews I already do? If I reviewed every single thing I came in contact with on a daily basis, I would have to have a psychic uplink to the site to keep it current. Secondly, Consumatron does not come from the root word consume, but rather consumerism. Consumatron is an exploration into the nature of my own consumerism, not of my consumption of the world around me. In addition to bringing you an insightful look into my consumerism, it also keeps me in check as to how much money I am spending in any given day, how many cigarettes I am smoking, how much I am drinking as well as several other factors. If you want to start your own review site where you review every potato chip your friends offer you and every free sample you try at the supermarket, be my guest. My condolences that you have no friends or social life.

Do you review EVERYTHING you buy? I mean EVERYTHING?

There are some exceptions as to what I review. I do not review my rent checks or utility payments. Frankly, what I spend on my apartment and the like is none of your damn business. Also, as of right now, I do not review any purchases toward public transportation. I do not drive a car and am fortunate enough to live in the great city of Chicago, where the public transportation (though flawed) is (fairly) reliable and plentiful. I ride the bus approximately 10 times a week at $1.75-$2.00 a ride, occasionally take a cab and ride my bike everywhere else. If something exceptional happens on these short jaunts to work or the laundromat, I will be sure to write up a special review for them. However, most of the time, my public transit experience consists of me shuffling through my playlists, staring out the window and drooling. If you really would like to hear about that, I’m sure you can find a fetish site out there somewhere dedicated to -shuffling, window-staring droolers. If you are interested in the ins and outs of Chicago’s Public Transportation, may I recommend the site savechicagotransit.com.

Why don’t you compare prices or post daily deals/online specials/web-coupons?

Look, when I find a deal that I am interested in, I will bring it to your attention. There are several web-sites dedicated to saving you money though. I don’t want to be “just another” one of those sites. If you don’t like what I’m doing, either offer me some constructive criticism or go to Froogle.com.

That being said, I am a huge fan of the daily surprise/deal site Woot.com and you should visit them every night at midnight to see what kind of cool product they are offering for that day!

So you are really just a materialistic bastard who values money over all else, right?

Ultimately, that judgment is up to you. I don’t see it that way. When it comes down to it, I really don’t put all that much credence into money. This is ironic, since I am pretty good at keeping track of my finances and saving money. I understand we need money to live in the current economy, and if someone wants to give me money, I won’t turn it down but I’m not out there buying lottery tickets every weekend because I think a massive bank account will solve all of my problems. It won’t. I’m more interested in the “why” of it all and the human interaction we all take for granted on a daily basis. How many of you know the name of the clerk at the local convenience store? You probably talk to him more than some of your family members, yet all you know is that he is capable of pressing buttons on a cash register. These things that we all take for granted are what interests me. I’m more interested in the automatic purchases we make every day and why that is. How much money have I wasted on cigarettes and peanuts? Is that what I’m toiling away at my job every day for?

Also, what are the politics of our purchases? I often think of an anti-war protest I attended a few years ago in Chicago’s Federal Plaza. Sitting on a planter was a self-described anarchist holding several signs with anti-corporate slogans on them, yet in his hand, he had a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich. Now I can’t blame him for enjoying his sandwich. Breakfast is about the only thing McDonald’s doesn’t royally screw up. The irony of the situation hit me though. How strong could this anarchist’s convictions really be if he spent two bucks at one of the biggest corporations in the world? How did he earn that two dollars in the first place? All of our purchases are fundamentally a political act, but not necessarily a conscious one. Each and every one of us is a hypocrite, much like that anarchist I saw, but we fail to recognize it because buying a package of Hostess Sno-Balls has become such a routine that even if Sno-Balls were made of ground up children, many of us would still purchase them out of convenience and habit. It is my hope that I can analyze this phenomenon with at least a few of my reviews.

So, how does your rating system work? What do those numbers mean?

Any review of anything is just one person giving his/her opinion on something. There may be some factual information in that review, but in the end, it’s all opinion. If Roger Ebert has a stomach ache one day, that may influence his review of your film. It’s the same thing here. My opinions are just that. Opinions. If you have a problem with them, feel free to comment. Dialogue is what it is all about. All subjectivity aside, I should tell you that a 2.5 rating represents a solid average score. 2.5 means that there was nothing that thrilled me about this purchase and nothing that disappointed me. 2.5 is like drinking distilled water. No taste, no nothing. Just a stasis of quality and an emotional void. Anything above a 2.5 is relatively good and anything below 2.5 is relatively bad.

If you are going to get hung up on my ratings, you should know that I am not a consumer advocate. I encourage consumer responsibility, but realize that convenience pervades our everyday lives. To rail against it completely would require a dedication that most people don’t have. Therefore, my reviews are often relative to the situation at hand. For instance, if I am reviewing petroleum (a material we use far too much of), the rating will be relative to other petroleum from other petro stations and not necessarily my fundamental opinion of petroleum .

Besides, if you are getting too hung up on the ratings system, you are missing the point of Consumatron.

Hey, you made a typo/false statement/statement I do not agree with.

Really? You mean I’m not perfect? Damn!

By all means, if you notice something wrong with the site or review, make a comment. One of the greatest aspects of keeping a blog is the learning experience that can come from it. If I have said something you think is bullshit, call me out on it! I am a fan of the strike tag and will use it whenever I correct a typo you point out. Being a fan of paper journaling, I draw immense pleasure from imperfections and find beauty in all of the flaws of the creative process. Sometimes moreso than in the end product. So all of you word nerds, please, keep me in check!

Can I send you my CD/Book/Handicrafts/Manifesto/Etc… to review?

Absolutely! I love free stuff! are terrific! However, please note that if you send me something, there is no guarantee that I will review it. I have extremely diverse taste in music/movies/books/media, but unfortunately, I don’t have unlimited amounts of time on my hands. I will do my best to check out everything that people send to me, but don’t hold me to a review. Also, if I do end up reviewing your project, keep in mind that I am going to be brutally honest. If I don’t like something, I am not afraid to say so. If you send me something for free, I thank you, but I am going to try to be as objective as possible about it all. As far as I am concerned, my review will reflect my opinion as if I actually spent the full price to purchase it myself.

Please don’t let any of that discourage you though. Every great writer or musician has had a bad review. And I am a firm believer that any publicity… even bad publicity… is good publicity.

That being said, feel free to contact me at if you have something you would like reviewed.

Do you have any other websites?

Yes. I began keeping an online journal in May of 2001 over at LiveJournal.com. It began as a blog to record my experiences as I traveled across the U.S. in an old Chevy conversion van. After two months on the road, I kept writing about my personal life there. There is a lot of sad sappy crap and stream-of-consciousness writing there. I still update it occasionally, so if you are interested in what I am up to outside of this site, give it a look. I also keep a blogger blog at BurningJelly.com. Until recently, it has just been a mirror of my livejournal, but I am working on revamping that site to be a place where I can sell some of my photography and maybe even my short fiction and other writing. If you go there right now, you’ll be bored to tears. I’ll let you know if and when I make the conversion.

Want to know anything else? Drop me a message at consumatron(at)consumatron(dot)com and I will do my best to reply to you personally or update this FAQ.

Thanks for reading Consumatron.com!

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