A brief ethical moment

At the end of this morning’s linux.conf.au keynote, a bunch of prizes from various sponsors were handed out to names randomly drawn from a hat. One of the names was mine. While the organisers were keen to get some prizes handed out — as is always the case, some of the winners weren’t actually present — this wasn’t something I felt I could do.

So I yelled out “I’m here, but I couldn’t possibly accept a prize.” Someone up the front — probably another journalist — yelled “Ethics!” Well, yes, but it’s a bit more complex than that. I wouldn’t turn down a prize offered in a lucky draw at a press conference (I know some journalists and employers who would argue that you should). But at a professional conference where I’m just an observer (and didn’t pay to get in, even though I funded my own trip to the conference), I don’t think it’s fair on the other participants for me to win anything.

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