An appeal to students from the creator of Whitman Compliments
December 7, 2012
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My name is Eyal Hanfling and I am the creator and manager of Whitman Compliments.
Last Sunday evening while browsing through my newsfeed, I came across a post that one of my college-age friends had been tagged in from a compliments page at his university. At around midnight on Sunday, Whitman Compliments was born.
Over the past 4 days, Whitman students have submitted more than 1,500 compliments to the form at my site. When I started the project, I wasn’t sure what the reception would be like, but I’ve been blown away by the sheer number of compliments and the quality of the submissions.
It’s true that the vast majority of the compliments are directed at a select number of people. Many of these compliments sound exactly the same and almost all include a phrase like “You go girl!” or “I seriously do not know what I would do without this person.”
But there have also been compliments for football players, and skateboarders. At one point, there were so many compliments for members of the crew team that I thought there was some sort of competition.
That’s exactly why I’ve enjoyed managing this profile. As you may have noticed, I tend to post compliments in bunches, with 50 or 100 posts all going up at the same time. But I’m not using any sort of computer algorithm or blindly tagging people in posts — I’ve read, and re-read every single submission.
Last night at midnight, I stopped accepting all submissions to the Whitman Compliments online form. It still feels weird to think that the total number of compliments is going to be stuck at 1,513. If the current pattern continued, I estimate students would be submitting upwards of 500 compliments every day.
But Whitman Compliments has had its time in the spotlight — the school has realized how amazing it feels to be virtually and anonymously complimented by your friends and classmates. Now it’s time for us to move on.
When was the last time we complimented a random person in one of our classes? When was the last time we actually wished a random athlete “good luck” in the hallway before their game or congratulated someone on their victory at a tournament? Friends can “like” online posts, but real-life conversations are always more meaningful.
The era of Whitman Compliments is coming to an end, but I hope you’ll carry forward the project’s message this year. To everyone who supported Whitman Compliments during this crazy week, submitted a note of thanks, suggested friends for the profile, tweeted about the project, and sent in compliments: Thank you.
I copied and pasted a lot of kind words over the past few days. But the real work was done by those of you who sent in two or three compliments about your peers — Congratulations on a job well done!
Note: Although I am on the Black & White Staff, this project is not affiliated with the Black & White, Whitman Leadership/SGA, or any other school-sponsored club.