[2008-02-03] Where are the ethics?

Leo Notenboom asks: "Where are the ethics?" in a post dated Feb. 14th, 2006. Almost two years later, I've stumbled across it, and I have to say I completely agree. The comments are worth a read, too, if you've got the time. [Editorial note: Over 6 years later, this is still topical.]

I estimate that somewhere between a quarter and a half of all questions asked [of me via email] are attempts to deceive, steal, hack or hide from the repercussions of questionable activity.

Not a day goes by that I don't get a ton of "please recover my password" requests. Some may be legit I suppose, but many are blatant or poorly-disguised attempts to get me to supply a password into someone else's account.

Okay, so I'll admit he's particularly visible as a tech/security writer, so his audience is self-selecting in that regard, but this still seems to match the general "feel" of what non-tech interest in computers is about. At least a quarter of these people really are interested in doing nefarious things!

I think I know why, though. The computer world, to them, isn't real. It's all just a video game, on a perhaps subconscious level. They aren't hurting real people. At least, that's what most of the wannabe-hackers are probably thinking.

And then there are the weirdos, the people who think their boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse's business is always their business and "why would they not tell me the password unless they're hiding something?" -- to which I'd personally say: if you can't trust them, why are you with them anymore? A relationship is built on trust. That is its foundation. If you've lost it, you will break up/divorce within the year, so just get a head start and admit they're not for you. [Editorial note: I'm a sanctimonious prick sometimes, aren't I?]

Sorry, didn't mean to turn this into a lecture. My actual point in posting this was to show you a man who, at 50 years old (well, 48 at the time of making that podcast), still cares. I hope I still care when I'm 50; I hope I don't turn into a cynical bastard like this world seems to want me to. 'Cause I'll say one thing: the temptation is definitely there.

Originally published 2008-02-03 23:36 UTC +0200.

Cynical yet?

Not really. Though I'm only halfway to that 50 year marker, I can't find myself becoming cynical towards average computer users yet. In fact, I'm feeling ever more optimistic about them, to the extent that my "help wanted" page outlines why I don't care about pirates, including the phrase: "if the game is good enough, they will want to [pay us] for the very best of reasons: because they want to reward us for our work." Now, if that's not optimistic, I don't know what is.

Rescued and republished 2012-10-17 16:30 UTC +0300.