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So, the story is as follows:

I worked as a sysadmin for a year at a company, and one of our clients asked me to rewrite some application for them. I initially said yes, but didn´t sign or anything, and I was supposed to do it on my spare time.

Fast-forward to today. I have since left that company, did some work on the project, and landed a full-time job somewhere else, and I now want to pull out of the project. Given that I haven't signed anything regarding that project, how unethical of me is to just say I don´t want to do it anymore, hand over what's done up to this point, and just leave?

Edit: I guess what I'm most worried about is tarnishing any reputation I might have left with my past employers (they weren't too happy with my performance), and any consequences (they 'threatened' me saying they'd wash their hands off if anything went wrong, as the project was funded with public funds). In any case, I reiterate, I haven't signed anything.

  • I'd say quite a bit. I rewrote the whole backend, and the application itself remains to be written altough some work has been done. – Enrique Villarreal May 1 '17 at 11:54
  • What is the status of any supporting documentation? ( Requirements, Technical, etc. ) – Mister Positive May 1 '17 at 11:58
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    Not a lot.. E-R diagrams for the database, and some use cases / class diagrams. I would have to write some before leaving. I did wrote some requirements down as to what technologies I would be working with, and the company already has them, but they´ve changed. – Enrique Villarreal May 1 '17 at 12:02
  • "I was supposed to do it on my spare time." What does that mean? Outside work on your own time? Or was this a case of "this is a low priority so work on it when you can?". If this was just one of your projects as an employee for your former company why is this your concern? If this is a freelance gig you can't really call this just a "project" but then it shouldn't be any of your former company's business how you handle it. – Lilienthal May 2 '17 at 8:46
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    Yes, doing it outside work on my own time. Theoretically it is my own project, but my old company stepped in to handle the money side of things and payments. I guess you should call it a freelance gig. Also, after talking to people, and thinking about it, I think I will try to finish it. I'll just be honest about new time constraints that have arisen from my new job, and discuss new deadlines. Thank you everyone! – Enrique Villarreal May 2 '17 at 19:36
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I guess what I'm most worried about is tarnishing any reputation I might have left with my past employers (they weren't too happy with my performance), and any consequences (they 'threatened' me saying they'd wash their hands off if anything went wrong, as the project was funded with public funds). In any case, I reiterate, I haven't signed anything.

Your reputation has nothing to do with the fact that you did or didn't sign a piece of paper.

You essentially gave your word that you would rewrite an application in your spare time. You did some of the work. The client was relying on you to complete this project.

Now you want to go back on your word and stop the work.

You get to decide what your word is worth and what your reputation (with the company, the client, and anyone else who knows of the arrangement) is worth. But it has nothing to do with signing anything.

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    Fortunately not a lot of people know. The company (which was incredibly small), and the client himself. To be honest, the client has some connections which I could lose by doing this, but I guess I'm okay in that sense since I have found others in a separate route. – Enrique Villarreal May 1 '17 at 11:59
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    How is this any different from switching jobs in the middle of a project? – Mister Positive May 1 '17 at 13:51
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    +1 Joe is right. As well, if you let someone down (in their view) more people may end up knowing about it than you think. – Spehro Pefhany May 1 '17 at 17:33
  • Yes, you guys are right there. I have decided to try and finish it as I said in the other answer. Answer has been approved by the way – Enrique Villarreal May 2 '17 at 19:36
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how unethical of me is to just say I don´t want to do it anymore, hand over what's done up to this point, and just leave?

As long as you provide the source code, any documentation you can muster, and a bit of notice there is nothing wrong with you stepping away. You had the best of intentions, but sometimes life has other ideas and your career and time commitments change.

I would be available for whoever takes over the project for a bit so that they can get up to speed as quickly as possible. I would not look at this any differently than moving from one job to the next. Nothing to lose sleep over here....

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    Yeah, that's what I was going to do, and thought was the best course of action: hand over the source code, some docs / pointers to help them get a replacement, and just leave. – Enrique Villarreal May 1 '17 at 12:00
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    @EnriqueVillarreal Simple as that. – Mister Positive May 1 '17 at 12:00
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    I agree with this. If it was worth anything to the company they would have had you sign something. The fact they didn't, is their mistake not yours. I'd wash my hands of it and move on. – Bugs May 1 '17 at 17:23

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