1. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    A dilemma

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by art, Feb 18, 2012.

    An ethical dilemma.:eek:*
    Looked up the website of a local business. It is a business that I intend to patronise in the coming weeks.
    The text has many, pretty glaring, mistakes. Not stuff that is open to debate. Not stuff that would exasperate only a prescriptivist.

    It is a local business. I would like it to thrive.

    Provided I can cut and paste the text it will take five minutes to fix. Not looking to change the wording or otherwise polish the piece.

    Would it be appropriate to makes the fixes and email it to them anonymously? Is there a better course?










    *about which, of course, I've made up my mind.
     
  2. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    Personally I would wait until I was dealing with someone at the company, and mention to them that I'd noticed some errors on the site and would be happy to point them out. I don't think there's anything wrong with what you've proposed though, it's coming from a good place, I just think they might be more interested if a customer points it out rather than an anonymous Internet-dweller.

    I remember reading an article last year about the fact that many potential online customers are put off from ordering from a website if it contains spelling mistakes, so hopefully either way they'll take your advice in the spirit it's intended :)
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why do it anonymously?... it's meant to be helpful, so why pussyfoot around about it?

    just print out the badly written copy, mark the corrections, and give it to whoever's in charge of the business, as a 'gift' from a caring new customer/client!

    i don't see how this can be any kind of 'ethical dilemma'...

    i've done this for website owners i have no intention of doing business with, just to do a 'good deed'... as a professional editor, if i see really glaring goofs on a site i've gone to for any reason, i'll just drop the owner a brief note mentioning it and most times i've been thanked profusely and asked if i'd mind editing it for them, which i then do...
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you don't go in with the air of "Hey you idiots" (which you obviously don't intend to do) I can't see that they would view it as anything other than a helpful (and very nice) gesture. Never be afraid to help.
     
  5. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    A classy sort, I was thinking of ' Hey, Philistines..';)

    Simply, if you are asking, ‘How do I best conduct myself here?’ you are, very much, asking a question which sits squarely within the domain of ethics.

    Some people feel like something the cat drug in if you give them unsolicited advice - especially on a matter such as this. My advice might be seen to impugn their intelligence, their education and so on.

    I would rather folk have an imperfect website than feel like something the cat drug in and have an imperfect website. (It need hardly be said, but, if they are offended, they will likely disregard the advice.)

    But, you might say, if they are the sort to take offence at being given helpful advice in a pleasant manner then they are the sort who are not deserving of your kindness and, further, that if they should take offence, then it should not concern you.

    But, if they are indeed the sort who are offended by such things, then it seems to me that they are exactly the sort of folk who should not have additional agonies piled upon them.

    If I do it in the flesh or leave my name, they may well think that I am angling for a discount or whatever. This might prove awkward for all parties – keep in my mind we are all English here:

    - Hey, could I have that one please. Oh and btw, * hands fixed text to shopkeep* I took the liberty of correcting your website.

    -Oh.

    ‘Oh,’ indeed. Terrible scenes for an Englishman/woman.


    The best course might be exactly this. Establish a rapport with them and then proffer the advice. But, that might take time, and, all the while, Appalled of South Devon is refusing to patronize them…:)
     
  6. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    What you might do is casually mention that you had noticed one or two items that could use some improvement/changes. Depending on their reaction to that, either then tell them a couple of things and offer to help, or shrug good-naturedly and wander off to browse. ;)
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's pretty much what i do... and almost always gets a positive and grateful response, usually with a request to edit the whole site for them...

    for someone wanting to start up a freelance editing career, that's a good way to go about it... you can do some for free, to build up your portfolio and amass the references you'll need to get paying clients...
     
  8. RusticOnion
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    RusticOnion Contributing Member

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    I'm assuming that you've never done this before, so just to be on the safe side I'd post it anonymously. After all, you don't really know how they're going to react and, I'm just throwing this out there, that you might get something wrong, and that would be rather embarrassing.

    Also, this method is the most ethically sound, as you're doing a purely good deed and receiving no recognition.
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Art, you are offering to do something that benefits them. Like any other form of assistance, it is up to the offeree whether or not to accept. How they manage their sense of personal pride (or embarrassment) is not your concern and certainly is not any kind of ethical problem. You do not have a conflict of interest, here: you would like to see the business thrive and, presumably, so would they. Now, if YOU were "Appalled of South Devon", looking to publicly humiliate the business in question in the hope of driving their prices down so as to benefit from them, THAT would be an ethical problem.

    True story: back in the 1940s or early '50s (I forget which, but in any event before my time) a guy walked into the corporate offices of the makers of Lucky Strike cigarettes and told them he had an idea for a campaign slogan: "Be Happy, Go Lucky." The company turned that slogan into a hugely successful ad campaign. I believe they paid him a nice (at the time) reward, although he had not asked for anything. Everybody happy.
     
  10. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ed, I can understand why a man with your expertise thinks as you do, and I've perhaps spent too much time in the company of dead philosophers, but it is an ethical problem. A slight one perhaps. Hence my deployment of a :eek: fella to note the grandiloquence.

    Which of the courses open to me will produce the most good?

    I happen upon a pond in which five puppies are drowning. I could save them all without endangering my life in the slightest.

    I save none.

    Wrong answer. I have not done what I ought.

    I save two, think I’ve had my fill of good deed doing, and swan off.

    Wrong answer. I have not done what I ought.

    I save all five, but, prior to doing so, take a photo of their predicament since I’m a photographer and black and white shot of this sort of grim, urban shit will be lapped-up by unthinking aesthetes.

    Wrong answer. I have not done what I ought.

    I start to save them but a puppy interrupts: ‘Hey man, WTF? we’re swimming here, not drowning...’

    etc etc

    So, metaphorically, I have happened upon a pond in which, I think, five puppies are drowning.
    What should I do?

    Actually, I already know. Email them anonymously (just in case Rustic O, just in case:cool:) Then should some, or all, or any of the staff – it is a beauty salon btw – prove somehow delightful :rolleyes:, reveal myself. Not literally, of course: that would be a public decency issue.

    I sometimes astound even myself with my moral probity!
     

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