Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

Don’t understand why someone would throw away their integrity by doing this. When a client refuses to pay, the standard procedure is to take them to court and then make them pay what is owed + attorney fees.

Instead, this developer has put himself on industry blacklists by doing this. No way he’ll be trusted with sensitive projects. Don’t do this.

He's not on my blacklist.

Perhaps he's aware that every action that anyone ever takes, is approved of by some people and disapproved of by others, and your only choice is between who approves of you and who disapproves of you.

I for one, approve of this resolution a hell of a lot more than courts and suits. They are tools you may be forced to use sometimes. It's great that the system is there for when you need it. But they are merely detestable necessities, not my first or preferred choice.

Did it occur to you that by advertizing this attitude, you may have caused yourself to be blacklisted, even if only informally? Probably not.

It's a favor and a pleasure to be blacklisted by some people or organizations. It's the trash taking itself out.

Yeah, and what's more, this whole thing is fantastic marketing for his contracting business. He'll definitely get more work from this.

There is an unhealthy desire amongst freelancers to burn clients.

haha i love you

Throw away their integrity? Not sure I'm following. If the dev wasn't paid then they own the work product and they are free to do whatever they want with it. Isn't that what ownership means? Going to court is a cumbersome process that not everyone wants to deal with.

Whoever didn't pay should be the one on the blacklist - not the dev who is free to make whatever decision they want with a work product they own.

Taking them to court is not standard at all. For one thing, in the US, parties normally bear their own attorneys' fees, regardless of who prevails in court. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_rule_(attorney%27s_fe.... So even if this dispute actually did ever go to trial, the coder wouldn't be made whole. Unless the dollar amount in question is very high, no rational actor would bother going to court. (The contract might include a provision awarding attorneys' fees to the prevailing party, but see the next point -- nothing from nothing leaves nothing.)

For another, an attorney wouldn't even take this case in the first place. The relevant expression is "you can't get blood from a stone." What good would suing do when your adversary is a defunct LLC, or a wantrepreneur whose credit-card debt likely exceeds his or her assets?

Huh? If you believe in Imaginary Property, you own the copyright to your code until you get paid.

He won't be trusted with sensitive projects that he doesn't get paid for.

Do you mean intellectual property?

It would be defined in the contract, but usually the contractors never own the copyright to code written for other people.

Anyway, I agree with the other comments that this is unprofessional and immature. We have a civil court system to deal with these kind of issues.

We also have a banking system to deal with these kinds of issues. The client should have payed.

Lawyers say the legal system has its limitations and that not every morally legitimate gripe has a legal remedy.

Your comment reminds me of the typical objection, why crackdown on these evildoers instead of these worse evildoers? Why not both?

Was the jurisdiction of the contract mentioned?

Good point, I assumed this is in the US.

assume differently

> usually the contractors never own the copyright to code written for other people.

Under the terms of the contract that's now void due to non-payment?

That's not really how contracts work. A contract is only "void" if it contains something fundamentally illegal, or if someone was forced to sign it. And that would be determined in court, not automatically.

The guy who promised to pay is breaching the contract by not paying, and the contractor's recourse is to sue him in civil court for the money.

That depends very much on the terms of the contract and how the rights to the work were approached. If the rights were only to transfer upon payment, or not at all, then this action is entirely appropriate.

It sounds very much like this was a freelancer creating a product, not a contractor providing work.

There are no 'industry blacklists' for small consultant developers.

And I really doubt any legitimate operation would blacklist somebody for their entirely legal actions after a contract was broken.

If you hire me to build a book case for you, but then you decide to not pay me after the work is done, should I just destroy the book case and hope for better luck next time? Why couldn't I give the book case away for free?

Most of us are developers and can easily empathize with the OP, but any prospective employer seeing this will wonder about the other half of the story.

Agree that it's not the most professional look. However, the sort of client with the concern you mentioned has an NDA, IP agreement, lawyers... I don't think they'll care much.

The greater risk to the contractor is that this advertises that they deal with shitty clients who don't have those things in place. Working with what sound like fly-by-night clients signals that you're not able to be picky about your work.

If I were the contractor here, I'd bury the project and sprinkle some holy water on it, pursue legal action, and get on with my life. I wouldn't draw attention to what is essentially a failed project. It's naive for the contractor to think that everyone will accept his side of the story regarding the project's failure. From a distance, the failed project is more visible than the flaky client.

I don't know, the attention is also advertisement for himself. And HNs front page is pretty good. People say his code base is not bad, so if I would need contracting in the field right now, I would check this guy out.

feel free. you can my website through github

It sounds like the client abandoned the project altogether, rather than taking receipt and not paying. So it’s more like a project that was started but never finished — and now the developer is giving it away because there’s nothing else to do with it.

I'm assuming there wasn't enough written agreement for either side to sue the other. Couldn't it be the other way around, though? If the client thinks this is unfair, they can go ahead and sue the developer. (Or use an NDA next time. Or actually pay the guy for his work god damnit)

I'm in a kind of similar situation in that Msft owes me aprox $7k in royalties but they lost track of it internally. I've been pinging them every 6 months about this for the last 4 years, hoping to avoid litigation.

in the usa, you can't expect a lawyer to take a case without paying their fees up front. So $5000+ for any case.

Assuming you win, you are still looking at years before you might actually get paid (if ever).

That, plus a huge time and cognitive investment, means i'ts not surprising he took this route.

Have you considered small claims court? They have low filing fees and typically disallow lawyers.

small claims court in my state (WA) is limited to aprox $5000.

This awkward area between $6k to $15k seems to be a sweet spot for abusive business practices (intentional or otherwise) because of the big time and financial commitment it takes to pursue.

EDIT: Also I should add that it's not guaranteed that legal fees can be reclaimed from successful litigation. This is probably the main reason I keep putting it off (and keep pinging them about it every 6 months, paper trail seems important)

Can you not sue them for 5K even if your actual damages are 7?

yes, that's an option, though probably the least attractive out of all my crappy choices :/

There are attorneys who may take this type of case on contingency. I happen to know of a good one who would consider it.


thanks for the referral. I phoned a few lawyers about this but none were interested in contingency. I'll give him/them a call!

This story sounds a little fishy to me. If they just "lost track of it" you don't need to sue. You need to dig out your executed contract with MS, and your set of unpaid invoices and start making phone calls. Ultimately if that fails, pay a lawyer a few hundred to send a letter to the address in the "Notices" section of the contract, demanding payment. That'll get the attention of someone who will get you paid.

Otoh if there is an actual dispute (MS disagrees that they owe you money) then you need to walk away. Nobody is going to sue MS for $7k.

No dispute. just bureaucracy.

it's royaltees from xblig (xna on xbox360). they admitted to not paying me in email, but don't know where the money went.

I actually emailed msft legal about it aprox a year ago, which got traction for a couple months before their activity died off again.

so yes, as you say the general plan I'll probably go with is to retain a lawyer to send threatening emails. that'll cost in the area of $350. Just tried my best to resolve this without that drama.

"we won't hire him because he will reveal sensitive data if we don't pay him"

In the future I think I will add a clause in contracts that work for hire will be open source if payment in agreed terms is not received. It would be a good bargaining chip for getting crazy indemnity clauses removed.

I don't agree with that assessment, but I do wonder why mention the client or client non-payment at all. If he wants to bother to mention the breach of contract, he should go all in and publish the client's name. Otherwise, just publish it as code written on his own time. (Which it was, at the end.)

I have no interest in exposing other people and tarnishing their names. Hes welcome to continue screwing people over if he chooses

If I were to hire you, can I trust that you would not publicly complain about a disagreement? This needs to be asked because this simple act, even though your anger is justified, calls into question your ability to act professionally.

I would recommend removing or rewording the complaint about the client.

Never, never, never publicly complain about a client in a way that can be linked back to you and/or your client.

Why not? Are you worried that one day you would be outed as such a client if everyone went around doing this?

Wait - pause - you're going to put me on a blacklist for working without being paid, despite the terms of the agreement?

Yeah, go for it.

From what I can tell, it can only reduce the number of pompous jerks attempting to milk me for free work...

I agree with you, but hopefully he will do a follow-up and tell us what happens next.

I guess he is hoping someone start using this project and asks him to expand or customize it.

I have some other project I'm working on now. No plans to continue with this one. I just wanted to give it away so people can learn some new stuff so my effort didnt go to waste completely

This is not standard procedure at all: in most legal systems the cost to sue greatly exceeds the loss. Standard procedure is to take risk reduction measures in advance such as requiring payment up front, source code escrow, only working for clients with a known history of honest business dealings, etc.

If this person is an indie contractor doing this as a side hustle, I don't think it's a huge deal. I would still omit the story and label it as some open source project from the get go.

If this person runs a shop where there's a bigger reputation at stake, I'd agree with what you said.

What industry blacklists? Is that like your high school Permanent Record?

Literally, good luck finding a real project that doesnt deal with mom&pop shops

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact