this site could compromise our new hire
July 24, 2007 2:57 PM   Subscribe

new employee has some potentially compromising sites associated with her...

We have a new employee at our non-profit, I'll call her Dale. She's been featured prominently on the company web site and is being made much of--she's being groomed as the main face of our organization. This is her big kick-off week.

Out of idle curiosity today I searched on her name, and found a web page associated with her--it contains a page that references restroom graffiti, sort of offering it up as a form of found art (it's an artsy site). Personally I think it's kind of clever and it doesn't offend my own sensibility at all, but our org is a pretty lock-jaw/town-and-country/take-me-home-James kind of outfit. Since this site is associated with the person who is our new supastar (they're hosting a meet and greet for her, probably ordering caviar and horse drawn carriages, etc.), it's pretty crude and raw in that context.

Elsewhere on the site Dale mentions in a recent post that she's found a new job in a new city (ours). And her online bio on our organization's site states her connection with this other site, so it's definitely her and not someone else with the same name--and would be easy to find just from that info on our org's web site. (Although I found it another way.)

The board members would have ten hemorrhages apiece if they happened upon this content, and I imagine my boss would be grateful if I let him know about this before he hears about it from one of them.

My impulse is to let our manager know ASAP, but I don't want to look like a tattle tale or, worse, someone who doesn't like the new hire and is trying to jeopardize her out of envy. She did beat me out for the position she's currently in, but I've known for months that it was going to fall out this way. I'm not bitter! But I do feel someone should make her aware, so she can remove the compromising content.

She and I haven't met yet, and I wouldn't want her first impression of me to involve something this unpleasant. Should I email the manager in any case? I was considering using a temporary anonymous address...what is your advice?
posted by frosty_hut to Human Relations (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
How do you think the girl would react if you went to her first, what about if you went to the manager without telling her? How do you think the manager will react when informed?

If your manager is cool, I think it would be better if it went through him/her. If your manager isn't, you should probably at least give the new hire a heads-up.
posted by onalark at 3:05 PM on July 24, 2007


Why not just give Dale the heads up and warn her about the organizational culture at your nonprofit?
posted by jtfowl0 at 3:05 PM on July 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Should I email the manager in any case? I was considering using a temporary anonymous address...

FYI, such a move SCREAMS bitter.

If you really want to be fair to the new hire, give her a heads up.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:08 PM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


You say that "her online bio on our organization's site states her connection with this other site", so odds are good that someone else in the organization forwarded that information to the web site folks -- and given the importance of this person to the organization, I find it hard to believe that someone involved in her hiring didn't look at her bio and think "hmm, what's that site all about?"

If you didn't have the additional detail about being beaten out for the position, I'd possibly follow up with other folks about this; however, given that history, I wouldn't get involved -- even if you love the organization and want only what's best for it, you'll need to have faith that the people at the upper levels either know about this already, or will deal with it appropriately when (not if) they find out about it from other sources.

I say ignore your impulse and let it go.
posted by davejay at 3:08 PM on July 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


It's an awkward situation, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't deal with it directly.

I suggest you introduce yourself to Dale, and tell her your two opinions: You don't have any problems with the other site's content, but you think that higher-ups might.

Apologize for the awkwardness of approaching her, and let her decide what to do. If she hasn't talked to an appropriate higher-up or done anything to reduce the visibility of the other site's content within a few days, then tell your manager the whole story.

How she reacts to you is less important than doing right by your employer, so even if she takes it poorly you'll have done the right thing by advising her of something that's likely to become a problem for her.
posted by chudmonkey at 3:08 PM on July 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Why do you want to get involved in this? This is not your issue. Leave it alone. If the site is referenced in her online bio I also doubt you're the first to discover this.

At worst you'll come off as a tattle tale or as a bitter employee. Tattlers are rarely thanked.
posted by vacapinta at 3:09 PM on July 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Also: an association with an artistic site where the art is somewhat racy is a far cry from a site where, say, nude pictures of her appear. This may not be as big a deal as you think.
posted by davejay at 3:10 PM on July 24, 2007


You've got three options: approach her, approach boss, ignore it.

The fact that the other site is mentioned on your site makes ignoring it a bad idea, IMO. Your organization could collective play dumb about this if it weren't there and maintain a shred of credibility, but with the link made explicit, no.

Approaching her directly is the more decent thing to do, IMO. You can be apologetic about it, and make it clear "look, I'm not going to rat you out or anything, and it doesn't bother me, but I think you should find a way to defuse this before someone else trips over it."
posted by adamrice at 3:12 PM on July 24, 2007


Definitely do not email using an anonymous address. People will figure out who sent it -- you aren't that clever, and they aren't that dumb.

The fact of the matter is, though, that you haven't told us how this is impacting your abilities to accomplish your tasks. How is (or could) this impact your group in a negative manner?

If you really think it's an issue, take it up directly with her. Dale, can I give you some feedback?

When your company bio links you to a bathroom grafitti site I... (insert the negative results of her behavior here. E.g. "worry that this could negatively impact client opinions of us.")

That's it. Deliver it in a positive, upbeat fashion.

Point is, if Dale isn't worried about it, you shouldn't be. And you certainly shouldn't take this to your boss unless it's directly interfering with your or your group's ability to get stuff done.

Full disclosure: The above ideas were all learned from manager-tools.com. Start listening to their podcasts and become a better communicator!
posted by bfranklin at 3:17 PM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bring it up with Dale. But not at your first meeting. Ask if you can meet for lunch or coffee -- your treat. Spending some time getting to know her and then break it to her gently. Say you just wanted to let her know, so she could make her own decision. However, do not make it part of your very first conversation -- at least wait till later that day or something.
posted by acoutu at 3:22 PM on July 24, 2007


Logic says that the way to avoid looking like a tattle-tale is not to tattle.
posted by rhizome at 3:25 PM on July 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Two key elements of the situation are making me think you should definitely ignore it: One, the "questionable" site is mentioned in her bio on your company's site. The higher-ups at your organization know about it and clearly don't have a problem with it. It also seems like it is beyond the scope of your role in the organization to be raising this as an issue, but maybe I'm wrong. Two, you say that you applied and were passed up for Dale's job. No matter how good your intentions (and they seem perfectly reasonable from what you have said in your post), bestowing any sort of negative attention on Dale or questioning her reputation in any way is going to come off as bitter, an attempt at sabotage, etc. So, yeah, if I'd strongly advise you to let it go.
posted by kitty teeth at 3:27 PM on July 24, 2007


All of this over restroom graffiti? Talked about on a site that is mentioned on her bio on your organization's site? Are you worried about your boss' reputation? Hers? or are you trying to score brownie points and subtly let them know what a questionable employee they've hired? No matter which, none of this has anything to do with you or your job.

In short, they have all the tools they need to do their research, and they either used those tools or didn't but they hired her. If you say something to her, she's not going to thank you, she's going to think less of you. And when she finds out she got the job you wanted, she'll really consider the source when she thinks about your warning. Your boss will probably do the same, and s/he'll just worry about the bitterness-fueled office nonsense to come, after all, whether or not you are bitter, it looks like a pretty bitter move and you can't control whether or not s/he believes you aren't bitter.

Finally, and most importantly, you haven't met this person yet. You have no idea whether she is cool or a bitch on wheels. If the latter, and at some point it compromises your ability to do your job, nobody is going to take you seriously when you have a valid complaint.

Let this go.
posted by necessitas at 3:31 PM on July 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I would go to her first. Definitely explain that you're not jealous, devious, or wanting to ruin anything of her career. Just explain what you think the board members might say. Granted, I'm all for autonomy and free-speech (i.e. i'd try to sue the shit out of my employer if I got fired/reprimanded for anything I posted online). But gently explain this to her, and let her decide. Who knows, you could become her new best friend later on for it . . . or not, that's your decision.
posted by uncballzer at 3:38 PM on July 24, 2007


Do you want to be cool, frosty_hut, or do you want to be an asshole? Because if you want to be cool, you'll approach Dale on the side and give her a fair and friendly heads-up about the uptight board members who might freak out if they saw her site. If you want to be an asshole, you'll go to those board members, give them an aneurysm and cost Dale a job.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:39 PM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm having a little trouble parsing the nature of this web site -- is the somewhat-risque material the point of this other site, or just an aspect of it? I can confidently state that many people overestimate the tech-savvyness of the higher-ups, including HR, including communications, including PR. Strange but true. I won't even get into the antiquated notions of the types of people who often serve on the Boards of Directors of non-profit orgs. So, this information that you've discovered about Dale many not be as obvious as some respondents upthread may think.

If you decide to tell Dale or your boss, do it in person, not via e-mail, and with the attitude referenced by chudmonkey and adamrice.

If you think that telling your boss might compromise Dale's position, you're in dicey territory no matter what. But if you're pretty sure that telling your boss will just simply result in your boss having the talk with Dale, then this may be a legitimate passing of the buck.
posted by desuetude at 3:45 PM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


You didn't hire her, they did. Either they didn't do their homework or they did and they are okay with it. In any case, I'd stay out of it.
posted by MiffyCLB at 3:46 PM on July 24, 2007


Thanks for setting me straight, guys. Jesus, maybe I am bitter!

Actually, from a distance I think she's kind of cool and I bet I'll like her once I get to know her. So maybe I can bring it up in future. But that's how to approach it, if I ever do--as a way of helping her, not triumphing over her.

Thanks for these responses.
posted by frosty_hut at 3:48 PM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


It looks like you've already decided what to do, based on the answers you have marked "best."

But I think there's really no good way for you to bring this up with her. No matter what style you take in your approach, you will be viewed as a vile little meddler.

I don't think you'll be doing her any good by bringing this up --- at best, you will freak her out, make her paranoid, and you'll look like a gossipy Google snoop.
posted by jayder at 4:38 PM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


But I think there's really no good way for you to bring this up with her. No matter what style you take in your approach, you will be viewed as a vile little meddler.

I think you're correct...thanks for steering me aright. I thought this was a utilitarian/ethical/what-should-I-do question, and it turned into an inward sort of exploration of who I think I am. Wow.

I feel queazy about this whole thing now. I'm glad I got everyone's take on it. Thanks again.
posted by frosty_hut at 5:28 PM on July 24, 2007


Who else at your company have you Googled?
posted by Ookseer at 5:49 PM on July 24, 2007


There's some section of some site that she's somehow associated with that features shots of restroom graffiti art? Let's just hope she's not on MetaFilter! I think you probably have more to worry about!
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:50 PM on July 24, 2007


Who else at your company have you Googled?

Is it not okay to do this? (Or just not okay to admit it?)
posted by frosty_hut at 7:17 PM on July 24, 2007


I Google everybody, so I think that it's okay. However, if she's the only person you Googled, there may be some biases involved in that.

If you have to tell anyone, can you tell Dale anonymously and non-threateningly?
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:27 PM on July 24, 2007


totally ok to do. that's what it's there for.
posted by exlotuseater at 7:36 PM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


This all sounds petty.

Ask yourself if this is really any your business.

If you are honest with yourself, then you should realize that this is none of your business.

If you really love the organization at which you work, then concentrate on doing your job to the best of your ability and building healthy relationships with your fellow workers.
posted by cinemafiend at 7:50 PM on July 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I would ignore it altogether as its not your problem.
posted by pwally at 7:54 PM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's some section of some site that she's somehow associated with that features shots of restroom graffiti art? Let's just hope she's not on MetaFilter! I think you probably have more to worry about!

There's a fair bit of crude sexual and racist content on the site. It's not a hate site, though--it's just silly. The image of the organization we're associated with has always been pretty strictly defended, since it depends on contributors to keep it afloat financially. Just thought if the connection were made, it might be detrimental. But the connection may never be made.
posted by frosty_hut at 7:55 PM on July 24, 2007


Is it not okay to do this? (Or just not okay to admit it?)

It can look sort of... weird, especially if your actual motive isn't obvious. (Curiosity is wanting to know things; by itself it isn't an explanation of why you find something or someone interesting.)

It's kind of a sliding scale, though, you know? I mean, remove the "google" aspect and maybe you'll see what I mean: Say you meet someone and you want to ask them out. You might ask one of their friends (especially a mutual friend) what they're like, how/if you should approach them, etc., and that wouldn't be weird at all. But talking to all their friends, then looking up their address in the phone book and talking to their neighbors, then looking up their relatives to talk to them, too, to find out as much as you possibly can about them--creepy.

So the online equivilent of the first would probably be checking out her bio on the company site and following links from there. The second's more like googling someone's name, scouring every single page of search results, re-Googling any psueds you find for them, and reading through their entire posting histories at whatever online communities they're part of.

Google's just a new way of doing things, not a new thing to do.

/my thoughts on research
posted by Many bubbles at 8:24 PM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a fair bit of crude sexual and racist content on the site. It's not a hate site, though--it's just silly.

heh - from the toilet-graffiti thing, i always just assumed it was Vice. Now I know!
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:36 PM on July 24, 2007


Frosty_Hut, I just wanted to pull you aside and let you know quietly -- it's not that I don't like your new haircut, it's just that others might think it looks a bit, well, trashy. And your earrings too. I mean, I like them. But.... It's just that you should probably get a makeover if you want to make it in this organization.

(In other words, put me down with davejay, vacapinta, necessitas, MiffyCLB, cinemafiend, & pwally.)
posted by salvia at 11:10 PM on July 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Try practising a low key response for when/if it does come out, in the hopes of making it a non-event. 'Why would it be an issue, Mr Director? It's just one of the millions of silly sites on the web. No one could take it seriously enough for it to hurt our organization.'
posted by happyturtle at 12:29 PM on July 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Try practising a low key response for when/if it does come out, in the hopes of making it a non-event. 'Why would it be an issue, Mr Director? It's just one of the millions of silly sites on the web. No one could take it seriously enough for it to hurt our organization.'

Good idea. And that response can distance Dale from the content and frame her involvement more with providing this (successful!) venue for art/writing.
posted by desuetude at 1:07 PM on July 25, 2007


Ouch. Oy. Ouch. This brings back the terrible memory of having been asked to take a piece of literary-but-explicit writing off my site by the person who was hiring me for a job I really needed in terms of income, based on her prediction that her boss would never hire me after seeing that on my site (I think she was very right about the boss, and the job was actually at a religious organization, but it still hurts that I took it down... and I didn't put it up again until I quit that job).

That being said: as mentioned above,
1) They've ALREADY hired her (unlike in my situation), so I don't think it endangers her job in material terms;
2) Googling co-workers out of curiosity is totally normal in my circles and I'm surprised people here are surprised by it;
3) your own org links to her site, so the higher-ups would have a very hard time claiming nobody knew about it.

I think there's not a problem and if I were you I would just tell her, hey, great found-art site with the graffiti!
posted by sparrows at 11:07 PM on July 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


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