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So, I'm fresh out of high school, I applied to my first job, and got a response! I'll be a freelance writer, writing about tech for a company's blog.

However, my (potential) employer (...client?) mentioned in their last email that the stuff I write may either be published without a name or under the company's founder's name, and I that may not be credited.

This would mean, of course, that I can't list the stuff I write for them on my portfolio/website, and that I can't submit these as examples of previously published works of mine when applying to a future job (which, incidentally, is something that this very company also asked for in applications).

This seems slightly sketchy to me, especially the bit about publishing it under someone else's name. Am I right to be worried? Is this accepted practice?

(I have seen, for example, that all posts on the Stack Overflow blog have the names of the employees who wrote them on the article, but I understand that they're full-time employees and I'll only be a freelancer.)

  • (I couldn't find any more appropriate tags for the question, I'd appreciate any help) – rahuldottech Mar 30 at 6:52
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    The term for this is ghostwriter. – Mark Rotteveel Mar 30 at 7:44
  • In Germany, it would be illegal. If you wrote it, you wrote it, and nobody can say otherwise. Ths right cannot be sold. No contract can change this. The same may be true for other countries. – gnasher729 Mar 30 at 7:52
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    @Chris what's the point of listing it if I cannot prove I wrote it? – rahuldottech Mar 30 at 12:04
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    @rahuldottech You can prove you worked there, right? So it's the same for any other job. How could I prove I managed a project or have experience in a specific programming language? I can't, but people will notice if I lied. – Chris Mar 30 at 16:30
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You think that CEO's spend all their time writing those 'thought leadership' articles on LinkedIn? You think that industry leaders write their own speeches for those big product releases? :)

The term is Ghostwriter (or, for a speech, speechwriter). There's nothing wrong with putting that in a resume - e.g ,'Ghostwriter for the xxx llc blog', or 'Speechwriter for La Grande Fromage LLC annual convention'. It's an ethical industry, and a job that many people would want to have.

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It all boils down to the contract/agreement between you and the employer.

If you agreed to give the rights to someone else for exchange of something or even for free then there is nothing wrong in that.

Is this accepted practice?

Yes, there are many freelancers who write for others without getting credit for their material.

  • Legally it's not necessarily down to the contract alone. It will vary by jurisdiction, as I understand it. The thing to search for is 'moral rights', which may provide a right of attribution. Either way, I suspect that law is mostly irrelevant to the OP if there's normal industry practice to the contrary as enforcing it would probably mean no job. – Alex Hayward Mar 30 at 11:06
  • @AlexHayward , we're just talking about a tech blog. Really, it's all but impossible there could be any legal considerations. It's completely, totally standard that "tech blogs" have some company figurehead as a byline, and some staff just help write them each week. its' a non-issue. – Fattie Mar 31 at 12:00
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Everybody understands that companies/CEOs have people helping them building a professional reputation.

I would only see an issue if this happens

  • In a scientific journal
  • In a document where it is mandatory to disclose involved persons
  • and/or if it happens the other way round (they sending an article to you to publish under your name)

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