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Ottawa Panel Discussion: Ethical Behavior in an Open Source World

Jul 20, 2019

As I mentioned in the last post, I attended WordCamp in Ottawa, Canada this past weekend where I led my second ever panel discussion on Ethical Behavior in an Open Source World. You might remember I posted about my first experience leading this panel at WordCamp Buffalo (if not, check out this post), this time I changed up the questions slightly since the panelists were different.

WordCamp Ottawa recap of Ethical Behavior panel discussion image

I plan to lead a discussion on this same topic again at WordCamp Rochester in October, and the panelists will again be different. I like to do this, first, because hearing the opinions of one group of panelists would get boring after a while, second, because the same people don’t attend each WordCamp, and third, because I strongly believe this topic should be discussed by a variety of people in a variety of positions within WordPress. I also encourage you to have a similar discussion and ask similar questions if you find yourself in a room full of people!

The Panelists

The panel in Ottawa consisted of three individuals I had not met before, one I had met, but had not really gotten to know, and my mentor and coach, because I find it interesting to have one consistent voice on the panel to use as a base. The panelists included Cami Kaos, Chris Weigman, Shanta Nathwani, Matt Graham, and Michelle Frechette.

Ottawa panelists for the Ethical Behavior in an Open Source World panel discussion

Panelists from l to r: Shanta Nathwani, Chris Weigman, Matt Graham, Cami Kaos, Michelle Frechette

Although some of these panelists work for pretty well-known WordPress contributors or hosts, I asked them to speak from their hearts about their experiences, knowing anonymity in their responses was more than okay. I think they were careful to speak of their own experiences and not on behalf of or representing the companies they work for.

There were a few predominant thoughts that came out of this discussion in Ottawa and I think you can benefit in your own business by embracing some of these thoughts as well.

An Unethical Experience

In answer to the first question, “Tell us about a time when you had an interaction with a WordPress user, client or potential client that you felt was unethical” someone brought up the idea of a client saying they like such and such site and wanting to copy it.

In reality, solving a client’s pain point should result in taking inspiration from someone else’s site but not copying it. There are copyrights in place on websites, and custom websites give you ownership of your custom design and it’s illegal (according to the internet) to copy another site. Let’s not even talk about copying someone else’s logo!

“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”

This quote by P. T. Barnum is pretty popular right now. Be yourself. Be an individual so you can make a difference by being yourself. Let this extend to the website you create as well.

In the panel discussion in Buffalo we talked about how sometimes people don’t know what they don’t know. Some might honestly not realize what they are asking is unethical. The person might really like a website and want theirs to look the same, not realizing it isn’t appropriate for their business, or even worse, that it is infringing on a copyright.

An Uncomfortable Experience ~ Imposter Syndrome

The second question, “Tell us about a time when you had an interaction with someone within the WordPress community that put you in an uncomfortable position,” resulted in a story being shared where one of the panelists was really ill and unable to complete a project on time. The employer was pretty rude and condescending as a result, and the panelist realized shortly thereafter that he was experiencing ‘Imposter Syndrome’.

Imposter Syndrome is a phrase I think many of us are familiar with, but yet it seemed like there were some people in the room who didn’t know what it was.

According to Wikipedia, Imposter Syndrome “is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

In an odd way this topic of discussion actually comforted me. The person who brought this up is quite accomplished and I remember thinking ‘if he thought this at one time, it must be, in an odd sense, normal for me to have thought it (and sometimes think it), too.

Wikipedia goes on to say many who experience this “remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.”

Take Action

So I challenge you to truly look at your abilities and what you’ve accomplished and move forward with your passion projects to see them through to fruition. You are not an imposter as it relates to your passion and the mission you’ve set for yourselves. Press on and don’t be resistant to change or learning something new to accomplish your goals.

I’m told this panel discussion, Ethical Behavior in an Open Source World will be up on WordPress TV soon and when it is I will add the link to this post. For now if you’d like to view the discussion held at WordCamp Buffalo, you may watch it on WordPress TV at this link.

Tricia laughing, looking at the camera

Hello! I’m Tricia, and I help consultants get online with websites that aren’t only great to look at, but that reflect the quality service you provide and do the heavy work to get you booked!

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