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Ethical question: domains

A friend proposed this delemma:

Company has about 20 domains registered that are "parked" (owned but never used). They are combinations and permutations of product names that were considered but not used, or were selected but are more like internal code names that might be mentioned in PowerPoint presentations but aren't really products.

When they were registered it was presented as the most important thing in the world to get them registered. It wasted about half a day total when you consider the time I spent registering them, paying the bills, and all the communication back and forth about which were available or not.

Now it's time to renew them. If I do nothing they will expire and there is very little risk that anyone will ever notice. If I ask the right people, it will waste another half a day of my time debating their value and then renewing them, processing the bills, etc. If I let them expire and then try to get props for saving money, I run the risk of rubbing someone the wrong way for not asking permission.

The company is currently putting a big emphasis on not wasting money. So if I demonstrate that I saved $100 that would put be in a good light. However, it will cost the company more than $100 in my salary to find out if I have permission to not renew them.

What do you think he should do?

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Poll or Question

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

I would talk to the decision maker to ensure that they still want them rather than having the said domains expire and have issues with management over not doing his/her job properly and informing them first prior to the domains expiring.

[FYI: This was meant to be 3 paragraphs, but mt seems to be behaving weirdly for me. Paragraphs denoted by "--"].

Given how communication is usually a good basis for ethical questions, that summary looks like a good note to start out with by sending a variant of to the boss; but, it does depend on their culture/structure. Perhaps with a summary of "it is my intent do allow these to expire since I see dealing with them a waste of productive time; if you think otherwise I will schedule the time to deal with them." Perhaps with the addition of "if so, which projects should be pushed to make time for these?"

If the friend is usually trusted and left to most operational decision-making then the assertion and intent might be sufficient without the deference or question to the boss.

Questions like that can sometimes take a life of their own if they start asking around. If they find they've spent half a day asking around here and elsewhere before making a decision they might find it would have just been faster to make the painful contacts and get it over with. If they make sure and give their recommendation, they have done their job of trying to save money; if renewals are insisted upon, making sure any renewals have the money taken from the insisters pot might help with the decisions. If it does result in needing to ask someone, including the question of whose budget should foot the bill in the initial query might greatly shorten the time the friend must deal with the issue, even if others then get to spin their wheels looking for a justification. Besides, if they feel an unexpected debt on their own budget they might even agree on the savings themselves.

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