Do Online Business Ethics Exist?
In the world of online busines something has gone wrong. Something has gone badly wrong. In the pursuit of wealth and success business ethics have not so much fallen by the wayside as been torn up, stomped on and burned to ash. Where some loose form of rule may have applied before there now only exists chaos, greed and hype.
Where are these businesses that lack ethics?
Look around you. Every automatically generated content or directory site that pops up is search engine spam. You can call them doorway sites or any other cute name you want but the end result is the same - spam. These sites are run by the quick buck guys and gals. Sure they make quick money. They also clog up the search engines and make it far more difficult for legitimate marketers to make an honest buck. These people have zero respect for the industry they're in and calling what they do "business" is at very best a joke.
What about scraper sites that steal content from other websites? Is using somebody elses content on your website without even linking back to the original site ok? Is the online theft of other peoples content now legal? In the offline world there's a name for this practice - it's called plagiarism. Plagiarism can get you kicked out of school, thrown out of college, cost you your job or land you in court - in the real world. In the online world you get a pat on the back from your fellow cronies for coming up with yet another way to steal other peoples content for your use.
What about the guys selling yet another overpriced, overhyped infoproduct that is the, alleged, solution to all your traffic, content or financial woes? Selling a product for a fair price is good. Selling the same product for a vastly inflated price is well.... criminal. In the offline world companies are forced to offer the best possible bargain to consumers to stay in the game. Online the prices are created at a whim because online marketers know a sucker is born every minute and their product WILL sell - regardless of how good or bad it is.
What about the online clubs and services where you pay anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per month for access to their features or facilities? 90% of this information can be gathered online for free but several of these marketing gurus stick the words "secret", "hidden" or "never seen before" all over their sales letter and again the suckers flock in to be parted from their hard earned dollar.
This is the point of this article. What the current crop of online marketers are forgetting is that the vast majority of people have to work for a living. Every time they release yet another hyped up, over priced product that promises the world they're delivering false hopes into the hands of hopeful blue collar workers. Just because you're parting these people from their hard earned cash from a distance doesn't make it right to overcharge them. The only difference is that in the real world you'd have to face these same customers stomping back to your shop looking for a refund and possibly a fight. Anybody who has ever worked in real world sales can identify with this.
Running an online business does not mean that you can pull any trick, stunt or marketing ploy you want and then hide behind an email address.
Running an online business does not mean that you can do no wrong.
Running an online business means that you are parting hard working people from hard earned cash.
Ethics still matter.
People still matter.
Some marketers should seriouly consider this the next time they look at the bottomline of their next marketing adventure.