Once upon a time, a man bought some property beside a highway. Then he bought some lumber and some steel and proceeded to build himself a large billboard. He then offered to lease billboard space to any and all interested parties.Â Shortly thereafter, a man who made and sold knick-knacks saw the billboard and inquired about leasing it in order to advertise his product.Â A deal was struck and the billboard owner put up an advertisement for the knick-knack seller.
Not too long after that, a fellow that made and sold widgets drove by the very same billboard.Â He knew that if he could get his advertisement on that billboard that many people would see it and his business would get a boost.Â But rather than inquire about leasing space on the billboard as the knick-knack seller had done, he began rationalizing all sorts of reasons why he shouldnâ€™t have to pay anything to advertise his widgets there.Â So he pulled over, got a ladder out of his vehicle and proceeded to climb up and paste an advertisement for his widgets on the billboard.
Of the three folks involved here, which one has acted in an unethical, unfair manner? I think most will quickly agree that the guy who simply pasted an advertisement next to a paid advertiser, on a billboard which someone else owns, is the one committing the unethical act.
This scenario takes place every day on rod building internet forums. Folks that have incurred no expense in setting up and operating a forum will backdoor the owner and paying sponsors by adding their website URL to their signature, or putting their business logo in their avatar, or perhaps simply make outright mention of their product or service within a message post. They feign innocence and pretend to see nothing unethical nor unfair about such a practice. Granted, a few may actually be obtuse enough to believe they havenâ€™t done anything wrong, but most are smart enough to know exactly what theyâ€™re doing – theyâ€™re advertising on someone elseâ€™s nickel. In short, theyâ€™re stealing.
Bottom line – there is a cost associated with doing business. If you wish to benefit from the expense and efforts of others, be willing to pay your fair share. Itâ€™s the right thing to do. It keeps you in good standing with the industry and among potential customers. Anything less is not only poor business – itâ€™s stealing.