Checking out software companies and writer scams

I thought I’ll share some answers I gave for Linkedin questions:

Writing about unethical products and/or companies

BBB (Photo credit: tom-b)

I took a course several years ago at the College of DuPage. It was called Business Ethics and fell under the domain of philosophy. One of the questions discussed was should you buy from Walmart, if they buy goods from foreign markets that might involve child labor? In this case, Walmart has no knowledge of these practices. Walmart hasn’t violated any US laws, or laws of other countries.

Personal ethics is shaped by either some form of theology or philosophy. The identities of the copywriters and marketers are usually protected, as I have stated before. As long as the clients they are working for are not violating any US, UK or other laws, whom am I to comment on personal philosophical and theological ethics?

In fact, one could argue in a world down economy, one might be engaging in ethical violations by NOT accepting work that could feed them and their families.

Checking out software companies

English: Three Chinese philosophers. Lao Tzu, ...
English: Three Chinese philosophers. Lao Tzu, Wen Wang, and Confucius. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First of all, it’s really nice to hear from someone who both enjoys great copywriters and great philosophers. In fact, there’s a good article on Socrates and copywriting I enjoy at Socrates on copywriting. As far as Aristotle goes, he’s extremely important. But one scholar said he’s as “dry as dust”. While I have Western philosophers I like (i.e. Plato, Aristotle, Kant), I also enjoy Eastern philosophers (i.e. Lao Tzu and Buddha).

If you look at my profile, I specialize in software. I have a passion for that topic and love writing about it. Take smartphones, for instance. I was there developing software for them at Motorola, before Google acquired that division.

And I love copywriters like Gary Bencivenga.

Now to the ethics question. I think you can eliminate ethical conflict in the business world, by a series of filters.

The first filter – the most important one – has the business violated any laws where they reside, or any country they do business in? If you don’t consider law as a factor, then what’s the difference between organized crime and business?

Secondly, I do a bit of checking on them. I have access to online versions of Reference USA and Hoover’s from the College of DuPage library. A library card is free for area residents and graduates – I’m both.

Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sa...
Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sanzio, 1509, showing Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does the business have any complaints with the BBB (Better Business Bureau), which covers US and Canada? Does their website have complaints from the Web of Trust (Web of Trust)? So a poor rating from the Web of Trust and a grade of F from the BBB is not the client for me.

Say they are a start-up and haven’t done anything with the BBB, Hoovers or Web of Trustt yet. I’ll search the web to see if their software has any negative reviews or user complaints. I might even visit technical forums. And I would ask them for a business plan to review. They can even blot out any financial data. If it is a sound start-up, they would have a sound and solid business plan. And I’ll even sign any confidentiality agreements to review it. Should they hesitate, so will I.

Software is a relatively safe area, so my previous filters should weed out any ethical problems. As long as I don’t have any ethical dilemma to wrestle with, do they give a public persona that religious figures like Christ or Buddha, or philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Lao Tzu and Confucius, would approve of? If I can’t imagine these figures approving their public persona – neither can I.

It gets back to the ethical dilemma question and the document Resolving an Ethical Dilemma at hResolving an ethical dilemna. They give some good guideposts for lay people. As long as a person is trying to be ethical among religious or philosophical lines, I can’t criticize them.

Is this job writing ad a scam?

English: Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou...
English: Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou 中文: 福建泉州老君岩 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I believe you mean Locus US jobs, right? I use a tool called Web of Trust at Web of Trust. They also have a download, as well as downloads for major browsers. For the record, this website gets a rating of very poor in the categories of trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy and child safety.

If they are in the US or Canada and you know the business name they operate under, see if they have any complaints at Better Business Bureau. Also have your local US reference librarian look them up. Are they in Hoovers, Dun and Bradstreet or Reference USA? If they like to hide the business name, then they have quite a bit more to hide. Can they dig up any dirt on them or determine their legitimacy by a search?

There are a couple other tools I would recommend. To check on shortened URLs, use Long URL. To check site for malware or viruses, use Total Virus. They run it though several commercial and freeware virus checkers and share results with you. If you search the site, there’s even a way to forward an email with attachments and let them check it for you. They will email back the report.

How do you feel about the Apple/Samsung case?

While Apple won the initial ruling in the US, the case has a long way to go on appeals. And courts in Japan and Korea ruled in favor of Samsung. And I do have biases here. I’m a bigger fan of Android than IOS. But I’ll reserve judgment until all appeals and world court cases have been exhausted.

How about personal religious experience as a guidepost to ethics?

Excellent sharing. Personal religious experience is a good motivation factor for ethical actions. William James – the famous author and psychologist – studied this a century or two back in The Variety of Religious Experiences. Sometimes one has to be directed by conscience. This might lead some to object to war, embrace vegetarianism, etc.None of these things is wrong, in and of itself. But I have equal respect for those who want to fight and those who don’t – based upon conscience convictions. Philosophers try to lock us into frameworks and religion tries to lock us into isms. Not everything fits into a framework or ism.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.”– Albert Einstein

How do you determine if a writer is great?

So I watched Wendy’s commercial years ago. The one woman yells, “where’s the beef?”

Judgment Day: My Years with Ayn Rand
Judgment Day: My Years with Ayn Rand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Or I read Altas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

Or I’m admiring the long ads by Clayton Makepeace.

Then I say to myself – these are great.

Someone else may say these stink.

Where do I find the real answer?

Perhaps it’s in Stephen King’s book On Writing.

Or perhaps in historical and contemporary philosophers talking about philosophy of art.

Who’s to judge? I see Mr. X did name the contest winner. What criteria did he use?

All I know is this. A new book comes along. I find it interesting. I might want to read it. I go to Amazon and see how many people have rated it and what the average rating is. Then I read though the book description and see what other reviewers say about it.

If possible, I then check out a copy though my local US library – or the inner-library loan system.

The Amazon reviewers gave it collectively at least four out of five stars. I did like what I read from the library. Not sure if it is great or not. But something might be “close enough for all practical purposes.”

Or can we extend great to anything? Mike Royko was a good Chicago columnist and book writer. Some might say he was great. But did he consider Rolex a great watch? No. He thought a 40 dollar Timex performed the same functionality just as well.

Now Apple 5 is out. Many are waiting in long lines. Is this a great smartphone? I prefer my android system one. IOS doesn’t yet multitask – Android does. And it’s much cheaper in brands like Samsung.

I did like what Mr. Y said: “Copywriters are storytellers with an agenda”. Marketer Dan Kennedy said something similar when he said good story writing is essential to good copywriting.

And perhaps writers are limited to certain audiences. After all, how many adults read Dr. Seuss?

Academic and business blog posts

Here are some blog posts I recommend from academic and business acquaintances of mine

  • How to Reduce Your Child’s Stress before the Big Game Blog post
  • 10 iPhone Apps for Tracking Kids Vaccinations Blog post
  • How to Make Specialized First Aid Kits Blog post
  • How to Navigate an Airport with a Toddler in Tow Blog post
  • 10 Ways Nannies Can Prepare for Emergencies Blog post
  • 10 Red Flags Parents Should Watch for During a Nanny Interview Blog post
  • How to Set Up a Homework Station to Limit Distractions Blog post
  • How To Get Your Audience Involved With Pinterest Blog post
  • 30 Blogs for Stay-at-Home Dads Blog post
  • * 10 Risky Teen Behaviors You Should Be Aware Of Blog post
  • 5 Realities Of Beverly Hills Nannies Blog post
  • 30 Blogs for Tracking Kids’ Activities Blog post
  • 10 iPhone Apps for Keeping Track of Homework Blog post
  • How to Know if You Can Afford to Stay Home with the Kids Blog post
  • How To Handle Negative Feedback On Your Blog Blog post
  • 10 of the Best iPhone Apps for Creating To-Do Lists Blog post
  • How to Host a Kid-Friendly Afternoon Tea Blog post
  • Things to Consider About Archery for Elementary Schoolers Blog post
  • 30 Blogs that Boast the Best Family Vacation Ideas Blog post
  • How Young is Too Young for Your Child to Specialize in a Sport Blog post
  • How to Throw a Kids Halloween Party on a Shoestring Budget Blog post
  • * 10 Books that Provide Insight into Life as a Nanny Blog post
  • 9 Ways to Welcome Your New Live-In Nanny into Your Home Blog post
  • 10 iPhone Apps for Busy, Working Moms Blog post
  • 30 Blogs with the Best Childcare Tips Blog post
  • 10 Tips for Successful Nanny Sharing Blog post


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