T Nation

Moral Dilemma


I discovered something odd about myself the other day, I actually have morals. More than this, I appear to be having a moral dilemma.

Basically, I have a client who I'm building a website for. From what I can gather, he's stolen the idea from another site, and thinks he can prove more popular than them.

A couple of days ago, he called me up about some legal matter with his solicitor, and told me that they'd looked at the terms and conditions on this other site. His solicitor is under the impression that the site wrote the T&C's without legal guidence, and as such, there's a very large loophole that leaves the site open for liability if anything goes wrong. He then told me that he thinks he can put the other site out of business and hence, eliminate one of his main competitors.

Now, I have no love of this client, to put it bluntly, the guy's a fucking idiot. The problem is, he may very well be a fucking idiot with the ability to put someone else out of business because of a legal loophole.

After I got off the phone with him, I spent a little while hunting around and managed to find contact details of the guy who owns the other site.

So, now I face a self made dilemma. Do I contact the owner of the other site and warn him, or leave it? For all I know, the owner of the other site is a bigger fuckwit than the client I'm dealing with.


Tough call. I would have told your client the second he started talking about stuff like that to STFU.

Go with your gut, though. If you don't care for any of the people involved, make this about you. How and can this affect or come back to you in the future? Weigh the pros and cons.

On one hand, by telling the other guy you open a can of worms. This is the unknown area of the dilemma. We could suppose that maybe the other guy would kindly thank you for your honesty. Maybe he'd hook you up with some free gear. Maybe it'll spark him getting insurance on his company or some shit.

If you don't tell? Some guy may go out of business, or maybe nothing will happen at all.

Sorry, I didn't really give you an answer.

I'd tell the other guy.


Dude, it's business.

Your client found a loophole in a competitors business and is taking advantage, so what? If the other guy hasn't taken the time to secure his business idea as much as possible, don't you think that's his problem?

I have morals too, but this just seems like business as usual to me. Besides, you're not doing anything immoral - if anything, he is.

Also, if word gets out that you go behind clients backs it may not be great news for you.


I appreciate the responses.

If I did tell the other guy, then it would be completely anonymous, I wouldn't give him any way to get back in contact with me and no way to track me down. I'm not considering this because I'm after a handout, I'm either doing it to spite the motherfucker who's made my work life miserable for the past month, or I'm doing it because I hate seeing shit like this going on. I can't quite decide which one it is though.

I'm not bothered about word getting out that I went behind my clients back. I don't think it'll happen because there'll (hopefully) be no way to prove it was me, and besides, I'm getting out of this game before the end of the year.

Being seriously over dramatic for a second, how does the saying go? Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.


Do whatever will help you sleep better at night.


tough call.
if your current boss isn't breaking the law per se, it still doesn't mean it's good business ethics.
your enlightening the competition could be the way his karma is paying him back for being an all around douche...

when it comes down to it, you are the only one that has to live with yourself, do what you think is right.


I think it's really your call. Both choices will have their merits and downsides, it's a personal choice.

If you really hate your client for good reason and think he is screwing someone over who may be an "innocent" in the situation, then by all means tell them. They may end up telling you to mind your own business, lol.


Ehhh...you have to think about who your partisans are. Something kind of dying in this anglosphere of ours, is the idea of cronyism and clannism. This is something that is somewhat of a moral maxim that trumps all others in my culture.

This is a person, who is PAYING YOU, to do something for him. It is not easy to get clients right now, so the fact he is willing to give you the money, makes him someone you should develop a relationship with. Fukking him over, is not going to help you in the future, and the guy you tip off, won't care that you did, as you gave it to him for free and he doesn't/will barely know you.

If your client has told you intimate details like this, either he is an idiot or he feels you are someone in his network of varying trust. Even if this guy is a buffoon, he obviously has some reasonable skill sets, perhaps some you do not possess, as he is the one with the venture capital to launch this site, and then one snuffing out the competition; not you.

Endeavor to develop loyalty and partisan. Why should you sacrifice your loyalty, and fuck your partisan in order to, help some jackass you don't even know and who never has/will do anything for you? Think about it.

If you wanna get really Machiavelli, you should dev this guy's site, and talk with him as a brother extract all the info you can from him. Then complete the site with some fundamental flaw, a time bomb in it. Get the other guy to pay you for the info of what his competitor is doing, sell him this information for a few hundred bux after you coax him on the phone. Then after you get your pay from both parties, wait a week or two, and launch the site yourself and put them both out of business. That'd be pretty gangster.


hahaha pure evil genius.
good Lord.


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Personally, I would let it go. Like someone else said, its business.

I attended a law seminar in college that was given by a prominent local defense attorney. Someone asked him how he felt about defending someone if he knew they were guilty. His response was that its his job to represent his client to the best of his ability and do what is in the best interest of that person. Their guilt or innocence in no way affected the level of performance or commitment he gave them.

You were paid to do a job. Unless its something illegal, do it and move on.


Nothing wrong with being ethical and moral at all - in fact, I encourage it especially in business.

In reality I would probably side with your opinion, but it seems to me that it's getting harder and harder to find businesses that won't try cut you short - at least in my experience.

I've tried to warn people before in similar situations and they've ignored me and basically told me to mind my own business - hence my current mental stance on the subject.


tell the guy...


SpartanX, have you considered going into the evil overlord business?

You're right though, I am being paid to do a job, and I'm going to complete that job to the best of my ability, despite my personal dislike for the client.

I'm not looking to put this client out of business, and I'll do my best to make his business a success, I'm just not willing to fuck someone else over in that way to do it.

To me, the T&C's on the site look pretty good, but then I've never pretended to understand the ins and outs of the legal system.


This is a simple conflict of interest. Tell your client you cannot take his work -- and you don't need to give a reason.

Or stay with him but whatever you do don't sign a contract and then do something that he can sue you for -- like breaking a confidentiality agreement.


Who's going to put food on your table and pay your mortgage?

Once you asnswer that, you should have your situation all figured out.


Like lifticvs says, if you tell him you are basically opening yourself up to getting sued.

Either do the job or quit it, but don't go telling the other guy. Then you would be the one giving trade secrets away, and just as immoral, but unlike your client you'd be breaking a contract which could make you liable.

You can't control other people or enforce your morality on them, you can only live your own life.


Man. Business is cut throat competition. It's just the way it is. Also you state that "the owner of the other site is a bigger fuckwit than the client I'm dealing with", therefore it's obvious what you should do. If you getting all moral then just quit the job.


Ah, you misread my friend. What I was saying is that for all I know he could be a bigger fuckwit, meaning I don't actually know.


I say, let everyone know that you decided NOT to take the job because of your moral stature.

But in reality, you took it, did it, got paid and had wild seXXX.

Now you've just ensued moral fiber into your well-being as well as getting paid for it.