Didn't know what to call this one.
A small charity that I am a user of had been waiting for the "web design course" they advertised (on their pinboard) to start ever since I joined last year.
Finally they said that it wasn't happening after all unless they could find a new teacher as the guy who was going to teach it is too busy (this was actually the position way back when, and I said I could do it but they weren't sure about whether that was going to be allowed). Anyway, I said "well I can do that no problem" and said I will teach them how to do it in html (maybe some css for the keen) in notepad, with no WYSIWYG (which is what was going to happen before).
Well anyway they checked if that was allowed and we are going ahead, and I get properly paid (yippee!).
The problem is that there is some kind of SCOPE CREEP going on and it is giving me the creeps already. This is now something I have to tackle before things get too much.
They put a notice up saying they were offering subdomains to their members for free to use for a year if they join the class. It's ALL free, by the way. These are people who are not very well and need to get out of the house for a bit. I kind of freaked out a bit when I walked in and saw it (don't know how long it had been up) because the wording was too specific and I felt it might be getting them into something that would be a nightmare of extra costs. Turned out they had been quoted VERY high prices by local companies that they had asked for quotes for their hosting. (I gather this has been the plan from the beginning).
First time I saw that notice I went home and checked what exactly sub-domains were (versus parked, add-on, etc) and found that this was something you normally get for free with a good host. I sent them relevant info I found. Anyway, then they just kept delaying and delaying and eventually they made it clear that they need me to recommend a host. So OK then, I say X is good. We looked together and saw "free subdomains". I made it really, really clear that he HAD to check the small print about it himself. There's no way I was going to do it for them. It's not my job.
I repeated myself a few times, I told them it was imperative in a way they couldn't (or shouldn't) just ignore.
Well you can guess that every time I go for my weekly session (remember as a member) they have done no more and at every step I have to either do things or hold their hand. They started saying things like "I won't need to phone the hosting company, ever, that's what YOU are for" and not sounding like it's a joke. Or not a very good one from my perspective.
Now I have had a bit of a scare with my hosting company over a similar (but not identical) issue. It's been cleared up as it was a misunderstanding anyway but it took up 2 days of my time on the phone and a lot of emails and stress. Remember I'm not well and also I am busy and trying to work. PAID WORK. That is now 2 days behind. The trouble is with this OTHER lot, where in various small ways they are more and more edging me towards being their webmaster/site admin/goto everything person.
Even the other day we called the hosting company and the guy wouldn't even DIAL the number.
I showed him how to put up index.html, and typed a little bit with a phone number. He wanted me to put my copyright link on it or something (did NOT ask for clarity, I simply REFUSED. No way, if they wanted me to design the site, they would have to arrange that with me. I put up index.html because he hadn't done that before, and he said he'd rather watch how I did it. That's all).
I am now in a position where I probably should do some checking on whether they have the right hosting plan, etc etc etc. Well fine, these things happen. But already little things have been said where they are obviously prepared to shift all blame on to me if anything isn't right. I already was getting a VERY bad feeling about it BEFORE I had this problem of my own and realised that they really REALLY needed to read that small print. THEMSELVES. As a matter of fact I encouraged them to phone first and ASK QUESTIONS.
Did they? Did they heck.
I'm now feeling like I'm going to have to put my foot down and say that if they want me to take responsibility for anything to do with the running of THEIR website that they need to PAY me and have a CONTRACT which limits my responsibilities, liabilities, whatever. I am already run off my feet, stressed and exhausted. I have people who pay me to do things on their websites, and really to be honest I'm realising that a monthly charge of a fairly reasonable amount would be what it would really take to compensate me for my time. It's WORK.
The guy in charge has a computer science degree, which means in theory he can get on top of it all himself. I just feel like I'm being hid behind/pushed forward.
I am also a MEMBER of their support group. They have never tried having a member teach a class before. I can handle the teaching, I have done quite a lot of lecturing etc. But I was not and ideally AM NOT prepared to take on responsibility for their website, its general maintenance, dealing with the hosting company and definitely NOT for their not reading any small print or asking any questions when I advised them to.
I must point out that I'd be happy to play fair and just be helpful and tell him generally how to use cPanel and stuff like that, and I'm prepared to go and tell him he maybe needs to double check and perhaps rethink the plan for how members use the website. What I'm not prepared to do is take any blame, implied or actual, from him, the organisation, the hosting company. ANYONE.
Seriously, I am expecting to be getting into the legal nitty-gritty of my own hosting account with their [my host's] legal team soon (nicely, just so I understand all the clauses as I'm trying to run a business on my website etc). Do I really have to take on THAT much responsibility for the next however-long (they signed up for 2 years with their host). If I do I want MONEY and to be honest I don't even want the bloody problem. I've been getting more and more irritated by the "scope creep" thing and attitude shift anyway.
I put my name forward at the same time they were considering other applications for the post of "web design teacher" for a short course (I got to say how many lessons, so I said 8-10 so they get their money's worth at £80 per lesson - I know how much my time is worth as a teacher, and that is 2 hours).
I don't even know what to think, as it seems that it's normal for organisations and companies to have subdomains, that can be specific to one individual in an organisation. I'm wondering if this is actually not a problem at all really. On the other hand the terms of the hosting agreement go on about "third parties" a lot. I'm wondering if members of the organisation whose account it is are normally "third parties".
I suspect that they used the term "client" to describe their members when looking for hosting before and that's why they got these huge quotes - they have been quoted for reseller accounts with 10 domains, or for dedicated servers, something like that. Something they have been saying has been spooking people and I wish they had asked me before they advertised to their members the "subdomain" thing. There are free hosting accounts you can have, or they could have had FOLDERS. He didn't actually KNOW what subdomains were at all and he just phoned and said he needed an account with 10 of them (for his clients?????) and got quoted really high prices.
Is this normal? Sorry to be vague. And I know you will want me to clarify my actual questions so here:
- am I right in thinking I should say "no way, I am not prepared to be responsible for managing your domain/website/hosting that's not the deal"
(I am guessing yes)
- am I right in thinking if I DID take that on they should pay me properly and have a contract?
(oh good god and what about retrospective liability - for the fine print he didn't read?)
- and last, is it really normal that if an organisation or company has more than one member that needs to use the website, upload stuff, have their own bit of folder or subdomain or whatnot that they really would normally have to pay loads extra for that? If so, why do web hosting companies advertise free subdomains? Who uses them? What is normal? I had to look up what they were, because I have never used one. I did know really, I just wasn't sure.
I don't want to get into the specific details of this or that web host's policy. Remember I'm doing all that myself anyway and each one will presumably be a bit different. Just got NO info to go on.
Personally, I think it would be easier to just rethink the whole thing at our end, and let them make web pages that one admin uploads for them or something. Sure they can have a folder with their name, but making it clear on the website that the organisation is its members and this is a showcase of "our work" or something.
GRR. Any thoughts appreciated. I tried and tried to prompt the guy to do things on his own but every week he has done nothing and is waiting for me to tell him what to do at every step. I feel a sense of impending doom.
(oh and NB if I was not a member myself I would not be there to be involved with all this set-up-the-account stuff. It's cos I'm there every week for my session. The lessons haven't started yet. Starting to wonder if the other teacher just got fed up with waiting for them to get a website and that's what "too busy" really means).
IF THIS IS IN THE WRONG FORUM I DON'T KNOW WHICH ONE, SORRY.