deathshadow: this is what worries me. I'm starting to realise that possibly the majority of people who want websites are dubious in one way or another.
At the most harmless there are the people who simply don't know anything at all about computers or the internet. People who could be tiresome simply without meaning to be, because they really don't understand what is involved with making a website.
Moving on up through, I guess this is another layer where people are slightly more informed and yet still have little or no concept of the amount or type of work involved, who have never actually thought that there might be more to having a business online than they realise. They are not dealing with any money online - perhaps if they were, then they would be expecting issues of this sort. There really does seem to be an attitude that once they have people's data they [I]own it.[/I] They believe they have seen things like what they want on websites, whereas almost certainly they haven't. What they have seen almost certainly included some information such as "we may use this to send you emails later but you can opt out at any time". They just were not paying that much attention to the details.
I have been trying to curb my words when describing what I feel about these people. But nevertheless the fact remains that there are a whole lot of people out there much, much worse. People who are dealing with money and people who do know perfectly well that what they are doing is dubious, sharp practice and illegal and probably love the idea of getting away with it. Also, people who have risen to the top through bullying, intimidation and manipulation, and have made a lot of money through dirty tricks.
It's those people that make it really worthwhile worrying about all this as though it was a much more serious situation. Because I certainly don't want to find myself suddenly completely out of my depth and unprepared. Although I say my diplomacy was strained, I don't have the impression that I didn't manage the situation pretty well to the satisfaction of all. Largely the "diplomacy" comes in resisting the urge to go one-up and right-back-at-you: saying something like the example you gave! Although my experience with computers and the internet is less than yours, the fact is still that I am a very highly qualified professional in another field entirely. I therefore am simply not well-disposed to being treated like an inferior by someone far less qualified than myself. They don't realise this - and to be honest, in these situations (there have been other, analogous examples) it's hard to avoid the impression that a big part of the problem is a lack of equal intelligence. Probably my explanations go over their heads. I try to make it as simple as possible but there's a bottom line, I'm afraid, where someone can't understand new information fast enough.
In life in general, many, many times I have been told things like this, by people with a lot of experience of aggression:
people who resort to aggression or violence are not good with words. They become aggressive because of their inability to verbalise. Remember if someone becomes aggressive to keep talking to them, express for them what they cannot. Eventually they will calm down.
people become angry when they know that they are wrong. If you are having a discussion with someone which suddenly blows up in your face and you find yourself verbally or physically threatened, remember this. It may not help but it can stop you from feeling guilty etc.
Obviously these don't cover any and every situation. But the point I am trying to make here (without being too insulting or big-headed, and probably failing in that) is that my fundamental first feeling is that I suddenly realise I'm dealing with someone who is not too bright. And who is starting to throw their weight around as a way of dealing with a situation which is uncomfortable to them.
It's unfortunate but true that success in business does not correspond with intelligence or altruistic personality traits. There are obviously intelligent and/or moral and decent people who are successful in business. But to be honest, when I look around at the types of people who advertise wanting a web designer or who run businesses that may want a web designer, I'd say 75% of the time I know I am looking at a sociopath.
I'm glad to know at least someone else has noticed and hates it too. It's going to be very hard on me. For one thing, my background is such that I'm the opposite of a cynical business person (don't want to be too specific - I may remove my link from my sig so I can talk without so much concern). For another thing, I'm likely to get very annoyed with people who talk down to me because I'm "just" a web designer or developer. I'm usually nice and diplomatic, but I simply don't take crap easily from people. I also respect people who can take what they dish out - so in many cases a friendship begins with a heated argument! But that's "real life" not business!
I predict a mess ... unless I seriously get my head together. Prices must go up simply in order to remind people that I am doing a technical job. But even that won't save me! I have read horror stories about things clients have said or done to people they are paying about a zillion dollars, yet still seem to somehow think that it's an easy job! So it's going to have to be hardball all the way - cast iron contracts, and being prepared to just walk away from bad clients.
At the end of the day I may just not be able to hack it. But it's worth a shot.
OH: and PS, I am right with you on the subject of pornographers. When I first became interested in this my mentor was someone who runs 3 porn websites. They really can be the most advanced in this field. Not all though! I have my own horror story about applying for a job as webmaster for a porn site recently! LOL.