Ethics Question

I am facing a serious ethical dilemma upon which I would like some input:

If you are a blogger on a website that is achingly short of hitting a monthly visit milestone it has never reached before (For the sake of argument, let’s say it’s 150,000 visits) and the month is almost over (for the sake of example, let’s say there are only 5 hours and 51 minutes left in the month in question), is it morally wrong to post an phony ethical dilemma for the sole purpose of attracting the additional few visits you need to reach the milestone?

Deeply interested in your thoughts if you are one of the first 14 people to read this post. Else, never mind.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College Lonon. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over ten thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

30 thoughts on “Ethics Question”

  1. At 6:15 PM Pacific, we are at 149,999 visits for September….come on someone, Daddy needs a new pair of shoes..

    1. the Chancellor of the Exchequer in England traditionally wears a new pair of shoes for his budget, and the Canadian Minister of Finance does the same (no doubt in emulation – after all it says in our Constitution that it is similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom!). I didn’t know that a blogger could get a new pair of shoes just for getting a particular target, but maybe your budget is different from that of the blog for which I write more regularly.

  2. Putting you further over the goal: NO! Unless you write something that is false or post a video showing gratuitous violence! Then you would be — well still not quite unethical, but deserving of much less esteem.

    1. Violence is not necessary, nor are naked women–videos of cats flushing the toilet may also answer the purpose!

  3. OK, now I feel guilty for not checking in here more often.

    Why can’t you guys post more? Is it just because you have day jobs?

  4. I think one could state the true dilemma (deadline and numerical goal) and hope it is resolved favorably; otherwise, traffic is what it is. Maybe some advertising or varied/more content would improve traffic. Then again, other factors may have distracted normal readers/contributors this season.

  5. Not sure this visit should count. I was looking for sameacts.com, a web site discussing the ethical implications of doing the same thing repeatedly while claiming to expect different results.

  6. The “ethical dilemma” seems to arise from your claim that the ethical dilemma is “phony”. If you left out the word “serious”, then the dilemma wouldn’t be phony and hence there would be no dilemma at all — just a meta post about posting to get a few more comments to meet an arbitrary goal — nothing wrong with that!

  7. Is the idea to trick all the people who google “ethical dilemma” but don’t visit here regularly ? Uh sorry grammar error. I meant both of those people

  8. Is the idea to trick all the people who google “ethical dilemma” but don’t visit here regularly ? Uh sorry grammar error. I meant both of those people.

    I tend towards consequentalism (in fact utilitarianism) and this post gave me great pleasure, so I think it is highly highly moral.

  9. I spent all day Sunday with the flu randomly clicking on favorite sites- at least 20 clicks here but the content didn’t change until this morning. What’s up with that?

  10. “…a website that is achingly short of hitting a monthly visit milestone it has never reached before”

    I blame Matthew Kahn.

  11. I suppose it’s too late to bring this up now, but 150,000 seems kind of arbitrary. Why not just celebrate 149,986? Or has RBC hit that goal lots of times in the past?

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