I was quoted last week in Maclean’s, Canada’s national newsmagazine (sort of an equivalent to Time or Newsweek) on a matter of ethics.
I get to see two very contrasting worlds of ethics on the Internet. First, we run an SEO marketing service, which means that we spend a lot of time swimming in polluted waters. Let’s face it, for every really good and honest SEO, there are several incompetent ones, and probably as many outright dishonest (unethical ones).
On the other hand, we run a freelance writing agency. Writers tend to be a highly ethical group, sometimes overly so. We’ve only had to ever sever our relationship with one writer who showed signs of being unethical.
So it might come as a surprise that we were commenting on ethical lapses related to writing. The context was a cover story on cheating in universities in both Canada and the United States, and how the universities are pretty much ignoring this destructive wildfire sweeping their campuses.
And, of course, the Internet is fueling this fire, offering both anonymity and instant access to “information”. And for every person seeking a ghostwritten term paper, there is some dishonest writer willing to write it.
Ethics is ethics. Period. Anonymity does not make something right. The Internet does not make something right. Notwithstanding that many things that are really matters of pour etiquette get labeled “unethical” on the Internet, there are all too many people willing to be evil to make a little extra money (What, me, use strong language?)
OK, I know you’ve been salivating to know what I had to say about ethics and writing in Maclean’s, so here’s the excerpt:
Running a freelance writer agency, I can tell you that the second most-frequent writing request, after books, is for school papers. We have even been requested to write PhD entry essays. We respond to all such queries by refusing to help a student cheat himself (or herself) out of an education.