A few days ago, I shared my thoughts about Apple, Think Secret and Non-Disclosure Agreements, in which I basically said that rumor sites were cool, but rumor sites that were using known confidential information or news that was obviously shared with them in violation of non-disclosure agreements were most assuredly not cool at all.
Yesterday I finally came up with a metaphor that I believe aptly describes the situation, and explains why it’s just so uncool and unethical to publish rumors that are known to come from sources violating this confidentiality…
As I was walking to the store yesterday, I started to think about surprise parties, and how the more of a surprise it is, the more fun everyone has with the entire concept. Movies, TV and books all give a nod to surreptitious party planning and sneaky tricks to lure the unsuspecting party “victim” to their fete.
What’s significant is that at any point during the planning of a surprise party someone could spill the beans and share the secret with the subject of the party. I think that this is darn similar to the rumor-mongering that was happening prior to Apple‘s Macworld Conference announcements this week.
Let’s say that it’s my surprise party that’s being planned. I might guess that there’s a party, I might even ask my friends if they can fill me in, and I could even whinge a bit about disliking surprises and that I need to know. So far, that’s cool and pretty much an expected part of the process. This is also how these rumor sites should work, in my opinion, with discussion and “best guesses” based on analysis of the market and some time with a Quiji board or equivalent.
When someone comes up to me and says “Hey Dave, wanna know all about the surprise party people are planning for you?” that’s where the behavior is over the line. First off, now I know that there’s a party whereas before it was just rumors and guesses, but secondly this person has also violated the trust and confidence of all my other friends and ruined the surprise completely.
That’s what bothers me about groups like Think Secret accepting and publishing material that they know violates trade secrets and non-disclosure agreements: they’re not playing “let’s guess what kind of party we’re going to have”, they’re actively saying “yep, there’s a party, here’s where it is, and here’s the guest list.”
It’s wrong. It’s unprofessional, unethical and, most of all, it sure makes me want to skip inviting that person to my next party too. Sorry Nick Ciarelli, aka Think Secret owner Nick DiPlume.