RE: Real world ethical questions

Subject: RE: Real world ethical questions
From: MList -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2003 14:28:38 -0400


> I have two pertinent ethical issues.
>
> Product X is intended for financial institutions, where security is
> important. There's a login/password authentication system. But, the
> product uses Internet Explorer as the interface. It's easy to bypass
> the system. I documented that, but the product manager told me to take
> it out, not because it wasn't true, but because he didn't want people
> to know it worked that way.
>
> Product Y is our bread-and-butter product. Some of the documentation
> is wrong. The writer got the details from the company president, who
> ordered her to write it that way because it was his "vision of how
> Product Y should work."
>
> What can we do? Times are tough.

Obviously, you should be looking for another job.
Probably, one thing that you should do is to create an
alternate version of your documents for those products
that accurately describes them. Then, use THOSE versions
as part of your portfolio.

As others have mentioned, you don't give away samples,
but when requested, you can show your samples to prospective
employers. If one of them happens to recognize the product,
you can probably have a nice discussion as to why your
sample disagrees with the product and segué into why it
is that you are looking for new employement. It might also
mollify those who want current references that you can't
realistically offer. "I'd give you contact info for my current
boss, but he's the one who ordered me to leave this part
out of/put this bit into the product documents. You see my dilemma?"

If your company's product is widely used, you might want
to write a "For Dummies" (or similar) book that notes the
discrepancies, and have it ready to publish if/when you
get canned, or the company goes under. A little supplemental
income, in case the next job is slow coming (as you suggested
at the end of your post).

You should also get all such commands (as were issued by
your boss) in writing. If the issuer doesn't do it, then
you send them an e-mail, summarizing your understanding
and asking if it is correct. Do a blind cc: to your home
e-mail, and to other people whom you trust. Use PGP or
similar.... I think it hashes/encrypts the time-stamp...
somebody else can verify. The point is to have a record
of your objection -- if not a written directive from the
boss -- from the approximate time that it all happened, not
later on when the investigation or publicity is starting
and you'd look like you were playing self-serving catch-up.

ADDITIONAL QUESTION

Assuming that anonymous eventually leaves her/his current
employ, and they haven't gone under, they'll probably be
looking for a replacement. In their selection and their
interviews, they'll probably NOT mention this little
episode. So, how is the next prospect -- who may very well
be a member of this list, and/or an STC member ( :-) --
to learn about this company's policy before signing up?

Does anonymous have any ethical requirement to alert us
to the identity of the ... er... fact-fudging employer?

/kevin
(who has never posted anonymously to the list... ahem!)

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