8/27/11 Update: Harley has posted a rebuttal. I reciprocated. Read here.
Harley “Ability44” Dishon seemed like a decent fellow human. He was introduced to me via a mutual friend quite a while ago and was in the market for some web development work. While he didn’t quite have a clear cut goal yet, he was willing to pay, and truthfully that was all that mattered since we could hammer out the details as we went on. Web development is my gig after all. It’s what pays the bills.
I tend to run an informal operation. Minimal contracts, work by the hour, and just that sort of jive. In addition I try to be as fair and personable as possible. Hosting client sites for free, offering access to select source files, etc. The nice guy.
Well, shame on me for assuming people wouldn’t take advantage of that. Let me explain.
Harley was looking to create [yet another] RuneScape fansite, this one entitled MyRuneLog. “One that would be different,” he explained. It would have such things as voice chats, Jagex-sponsored contests, and a boatload of other crazy things. Some of these things, I responded, were damn near impossible and incredibly impracticable. So some of the ideas were shelved, but many remained on the to-do list. We had no choice but to oblige.
We went with it though. By “we”, I mean Josh Welham and I. It should be about time to introduce him into the story, I suppose. Josh specializes in back-end code, and was brought in once the project began to creep beyond my scope of expertise. He’s pretty brilliant at PHP, putting most of my stuff to shame. Anyway, he would handle that stuff while I would work on the front-end and design aspects of the MyRuneLog project. We had a pretty good gig going.
A lot of work had to be done. Databases needed to be constructed, core scaffolding laid out, and other fairly intensive stuff. This wasn’t your typical blog or personal website. This would be best described as a mega-site with large amounts of data being added/moved around constantly by multiple parties. Josh’s brainchild really – he built it pretty much from the group up. It ended up being pretty impressive from a developer’s POV. If you’d like an idea of what I’m talking about, take a look at Zybez, who would have been the competition.
Up until March, 2011, nothing seemed askew. Harley was paying his invoices on time and work was continuing as expected. Then he began to lag behind. He cited job/moving problems, which I believe[d], and would have a hard time making payments. To “work with him”, I set up a monthly payment plan: $75/mo (and later bi-montly) and our services would continue as usual. Damn cheap if you ask me – most cable/phone plans are that price. Honestly, any other firm would just drop the client outright at that point. We wanted to work with him though since we knew no one else would be able to carry out “his dream” besides us. And yes, he did say that MyRuneLog was his dream – more than once.
The monthly payment plan worked… for about a month. Then he began lagging even further behind, until it was finally four months later and he was ~$3,000 in the hole. We were done. He continued to cite problems with jobs but it was time to call him out on the utter B.S.
Josh and I spoke to each other and agreed that he was never going to pay at this rate. What we decided to do was offer him a reprieve. A chance to wipe his debts clean.
We offered to take ownership of the site (which we had forged ourselves), taking in 100% of the ad revenue, while he remained on as a full administrator and taking in 75% of other revenue streams. Donations, shirts, and other merch would be his money makers really.
This was a great deal for him. His several thousand dollar debt to us would be gone for good and he would still be able to be a major part of his “dream”. Not to mention the money he would be making from other avenues. And this would be a good deal for us as our hard work would not go unrequited and we would be able to continue working on something that we had an actual, palpable investment in.
It was a good solution. Everyone would walk away happy, we imagined. There was some negotiating that went on as he considered it, but that ended up being pointless. Harley chose to go against us without our knowledge and essentially stab us in the back. No payment, no deal, no respect.
Harley, with his pal “l2rushnub”, believes he can run off with our out-of-date source code and resume work on the site. The source code in question is many months out of date and pretty much worthless considering how much improvement the current revisions have made. But it’s still our source code that he didn’t pay for. Theft.
But good luck to them. I think Harley will get his “dream”, although likely sub-par and with much more backstabbing to go. I just hope “l2rushnub” isn’t being offered payment, because he damn well won’t be getting it.
Harley is a selfish cheat. From the beginning he was always concerned with having his name, Ability44, attached to the site (despite everyone else in his community doing the work, might I add). He wanted people to know that he was the great creator. That he was the wise entrepreneur. That he was the site. In reality he’s a self-absorbed, self-entitled kid that believes he can get everything by cheating his way through life. My interpretation of the human condition has deteriorated because of him. For fuck’s sake, this narcissist has “Ability44” tattooed on himself.
I truly hope his friends and family see what he is and respond as such – don’t let him take advantage of you. We bent over backwards to help him and were stabbed in the back.
He screwed over Josh and I – not to mention several others (for example, Robert, if you knew him).
Why I Wrote This
I’d like for this to serve as a warning. Always have a damn contract. Never go beyond project scope. And for the love of god, never let the project get any further if the client isn’t paying.
Don’t let people take advantage of you, even if you do end up looking like the bad guy as a result. People like this deserve to be shut out. He ended up wasting 9 months of our time.
More specifically, I want this to be a warning for people researching Harley Dishon. When people Google his name (friends, prospective employers), they should be aware of his extreme lack of respect and morals. At the time of writing he lives in Virginia, although I won’t share his specific address publicly. More detailed information is a few keystrokes away, is all I’ll say.
I’m just going to include some text conversations between myself and Harley. Some of our correspondence was via Skype calls, so I don’t have records of those. These are un-edited, although you’ll just have to take my word on that – sorry.
They’re in chronological order and have some interesting tidbits of information.
Harley has created a topic on his forum in response to this blog post. You can read it here in case he removes it. Anyway I’ll be going line by line and dissecting each of his points since there’s just so much logical ineptitude to go at it all at once. Plus I’m not really in the mood for writing. Here goes:
In the last few days I have found out that what I have paid for hours of work on is not even coming back to me in full blast… Not many of yall know but I have put out $1.2k so far for this site to be developed, and was being asked for 3,000(USD) more,
No, you paid ~1.3k of a ~3k TOTAL debt (combined between Josh and I). We never asked for 3k more. You only owe[d] ~1.7k.
on a project that I was told would only take 60 hours (Which is reasonable for that amount of work) but turned into 210 hours total…
I’m not sure where you got that 60 hour figure. I know I initially quoted you for ~100 (but let’s not let turn this into he said, he said), which I also added was a rough estimate since you weren’t exactly sure what you were after with the whole project to begin with. In fact it wasn’t a bad guess considering the initial project scope. Your constant requests for additions and lack of foresight was the reason why that number increased. You could have halted the project at any time. In fact, I urged you to multiple times (see it in this screenshot) when I noticed that you were lagging behind in payments. You replied by saying you’d have our payment ready soon, every single time, and asked us to continue working. Being the nice guys we are, we obliged. And it’s not like you had no idea how much work was being done – you had easy access to all of our timesheets (detailing work being done, times, and total invoice amounts) on Freshbooks. Stop trying to shift the blame on us.
I have just recently cut ties with the web developers which I have been paying to work on this site, for 9 months now.
Haha, no. You haven’t been paying for nine months. Your last payment was in early June and it’s now late August. The project officially began in December of 2010. Even in May you were straggling behind in payments. See this screenshot.
And have also been informed that the full site cost for development is around $600 tops. (This has been assessed by 2 web developing companies already) So put simply I was took for a scam.
I’d really like to ask these “developing companies” what exactly they’d be charging $600 for. A Joomla set up with a slightly customized Theme Forest design? I don’t want to list everything, but here are condensed examples of what Josh and I ended up doing for Harley, which truthfully is worth much more than $3k considering how much he would have made from the site over time:
- Forum skins that were custom-made (IP.B 3.1.x and another for 3.2.x)
- Unique design and codebase created (with revisions) custom for MyRuneLog
- Custom-made, RuneScape tailored CMS
- Kind implementation of your [sometimes awry] ideas
- Everlasting support and continued development, even after your payment hiatuses
- Deep forum integration beyond just user basic profiles
As all of you might of noticed In recent days… MyRuneLog has came back online, today an attack from a fake anonymous member was executed (no ones passwords were compromised). We would just like to say we have nothing against government or any sort we are minding our own business and would please advise the hackers to stop. We are a rs fan site and that is all we plan to be.
Well that’s just kind of funny – sorry. Nothing more to add from me.
A very unprofessional post was made by one of the developers you can find that here.
There’s so much wrong with that statement but I’ll just mention two things:
- This is my personal blog. Not a professional site. I post musings and rants here, not love sonnets or creative writing projects. Chris Coyier has the same approach to his personal site. If something irks me, I’ll share it.
- We stopped being professional when you stopped taking us seriously. Although not directly related, you are one of the most unprofessional people I’ve ever worked with. Your grammar is terrible and you lack any sort of serious finesse (read the chat logs for a sample). You don’t get to call other people unprofessional.
Thanks for the traffic though!
It goes into his full side of things but mostly slanderous things to me of course….
Well I’m definitely not going to praise your magnificence, am I? And do you even understand what slander is? I didn’t misrepresent you beyond reasonable interpretation nor make up facts. None of what I said is misleading and is apparent to anyone willing to investigate your character.
Don’t even got a good pic of my Tat.. I mean.. Wtf? lol Here’s a good picture of it though ;p
I apologize about that tattoo – finding an embellishing picture of something so sad wasn’t exactly important to me. I don’t even know why it is to you.
Also on the blog entry he decides to put out personal conversations (Which is invasion of privacy, considering he did not alert me that chats would be publicly shared) between the both of us, mostly they are one sided of course.
Hardly invasion of privacy. If you’re referring to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act – that only applies when messages are in transit. After they’ve been received it’s unrestricted. We don’t have a confidentiality agreement preventing me from posting logs. I didn’t hack into your computer and take the chat logs either. Those were between us and did not need to remain mutually exclusive. I would be okay with you sharing your chat logs between us, as well.
In addition, posting the chat logs is just one of the many forms of proof I have to support my/our claims. You, if I recall correctly, have nothing but your word.
With all of that being said and out of the way we are under new development by a combined power of l2rushnub and myself and the site should be up within the next couple weeks (yea… 9 months compaired to a couple weeks, hope yall are happy about that!) I mean… In 2 days me and l2rushnub were able to get these new forums with the skin up and running… So we will take much less time on a better outcome.
So let me get this straight…
- Install IP.B -> 10 minutes
- Install forum skin and change the logo -> 5 minutes
- Create crappy splash screen in Photoshop -> 20 minutes
- Creating an expansive, responsive, integrated, custom CMS for a specific niche website -> two weeks? give or take a few months maybe.
- ??? -> PROFIT
I don’t even know how setting up the forum took two full days. At that rate it’s going to be a year until you have any sort of palpable website.
Thank you everyone who has read this topic and I hope you understand what is going on.
Best of luck to you.
In my conversations with Harley I had to use a lot of analogies to explain things to him since he often did not understand. One of those was saying we’re kind of like a phone company – “you continue to pay us or we’ll terminate your services”. He likes picking apart my analogies, and this particular one (which remember, was made up on the spot) he LOVES to destroy. He explains that a telephone bill is “prorated”, which to him is a magic bullet – effectively making all of my previous statements invalid. Prorated essentially means means adjusted proportionately – which we admittedly do not do. However that’s hardly detrimental – I’m sure he understood what I meant. Picking apart my analogies doesn’t immediately nullify our facts nor make everything here invalid – you screwed us over. Plain and simple.
Also, regarding our hourly payment plan. I overheard another person calling that a “bad business practice”. Not at all if you consider some things specific to this project:
- Harley was very unsure as to what he wanted for the site to begin with (he had no proposal/plan in place at all)
- He wanted to start ASAP
- By charging hourly, we would be able to add things as we went along. If we had a fixed amount (50% up front, 50% after for example), then we would need to re-draw that contract and agree on a new fixed price every time he wanted something else
- No other firms he consulted would take his project for a price he liked
By charging hourly we not only were able to sustain continued development, but also build the site just as Harley wished with minimal issue. I’ve done fixed price work before and honestly it just puts everyone in sub-optimal situation, unless the site is something simple and straightforward like a blog. For something as expansive as MRL though – hourly was the way to go.
About not getting what he paid for. Absolutely false. Josh sent over all of the modules, databases, and core files that he paid for (28 hours worth, to be exact). As for me – he already has everything. He admitted to having the source code from when the site was hosted on the GoDaddy server (see chat logs), which includes more up-to-date source material than what he would receive from me. Those files are roughly dated to June, while I stopped receiving payment in May. Truthfully I had completed most of the work by then anyway (I do front-end and design work, so that stuff came first).
Regarding legal action: we did have a verbal agreement, which is still legally binding (but admittedly not as solid as a contract). All we would need to do is prove that he was going along with our agreement, which would be incredibly easy with our backlog of invoices and other records. I’ll be consulting some professionals in the coming days, but at this time seek no litigation unless provoked. More specific records (invoices for example) are being withheld as a precaution.
I can be a vindictive ass, I know, but we don’t want to ruin this guy’s life. Let’s let sleeping dogs lie now, eh?