VINners' Oath — Item 2: Pirating
March 14, 2017 (published)
Paul D. Pion, DVM, DACVIM (Cardiology), co-founder, VIN

This portion of the VINner’s Oath could also be called “Don’t Be a Pirate”.

Most of us were taught to share. What we might not have been told is sharing isn’t always caring. VIN staff used to use the term “account sharing” to describe colleagues using another VINner’s account. But sharing is a misnomer. It’s now called Pirating. Letting someone use your account is like leaving your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition. Pirating harms both the VINner whose account is used and the VIN Community as a whole.

The second item in the VINner’s Oath addresses the security of each VINner’s personal account:

2 I will use only my personal login and no one else will use it.

It would be ideal if every colleague followed the rules and supported the community by protecting their access from being used by others. Unfortunately, we know some are not.

Pirating is wrong. Pirating harms all VINners.

In my last post on the VINners’ Oath, I talked about keeping the confidentiality of VIN content within the community. With regard to the content VINners post, 99.9999% (obviously a made up number, but likely pretty close) of discussions on VIN carry no risk of harm if shared with colleagues (within or outside the confines of the community). That is the purpose of VIN — to share between colleagues, to help with medical cases, management issues, life issues, etc.

Still, you and all VINners deserve to know who is posting, reading and commenting on your posts.

Sharing VIN with others enables them to post on the message boards under the VINner’s name. When colleagues read a post with a VINner’s name at the top, they will believe the words that follow come from that VINner, and they deserve to trust this is the case.

Account pirating doesn’t only damage the trust colleagues place in each other. Leaving VIN open on a shared computer or giving co-workers access puts the account holder’s credit card at risk as well as the professional reputation of the account holder.

Account sharing also harms VIN and by extension the entire VIN community. VIN exists to serve veterinarians and answers to only one master – you. VIN accepts no outside sponsorship or advertisement. VIN’s co-owners, Nicky Mastin and I, have long agreed that in order to serve our colleagues, VIN cannot be beholden to anyone but its members. This means that more than 99.9% of VIN’s income comes from members.

When pirates shortchange VIN by not paying their fair share, they are shortchanging you and all VINners.

When we burn a CD or download a pirated movie from the internet, we know we are taking money from the artists involved and their families. It’s easy to justify to ourselves. In the same way, colleagues who share or pirate VIN likely don’t think about the consequences of their actions.

But even if we don’t think about them, someone has to live with the consequences. In the case of account pirating on VIN, that someone is you, and your fellow VINners who do their part to support the VIN community and help keep it secure.

As colleagues, our greatest assets are our reputations and the trust we share. I believe the majority of VINners do not intend to betray that trust and that most VIN Pirating is done without malice, and even without realizing that it is wrong or not allowed. I trust that those who are learning for the first time that this is not appropriate will change their passwords and not share their account in the future.

If there are multiple doctors in a practice, each needs to have their own account with their own password. Information about group pricing for multi-doctor practices can be found here.

VIN is a unique community of over 59,000 colleagues who have chosen to join the community and share information. Let’s work together to keep our community strong and secure.

In the next letter, I will talk about what we all can do to keep VIN a pleasant place for all colleagues:

3 I promise to think before posting and to show respect for my colleagues.