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Businesses Programming The Internet

How Do Developers Handle Moral Dilemmas? 268

Posted by Cliff
from the tough-choices dept.
DwightFagen asks: "I'm curious to know how developers in the Slashdot community handle situations in which they are given a project that rubs against their moral borders. I was recently hired as a Flash developer for a design and development company and am just beginning my second project. This particular assignment is to build the video portion of an online magazine. This magazine deals with various topics and is by no means a pornographic site (although some content may border on that), but it seems one of its key tenets is to be untethered by social moral values. Though I do not believe such things should in any way be censored or banned from the internet, I do not wish to actively support something I believe to be an exploitation of human beings. What would you in the Slashdot community do in such a situation? Have any of you dealt with something like this before?"
"For the sake of clarity, I'd like to mention that I'm all for the freedom of expression on the internet and that I do not in any way judge people based on the media they choose to consume.

If this were a clear cut case of pornography, my choice would be simple; but that is not the case. I do still hold myself to certain standards and believe in the value of integrity and I would also like to do work that my family and friends can be proud of (or at least work that I could show them). However, I would also like to keep my job and would not want to put my small company of very nice people in a difficult position (as the deadline is not so far off)."
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How Do Developers Handle Moral Dilemmas?

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  • Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arb (452787) <amosba@ g m a i l . com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @01:48AM (#17012748) Homepage
    If you are uncomfortable with the work you are being required to do, state so clearly to your boss and request that you not be placed on this project. Talk it through with your boss and see what can be done. If you feel strongly enough about it, find another job where such issues are not likely to arise.
    • by tcopeland (32225)
      > If you feel strongly enough about it, find another
      > job where such issues are not likely to arise.

      That's the crux of the matter. There are approximately one slew of jobs out there that won't be morally questionable, and you'll sleep better at night knowing that you're not enabling nasty behavior. It's a small victory but an important one.

      Also, for Flash UI goodness, try ActionStep [actionstep.org]. It's an open source, BSD licensed UI framework for Flash. We use it in indi [getindi.com] and it's good stuff.
      • Re:Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JanneM (7445) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:02AM (#17013150) Homepage
        >> If you feel strongly enough about it, find another
        >> job where such issues are not likely to arise.

        > That's the crux of the matter. There are approximately one slew of jobs out there that won't be
        > morally questionable, and you'll sleep better at night knowing that you're not enabling nasty
        > behavior. It's a small victory but an important one.

        If, that is, the project is indeed just about to begin - the OP seems to imply that is not the case. If it's the case that you've already spent months working on the project, and you're weeks from finishing, I would say you made your choice when you started your willing participation. You took on the job and now have a duty to see it through. This goes double if it, as the OP says, is a small company that will be hurt badly by a late defection.

        If you're already deep in the project, finish the job as best you know how - you've already done most of the job, and your fellow workers depend on you to finish what you agreed to do. Then, _after_ the delivery, talk with your boss. Tell him that the latest job made you seriously uncomfortable, and that you are not prepared to do a similar job again. You saw it through because you'd promised to, but you will not repeat the experience.

        One of two things will happen: he'll tell you that there's no such job again on the horizon, and he'll keep this in mind if he needs to assign people t o another such thing; or he'll say this is part of the business and you need to accept doing the job to continue working there.
    • Your ideas intrigue me, sir and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
    • Request that you not be placed on this project.

      I believe that to be a cop-out.

      Unless you are of rare talent, your labor is fungible within the company. If you go to another project for the same company, then another engineer who would have worked on that project can now do the work you found to be distasteful. But you are still enabling the company to produce the distasteful work.

      Either you are OK with being a contributor to the work product that you find distasteful or not. You can quit, or you could d
      • Either you are OK with being a contributor to the work product that you find distasteful or not. You can quit, or you could do a wholly different task within the company (like move from developer to marketing) so that you don't 'free up' someone else to do the work. But otherwise, you might as well just do it yourself and see if you might be able to influence it to be less distasteful than originally planned.

        Boy, I just want to say, and I suppose this is opinion, that there just isn't a less ethically s

        • Marketing porn is also evil.

          What's marketing porn? Is that like Bill Gates[1] stripping?

          [1] former head of the largest marketing company in the world

    • If it's not enough to quit over, just shut up and do your job. Telling your boss that you don't want to do the project because you dissapprove of it will just get you flagged as a whiner and maybe fired. In submitters boss' position, that's what I'd do. Anyone that wasn't top talent would be fired and replaced. Now, if you're a great worker and a great talent, this is still something that will come back to bite you come review time and may cost you a raise. So either do the work like a pro or go somewh
  • by KNicolson (147698) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @01:50AM (#17012764) Homepage
    I think by choosing the career of a Flash designer you have already proven yourself morally bankrupt. I bet you also produce "Best Viewed with Internet Explorer" sites.

    PS: Links to the boobies plz!
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @01:53AM (#17012782) Homepage Journal
    like, ya know, freedom and human rights and such, instead of "ooh, boobs!" We tend to deal with it by doing more good than harm, but in this industry it aint really possible to not also do harm (unless you wanna end up like RMS).

    Sucks, but its so.
    • Indeed, the submitter is incredibly vague about just what the heck it is he finds objectionable about the assignment, which leads me to suspect some idiot puritan nonsense instead of a real moral issue.

      As an aside, "ending up like RMS" would hardly be anything to be ashamed of. The world would be a lot better off if more of us had the courage to take his route.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by QuantumG (50515)
        Yeah, and we could all have a pony if only enough of us had more love to share.
    • Well, for those of us who care about REAL morals like, ya know, freedom and human rights and such, instead of "ooh, boobs!"

      There are worse things than nudity, obviously. Including twits who've boiled a fairly nuanced area worthy of concern down to a false dichotomy featuring a vague glittering good and a gross oversimplification.

      The OP took some care to show that he doesn't expect everyone else to share his particular standards and he's willing to respect the rights of others to produce and publish things he doesn't want to be involved in. His question isn't about whether YOU think porn is good or evil, it isn't about whether YOU think it's more important to write letters for Amnesty International or keep adult vids out of the hands of local kids. His question is about how to handle things when your employer wants you to participate in a project that crosses whatever your ethical boundaries may be. Maybe that's making a porn directory, maybe it's writing marketing copy for Exxon. If you want to contribute to the discussion, stepping up the ladder of abstraction and providing some advice on grappling with the situation would be a better alternative to criticizing the OP's or anyone else's particular moral values.

    • So basically you're telling me that unless it's some grand-scale freedom or human rights issue, we should just ignore morals and ethics altogether? That, say, stealing from your neighbour or poisoning his dog is ok, because it's small compared to the issues of human rights violations in China?

      I like to think you don't mean that. Because it would be a really shitty (and probably really short) life if everything was free-for-all as long as it's below the level of 1 billion people enslaved.

      _Real_ morals exist
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @01:57AM (#17012798)
    Then design the site such that it makes a mockery of what it purports to represent.

    Behold: http://newbirth.org/ [newbirth.org]
  • Watch out for H-1Bs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DrRevotron (994894) *
    Be glad you still have a job in that type of position. What you're doing is something that an H-1B (Foreign-born worker) could do, probably for less than you. But anyway, you're probably not making much if all your job is is Flash development. So, frankly, you should be grateful that you're getting to stay in that line of work. :/ Not to say the pay sucks, but beggars can't be choosers, especially when you've got some major competition coming in from overseas (Let's thank the U.S. Congress for that.)
    • by Garridan (597129) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:29AM (#17013294)
      Depends. I was the lead of a small number of developers working full-time for a company, and my boss wanted me to some things that I disagreed with; primarily putting popup ads on the site, and spamming. I told him that I wouldn't do it. Once or twice, he said he'd pay some Russians to do it. I told him that if he did so, I'd never touch their code, so if he wanted it to continue working on the site, he'd have to regularly solicit their help. He asked me why I was being such a hardass, so I explained why I felt the way that I did about the spam/popups, and launched into a bit of a tirade about why outsourcing programming work was detrimental to the economy that his business depended on.

      In the end, I convinced him that what he was asking me to do was dumb, and that outsourcing sucks in the long term. (I couldn't ply to morality, the man had none, but he'd listen to reason)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by panaceaa (205396)
      The employment market for software developers is very tilted towards employees right now. This is especially true for Flash developers, who both have the online advertising boom and the advent of rich-client applications fueling demand for new workers. The article submitter in all likelyhood is not a "beggar", and likely has many opportunities available to him. So don't go on a tirade about H-1B workers, because software developers who know what they're doing are having no problems getting quality jobs.
  • What? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by diskis (221264) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:01AM (#17012824)
    I cannot possibly imagine what they want you to work on.
    Apparently they are not breaking laws of any kind, so what really is the problem?
    Is your morale really that much tighter than the rules imposed on you by one of the tightest legal systems in the world?

    And exploitation? What?
    All people involved in whatever you are doing, have made their own choise whether to participate or not. And they probably even get paid for it. Don't impose your values on everyone. If the rest is okay with what is happening, why can't you simply accept it?
    • by russ1337 (938915)
      >>>"I cannot possibly imagine what they want you to work on.

      But it does sound like he has access to copious amounts of softcore at work.... so what is his problem again?

    • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zoeblade (600058) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:30AM (#17012980) Homepage

      Apparently they are not breaking laws of any kind, so what really is the problem? Is your morale really that much tighter than the rules imposed on you by one of the tightest legal systems in the world?

      Wow, what a way to avoid answering an honest question... you know, it is possible to disagree with the law sometimes, as flawless as it might seem. Say, for argument's sake, you've been asked to work on a web site that praises the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp [wikipedia.org] for being so humane. Is it not possible someone may object to such an assignment? What would you tell them?

      • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

        by freemywrld (821105) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:10AM (#17013204) Homepage
        Great point there, zoeblade.

        And now on to my advice to the questioner. A couple of years ago I accepted a job doing web work for a porn company. Now there are two mindsets that came crashing into conflict for me - that porn inherently is harmful to participants (namely, the women participants) and women in general (encouraging objectification, use as sexual objects, etc. etc.) versus the idea that those who get involved willingly and knowledgably accept and agree to what they are about to get paid for.
        What did I do?

        I did my job, and accepted that while I would certainly never choose to participate, at least all of the work that we produced was of (relatively) good taste, everyone was verified to be of legal age, and generally, everyone seemed to be having fun. So, I set aside my judgements and decided that everyone has a right to choose what they do in their life, what they consume, and what morals they uphold. I found that the work didn't bother me, and I never felt that my own morals where being compromised. Objectification is everywhere, in everything we do. If you can honestly say that you consume no product or service that exploits other humans in any way (sex appeal, sweatshops, whatever the case may be - exploitation comes in many forms), then maybe you can ride away from this project or your job on a high horse. Not to be harsh, but seriously, I really think you just need to relax a bit. The world is a crazy place, and some people are quite proud to bare their bodies for art, sex, or science.
        • Good points, and you actually have some real experience -- I don't. I'm just going to throw out one piece of advice to the questioner:

          I would suggest that the easiest way to get some perspective would be to talk to the pornstars. Find out if they like what they do, what kind of other choices they have if they don't... Ask them if they have any moral issues. Ask them what they think you should do.

          Personally, I find the Flash more offensive. Even pornography can be done tastefully and ethically, but Flash is
    • And exploitation? What? All people involved in whatever you are doing, have made their own choise whether to participate or not.

      This could be something like the paparazzi who follow around celebrities and intrude upon their lives, photographing and taking videos of their every moment not allowing them any semblance of privacy. Certainly not illegal (unfortunately) but those people all too often have not made their own choice about whether or not to participate. In my books, that qualifies as exploitation.

  • Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chacham (981) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:04AM (#17012842) Homepage Journal
    I do not wish to actively support something I believe to be an exploitation of human beings.

    Unfortunately for the logic based sector of society, they lack basic skills in value judgements.

    Value judgements have three outcomes (unlike logic's two), they are "greater than", "less than", and "equal to".

    Assign a weight to you're self-appointed moral. Call that x. Now, assign a value to having a job. Call that y.

    1) x > y
    2) x < y
    3) x = y

    1) If x > y, quit. Pure and simple.
    2) If x < y, deal with it. We can't have everything.
    3) If x = y, keep the status quo. Don't accept a new job of this, but keep any current ones.

    With practice these jusdgements become easier (and more refined), and so does assigning values. But, unlike logic, these are not objective facts agreed upon by all logical people, these are subjective values that change by the person. And rightly so.

    Oh yeah, let me be the first to welcome your to the real world. It takes a little trying, but i think you'll like it here. You've made a good first step.

  • by GFree (853379) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:05AM (#17012854)
    Simple: have no morals.
  • Question yourself (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SillyPerson (920121) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:10AM (#17012874)
    I'm approaching 40, so I guess I can enter wise-old-man-mode:

    Due to a traumatic event I witnessed as a child, I promised myself always to follow my moral principles. This turned out to be a surprisingly good strategy in all situations of my life. One thing however is absolutely essential: that you question those moral principles. They might be wrong. Some of them are wrong. Find them, weed them out.

    • Can I question the principle of questioning my moral principles?
    • I'm approaching 40, so I guess I can enter wise-old-man-mode

      Oh, man. Thanks. I haven't had a laugh that good in weeks.
    • by mwvdlee (775178)
      I'm approaching 40, so I guess I can enter wise-old-man-mode:
      Well, I'm approaching 60, so I guess I'm a wiser-older-man. (still have 30 years to get there, though).
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mattwarden (699984)

      One thing however is absolutely essential: that you question those moral principles. They might be wrong. Some of them are wrong. Find them, weed them out.

      -1, Redundant! We already have plenty of comments telling him to stop developing Flash.

  • Seriously, stop being such a pansy and see if there's another project you can do. If the boss says no then suck it up and do what you're paid to do. Unless you own the company you don't get to pick and choose what assignments you get.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:23AM (#17012940)
    I realize it's probably against your religion to read these two philosophers, but I encourage you to sneak a peek while your God isn't paying attention.

    You can't live by axioms alone. Thou shalt not bear false witness, sayeth God. But would you then turn Anne Frank over to the authorities when the Gestapo comes knocking? Thou shalt keep the Sabbath. A hungry baby knows nothing of why you won't buy milk on Saturday.

    Sartre gets to the heart of the axiom problem. There are simply too many variables to declare some certain action (a categorical imperative) to be the Right Thing. You eventually get to the point where you are now, confused about how to proceed.

    Maybe there isn't anything inherently good or evil. That's Nietzche's point. Blessed are the meek, we hear. But aren't they simply damned in this lifetime? Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness. To what end? Strength, pride, and a burning desire to do something are the hallmarks of Nietzche's 'Superman'.

    You sit here twiddling your thumbs hoping that someone will bust down your morals and help you see the light. That's sadly pathetic. If you don't want to do the job because you find it disagreeable, then don't do it. If you think you can live with yourself and your misgivings, then do it. Asking others for help in this situation only makes us culpable when you end up violating your own morals and feel guilty about it. I'm not sure we want to be your serpent to your Eve.
    • by Arker (91948)
      Just because many common axioms are flawed doesn't mean they all are.

      'Don't murder' works pretty well.
    • by dasunt (249686)

      You can't live by axioms alone. Thou shalt not bear false witness, sayeth God. But would you then turn Anne Frank over to the authorities when the Gestapo comes knocking? Thou shalt keep the Sabbath. A hungry baby knows nothing of why you won't buy milk on Saturday.

      Sartre gets to the heart of the axiom problem. There are simply too many variables to declare some certain action (a categorical imperative) to be the Right Thing. You eventually get to the point where you are now, confused about how to procee

    • But while we're discussing Nietzsche, why not read his Genealology of Morals: [mala.bc.ca]

      But let's go back: the problem with the other origin of the "good," of the good as the man of resentment has imagined it for himself, demands some conclusion. That lambs are annoyed at the great predatory birds is not a strange thing, and it provides no reason for holding anything against these large birds of prey, because they snatch away small lambs. And if the lambs say among themselves "These predatory birds are evil—a

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Chacham (981)
      You can't live by axioms alone.

      Yes you can. They just need to be thought out, figured out where applicable, and conflicting axioms must each be known in their place.

      Thou shalt not bear false witness, sayeth God. But would you then turn Anne Frank over to the authorities when the Gestapo comes knocking? Thou shalt keep the Sabbath. A hungry baby knows nothing of why you won't buy milk on Saturday.

      There's another moral about keeping life, which in general is considered to have more importance then other axiom
    • This is seriously the most insightful comment I've ever read on Slashdot (although, perhaps that is not saying a whole lot). I can't mod your comment because I've participated in this discussion, so I wanted to at least give you kudos through a reply. It is not easy to read between the lines like you did and see what he is really asking for here, which is not advice, but rather an distribution of culpability, as you point out.

      You are right: the situation is clear-cut. The OP tries to make it sound muddy, bu
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by emil10001 (985596)

      I realize it's probably against your religion to read these two philosophers, but I encourage you to sneak a peek while your God isn't paying attention.

      There are simply too many variables to declare some certain action (a categorical imperative) to be the Right Thing. You eventually get to the point where you are now, confused about how to proceed.

      At what point in the OP's explanation of the situation did he suggest that he was religious? Having read a good deal of both of those philosophers, they both te

  • thats easy. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dartarrow (930250)
    Sell Fish [thedailywtf.com]
  • Grow some balls (Score:5, Insightful)

    by illuminatedwax (537131) <`ude.ogacihcu.inmula' `ta' `egnardts'> on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:27AM (#17012964) Journal
    and quit.

    Seriously. If you're not going to stand up for your beliefs, why bother having them?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by panaceaa (205396)
      Quitting may be one option, but it's a pretty extreme one, don't you think? The submitter appears to have some feelings for his co-workers (he doesn't want to leave the project early), so it seems like he's happy with his work place. I like the first poster's idea of telling the boss about the morals the submitter has and requesting a new project. But there's many different ways to approach it -- it can be something immediate, something after the project is done, or perhaps even a request through HR (dep
      • by Zadaz (950521)
        Quitting is extreme? In what sense?

        If he's skilled enough to get one job, he's skilled enough to get another. There's no reason for a Flash developer (or any person with all their fingers and toes, and an IQ above 90) to not find some way to provide food and shelter for themselves. However people believe it will happen, so people do stupid things like take the first job offer, or selling their morals for money.

        Not only should he quit, he should think about donating the money he's already made to a charity
        • by mgblst (80109)
          Fine, then you quit, since it isn't extreme, just to prove you point. Oh, I am sure you could find lots of excuses not to quit, when it is your job on the line.
          • by Zadaz (950521)
            I have before. It's no big deal.

            However now I own the company, so fuck you.

            Someone doesn't like working for me, they can quit too.
            • by mgblst (80109)
              So you are saying you quit, then somehow managed owning the company? Very clever.

              Yes, I can see such words of widom and irrefutable logic being requirements for owning a business.

              And personally, selling old computer parts you swipe from work doesn't really qualify as a business.
              • Oh please (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Moraelin (679338)
                Oh, fucking please. He didn't say he owns the same company that he quit from. And he certainly didn't say he was swiping computer parts.

                So whatever "it's good to not have morals" crusade you're on, I'm sure you can find less lame ways to support it than baseless "selling old computer parts you swipe from work doesn't really qualify as a business" accusations.

                Maybe you just really don't have morals. Good for you. By all means, stick to that, then. But some of us do and still have a good job anyway. Some of u
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How Do Developers Handle Moral Dilemmas? 12 of 8 comments

    In related news, 18 out of 12 slashcode developers believe the fundamental axioms of mathematics are oppressive and immoral.

  • My two cents... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sirgoran (221190) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:43AM (#17013038) Homepage Journal
    My gut reaction is one of, "Shut up, suck it up, and do the job. Morals have no business in the workplace. You are a paid employee/droid that is given a task to complete. So do it. Have your morals on your time not the company's."

    On the other hand, when I found myself in a moral dilemma seeing one account executive stealing supplies, software, and property from the company, an account supervisor rigging a winning spot in a contest for her niece that our company ran for a large restaurant chain, I made the choice to stand up and speak out. While they thanked me for speaking up, and "looked into the matter", it became clear that I wasted my breath.

    That is until I was "downsized", and a couple of months later so was the thief. The account supervisor got her hands slapped and was taken off that account.

    So it's really your choice. For me, I'd love to go back and tell myself to STFU and keep my head down.

    That's my two cents.

    -Goran
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tttonyyy (726776)
      My gut reaction is one of, "Shut up, suck it up, and do the job. Morals have no business in the workplace. You are a paid employee/droid that is given a task to complete. So do it. Have your morals on your time not the company's."
      Most people have a threshold though. What about working on weapons? What about being the pilot on route to drop a nuke on a major city? By your argument a job is a job after all - should we not think about our actions?

      • job is a job

        That looks like an interesting idea, to just "do the job" and (presumably) "leave the responsibility and conscience to the boss". If the boss is moraly consistent (and compatible with his employees) and he is also responsible, than such job attitude may work.

        Problem is, some bosses are neither responsible (they ussusaly are but only to themselves) nor moraly sound. And if employees "just do the job" for such boss, this one boss drags a lot of such employees down with him to the level, where th

      • by RexRhino (769423)
        You are taking the most extreme examples, and then applying them to this case.

        We ALL must compromise our morals sometimes. Living in a country with 300 million people, and living on a planet with 6.5 billion people, means that not all people are going to share our moral views 100%, and if you don't compromise to a certain extent, you are alienating yourself from the vast majority of people. At some point the issue becomes so small, that it becomes unreasonable and you are just being a jerk.

        An example: If pe
    • "Why shouldn't I work for the N.S.A.? That's a tough one, but I'll give it a shot. Say I'm working at N.S.A. Somebody puts a code on my desk, something nobody else can break. So I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, 'cause I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East. Once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels were hiding and fifteen hundred people I never had a problem with get kil
    • >That is until I was "downsized",
      Over here (UK) you're employer would end up in court pretty darned quick for a stunt like that.
    • by lawpoop (604919)
      "Morals have no business in the workplace."

      Are you okay with slavery?

      How about sex slavery?
  • to you know....um...stick it to the man! Yeah, thats it!
  • Theories of ethics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @02:54AM (#17013094) Homepage Journal
    Contractual: you must honor commitments. If you've promised God to pray five times a day, if you're promised your wife to stay with her, then those are moral obligations. On this theory, ask whether you've promised to work on the project yet.

    Textual: you follow what your holy book says. There has just got to be some Bible verse against Flash.

    Compassionate: you ask whether people are hurt or helped by your actions. Will the company be better off? The customer? The customer's customers? Start thinking about those last and you have a reason not to work on tobacco ads, for example.

    Reciprocal: you follow the Golden Rule. What would you hope for if you were one of the parties affected by your decision?

    Foreseeable consequences: what will follow from your actions?

    Arbitrary crap: you grew up around people who thought something was immoral, like say interracial marriage, and you've never checked the idea against any kind of principle. This is the most common approach.

    Whatever standard you use, there has to be a set of priorities to go with it. You're using the job to support your family. You'd have to quit if the place were kidnapping the homeless and turning them into Soylent Green, but for much else you have to balance against your family's well being. You have talked this over with your wife??
    • Because they look easy to simplify.

      Textual is Arbitrary Crap. How many people quote the Bible where it supports their beliefs, but ignore it where it contradicts them? How many people who deeply believe in the Bible have ever questioned it?

      Compassionate is a function of Reciprocal. Or possibly vice versa, but this one's easy to figure out. You want people to be helped, not hurt, because as a person, you'd want to be helped (not hurt).

      Reciprocal is a function of Forseeable consequences, as well as pure hedon
      • by Rostin (691447)
        "Textual is Arbitrary Crap. How many people quote the Bible where it supports their beliefs, but ignore it where it contradicts them?"

        Relatively few, I'd say. Most people simply ignore it altogether. Of course, you'll drag out the same old arguments about wearing clothes made of mixed fibers, and when some Christian explains it all to you yet again, you'll ignore him and continue saying that it's selective and self-serving. However, even if you're right and most people do selectively quote the bible, you
  • Without some more specific details, I don't see how we could form an opinion on this.

    In general, though... You have to live with yourself a lot longer than you'll be at any given job, in general.
  • by JumperCable (673155) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:24AM (#17013270)
    If it is easy for you to find work at similar compensation levels that do not compromise your morals there is no reason for you to continue to do this work. They are your morals and you are more than welcome to them so long as you are not forcing them on others. If you are concerned about the well being of your co-workers simply offer to help transition to the new person. Who knows, maybe other people in your company involved in the project have similar moral objections but are afraid to speak out. If leaving this place of employment is not a problem, go ahead and speak your mind in a calm, reasonable matter. But bear in mind there is not legal protection for employment based on morals when no laws matters prohibit such activities. Nor should you expect your company & coworkers to bend down to the lowest common denominator of the most stringent set of morals in the company.

    However, if you don't think that you can find equitable work else where and are not willing to take a cut in pay, I strongly suggest you do what the rest of us do and play ball until such a time comes when you can afford to move on.
  • by bug1 (96678) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:40AM (#17013348)
    I myself have been in a similar situation to you (though not related to pornography), the conclusion i came up with is...

    If your a professional you wont let your beliefs get in the way of your work.

    I get into programming about 20 years ago, i love programming, i expect to always have a project on the go (and maybe one day i will finish one), but its taken me this long to understand that i dont want to be a professional programmer.

    Professionalism means that you have to be prepared to compromise your own goals so the teams goals are achieved.

    Im way too passionate about programming to be a professional, i hate it when im expected to "finish" a project and move on, to have to give up on all the ideas i have floating around in my head... i care about quality.

    I now consider myself to be a craftsman, and i suspect a lot of open source programmers are this way inclined.

    If open source was about professionalism, programmers wouldnt care about peer review, they wouldnt argue about coding style, or languages, they would just care about adding the next feature.

    A craftsman/artist wants perfection, a professional just wants to finish...

  • by Dekortage (697532) on Tuesday November 28, 2006 @03:59AM (#17013446) Homepage

    Your first mistake was taking a job that would put you in this position. For future reference, I suggest telling prospective employers that you have personal reasons for not working on so-called "adult-oriented" content like this. You need to say this up front or you will end up surprising them (and not in a good way) when it comes up later. Admittedly, if you say this in a job interview, you are likely to lose some possible opportunities, but your convictions are nothing more than vapor if you don't actually stand by them.

    Oh, the other thing about convictions: if you are plagued with regret after you make a decision based on your convictions, there is a chance that they weren't really convictions after all, but simply some kind of moral costume you put on to help yourself feel better. Test and refine your convictions as time passes, but don't regret them: you have to believe them fully.

    I was recently offered more than five times my current hourly rate to be the lead developer on a big Flash and video-intensive web site for a new casino. I have moral objections to casinos, so I turned it down. The money would have been very handy, but I still have to live with my own conscience. I'm sure someone else has picked up the job. I have zero regrets about my decision. I simply refuse to be associated with casinos and all the social problems they lead to (dramatically increased bankruptcy rates, violent crime, auto thefts, larceny, substance abuse, suicide rates, etc.).

  • I am sometimes faced with similar situations in my work where my employer requests that I work with clients that are in industries that operate against my beliefs. I am a Muslim and so this would include for example doing work for a brewery (which I had to do at one point). I do believe in standing for one's beliefs and morals and I found things like this extremely tough to handle, but we live in difficult times and it's not exactly easy to just quit.

    I find that the best solution (and one that lets me sleep
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What is inherently bad about alcohol?

      I do agree that excessive alcohol usage is bad, but doesnt excessive *anything* lead to very bad things?

      I know many Christians who think alcohol is the "demon drink", so Im not attacking Islam... just all the religions that have this belief.
  • I worked for a guy, and the longer I did and the more I learnt about him the more disgusted I got. I wanted to jump ship, but there just wasn't anything around in my line, and having a wife and a toddler made me less cavalier about walking out. But I did protest; and refused to participate in the worst abuses. Such as he never paid our casual workers on time, usually months late after many, many broken promises. So when I had a project that needed such people I just stopped and did something else. He would
  • like it's a bad thing.
  • Is it morally acceptable for a Republican to work with or for Democrats? Sure it is. There should be no problem working with people who have different viewpoints, so long as they stay within the bounds of civility, as in, no criminal, abusive, or unfair acts. Turn the question around, and ask if they should terminate you because you support causes they oppose, with the money they pay you. Not only should they not, we have these equal opportunity laws that forbid discrimination based on creeds.

    Everyone

  • First of all, why pornography is exploitation? porn stars willingly do the job. They are in for the money, and they have the goods to get that money. Why pornography is considered something bad, whereas selling guns or developing apps for the military is good? I have a friend which develops 'defense' applications, which may end up being used in Afghanistan and Iraq. Is that moral, and seeing a boob is not moral?

    The only reason sex is considered more of a problem than violence and guns is due to the weird mo
    • weird morality standards that Christianity has adopted over the eons: sex is bad
      This represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the Christian view. Sex is GOOD! As a Christian, let me tell you that I enjoy sex a great deal, and praise God for creating something so pleasurable!

      and should only be done within marriage
      This is true - because God knows that the best place to express sex and share this level of intimacy is inside marriage. everything else may feel good, but it's merely a cheap imitation of
  • and make your choice

    I've turned down plenty of work because it didn't fit with my politics.

    And I've done plenty of work that didn't fit with my politics.

    Your choice is similar.

    MAKE IT YOURSELF.

  • If your moral principles are just grounded in the fact that some acts make you feel icky in a moral sense, then you have a hedonistic framework. In that case, if you think violating your principles will lead to more pleasure than sticking by them, go ahead. Although you'll want to consider the negative feelings of long-term guilt that you may incur for short-term pleasure, for example, cheating on your wife.

    If your moral principles are grounded in a love of God, then that presumably trumps and pleasure se
  • Look you have to decide if you are OK with this or not, and if not ether move to a different project or find a new job. I have always said that there are things I would not do for a job due to my own ethical/moral and religious ideals. For refrence I am a religous Jew, as such I will not work on Shabbat and would not work to build say an Evangelical Christian website. In my current job this is not a problem. In fact my contract forbids me from working on Shabbat.

    Sometimes the cost of living up to your moral
  • I find that being even more evil than your employer is a good way to avoid moral dilemmas.
  • by hrieke (126185)
    You appose building a web site tool that can display text and pictures on the basis that the text and or the pictures can be nudes?
    Would you have invented the internet with the same believes? Television? Telephone? Photography? Printing Press? Alphabet? Art? Speach?

    Look, man has been painting about naked women (and more) since the dawn of man, and writing about sex since the invention of writing.
    Any technology can be used to do things that we disagree with, and that is just something that we all have
  • I'm curious to know how developers in the Slashdot community handle situations in which they are given a project that rubs against their moral borders. I was recently hired as a Flash developer

    Woah there, fella. No need to continue. Get out as soon as you can.

  • "Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right!"

    -- Salvor Hardin

    I once totally trashed a company. Completely. Utterly. 50 employees on the street.

    I completely destroyed the data on the central computer and the backups.

    I was asked to make the company violate the election financing act (Companies cannot contribute to political parties). They wanted me to stealthily add to the payroll (so employees would not notice) the maximum contribution permissible for each employee, in their na

  • The key is to find some work place that is more in line with your moral values.

    After getting layed off in the bust, with little experience, I found a job working as a developer for a local technology company. The boss was something of a prick and he was very into controlling and monitoring things. Anyways, he had some very aggressive filters installed on our proxy. Like all filtering software, this software sucked. It didn't block a lot of what it was supposed to and it did block a lot of what it s
  • Speak up, sooner rather than later.

    This happened recently to me. Little bits of a project started coming down the pipe at me, and it was simply expected that I'd play along. I could see that it was going to develop into my next full-time project, and it was something I could not, in good conscience, contribute to.

    I e-mailed my manager explaining my objection. Mind you, I didn't say that anybody else should not be working on it - I spoke on my own behalf, as an individual whose conscience wouldn't allow him
  • I'm curious to know how developers in the Slashdot community handle situations in which they are given a project that rubs against their moral borders.

    Well, you can stop working for SuSE for starters...

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

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