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Ethical dilemma: what should I do?

OK, so here is the dilemma: I follow a link from the "came from" links in my blog and it takes me through to the site stats for a major political party's online discussion forums.

Nothing says it's private, nothing says I shouldn't be there. But I can't help feeling they wouldn't want to be publishing this stuff (unless, says paranoid imagination, they want to create buzz about the site by spreading the stats - no, no, that way lies madness :-)). So should I:


(a) publish the link and some juicy stats and a free analysis (usually I'd charge people like this for my time) of what I think it means


(b) pass the link on to a political blogger and watch them create merry havoc


(c) drop the site's analytics guys / the web hosts a mail and tell them their flies are down?

Given that I'm feeling pretty non-plussed by political parties generally at the moment, it is a moral dilemma not a political one. Hmmm...

While I'm sitting here stewing, my wife says I should ask you guys what you thought.

As ever, she's right.

But I might change my tune and dish the dirt anyway ;-)

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For me it's a clear Option C. Just feels like the right thing to do. Option B is a cop out, with Option A being the next best choice for me, with it's 'Mayfield has the scoop' potential :)

Darn it - why do I have to be good? You're right, you're right. McInness is the angel on my left shoulder - anyone willing to play the little devil on the right one? Where's Nick Carr when you need him ;-)

Pass it on to Guido Fawkes!

Ah there it is...

Go on Antony! Share the info! :-)

No! No! Get thee behind me, Davies...

To be honest, and I can't believe I'm suggesting this, I think the correct (note that: not best or funniest!) course of action is to notify the site's analytics guys.

Your reputation and credibility as a person as well as a blogger will be judged on how you respond to this one (as you're well aware!).

You could splash the info about on Open but that may well put people off coming to you with other potentially confidential or damaging stuff in the future - and we wouldn't want that!!

It may be a significant error from the referring site's point of view, but it is best if they can learn about their error privately and rectify it.

Perhaps a compromise would be to hang on to the site stats, let the analytics guys know and then publish the name of the party. Some embarrassment caused, but no major damage done.

Alternatively take a leaf out of Guido's book: publish and be damned.

Oh, what a boring response from me! Shame, shame!

If it was me, I'd go for (A), but then I don't have the same job as you, in which case (C) would probably be a sensible option. But what the hell. Stick it to the Man!

Where's the wisdom of the crowd when you need, it?

Now feverishly considering a have cake and eat it range of options... and a career change. Problem is, I'm not in the Guido Fawkes line of work... but then again...

Pass it on to Guido DOH!

Yeah, yeah - compelling arguments like that aside though... what's your gut feel?

None of the above.... just post a finding. Then we'll know if it's interesting. Or... tell a newspaper and a blog at the same time. See what happens? That'sd be a neat challenge.

Sincere thanks to thee all - I'm defintiely not publishing the link or giving it to Guido. Me grassing up some poor webmaster as the next story after a link to let you send pizzas to the frontline IDF troops in Lebanon just doesn't sit well with me after watching this morning's news.

I'll publish a story when I've spoken to them later today.

I've always considered Open to be a serious blog that takes a considered view of the market. It's educational, informative and thought-provoking.

So come on Antony, take the high road.

However tempting Option A and Option B are (and I understand the temptation!), the right response is surely Option C (or even Option D - do nothing about it at all).

Give your poor reader a break rather than punishing their mistake.

Unless of course the stats contradict something that they're saying publicly. In case, publish it and expose their hypocrisy for all to see!

I'm a hack.
Publish & be dammed.
Which you OBVIOUSLY think somewhere in yoiur hot little head, otherwise you would have just thought, 'Ah, best not mention that to anyone...' and just not blogged it.
It's a tease.
Just publish it.
(It's bound to be dreadfully ZzzzzZZzzish after this build up, of course.)

Interesting dilemma, hmmm, transparency / honesty versus cheeky skullduggery, hmmm!
I would have to look at the moral landscape within the blogosphere, and I think the general concensus is favouring being a good lad and going for honesty / tranparency / integrity. Oh pants! I hear you say.
I am concerned though that you were 'sitting there stewing your wife', sounds nasty, and I dread to think how many years you'll get if found out! :)

I vote the high road: even if it can be publicly accessed, the context suggests that the site owner does not want this information known. You may find that it does not have any other link toward that page, and that the site owner believes the page to be secure.

Politics is messy enough and I’d rather those jokers focused on their jobs over a web stats’ scandal.

Thanks for the comment, Lydia - and for the bonus proof-reading, always welcome. Nice to see you and Steve blogging, BTW. Give him my best.

Jack - and the crowd, on balance - thanks for your wisdom.

It's a real hacks vs. flacks split, ain't it?

And Nikki's right - I've built up a head of steam about not a lot - desperately trying to find a real scandal to give y'all a pay off.

That John Prescott - I reckon he's a wrong 'un, eh? Eh?


At the end of the day I'm not bloodthirsty hack (even though there's a streak of it in me too, deep down). I'm not in the Guido game or anything like it.

Will got it spot on with his first post: option C just feels like the right thing. I've told the webmaster, all is well with the world and we've had an interesting debate - thank you all...

Antony, I wasn't going to say anything (everyone is entitled to his or her opinion!), but regarding what you see on the news, I thought you might find this of interest:


And yes, I buy pizzas and sodas for those Israeli soldiers on a regular basis. They are good men and women, fighting the good fight against terrorists who would rejoice to see you and me (and our families) dead in an instant. These terrorists are so slimy that they use innocent civilians as human shields, and are moulding press coverage by the day. They won't stop until they've pushed Israel into the sea. Forgive me for taking sides, but this one's near and dear to my heart.

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