Computer Program (sinful?) options

I am writing a computer program I made which will monitor the web site “CraigsList” for new posts that match your search terms and emails you to let you know via text and email. Its intended use will be so people can find great deals on items they want to buy or sell and things like that.

While writing it it occurred to me that several of the categories are quite immoral like under the “Personals” section they have sections for “Men seeking Men” and things like that.

I think I should remove the option from my program to search in these categories, do you agree?

Also there are sections listed as “Casual Encounters” which seem like they are going to be used for things I would consider sinful but maybe are also used for innocent things. If I need to remove everything that could be used in a sinful way I would not be able to write the program at all. Where do I draw the line between me giving occasion to sin and the users responsibility for their own actions?

I want my program to appeal to as large an audience as possible so I can make money off of it but at the same time I don’t want to be giving occasion to sin to the users.


We know that as St. Paul says, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” I am very familiar with Craigslist, and admire your purpose. I’m sure there are good purposes to men searching men, such as seeking male friendship, a very good thing in itself, but not the place to exercise sexuality. However, the great majority of these posts are scandalously immoral. For that reason, I think it would be a very noble endeavor for you to prepare a search engine that would ignore parts tend toward immorality.

Here are the arguments for each option, from the mind of a high school debate team member :smiley:

1.Leave them out. Even from a strictly marketing standpoint, you’ll probably only be missing a small portion of the users since personals are only a fraction of what is on craigslist, and you would only be omitting a fraction of that fraction. And you can never be too careful with sin.

  1. Put the options in. If people really want to sin, then you aren’t stopping them by not putting these options in your program. They’ll just go on the website and do things the old-fashioned way, by hand. You aren’t directly influencing their sin, and you might even make more money.

It really just comes down to how much you want the money. Plus, be realistic with yourself (I’m not by any means trying to discourage you here!) and think how big of an audience this thing is going to have anyway. A smarter way to do things might be to release it online under an open-source license like GNU or something, and let people add what they will. You can then ask for donations on the website or in the program itself. I’ve seen it done a lot. Look a bit through the extensions section of the Firefox website to see what I mean. Again, this is a judgement call, because you need to figure out which one will be more profitable. If your free program becomes popular, you could get a lot of money from donations. If it doesn’t look good enough for people to buy it, on the other hand, you risk never even getting off the ground, while probably getting more money if it does in fact start selling. Open source with donations=less risk, less reward. Commercial=more risk/more reward.

To sum it up, you should first decide whether your plan of selling the software is the best route to make money. If you choose to sell it, then the original problem comes back. I would tend to lean towards leaving the options in, since the arguments for you being involved in their sin seem (to me, at least) to be weaker than the arguments against your involvement, and you run a higher probability of making money. If you choose to go open-source, then you avoid the issue. I can’t reccomend commercial or open source without actually seeing the program.

Sorry for being long-winded, but I wanted to give you the entire case as I see it in order to help you make a good decision without putting too much weight on my opinions, since I don’t actually know anything about your program :thumbsup:

How about a profanity filter to remove offensive words from the user’s searches?

If the program is mostly intended to help people with the financial side of things (get great deals) why would it be searching under the personals anyways?

If it’s just supposed to be an all inclusive search program I would discourage adding the personal get togethers altogether. If you want to include that in your program I would further discourage helping others “hook up” with other sinners.

May the Holy Spirit guide you to your final answer.

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. Leave them out.

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