I have a new business and I need someone to host my website. A close friend just started a web hosting business and wants me to use her web hosting company. It would be good advertising for her, but I am not sure her web hosting will meet my needs. Should I go with a reliable web hosting company that has enough server space to meet my needs and good customer service or should I go with my friend? I don’t want to hurt my friend or imply that her company isn’t good enough for me. I value her friendship but also feel like I can’t take a chance with my website.
You have to make a choice: Is your primary goal to start a successful business of your own or is your primary goal to help your friend learn the ropes of web hosting? If your goal is to begin a successful business, which is difficult under the best of circumstances, then look for the best possible web hosting that you can afford. If the success of your business is less important than helping your friend, then consider using your friend’s service.
Keep in mind that even if you choose your friend’s service this business relationship will still put a strain on your friendship. Every error she makes will drive you two further apart even if you are fully forgiving. Your friend wants to start a successful web hosting business and will suffer a loss of pride if she fails in your full view. You really only have two workable options: either go into partnership with your friend in the hosting business, or make a decision based entirely what is in the best interest of your business enterprise and tell her this is simply a business decision. I recommend the latter option. It will more likely preserve your friendship and get your own business off to a good start.
I’m a web designer and a cartoonist. I discovered some of my work was being taken by others and posted without giving me credit. I’m not greedy about this but one guy was using my material and consistently making money from it. I sent a cease and desist order, sort of, but I didn’t hire a lawyer. I just wanted him to stop ripping me off. He stopped for a while, but then started using my stuff again. Finally, I got angry and made a series of raunchy comics portraying him as a crook. I planned to embarrass him into stopping. Instead he sued me. In the end it worked out for the greater good, but I still wonder if it was a mistake to make the comics trashing him. Honestly though, I’m glad I did because he had it coming. What’s your take?
Taking the law into your own hands is dangerous. I am not a lawyer, so I am unequipped to comment on the legality of this case. Since you were sued you know better than I anyway. That aside, you are asking if online revenge is justified. Obviously it felt good to punish this guy: he was stealing your material. The problem with revenge born of righteous indignation is that it feels good. But despite the satisfaction you felt, you should not have done it.
If you were a nation unto yourself your attack might have been justified. In effect, you waged a propaganda war on a pirate stealing your comics. Fine for nations. The lawless relationship between nations and pirates readily shifts into a state of war, where the only virtues are force and fraud. But the Internet is not a state of nature. If it were, it wouldn’t work at all. We do attempt to follow conventions that are constantly codified into laws. You went outlaw, cowboy. And even though you had been robbed, pursuing a personal vendetta harms us all since it undermines the rules we are trying to create for a peaceful and productive Internet. Sorry to hurt your feelings, but you went from Wiki to wicked.
Despite the complexity of the digital world, moral distress is as real online as off. The thorniest ethical problems are not whether robots have rights or web designers should design websites for mercenaries and pornographers, the thorniest ethical conflicts are conflicts of interest — figuring out your constituency and how far to promote their interests.
Send your ethical dilemmas to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll give you my ethical analysis and you may find it helpful…or not.