Public Relations and Moral Lessons for Designers

September 27, 2008 by  

In my last post “Graphics and Web Design in Durham Region” I mentioned some of the moral issues faced by freelance designers and I have also touched on a few of our obligations in “What a Client Wants vs. What a Client Needs”.

It is ethical practices like these that will dictate the longevity of your freelance career, by having principals alone (either right or wrong) creates a structured consistency that is needed in order to do business professionally no matter the industry.

World Wild Web

As the internet matures and more developers adopt web standards I don’t ever think that there will be away to police the World Wide Web, it is like the Wild West out here and almost anything goes so it is up to us web designers to govern ourselves and our clients.

Unfortunately because of the privacy that business is usually conducted in we never get a chance to really see any of the inner workings of how others ethics play a role in how they do business so it was very interesting for me to come across a little incident on the Photoshop tutorial website PSDTUTS.

I am not only a big fan of the site but also the company behind it Envato. They publish many other fantastic websites all carefully constructed with the same high standards they have set for themselves which is repeated throughout their body of work.

The PSDTUTS concept is simple, authors submit Photoshop tutorials and if chosen they are paid a fee. The tutorials have to be formatted to their specification, original and can’t be published anywhere else. From these guidelines they have produced better quality and more sought after tutorials than most of the other similar type sites out there.

Today PSDTUTS revealed that it was brought to their attention that the latest tutorial they had posted was more than likely plagiarized (it was not an original) so it was taken down and they withheld payment from its author immediately.

Class Dignity and Style

I say “good for you guys” for sticking to your guns. Because of the type of work Envato do they not only have an obligation to protect their author’s content but also the works of all creative’s no matter the medium.  They are an outlet for information and they have a commitment to us readers that the material they publish was acquired lawfully and the author was compensated properly per there agreement. It is just good business.

I must admit that the way they handled the situation was admirable and should serve as a lesson to us all who publish content online. They immediately acknowledged the situation and dealt with it according to the rules they set on the requirements needed to submit a tutorial “Your tutorial must be your original work and not published elsewhere” plain and simple no excuses.

I was utterly shocked when I started reading some of the angry messages they were receiving in their comments section from people talking about everything from plagiarism, intellectual property and even Envato being afraid of their own shadow. There is no debate about the situation; the author broke the rules so the tutorial is out.

For Your Protection

Envato moderate all of the comments posted to their websites before it can be read by the public, this is yet again another commitment by them to protect us the readers from such things as that X-rated spam we so frequently run into. At the same time they also posted that abusive garbage that was sent to them that they could have just as easily delete showing that they truly value their transparency and have nothing to hide.

Which brings me back again to my last blog entry about graphic and web designers who just don’t get it. These are the very people who write the kinds of negative comments that are on the PSDTUTS page, they are also usually the ones who have no sense of structure when it comes to being a freelance creative and through inconsistencies and unethical practices make it very difficult at times for clients to trust us.

We all make mistakes but it is how you learn from blunders either yours or others that dictates how successful you can be in all your endeavors. Be upfront, honest and when you find you have made a mistake deal with it swiftly and making the necessary changes so it does not happen again.

You can read about the whole situation and watch as it unfolds here.

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