I could delete my former employer’s website — should I?

A reader writes:

Last year, I left a job that made me miserable. I had been really unhappy there for about eight months, and I got really lucky and got a great job. Before I left, I had some major conflict with someone higher up the food chain and felt bullied by her. The small organization where I worked had no real HR department, so the whole situation was handled really badly. I felt hurt, unwelcome, and belittled for nearly a year. I never got any sort of apology, and continue to feel hurt by the way I was treated there.

During that time, I continued to do my job and, I think, do it very well. I helped guide my department through a major transition from one management system to another, and I created a number of tools to guide the organization through that change. All of those tools are still being used. Part of me is happy about that — I worked hard on them, they’re really good, and it shows my continued value at a place where I haven’t worked in nine months, despite the way I was treated.

One of those tools is a website I set up on a free hosting site. I used a personal account that I already had, and shared it with an account I set up with my then-work email. This isn’t an account I use frequently, but I had been thinking about using it recently. When I logged in, I saw that this website is still being used fairly regularly by the organization. I felt hurt and angry all over again. I contacted the website hosting company about removing the site from my account, and found out that it’s not possible.

I feel like, given the way in which I left my former organization, they shouldn’t expect to continue to use something that I created and own. At the same time, it has been nine months, and I haven’t done anything about it, and it could be way too aggressive. I work in a relatively small field, and although I have moved to a very different part of that field in a different part of the country, I worry that I may have to deal professionally with my former boss in the future. She was not the person with whom I had conflicts, and I liked working with her. I don’t want to completely burn that bridge. However, even though this website thing is so petty, it is a major thorn in my side.

I want to delete the entire account. Am I in the wrong if I do? Is it justified? Am I ruining a professional relationship for a really stupid, petty reason?

Do not do that. Yes, you would be in the wrong. No, it wouldn’t be justified. And yes, you would be ruining a professional relationship — and maybe your reputation — for a really petty reason.

When you set up that website, you were doing it as part of your job. That means it’s work that your former employer owns and has the rights to. When you say that they shouldn’t expect to continue to use something that you “created and own,” you’re actually wrong about that — assuming you had a standard employment relationship, they own it because the work you did for them as part of your job is what’s called “work for hire.” That’s what they were paying you to do.

I can see why you’re annoyed that it’s now part of your personal account and you can’t remove it. But I doubt that they directed you to set it up using a personal account; they probably don’t even realize that you did that. Even if I’m wrong about that, though, and they do know — you still can’t delete it in a fit of pique. It’s theirs, not yours, and you’ll look realllllllly bad to anyone who hears about it, even to people who otherwise would have been sympathetic to your grievances against the company.

What you can do, though, is to contact someone at the company and say something like this: “The website I set up for you is currently hosted on my personal hosting account. I need to remove it from there, so can you plan to transfer the content to a web host of your own in the next 30 days?” (There may be other details they need to take care of too — domain registration or whatever. Give them a complete list of what needs to be moved away from your accounts.) If they haven’t done it in 30 days, at that point you can say, “It doesn’t look like this is done yet. I’m planning to close my hosting account in two weeks, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve transferred the content by then if you want to maintain access to it. Otherwise, when I close the account, you’ll lose the site.”

(Frankly, they may be annoyed to hear that you set it up on your personal account to begin with, and they’re entitled to be annoyed by that. There’s nothing that can be done about that now, but I’d urge you not to do that in the future — not only because it can lead to this kind of irritation for you, but because it’s not good for the person who’s paying you for the work either.)

{ 235 comments… read them below }

  1. Lil Fidget*

    Aw yeah, this sucks OP and I’ve been there – but it was an error to use your personal account for a work product. This is the kind of thing you just don’t realize without more perspective, and I’ve done it myself as a young employee (and was super proud of myself for adding value!! *headslap*). Best practice – and what the company probable assumes you did, although it’s not your fault if nobody ever told you or noticed – would be to create a new account for the company when you produce a product, and then provide the login and password to either your successor in the role, or to write it down in the guidance materials you leave behind. Even if it duplicates a personal account on a service like eventbrite, twitter, surveymonkey, flickr, whatever. Definitely don’t compound the error by using it against them now! You won’t come out looking good.

    1. zufeprar*

      Another common mistake I see over & over is folks using their individual e-mail address for business critical things. Nothing worse than finding out a vendor sent e-mail to Fred about an maintenance or outage but Fred happened to be on vacation. Wherever possible, use distribution lists or shared logins. No one should assume they’ll be at any company forever & you don’t want to cause pain for your former co-workers after you’re gone.

    2. Ego Chamber*

      “it was an error to use your personal account for a work product.”

      I think there’s a good chance OP is confused, and this wasn’t their personal account. They said “I used a personal account that I already had, and shared it with an account I set up with my then-work email.” In my experience, most online accounts I’ve used have one email address attached to them. If by “shared,” OP means they changed the email address on the free hosting account to their work email, I would advocate them moving any other sites they’ve set up on there and turning the login credentials over to their previous employer.

      Since OP set this up themselves, I think it’s on them to disentangle the accounts themselves, which probably means setting up a new account on the free hosting site and leaving their employer with the original account (attached to their then-work email). I would ask the hosting site about this, because even if there’s no way to “remove” the site from the account, I’m sure they’ve dealt with people wanting to change account names and transfer ownership of sites before.

      1. OP*

        You’re the one that’s confused. As I stated, I created the site using a personal email address. I created another account with a work email, and used that to continue to update the site. There are two email addresses involved. I am not logging into an account using an old work email. I’m not really sure why your first thought would be to assume that the person who wrote the letter is wrong…

  2. Jill*

    I don’t get why the OP set it up on a personal account. You should never mix work and personal stuff like that.

    1. SarcasticFringehead*

      My general rule is to behave at work as if I have no personal accounts at all – if someone shares something with an attorney through google drive, for example, and they need me to do something with it, I’m happy to walk them through how to download it etc., but I don’t do it for them because we don’t have a work account. I’m also fortunate to have a manager who understands not only the importance of keeping work and personal separate from an employee’s perspective, but the risks of having potentially highly-confidential stuff pass through employee accounts that the firm has no control over.

      But I also see people do this all the time, because it’s more convenient or because as Lil Fidget said above, they want to be seen as above-and-beyond helpful or whatever, and it’s frustrating and a little baffling.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Yeah, it’s not a good idea to mix personal and work stuff like that. We have professionally hosted email, but it cost money per user, so we only have it for management level employees. There was a suggestion that we could just have everyone sign up for free Gmail accounts, and I had to explain that if we did that, those accounts would be *theirs*, not ours, and when an employee left, we would have no ability to access or delete it (and I’ve had to prepare a package of all emails to and from a particular account for the company lawyer, so this does matter), and Google would not give a damn what we want.

        The top bosses here don’t entirely understand, I think, but HR is firmly on my side. They don’t *like* it, but they do understand.

        (Most people have a personal email, and HR sends notices to those addresses. But they’re not supposed to use them as part of their job, nor use their own computers or phones to access work email.)

        1. Ego Chamber*

          This is interesting, because I’ve worked several crappy retail sales jobs where corporate set everyone up with email accounts through Gmail: The Business Version and we were required to attach those accounts to our mobile phones, and do the thing where Gmail blends the accounts so you can switch between business and personal at work or at home, and we were “encouraged” to check those emails on our days off “just in case something comes up.” (No, they didn’t give us work mobiles or laptops: it was a crappy retail sales job, and they weren’t about to pay for things “everyone” already had.)

          I don’t know how much of that was from corporate and how much was just the regional managers thinking it was a good idea for exempt employees to do it and then store managers not understanding the difference between exempt/non-exempt job expectations—I had exactly one store manager who understood and was adamant that no one do any work when we weren’t at work, but the assistant manager didn’t understand the difference and routinely worked without pay and got upset with anyone who didn’t want to do that (he called us “entitled snowflakes” (because we wanted to be paid for hours worked? I guess?))—but the whole process always seemed like a really bad idea to me.

          Tl;dr: I wish the places that paid minimum wage and just over it would be as cautious about this stuff as the places that pay real money.

          1. Lars the Real Girl*

            The gmail “blend” thing isn’t some sort of permanent attachment. Even resetting your history and cache will “un-blend” them, as will logging onto any other device. They’re not actually attached, gmail is just making it easier for you to switch between accounts.

            They did that properly.

            The other stuff is crappy though.

      2. sam*

        Back in the dark ages of the internet, before things like gmail existed, people did stuff like this all the time because there really was often no better way to do things. Often in the reverse (i.e., everyone using their work email for personal stuff.)

        Nowadays, there’s really just no reason to mix business and personal stuff. I never give out my business information to personal contacts (even family), and I only give out personal info to work-related stuff on a need-to-know basis (it’s in my company’s emergency contact database, but it’s certainly not used for anything “work” related).

        But I still see friends who are otherwise smart/savvy people (law firm partners!) who use their law firm email for personal stuff. And every time, I respond with notes that they really shouldn’t be using their firm email for this stuff, and they respond that they know, but it’s just so much more convenient. ugh.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          That seems a bit extreme….What is the harm in someone emailing or calling a non-work person from work? We’re all people, not assembly line robots..

          1. SarcasticFringehead*

            Calling isn’t necessarily an issue, but email is permanent, and generally speaking (not a lawyer, but lawyer adjacent), your personal email is the property of the company and can be discoverable in legal actions. Let’s say you’re out unexpectedly and the company gives someone else access to your email so they can cover – I would be uncomfortable with that person being able to read any personal stuff (although I’m aware other people don’t necessarily feel that way). The general rule our employment attorneys use in training is “don’t put it in a company email if you don’t want to see it on the front page of a newspaper.”

            1. Beckie*

              If you work for a public institution of some kind, there are additional issues with using your work email for personal uses — heavy usage would be considered a misuse of public funds. In addition, if you’re involved in any kind of political advocacy in your personal life, using public resources for that — even if it’s just your work email account to email you representative — is expressly prohibited.

              I’ve worked at two different public institutions that have sent reminders to the staff about this during election years. I know that companies are likely more relaxed about this, but I would imagine there are still often issues about whether you are representing yourself or the company when using company resources.

              1. Magenta Sky*

                I have heard a few rants about what a pain these laws are from a friend who is an elected board member for a local water utility. And he agrees with the law. It’s a complicated issue, and it can bit you in the butt hard.

            2. Rat Racer*

              You know, I try to follow that advice, but my office has banned access to gmail, and I struggle to remember to check my personal email address (my family and friends are just about ready to disown/unfriend me). After struggling to keep up with personal correspondence using my phone, I finally gave up and gave everyone my work address. In the long run I might regret it, but at least now I know where our family Thanksgiving dinner will be held this year…

              1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

                That’s super controlling of your employer. I can see blocking porn sites and video/music streaming sites (in the latter case because of the high bandwidth usage), but to effectively say to employees “you can’t even check your personal email on your lunch break because we don’t trust you not to be on email all day” is terrible management. If someone IS on Gmail all day, their performance would suffer in a way a manager should be able to notice.

                1. A. Schuyler*

                  We have a similar restriction but it’s because of data loss protection. The risk of someone sending customer data or other confidential information outweighs the benefit of allowing people to check their emails during the day.

                2. Bird*

                  We’re in the same boat as A. Schuyler. We deal with very confidential client material and part of our service agreement involves limiting the ability of anyone to send materials outside the company, so external email sites are blocked. USB ports are also disabled on all company PCs.

          2. Almost the weekend.*

            If there is a lawsuit or something else that allows a third party to legally request all emails sent to/from your work email, that would include your personal emails also. Do you really want personal email conversations sent to other people?

            That’s why it’s best to keep them separate.

            1. Hiring Mgr*

              That’s the only reason? If there’s a lawsuit going on I probably have other things to worry about if someone sees what time I had to pick up my son at baseball practice..

              1. Alton*

                Well, I think part of the risk is that it can be far-reaching. You don’t have to actually be an attorney–or central to a lawsuit–for that to happen. Say you’re an assistant and you emailed someone involved in a lawsuit a few times, for example. They’re probably not going to pore through your emails *that* much, but your emails aren’t going to be private.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                It’s more about having to freeze your personal account to preserve records and not use it during the pendency of any litigation. And of course, if you have records that the company is required to preserve on your personal account, that’s not great for the employer’s record-keeping obligations. Both are a headache, even if there’s nothing incriminating or problematic in your personal email account.

              3. bridget*

                Honestly, you might not. I am a lawyer who works on cases and investigations with a high volume of emails to review. Our process is that when a matter starts, we interview a whole bunch of people and ask them for the name of every single person at the company who could have possibly touched the topic of the litigation, even tangentially. All of those people are put on a legal hold – this might be an email you don’t really notice, but it also usually means that in the back end on your servers, all of your “delete” buttons and auto-delete systems don’t really delete (they might look like they do, but they don’t). People might get a legal hold email, forget about it, and then not realize that their emails are still being preserved months or even years later.

                After we put out the hold, we collect the .pst files of the people on that list (not always everybody for cost reasons, but if there is enough money at stake, we’ll be cautious and get ALL of the .pst files). As the user, it is very likely that you are totally unaware that this happened. Then your whole .pst, along with that of dozens of others, gets put on a database where l’il old me can read any email I want. I read a LOT of highly personal, sometimes pretty embarrassing or NSFW, communications. I don’t particularly care because these are strangers to me and I skip right past when it’s obviously not relevant to my work, but it happens multiple times a week that I read an email that the owner doesn’t even know I possess, and the owner would be horrified to know other people were reading it.

                1. krysb*

                  Yup. I work in e-discovery, and what doesn’t come out in psts comes out in forensic imaging. Of course, it’s not common for us to go through people’s files since we do not do document review (but our sister company does), but, depending on the law firm and size of the litigation, it may come to us in other ways, where we can review it – and some of them are fuuuuun to read.

              4. Magenta Sky*

                It depends on what is in your personal email. And how private you want your private life to be. A lot of people have perfectly ordinary things going on in their private life that they don’t want discussed at work, like a spouse with medical problems, or a child in legal trouble, or any of a hundred other things. If that possibility doesn’t bother you, be thankful. Your life is less drama laden than most.

              5. Yomi*

                Well, another reason could be that the company can stop your email access at any time, and why deal with telling dozens of people a new way to reach you and risk them using the old account accidentally and then you don’t know when to go pick up your son?

                A practical example of this happening-the government shutdown a few years ago. Federal employees were barred from doing anything work related unless they were one of the very, very few who were exempt. That meant for three weeks, thousands of people were not allowed to even open their inbox.

                There’s just no logic to mixing personal and work emails. There are dozens of reasons not to, and no good reason to do it.

              6. From the doc review trenches*

                I did a doc review where we had over 50 people reviewing every email sent from a large corporation for over 15 years. I personally saw evidence of five affairs (i know there were more) and three requests for a divorce FROM SOMEONE’S WORK EMAIL. The minutiae of daily life were one thing, the Real Housewives aspect was QUITE another.

            2. Amber Rose*

              Sure, because personal isn’t the same as private. Sometimes husband and I email each other about groceries, or a form that needs to be printed, or a recipe or something. Not work related but not exactly shameful. I have a hard time imagining someone being shocked by the email with the link to Cooking With Dog I sent him the other day.

              As long as nobody tries to use the concert tickets I email myself so I can print them off at work, then all is well.

              1. Alton*

                Personally, I’m a very private person, so I wouldn’t be comfortable. I even feel weird putting pictures of my cat on Facebook, and that’s locked down to friends-only. Not everyone feels the same, of course, but it is good to be aware. It’s fine to feel fine with stuff like this as long as you know what you’re doing.

              2. TeacherNerd*


                Sorry. I missed Francis dying!

                Sorry. Sorry!

          3. Alton*

            One thing I’m aware of is the possible risk of “cross-contamination,” especially with something like Gmail, which can be big on syncing accounts or automatically logging you into Google services.

            My work email is through Gmail. So is my main personal email and my emails that I use for writing-related stuff. I don’t really want to log into YouTube on my work account by mistake or, worse, work on my novel in my work Drive instead of my personal one. So I don’t even have my work email on my phone or log into it at home except in an incognito window.

            1. Eli*

              I know this isn’t perfect, but this is why I use one browser for work-related stuff (e.g. Safari), and a different one for anything personal (e.g. Chrome).

            2. Charisma*

              I LITERALLY use different browsers on my computer because of google/gmail. They have forced me to do this because of all their auto syncing technology that I am not allowed to opt out of. It is actually one of my biggest pet peeves when work. I H-A-T-E working with google docs. I have to have three active browsers on my computer at a time (not even kidding) to make sure that everything works as it should AND that my personal life is still personal and that my work life is just work.

              1. JessaB*

                Oh gods yes. Once upon a time I was sharing a computer and accidentally logged in as me and my friend’s YouTube suddenly got all mooshed in with mine. Google makes me wanna pull my hair out with their antics.

                Now when she’s on my machine she’s in Chrome and I’m in Firefox and never the cookies shall meet. Because once Google mooshes your stuff you can NOT get it untangled. Ever.

            3. Geoffrey B*

              Google also has a nasty habit of assuming that you’re cool with your contacts knowing who your other contacts are.

              If you use the same account for work and for contacting pervyhobbitfanciers@gmail.com, it’s entirely possible that Google will start helpfully suggesting to their boss that perhaps she should add pervyhobbitfanciers to their circle. And from there, a canny boss can figure out that somebody in her contacts – probably the last person she added – is in touch with that account.

          4. sam*

            Well, let me tell you about how I STILL, five years after being assigned my work phone number, get debt collection calls meant for the guy who had my office phone number before I got here.

            And if the only “personal” thing you do on your work email is send notes about your kids’ soccer practice, you’re a much better person than me.

            1. Marillenbaum*

              At my first job, I would email my mother my travel itinerary for business trips, because she still worried and wanted to know where I would be! (It did feel nice to be cared about–baby of the family).

          5. copy run start*

            Once upon a time, Employee X worked at my company. X was not good at their job nor well liked, and basically quit before they got fired. X had the same phone number and work cell phone as I did and clearly did not bother to update anyone on their new employment status when they left. It has been 2 YEARS since X departed and I started, and I STILL get regular texts and calls for X from scattered friends and family.

            X is now not only remembered for being pretty terrible at the job, but has become a running joke on their old team. Never mix business and pleasure.

        2. ThatGirl*

          That’s … wow. I would think it’s just a normal cost of business that everyone gets an email, especially in office jobs.

          1. copy run start*

            It can be kind of pricey to outsource email, $5 – $10/month per email depending on the features and level of support you want. Usually a basic POP/IMAP account from the ISP is on the low end and a hosted Exchange account (MS Outlook) is on the upper end.

        3. Turquoisecow*

          I was hired to temporarily replace someone who ultimately decided not to return. Despite not having done so, previously, when they realized she was not returning, they forwarded all her emails to me.

          Mostly what I got was personal stuff, like marketing emails from stores. I have also looked over people’s shoulders (unintentionally) to see these as well as emails from friends or family setting up dates to hang out. It just seems dumb to me – not only because someone will be able to see these things if they go looking, but what if you’re unexpectedly let go? You won’t be able to access your email.

          Back when people didn’t have personal emails, it made sense. (My father in law has a paid work email account (via EarthLink) that he uses, and nothing else, which is fine because he runs his own business but also not fine because he shares the email with his father.) It’s ridiculously easy to get a Gmail account now, so why use your work account and clutter it with non-work things?

          1. linzava*

            I’m now responsible for monitoring the email of the person I replaced. She used her work email for a lot of personal stuff. I spent the first week unsubscribing to junk related to her personal life. I spent the next few weeks searching for emails relevant to work but had to wade through personal emails where she talked smack about me during my first week and endless emails talking smack about my current, her former boss. She wasn’t professional to begin with, but I certainly would never recommend her(not that it would come up). I already could tell, after working with her for a short time that she was a perma-victim that took absolutely everything anybody did as a personal slight against her.
            The boss casually mentioned to me that he had access to everybody’s email when my email was set up. I took it as a bit of a courtesy warning, I know he saw those emails. She burned a pretty big bridge, and I’m pretty sure, if she knew all the insulting emails would be read by the people being insulted, she’d be very embarrassed.
            This isn’t the first time I’ve been responsible for monitoring former employee’s emails, it’s becoming more and more common. When it comes to my work email, it’s just a tool for work that’s owned by someone who’s not me.

    2. Manders*

      Every once in a while, I’ll end up with something work-related connected to my personal account because I work with a lot of tools that require you to have a Google account. It’s not the ideal way of doing things, and I try to avoid it when I can, but it can happen (especially at small companies–it sounds like OP was wearing a lot of different hats and wasn’t just a web developer, so I totally see how she did this with the right intentions and didn’t realize it wasn’t best practice).

      1. Lil Fidget*

        Oh yeah, it definitely happens and it’s not hard to do (we had this with Dropbox all the time).

      2. Risha*

        Microsoft accounts, too. I started at Current Job as a contractor who had to provide their own laptop, and no one here had Microsoft work accounts unless they made free ones for themselves. I did make one under my work email, but since I was already logged in under my personal account everywhere on the laptop, and it was a pain to be constantly switching back and forth, it was much easier to just log in under that for Visual Studio, etc. Later that year they both gave me a work laptop and gave everyone a new work MS account, and I disentangled everything at that point.

      3. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Where I work we have our own outlook account but like you said sometimes we are working with different google programs Drive, Docs, Spreadsheets, and it is easier or even necessary to use a gmail account. I created a separate google account “first initial-last name-company name@gmail.com” that I use only for work related Gmail programs. Legally it is still my own “personal” account and I could keep it if I wanted, but when I do leave I plan to leave behind access to this account should it be needed for anything. With Gmail accounts being free I can always just create a new one for a new company.

      4. nonymous*

        fyi, for anyone facing this conundrum, the workaround is to create a separate email for the work stuff then “delegate” it to your personal account. If the role gets passed to another person, it’s really easy to keep the email the same but delegate it to the new person, and there’s always the option of using the shared login.

      5. Witty Nickname*

        I had to use google tools at work and was able to set up a google account on my work email address, even though it’s not a gmail address. I just didn’t turn on gmail with it. I can access google drive, and the other tools I needed with it though.

    3. Antilles*

      I would bet money that the real reason was “didn’t really think about it”. After all, if you’re in a hurry and don’t really consider it, hosting the website off your personal account doesn’t seem to be a big deal – we need a WebsiteBuild account, I already have one, bam, let’s do it. It’s only on reflection that you realize that wow, there are tons of issues with this – for both the company and the employee.
      Basically one of those choices that seem fine in a five-second snap decision, but are really problematic if you actually think about them at all…but where the choice seems simple enough that you don’t really give it more than 5 seconds.

      1. Antilles*

        Just to be clear, this isn’t meant to blame the OP for not thinking it through – not mixing work and personal accounts is something that doesn’t come naturally to most people. And it’s not really natural to think through “wait, what happens to the website if I leave the company?”

      2. AndersonDarling*

        I can also see myself setting up a site connected to my personal account just to test how it would work. Then I’d all a little more functionality, then add a few more pics. A few days later the whole thing is built and I don’t want to rebuild it and risk it not working the same way.

        1. OP*

          OP here. This was exactly what you said — trying out a new resource, and by the time it was set up so that it looked nice, everything was done. This was a site I set up on a free hosting site, and I created a work account as soon as I had the site set up.

          1. ShellBell*

            If it’s free, why not change the associated email address to that of someone who works there and turn it over and just create another free account for whatever personal stuff you want to do. If it’s free, just “give” it to them.

            1. OP*

              I tried to transfer the page to an existing account, and the service doesn’t allow that (after more looking, maybe you can between paid accounts?). This is a good option. I just wish I didn’t have to contact anyone I worked with in order to do it!

    4. Diane Nguyen*

      It’s not a good idea, but it’s surprisingly common, especially in an environment where the only person who’s familiar with the technology is someone without a ton of experience in the professional world.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        It’s common in at least my research area in academia to use personal accounts. It’s not good but it’s quite common.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Also super common in small organizations and nonprofits (not sure if OP is working for a nonprofit, but it does sound like it may have been a small organization). Following separation formalities has costs, and many of us don’t think of those costs when we first set out to take on a project.

        1. OP*

          OP here. This was a very small (fewer than 25 employees, including part time employees) academic nonprofit. It was very typical and expected for us to use personal accounts for just about everything except work email. Several people used their personal emails for work, as well. It was very normal, and in hindsight is a bit of a red flag to me. Working in academia, I have found it very useful to keep copies of things I used for classes in Google Drive (I don’t have to rewrite all my lesson plans, and I can take research with me to new places).

          I also want to clarify that this was an organization that, for several reasons, had no actual on-boarding process, no dedicated HR person, and no off-boarding process. This was my first job in academia, and I didn’t know how unusual that was until I got a second and third job in academia. Prior work experience was all in different industries, although all nonprofit. I was in grad school at a different institution at the time, and was also explicitly asked to use my access through my school to use specialty databases for work reasons. I generally declined to do that, because it felt unethical. Again, hindsight being 20/20, this all should have been a big red flag for me.

    5. Koko*

      One of my old employers used Google Apps for Business to host our email and a few other tools they offer. They required a back-up email address for recovery that was not on the hosted domain, so I had to use my personal Gmail account.

      It’s been more than 5 years since I quit and I still get the reminders every 12 months that the account is going to renew on X Date. I can’t remove myself as a backup because I no longer have a login with our hosted domain, and for the first 3 years I forwarded the reminder to my old boss and told her to remove me as a backup, but I think she just couldn’t figure it out and after three years it just felt like I was nagging her, so I just sighed and resigned myself to getting these emails every year.

    6. Fake old Converse shoes*

      There are some employers that can’t/don’t spend money in stuff like software licenses, hosting or corporate email servers. In those cases using a personal account is a temporary solution that inevitably becomes permanent. Of course, when the employee leaves the company realizes that those assets where never their property.

    7. RF*

      For some reason, LinkedIn requires you to connect your personal LinkedIn account to your organization’s account as an “admin” if you want to post or edit on behalf of your organization – annoying as someone who works in communications and would like to keep personal and work separate!

    8. Anonymoose*

      Eh, I’ve had to use a personal account for things like Google Docs and the like. Though I realized I hated getting so many notifications for work stuff so I created a ‘work’ personal email account (which I never use) and transferred everything there. Much better, and frankly after I leave there, I would know how to log on again anyway.

      The hosting stuff is just too easy to transfer, though, so I guess I don’t understand why OP thinks its such a huge imposition on her time and energy (unless she’s just really looking to stick it to ‘the man’, in which case – dudette, it’s been 9 months – you’re free now, time to move on love). You can also change the account settings on the hosting account and just send it to a dummy email that you’ll never use again, and forward the log on info to someone at Old Job so they can manage it from there. Boom.

    9. Abby*

      It sounds like the company was small and didn’t give much thought to IT infrastructure or hygiene. If I tried something like that at work, IT would have swooped in before I even hit “Accept” on the ToS.

      1. OP*

        Yep, this was a very small organization (fewer than 25 employees, including part time). It’s also a nonprofit academic organization, and although it was my first academic position, I have found that nonprofits tend to be pretty slow to take on new IT stuff. Cost is usually a big reason. I mean, the whole reason I created this secondary site was because the organization used a blog-based CMS (think WordPress, but much worse) that didn’t fit the needs of my department. There was little IT support to speak of, and it was very normal for employees to use personal accounts for things.

        Although my work email was shut down before I even left the building for the last time, I can almost guarantee you that I would still be able to log in to the organization’s main website. I haven’t tried, because I don’t want to, but I know I would be able to. I’m also pretty sure that I could log in to the handful of other accounts that I had that were created by the organization, but I made sure that none of the passwords were saved because, again, I don’t want to.

  3. AMPG*

    Sometimes it’s just easier at the time, especially if you don’t know exactly what the final configuration will be. It can feel like too much hassle to set up a new account for a project that might not pan out. Or sometimes there are bureaucratic hurdles involved in setting up a corporate account, especially if there are costs involved. It’s not a good idea, for the reasons we’re seeing here, but it’s still an understandable impulse.

  4. Professor Ronny*

    AMA: You get questions like this every now and then. Do these posters really expect you to say yes?

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      They say advice is what you ask for when you already know the answer, but wish you didn’t. There also are plenty of people who write advice columns saying that they’ve already done some ridiculous thing (and sharing their equally ridiculous rationalizations), and wanting to know how to escape the consequences.

    2. Kiwilib*

      I think people who ask know they shouldn’t do it (otherwise they’d just do it). Maybe the process of writing it down helps vent their anger and hurt? Not trying to project but I often write emails I wouldn’t dream of sending, si I can process my emotions.

      1. Ted Mosby*

        When I’m feeling really petty and angry I’ll ask my roommates if I can do stupid spiteful things. “Can I text my X this? ” Can I say this to my mom?”

        I’m totally aware that the answer is “no, that is crazy and you’d be a jerk.” I need to hear someone say it and see the look on their face. It gives me a taste of the shame and embarrassment I’d cause myself if I let my petty side takeover.

    3. Hanna*

      Frankly, I’m just glad that they asked before actually doing it.

      Although now it makes me think about all of the people who didn’t ask first…

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        Yes, that was my first thought reading the letter – thank goodness they asked!

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Very much agreed. I think we all have moments when we want to do something we know is probably self-sabotaging or otherwise not a great idea. It can be helpful for someone with greater distance from the issue to remind us why what we’re fantasizing about doing is a terrible idea. And I’d always prefer someone ask than do it and then ask us to absolve them post-hoc.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Something I tell my investing clients — “if you ask it before you hit ‘place trade,’ it’s not a dumb question. It’s when you hit ‘place trade’ and then call to ask if it’s a good idea, then it’s a dumb question.”

    4. rubyrose*

      I’m willing to bet that some of these posters really do expect a yes answer. People never cease to amaze me. My best friend at times tells me in advance of something she is planning that from my perspective is unfair/unethical to others and she is shocked when I give her my opinion.

      My guess is that this one was not, because of the care they took to explain the situation.

      But I would rather someone write in and be surprised by the answer, as opposed to not asking for advise and potentially totally ruining their professional reputation and future job prospects.

      1. a Gen X manager*

        and in this case the OP clearly didn’t understand that the company did and still does own the content!

      2. Anna Held*

        I read Hax, and a LOT of people write back to say “as soon as I wrote it all out, the answer was clear”. When you take out the emotion and the crazy but inconsequential details, it all suddenly looks very different.

        1. Lil Fidget*

          So agree with this. I’ve started to write a letter to an advice columnist and basically answered my own question as soon as I saw it written down. Part of is how your emotions – liking someone, disliking someone – don’t come through when you’re writing the “objective” version of events … and suddenly you realize you’re a crazy person.

          1. anon24*

            So I’m weird, but anytime I have a “life” problem, be it at work or at home, I pretend I’m writing a letter to an advice columnist and think exactly how I would say it. It helps so much!

            1. Tiny Orchid*

              I definitely have written at least two letters to Dear Sugar (when she was still writing the column), and didn’t send because the act of actually writing it down made the path forward so, so clear.

          2. OP*

            This is pretty spot on. I had talked about this with a few friends and colleagues in my field, and every single one of them said to delete the site and burn it to the ground. If we’re talking about what I would have *liked* to hear, I would have loved to be given a solution that didn’t involve me having to contact anyone I worked with ever again. In this case, I was trying so hard to figure out a way to just get this stupid website out of my life (not to screw over my former employer, as much joy as that would give me, but because having it somewhere that I can see it is very triggering), I couldn’t find one except to delete it.

            1. Ted Mosby*

              That gives some very helpful context. I’m not sure if they thought they were being supportive or what, but please never go to those friends for work advice again. Imagine if you were in marketing, ran a whole add campaign, and then quit and decided to rip down every poster, find every magazine add and tare it out, etc.

              What you do during work always, always belongs to your employer. Expecting it back would be like them asking you to pay back your salary and benefits because you’re not longer helping them as a company.

              I totally understand you wanting to cut all ties,but I agree with Allison that this would hurt your professional reputation a whole lote, and anyone who heard it might think differently of you after. I think her idea of giving them a time limit is great; you can promise yourself that in x days you’ll never have to deal with these people again! Maybe you could go through the boss you liked or another coworker you liked to make things less painful.

              1. OP*

                I ended up emailing my former boss and letting her know that I would be modifying the account in November, but would not do anything before November 3 (30 days). I gave her the account information that I believe she would need, but also made it clear that I will not do anything else to help her or anyone else there do this. Yes, it was my account, but I was not properly off boarded and was not given a chance to do any of this stuff before I left. What would have taken less than an hour to transfer over has taken me at least 10 hours to deal with now.

                1. LJL*

                  That’s the wisest course of action. I’ve been in similar situations, and while it’s fun to fantasize about how screwed they would be, it would not reflect well on you going forward. Leave them in the dust and move forward with your improved life.

                2. Ted Mosby*

                  Good for you! It sounds like you were very clear and stuck to your own boundaries while not doing anything reputation damaging. Props for handling this maturely.

    5. De Minimis*

      The one I keep remembering is the person who wanted to just keep their company truck after they quit their job to stick it to their employer.

      1. Koko*

        I was thinking of the person who undermined his boss – changed things she told him not to while she was out on vacation, got infuriated when she changed it back, tried to report her to her own boss, etc.,. and ended up fired over it. His letter was completely from the posture that he was the one wronged in the situation because his boss was stifling his brilliance.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Is that the “I was fired for taking initiative” letter? The other one that stood out to me (of this ilk) was the letter from the manager who wouldn’t let their perfect employee work a later shift so that she could attend her college graduation… and wanted to follow up with that employee to chastise her for failing to give proper notice when she quit on the spot.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      It’s often hard to do the right thing. And it helps when someone listens and reminds you to do the right thing.

    7. FortyTwo*

      These types of letters are perfect fodder for Bad Advice, in which the columnist gives the letter writer the permission to be awful that they so obviously want. (In fact, AAM letters are answered there pretty regularly!)

    8. The OG Anonsie*

      I think a few people do, but most people are just sort of processing and looking for guidance when they are frustrated that they can’t do what they really wish they could. And/or they want to get validation by saying hey, these people were jerks, right? I can’t actually get back at them but aren’t they just such jerks?

      I think you can usually tell by the tone of the letter who expected to be told to do something crazy versus those who just wanted some solidarity, verified by their reaction to the letter and comments.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, sometimes it’s like “I know this is a bad idea, but please tell me why” – hearing it from an external source can be useful.

        1. Koko*

          Or, I know this is a bad idea, but like, HOW bad is it really? Because maybe I could live with myself doing 2-3 bads, but if this is 7+ bad then yeah, I probably shouldn’t.

        2. tigerlily*

          Or “I know this is a bad idea but please see where I’m coming from and give me positive suggestions instead.” Which is what this OP is getting out of writing to Alison. She’s angry and hurt, and Alison is saying she hears that and is giving her a less bitter and more productive alternative to the behavior OP’s got in mind. I think that’s probably very helpful for people who are so angry at a situation, they’re not thinking clearly.

          1. Mike C.*

            This is what I’m thinking. There are often times where only going halfway is perfectly fine or there are other options to be considered. The OP hasn’t done anything bad yet, so folks also need to keep that in mind.

          2. OP*

            I commented this below, but a big reason I wrote to AAM is because I have gotten advice from multiple people (friends, people who work in my field, and a former coworker who had also left the organization) that I should just delete it. And I totally WANT to delete it — not to screw my former organization, but because it is very much a trigger that reopened wounds from a horrible situation, and I don’t want to be able to see it. I was certainly not expecting Alison to say “Delete it! They suck!” and I’m not totally sure why so many people have assumed that. As Mike C. pointed out, I haven’t done anything with it one way or another.

      2. Amy*

        Agreed. We get the occasional “I actually think I have every right to do this awful thing, how could you even suggest I might not be 100% above reproach with this” letter writer, of course. But most letters of this kind are more like, “I’m in a tough situation, and I’m tempted to handle it by doing ____, but I also kind of suspect it’s the wrong thing to do. Can you give me a gut check on whether what I want to do is actually ok? If it’s not, what are my actual options for handling the situation?”

        Which is understandable! Being in a difficult situation skews our judgement, and even an experienced person who theoretically knows better can sometime have trouble telling for sure whether their planned action is reasonable. And even if the writer does know that the thing they want to do is wrong, they may not know what the alternatives are, or how to start exploring them–that’s often why they were considering the not-so-good path in the first place. That kind of situation, where the writer isn’t sure if they can trust their own judgement and needs some additional direction either way, is basically what advice columns were made for.

    9. OP*

      OP here. Actually, I was expecting a very resounding no. The reason I asked is because I have talked about this with several people, including people in my field and a former coworker (who has also left the organization), and literally every person I have talked to about this has said burn it down and f them. This didn’t seem like very good advice to me, and I wanted better advice.

      1. MicroManagered*

        I can actually see people saying this to you. Not everyone thinks of advice like this from what’s best for your career or what demonstrates integrity. They think of what seems the most “on your side” and get to Yeah! That company screwed you so screw them!! And while I think most of us probably get that impulse, we know deep down that torching the website is not the way to go, even if we can’t articulate why it’s wrong (because on some level it kinda feels like it could feel good).

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Kudos to you for asking for that advice, OP (seriously—I’m not being sarcastic). I’m a little surprised that so many people are giving you crap advice, but I’m glad you have an objective third party [Alison] to help you navigate the situation. It sounds like you’ve been trying to be deliberate, thoughtful and reflective about how to go forward, which is admirable in light of the awful experiences you had with your Old Dysfunctional Employer.

      3. Tealeaves*

        It’s very easy for friends to give short sighted advice because they feel the same emotions as you do. “If I were you, I would have…” Also, everyone secretly wants to see something epic happen (like those dramatic resignations) but without living with the consequences. That’s why advice columns exist. I’m glad you decided to double check with someone who knows better and not let impulse get the better of you.

      4. Cochrane*

        On a practical level, free web hosts come and go all the time. If you’re not a paying customer, you’re on borrowed time (geocities, spaceports, just to name some ancient examples). If this site just vanishes, oh well, maybe they should have hosted it somewhere less sketchy than totallyfreewebsitezzzz.biz.

  5. Leatherwings*

    Yeesh. I get the deep-down impulse to stick it to someone who wronged you, but OP has to know that this is an incredibly petty, unprofessional and frankly shocking thing to actually consider doing right?

    OP I’d recommend taking a step back and think of this from the perspective of a future employer – how would this look to them and why?

    1. Used to be a lurker*

      Yep. If I were hiring, and heard the OP did this to a previous client, I’d definitely stay clear of him. After all, what’s to stop him from doing the same thing to me? Creating the webpage in a personal account is a red flag for an experienced dev, but the OP should be able to spin it as a learning experience if it comes up. Deleting a former client’s webpage? Not so much.

      That’s the kind of move that absolutely wrecks careers, even if the previous employer doesn’t decide to sue (which it might have standing to do, depending on the laws where the OP lives/works).

    2. designbot*

      And look at your own language! Your intro is littered, quite rightly, with “I feel,” “I felt,” etc. Then you’re considering taking this really abrupt step. Taking a step back, this boils down to “I want to harm the company I used to work for, because of my feelings towards them.” That’s it. There’s no professional basis to do them harm, they aren’t currently harming you in any way, it’s all about how you feel about them. And I’d posit that that’s not nearly enough reason to do something like this.

    3. CM*

      Also, it’s illegal. The OP would be stealing from the company (because it’s very unlikely that the OP owns the website — this would only be plausible if the OP were a contractor and had not been paid) and, assuming the OP is in the US, would likely violate federal anti-hacking law (the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act).

  6. Magenta Sky*

    Yeah, people get into trouble for doing things like that. If it really messes up the company, it’s not inconceivable (though it is unlikely) they could try to criminally prosecute you with a claim that the reasons you used a personal account was *so* *that* you could screw them over later. (And sometimes, it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not.)

    If there any reason to believe that anybody at the company is aware that this is on a personal web site of yours? Whether there is or not, send that letter, and be specific about what you’re talking about. As in, “the web site that your company uses for xyz function, hosted at http://whatever.com/, is currently hosted on a web site that belongs to me. Since I am no longer employed there, it would be in the interests for your company to move this function to a web site fully under your control, within x number of days.”

    If you’re really intent on deleting it, have a lawyer send the letter registered mail, so you absolutely prove that they were notified.

  7. Anonymous Poster*

    I understand the impulse after coming from a bad employer.

    Don’t do it. Your reputation is worth more than whatever satisfaction you might get from this sort of action.

    Contact your former employer and tell them you need to transfer ownership over fully within so many days. If they ignore it, and you sent a reminder 1 week prior or so, then it’s on them. But if you just up and delete it, it’s on you. The time limit lets you get this off your plate eventually, and drives them to move on this.

    It would give you some satisfaction for a little while, but it’s really not worth it. Your professional reputation is much more valuable! Don’t let them continue to haunt you.

    1. Squeeble*

      I agree with this. It might feel really good to do in the moment, but that feeling won’t last, and the consequences (professional reputation, etc.) definitely aren’t worth it.

    2. nofelix*

      Honestly many companies, particularly bad ones, won’t respond to a letter like this. So you can have the satisfaction of them losing their website AND have the moral high ground.

  8. Kc*

    Is it a free email like a Gmail or a hotmail? Can you go make a new one and never think about this ever again? Would that relieve a lot of mental stress? (I know for me it would.) it’s easy to make a new Gmail etc I have at least 3.

  9. kittymommy*

    Yeah, there is no way for you to come out looking good on this. Follow Alison’ s script and let them know you’re deleting your account. That way the ownership of action is back with then and of they drop the ball, so be it.

  10. Katie the Fed*

    OP, it seems strange that you’re still hung up on this job after 9 months. You used the word “hurt” three times and it’s clear you’re still REALLY bothered by what happened there.

    Have you considered talking to someone professionally to work through your feelings about this job? At this point you’ve been gone from the job longer than you were in it – you need to find a way to move forward.

    1. Manders*

      This is a great suggestion. I think our culture often tends to underestimate the emotional impact of stuff that happens at work in comparison to stuff that happens in romantic relationships and friendships. Eight months of being treated poorly and feeling unable to escape the situation can really do a number on your mood and your sense of worth.

      I totally get what it feels like to have that instinctive fearful gut clench when you see something that reminds you of a time when you were unhappy, and it sucks that a reminder of that time is sitting inside a personal account. The answer isn’t deleting a website a company needs to operate, though. It may feel like deleting the site would make that feeling go away, but actually, you’re more likely to have to continue dealing with this company if you delete their site.

    2. fposte*

      Honestly, I think transferring the website in a smooth and professional manner could be therapeutic in its own right. You definitely want to get it gone and off your radar, and you want to do it as the person they regret letting get away.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Agreed. It honestly took me nearly a year to “recover” from my Toxic Employer, and I was really lucky to be able to talk out why it was still triggering me with a professional. I am pro therapy for everyone and in all contexts, but this sounds like a particularly useful tactic/opportunity for OP.

      Transferring the website might also help. It sounds like it was a trigger, and to the extent OP can clear those from their head (or metaphorical desk), the better.

    4. OP*

      lol I did include a sentence or two about knowing that, since this is so triggering for me, I should go to therapy. This was an incredibly toxic employer, and simply seeing the emails from the hosting site come into my Gmail can send me into a hole. I logged into the site because I had a paid website that I decided to give up, and wanted to rebuild the website on a free platform. In all honesty, I assumed that this website I created for the former employer would be gone. If I were my boss, I would have had my replacement copy it all over to another site. That’s a big reason that it hit me so hard when I saw it — I wasn’t expecting it. Working in a much better, healthier environment had made everything so much better, but it reopened the wounds. Several friends and colleagues in my field have all suggested that I delete the site, which yeah, sounds great. But it reminded me of trying to hide a bad grade from my parents when I was in school. It doesn’t help anything, and now I have to keep a secret.

      1. Ted Mosby*

        wait so are you paying for the platform? That adds a little nuance. Still 100% don’t just burn it, but the impulse is more understandable if you actually want to get off the site all together. A little surprising they didn’t notice they have a paid account that they’re not paying for. Glad you’re out of there.

        1. OP*

          No, no. It’s a free account that I want to upgrade, or possibly delete, and use instead of a different paid account. Really, I want two things: to not have to see this site on my account anymore, and to be able to do whatever I want with an account I set up.

          I don’t really know, since I don’t work there, but I’m willing to bet that no one at the organization put it together that they should figure out a way to keep me from accessing this page. I was asked to leave 2 days after putting in my notice (for my “comfort” given the complaint against the higher-up, but I also think because it embarrassed them), so I wasn’t properly off-boarded and couldn’t do this myself. The organization has a part time IT specialist, and I’m sure he went through his checklist of accounts to deactivate or change. I’m also sure that this account was not on this checklist.

        2. OP*

          To clarify that, I had to remove myself as an admin from several accounts, including their Facebook page, after I left. So there was really bad communication between departments (even though fewer than 25 people worked there), and everyone uses personal accounts for just about everything.

      2. CM*

        If you’re willing, you could send your former employer an email saying, “This website is hosted on my personal account. I will be deleting the website as of January 1, 2018. Please arrange to copy the website and move it to an organization-owned account before then.”

  11. Decima Dewey*

    No, don’t do this. Just wait for something awful to happen to the company and/or the higher up who clashed with, chalk it up to karma for the way they treated you.

  12. a Gen X manager*

    omg, I am now officially on a mission to casually drop “a fit of pique” into a conversation!

    1. Amber Rose*

      Possibly. Probably, actually. I know I’ve heard stories where other companies have pursued legal action against former employees who damaged or deleted critical files. The companies usually win, too.

    2. YpsiGuy*

      Of course they would have legal recourse. There really isn’t any question at all in my opinion.

      The company owns the web page (no matter where the 1’s and 0’s physically reside). They paid for it to be created, and OP created it as part of his or her job.

    3. Where's the Le-Toose?*

      If old employer suffered damages because the OP just deleted it without any notice, they would definitely have a civil cause of action against the OP. And once word of a lawsuit got back to the OP’s new employer, you bet that the new employer would be double checking all of the OP’s work.

      If the new job is great, then leave old employer alone. Give them notice to move their Web site hosting to another provider.

  13. HRish Dude*

    I will say that based on the headline, it was a little less “What? No!” than I was expecting.

    At the same time you’ll probably want to ask them if they can copy it into one of their own servers because I think most of those free hosting places have bandwidth restrictions.

  14. Diane Nguyen*

    There are lots of reasons not to use personal accounts for work stuff, but that blunder is usually not a huge deal. What I’m more concerned about: Transitioning this from a personal account to a company account should have been part of the offboarding process. It’s weird that OP walked about without tying that loose end, especially since it sounds like in general she made a good effort to leave on good terms.

    The good news: It’s not too late to do the right thing, and the company’s potential annoyance at the situation is a small price to pay.

    Also, maybe most importantly: Deleting the site won’t make you feel better or undo the things you’re upset about. It will likely inconvenience people who did nothing wrong — your replacement, co-workers who were nice to you (typically the bottom of the ladder gets burned more than the top), possibly clients or whoever your former organization served. Not worth it.

    1. OP*

      This organization had no onboarding, no offboarding, and no HR department to speak of. It’s a very small academic nonprofit, and the people who would be most affected are the students there. My friends have all universally told me to just delete it, but the students are the ones that would be hurt by that — not the people who treated me badly.

      I posted this above, but the reason I discovered the site was still on my account and still being used was because I decided to move a personal website from a private domain to this free hosting site. Given that my access to all other accounts was removed the same day I left, I assumed that this site would have been copied over to another account, or something. That’s when I saw that it was a) still around and b) still being used. It may have been an oversight on their part.

      I should also clarify that I didn’t leave on totally good terms, through the employer’s doing. I put in two weeks notice, spent a full day transferring everything over to different people and making sure that SOPs and guidelines were up-to-date. I was then asked to clean out my desk and leave my ID. I don’t really know why, but I believe it’s because I put in my notice but also refused to withdraw a complaint I had made about someone higher up. The details of my leaving were then announced at an all staff meeting later that week. I did my best to leave on the best possible terms, but without selling myself short. All this is to say that there really was no offboarding process, and I wasn’t given the opportunity to make sure that all documents and other resources that were connected to my personal accounts were transitioned before I left. I had to remove myself as an admin on their Facebook page myself, after I was asked to leave.

  15. PieInTheBlueSky*

    You’ve already left the company and found a better job. You won by leaving them behind. If you delete the site, you would be forcing them back into your life in a very contentious way. Don’t turn a winning situation into a losing one. You don’t need this. Do as Alison says and transition your site to them and untangle yourself from them for good.

  16. Infinity Anon*

    I wonder if it is possible to transfer ownership of the account to the company and get a new one. If it is a paid service, offer to sell it to the company. If free, it is even easier.

    1. OP*

      I put this in my original letter, but when I logged on to the account and discovered that the site was still actively being used (but not updated), I contacted the free hosting site and was told that it’s not possible to just transfer the site to a different account.

  17. Not my real name*

    Years ago I worked for an unbelievably abusive employer: thrown objects, sexual harassment, labor violations, unethical behavior, drinking on the job, etc.

    About 6 months after I left, I logged into their website on a whim and found out that they hadn’t changed their passwords. I’d been the IT person, so deleted a 6-word file which allowed the office manager access to the password-protected areas of the website. I didn’t touch anything else, and never logged on again.

    Once they figured out that the file had disappeared, it would have been a 30-second fix to undo. But they first had to figure out why her log-in and password no longer worked, which I knew would perplex them. I don’t regret it, and still relish knowing that she probably banged on the keyboard repeatedly, entering her password over and over again. It may make me a terrible person, but it was a tiny bit of karmic payback for her role in a horrific phase of my life… and for her sleeping with the boss.

    Lesson: always change passwords after employees leave. Especially tech employees.

    1. TCO*

      It’s quite possible that the office manager was terrible to you, but the boss is just as much–if not more responsible–for sleeping with his/her underling than the underling is. I’m not willing to see a (likely) man in power get a free pass while allowing the low-ranking woman to take all of the blame for a mutual act.

    2. Beancounter Eric*

      Yep…..you are most definitely horribly unprofessional, and if I was a prospective employer and knew you had done what you relate here, I would not hire you.

      Actually, you very well may have broken the law. Just because they didn’t change passwords when you left does not entitle you to enter their system and make changes of any sort.

    3. NaoNao*

      Ehhhh I was with you up until “…and for sleeping with the boss.” I can almost guarantee you that “she punished herself far worse than you ever could” on that one. Her sleeping with the boss is unrelated to her treatment of you (unless she was somehow…making you an unwilling third party to their shenanigans I guess). That really feels like an icky moral judgement to me and I’m not really here for it.
      It’s actually FAR more immoral and unethical for him (I assume it’s a him) to sleep with “an underling” than for her to sleep with him, if we’re getting down to brass tacks here.
      Even if they were both married and thus committing a literal crime (adultery), the key here is the “thrown objects, sexual harassment.. [et al]”
      It’s not up to you to “punish” a woman for sleeping with her boss.
      For throwing things, sexually harassing you, or violating labor laws, I can see it. But you’re not the sex police.

  18. Ann O'Nemity*

    I’d be tempted to do absolutely nothing. Forget I ever had the personal account; consider it forfeit since I shouldn’t have used it for business in the first place and then I never transferred it during offboarding.

    Of course, I have no deep understanding of web hosting accounts, so I’m not sure of all the implications here.

    1. Beancounter Eric*

      Seconded, with this addition – pull any personal info off the account, ask oldemployer to change passwords so you no longer have access, and never, ever try to log into old account again.

      Open a new account, and don’t merge work and personal there.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I’d pull personal info but not ask old employer to do anything. I’d just walk away and not look back.

  19. seejay*

    So I had something similar like this except instead of it being for a professional business/job thing, it was a relative and I had their business site on my personal account. There’s been some major issues with getting responses out of this relative for a range of things and getting paid for stuff I’ve done and also things I’ve paid for out of pocket. It’s compounded by the fact that I have another relative trying to say “but they’re *faaaaaamily* and it’s not that much money overall!” Yes and yes, but it’s also the damn principle and it’s their business and they pay other people and companies for their time and services, why do I get the short end of the stick when I say “you need to pay for this?”

    So I did make arrangements, sent emails, informed them that due to a range of things, this stuff needed to be moved off my personal account (and this was after nearly 8 years of hosting it) and I worked with them to get it moved. Not once have I been paid, despite asking for it and being told I would be. I stopped asking. Stuff did get moved. Some didn’t. There were emails sent. Nothing was done.

    So yeah, it got deleted and shut off. And it one of the sites is still currently pointing to dead pages because they haven’t bothered to check on it or follow up to anything and I’ve washed my hands of the responsibility.

    The thing is, I did my due diligence. I didn’t pull the rug out from under anyone’s feet, I gave ample warning, I gave instructions on how to move the information. Nothing’s lost, they still have all their data and their sites, they just haven’t bothered following up on anything and at this point, I’m not lifting another finger because I’ve done enough to put all the responsibility back. That’s what you owe your previous employers no matter how they treated you: to be the big enough person to put all the responsibility on them to allow them to take it back first *before* you pull the plug on it. Give them warning, give them time, give them whatever power and accessibility they need to do it, give a final warning if they don’t, then you can pull the plug with a clear conscience.

  20. Tuxedo Cat*

    I understand the impulse. I really do. Several times, people have screwed me over and I could very quickly and easily destroy websites or withhold access to files.

    It would never be worth it. I’m low on the food chain, so I would never come out looking good in these situations.

    I would work to transfer the website off of your personal account, because I wouldn’t want to be blamed in case something happened to the site.

  21. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    In addition to following Alison’s advice, I recommend sending a third email when you’re a week away from closing the account. People are really bad about jobs like this and they often get pushed to deal with ‘later’. Then they’re shocked when the site is gone. If you genuinely like your boss and know you’ll possibly see/work with her again, give her ample opportunity to respond.

    I knew a coworker who tried to take revenge on our company. It wasn’t deleting their website, as it was 20+ years ago. But it did not end well. I know exactly how you feel right now, right down to the anger that won’t go away. So think of it this way – this company isn’t worth you getting into trouble and ruining your career. It’s not. Not only that, you’ll likely feel a lot better knowing that you’ve done the right thing. It sounds corny, but it’s really true. Good luck!

  22. Rachel Green*

    You created a helpful website/tool that is still being used by the company. That’s an accomplishment that you can point to when searching for jobs in the future. If you delete it, you won’t be able to use the website as an example of an accomplished task at a previous job. Nobody wins if you delete it.

    1. Ross*

      Rachel, since he is no longer working there when he deletes it, can’t he claim that he and the company were on a break?

    2. NEW YEAR, NEW ME*

      Agreed. It’s the best thing to do. Take screen shots of your work, but also follow the advice about notifying your company about the email linked to the site. That way, if something does go wrong, you’re not to blame.

  23. Lily in NYC*

    I’m surprised someone actually had to ask advice about this. There’s no grey area here OP. You know it would be a shitty thing to do.

    1. The Snark Knight*

      Of course there’s a gray area. They are taking up bandwidth on his private site, drove him out, and made him miserable. The lesson here is never make anyone irreplaceable, especially if they have the “off” switch.

  24. nep*

    (OP — You can use this as an exercise to rise above something that feels like a thorn in your side and move on.)

  25. Another Day Another Dolla*

    Don’t let your legitimate anger and hurt make you act in a way that will hurt you in your industry.

    1. Mike C.*

      I appreciate that you point out that the OP’s feelings are legitimate regardless of the proposed actions that stem from them.

    2. OP*

      Thank you for pointing out that my feelings are real — a lot of the comments are basically “OP should have known better.” That may be true, but using personal accounts for things was the norm at this organization, and no one questioned it. It was a toxic workplace for me and others, and all of our feelings are legitimate. Thank you.

  26. Manager-at-Large*

    I saw this sentence in the original post:
    I contacted the website hosting company about removing the site from my account, and found out that it’s not possible.

    I’m not sure what that means that you can and cannot do with site. My advice to you is to act professionally in the interests of your former employer. Your former employer needs an IT professional to help manage their web-presence as well as safe-guard the asset that is the website. Hopefully, you can alert them to this and they will take action.

  27. Elder Dog*

    “One of those tools is a website I set up on a free hosting site. I used a personal account that I already had, and shared it with an account I set up with my then-work email. ”
    OP, first check with the hosting company you can do this, then email your former boss, the nice one, and let her know that website is still connected to your personal account which you need for other things and they should re-enable your former work email account so it can own the site and you can detach your personal account.
    Then detach your personal account, and let the company handle their website.

    1. nonymous*

      One simple option would be to reach out to OldBoss, point out that OP is still able to do lots of admin stuff from their personal account and ask how did they want to coordinate separating this. OP may simply be able to designate OldBoss as an admin from the personal account, and she can remove OP. It’s pretty common for the major free hosts to have a system for group-managed sites (think local community groups or family websites) to change admins over time.

      I set up the initial FB account for my church once and no one felt empowered to remove me when I moved out of state. Eventually I pinged the new admins (who were all new parishioners and didn’t know me) and told them that I was removing myself effective XYZ date so be sure to verify they had all access they needed by then. No one responded (but the FB page is still active). People are weird about stuff like this.

      1. OP*

        As far as I know, the account I set up with the work email is still active. I didn’t even use my own work email to do it, since I knew that I would eventually be leaving, and used the department email. That account has full admin access to the site, unless someone at my former employer changed something. I checked with the hosting site when I discovered that the site I set up was still being used, and they said that there’s no way to transfer the site to a different account.

        1. fposte*

          But now I’m confused–why would it need to be transferred to a different account if it’s on an account under the department email? How is it entangled with Current You and not just Former Workplace You?

          1. OP*

            The site was originally created under a person email. I created a second account using a department work email, so that anyone in the department could update it. According to the free website builder, the work-email is an administrator account, but doesn’t own the account. This is definitely a way to get people to upgrade to paid accounts, because I’m sure you can do this with a paid account. Obviously, I won’t pay for it.

            So, basically, there are two accounts with access to it. One is @old-workplace, and one is Gmail. Even though @old-workplace has complete access to it, the website builder can’t transfer ownership to that account.

    1. OP*

      I’ve commented this below, but that’s easier said that done. It’s not easy for everyone to just let things go, and this advice delegitimizes my feelings. It is also, for lack of a better term, ableist. I didn’t include any details about my personal struggles, but I still think it’s important to point out that not everyone’s brain works that way. I don’t want to go into any more detail than that.

      1. Good for you*

        Thank you for saying that. I have some MH issues myself and I loathe the ‘bootstraps’ comments, they are so unhelpful.

        1. OP*

          I think that a lot of people who don’t have these kinds of issues don’t understand that it isn’t as easy as just living your best life. I’m really glad for them that they don’t have to deal with this kind of stuff, but…

  28. M Beard*

    I agree–
    OP should contact the previous employer and give them time to set up their own hosting. Then have the site switched over to the new hosting. It would involve updating DNS records, etc. But as it was said, the employer relies on it and it was probably done on company time.

    Giving them a list of what needs to be done is also a great idea.

    Remember, no good deed goes unpunished! On the plus side, you did provide the employer with something that has continued to be of value. This is a great thing to prove your worth. It also shows you’re motivated, self-starter, etc. But you’re also responsible since you’ve created something they rely on now.

  29. Emma*

    I’m in a web design-adjacent field, so I’m certainly not an expert here but I’m not sure it’s as simple as OP just transferring the site or handing over some code, especially since they implied it’s not that easy having already reached out to the hosting site. My understanding of some of these free services is that you have templates that you can modify, but it wouldn’t be as simple as porting the code over to a new host or another account. It’s possible that this site might have to be rebuilt from the original template entirely (IF I’m understanding correctly). Which would be a huge hassle on the employer end of things obviously.

    I don’t have much advice if that’s the case, except to come out and be honest about it now– that you may want to use that account and it’s not sustainable to have a tool they’re actively using on an account they don’t really have full control over. I feel like the “transfer” timeline might also have to be longer if it needs to be rebuilt as well.

    1. OP*

      That’s exactly it. I left out a lot of details for the sake of brevity, but you got it completely.

  30. Statler von Waldorf*

    Maybe someone can correct me on this, as the last time I made a website, it was in the ’90’s sometime. If you have access to the web host, can’t you just download the .html and other files and email them to your old employer before you delete the website?

    1. MarketingGirl*

      Yes, but there’s also the issue of the domain name and who that is legally registered to. If it’s in OP’s name, technically he has the right to it (unless there are patents, trademarks, etc on the name).

    2. VC*

      Most sites nowadays depend on a CMS (content management software) — pages are dynamically constructed by pulling content from other sources like databases and feeds based on page templates. Pulling the static HTML files would just give you a snapshot of the site as it appeared at a certain moment of time. The CMS and the databases and feeds and templates and whatnot would still need to be reconstructed and re-configured on the new server before anyone would be able to reliably update it.

        1. seejay*

          Also if it’s on one type of server, it wouldn’t necessarily port over and be supported on the new type (ie, it could be written in asp which is supported by Microsoft driven servers and if the new ones are Apache, they’ll need to be in php or jsp and yes I know I just dated myself there but I’m totally drawing a blank on what MS servers are using these days).

          Back in the day it was way easier but now definitely a lot more complex and if they’re using the site and it’s an application, there’s definitely some sort of data support, which likely means a database and CMS and all sorts of other wiggling parts so it’ll be more than just packing up the files in a zip and sending it over and washing his hands of it unfortunately.

  31. jv*

    OP, consider this a lesson learned. It’s always best to separate these things. That’s why in addition not hosting your employers site on your own, it’s always best to never use your personal or unique work email address to sign-up for accounts.

    Email aliases or specially set up email accounts for those purposes are the best option. When you leave, simply give them the email address and password, or have the email alias forward to the person now covering your job.

    There’s nothing worse than leaving a job you hate and ended up having to deal with questions from them all the time because your old email address is linked to them still.

  32. Callalily*

    I’m getting the impression that this is just over hurt feelings… the hosting websites I am familiar with allow you you to have multiple free websites.

    Unless you are personally limited by the number of websites available and the company website is getting in the way, this is only an emotional irritation.

    If the account is free you can always just create a new one with an alias email and forget this one exists. Sure it isn’t ideal but you were the one that put the company website on a personal account.

    It might be a good idea to even create a generic password and provide them with the login (personally abandoning the account and allowing them to change the password) to avoid any issues if something were to happen.

    You don’t want to be that person that deleted the business website. They’ll blame you for using a personal account unnecessarily and further blame you for deleting the website without working with them.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      Companies that give free web site hosting have a long and storied history of going out of business, often with little warning.

      And I’m guessing that nobody still at the company has any idea this function they use is not on their own equipment, so even decent notice won’t help.

  33. RVA Cat*

    Something else since this may be a temptation for the OP –
    RIGHT NOW, archive everything on the site to a thumb drive and send it to your former employer. This also covers you if something goes wrong with the hosting, etc.

  34. MarketingGirl*

    I work in this field and this is an EXTREMELY common issue for small businesses. They hire a designer/developer or ask an employee to build their website. Since they need full access to the account, they are likely to put it in their name. When the employee leaves, either they take the website or the business is locked out. Unfortunately, we cannot grant access to those not listed on the account, just like your bank won’t grant someone else access to your account. This is where people tend to (understandably) get angry because the site is no longer in their possession and we can’t simply GIVE them the account and its data. So PSA for all you business owners out there, make sure your domain and host is IN YOUR BUSINESS NAME. Seriously, the number of times we’ve seen this unfold and business go completely haywire because they essentially can’t operate and we can’t do anything for them…

    OP, if you were smart, you would simply contact the host/registrar and transfer the account details over to the business name and move on.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m trying to set up a payment site for ebooks (and offtopic but no, I cannot put a PayPal button on WordPress unless I cough up $79 a year for a premium plan–it just eats the code–so whoever told me that is wroooooonnnnnggggg).
      As much of a pain in the arse as it is to do this, at least WordPress allows me to do it myself and it’s not that hard.
      I’m really glad I’m not going through someone I hired who could just delete it if they got mad at me, or whatever. I can’t even imagine how much of a pain that would be. You would have to start all over.

    2. OP*

      I did mention this in the letter, but it’s one line, that I already contacted the website service. It’s a free site builder (Weebly), and they said that they were unable to transfer the site to the other admin account on the site. I don’t know why, but I have to believe them.

      This site was created and built with my boss’s complete knowledge. This was a small nonprofit academic organization, where everyone was expected to use personal accounts for just about everything. I was asked to leave after giving in my notice, which is why I wasn’t able to make sure that this was done before I left. Even now that I work for a much larger (and, frankly, more professional) university, I’ve found that the people at the top of the org chart don’t understand much about the internet or social media. Everything is done under personal accounts (even if it’s your personal work email), especially when there isn’t an actual IT department.

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        OP, I don’t know if you’re still checking the thread, but Weebly appears to only disallow transfers between existing accounts — if you create a support ticket they can evidently transfer it to a “new account using an email address not in use by any other accounts”. (Why this distinction exists is unclear.) So it can be transferred, but that will need some cooperation from the employer. (I am attaching a link to the support thread where this is explained.)


        I’d contact them in as polite and friendly a way as possible: “Hey, unfortunately I’m no longer going to be supporting the personal account we built Website on, so you’ll need to set up a new company address for me to transfer it to. Here’s how.”

  35. puzzld*

    So. Was reading this thread and all of a sudden, I lost my wifi. Lost connection to this page.

    OMG the call is coming from inside the house!

    After a while I was able to reconnect. Phew.

  36. nonymous*

    OP, can you add someone else as a co-admin and have them take you off? Or just switch admins (perhaps to your former boss)? It just seems awfully suspicious that you can’t transfer the site in any way…

    I know with some services (like google sites) it’s possible to remove self, but I had a memorable instance where the admin added her replacement incorrectly (think Fergus123 instead of Fergus12) and then removed herself before verifying. Don’t do that.

    1. OP*

      I created an account using a department email while I still worked there, and it has full admin access to the site. According to the service, a site can’t be transferred to another account, and if I delete my account, it will delete any websites associated with it. Unfortunately, it’s not a Google Site (it’s Weebly). A Google site would have been much easier to deal with this.

  37. Manager Mary*

    If the only item listed in the “pros” column is “it will feel good” and there are more than zero items listed in the “cons” column, don’t do the thing.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*


      And “it will feel good” isn’t even for sure. It may feel good. Or you think it will, but it actually doesn’t. Then you regret it and feel bad about yourself, a lot at first and then a little every time you think about it for years.

  38. Maddie*

    I think the major issue is why you are still festering over this nine months later. Let go of the anger and you will feel much better. Unfortunate things happen in the workplace and you’ve left them behind. It’s time to let it go. You have much better things in front of you, but not if you sabotage your former employer.

    1. OP*

      This is great advice, but I want to point out that it’s not always that easy for everyone. It’s not always that easy to “just move on,” and for the most part I had. This kind of popped up and surprised me — I went to log in to my account to update a different site, and assumed that all of the content would have been moved over to a site that wasn’t connected to my account (I had given all admin access to another account, which was tied to the organization). It reopened old wounds, and it really isn’t that easy to just let it go. I’m sure this advice comes from trying to be helpful, but it is, for lack of a better word, a little bit ableist.

      1. Maddie*

        Deleting the site won’t make you feel better and in worst case scenario can ruin your career. It is a choice how we behave and how much negative energy we are going to invest in something.

        1. Good for you*

          @Maddie, for future reference, when someone says you’re maybe being a bit ableist, please don’t reply by doubling down.

          And as a matter of pure fact – no, it is not always a choice. Brain chemistry varies, MH issues are real – some people don’t have a ‘choice’ over their brain’s ‘negative energy’ levels.

        2. NaoNao*

          I agree to a point. I also really take umbrage when people blithely tell others not to let it bother them, to “move on”, or “not to invest negative energy”.
          What is “negative energy”?
          Is it taking a moment to ask someone impartial for advice before doing something potentially self destructive?
          Is it taking the time to read and politely respond to comments, even those that seem flippant and harsh?
          Is it explaining the complex circumstances that led to this place over and over in the comment section, and being vulnerable and explaining some personal issues that make it hard to let go?
          Or is it giving condescending, pat, and cliched advice to someone who is baring themselves to internet strangers?
          Please take a look at your own life and ensure that you aren’t investing a particle of negative energy on anything, for example, repeating your already strong advice to someone who has previously pointed out that moving on is difficult for good reason.

    2. So Very Anonymous*

      Yeah, I don’t think we should be getting into telling OP how to feel or not feel. From OP’s responses, she is registering the advice to not just delete the site (and I do think it’s important, also, for us to register her explanations of why it’s more complicated than just simply transferring information). Beyond encouraging OP to NOT give in to the desire to delete the site, I don’t think we should be trying to manage OP’s feelings for them.

      OP, I’m glad you’re someplace else now!

      1. OP*

        Thank you! I have clarified this in a few other comments, but I want to delete the site because discovering that it was still being used under my account was so triggering for me. I don’t want to delete the site or the account to get back at my former employer. I want to get rid of it so that I don’t have to see it again, because it does reopen wounds that I have been working at healing. I find it really interesting, and honestly sad, that most of the comments assume that I just want to delete something to screw someone over, and not because of how it still affects me. I thought I did an okay job of conveying that I still respect my former supervisor and I don’t want to make things difficult for her, and that I am proud of the work I did even if it was for a trash organization. Why would I delete something that I spent many hours working on, and am proud of, just to hurt someone who didn’t even do anything bad to me. Because, as others have pointed out, the big fishes who made things so awful for me are NOT the ones who would be affected by any action I take.

        1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          Just want to say that I completely get how you feel regarding being triggered and having wounds reopened. I’ve had a couple of awful jobs, and I’d rather change my identity and run away than deal with those people again. I find it even more impressive that you’ve reached out for advice to do the right thing, even though it’s extremely unpleasant. If you’re able to also speak to a neutral party to process what happened at the workplace, that could be extremely helpful.

          Thank you also for sharing what your friends said. It sounds like you have people who care about you very much and are angry you were hurt. That can make it difficult to get emotional distance from a situation (not that I speak from personal experience or anything!). So this is a good reminder to get that emotional distance before taking action.

          You sound like a thoughtful and conscientous person. Good luck and I hope everything works out!

        2. nonegiven*

          Can you make up a new email address, change the weebly account from yours to that one. Then make a new hosting account with your old address?

          1. OP*

            I ended up emailing my former boss and letting her know that I intend to modify the account after November 3, and because I don’t know how that would affect this site, they should probably look in to moving it to a different host (as opposed to admin) account. I gave her the account information I believe she would need to do that, and made it pretty clear that I do not want to be contacted about the site (or honestly, anything else).

            I looked into it, and I could just transfer it to another email address. But as long as it’s an email address I have access to, I can access the account. I still feel that’s a shocking oversight by my former employer, but the more important thing for me is that I want to literally never have to see it again. I don’t want the temptation to see it.

            1. nonegiven*

              Just make up a companynamexxx at gmail address and email the address & password to their admin account and advise them to change it, immediately, after you’ve changed the address on the hosting account.

        3. Good for you*

          It sounds like some people at Ex-Job might react badly if you deleted the site? I get that feeling like the quickest way to get away from it all is to hit Delete, but it sounds like it could get…messy. So, if you want to avoid the hassle from Ex-Job – or at least minimise it and get it over with – I think good, practical advice is to reach out to the supervisor you respect using Allison’s scripts.

          And then maybe also prepare two more options: that you will charge them at a consultant’s rate for the time it takes them to get this handled and swapped over; and that you have a lawyer ready to go in case anyone at Ex-Job starts throwing legal threats around (and if they do try that, warn them that you will charge them for your lawyer’s time in addition to your own time)

          I mean, that is all a hassle, I know, but at least you’ll be paid for dealing with their nonsense? Also, in my experience, invoicing people tends to focus their mind and really get things moving, which is what you want: to be completely free as quickly as you can.

          I wish you all the luck in getting free of all of this as soon as you can.

        4. seejay*

          This was actually *very* similar to how I felt about having my relative’s site on mine. Sure, it wasn’t *that* big of a deal to have it there, not that big of an amount over the money, etc etc, but every time I log into it, every time the domain name came up for renewal was a stressful pain in my butt for dealing with them and getting a response and a reminder of how disrespectful they’d treat me: delays in responding, last minute responses, lack of payment. It was the sheer way they were treating me that I just didn’t want to deal with anymore and any reminder of it was a needle in my brain and I wanted it off my plate and not something to even think about anymore, so I totally 100% get it.

          This is why I say it’s best to definitely give them the chance to get everything, then if they don’t, after you’ve given them enough warning and chances, delete with a clear conscience because when you do that, it *does* feel good, because at least you did it the right way and you can remove that thorn in your side.

  39. Ruthie*

    I work in communications and Facebook actually requires that you connect a personal account to your company page. I realize that I could make a dummy account for this purpose, but I certainly didn’t think of that in my previous job when I created my old office’s ad account that I now forever in possession of. I always have my interns help me admin the page and I will never forget asking one young man for the email associated with his account only to see him turn bright red and hastily explain he made the account drummer69 (or something like that) when he was maybe 12. So now I preface that conversation with “I’m really sorry I have to ask you this and I promise I won’t judge you…”

    1. nutella fitzgerald*

      The dummy account is also a violation of Facebook’s TOS, which I guess is unlikely to be enforced but makes it even more irritating to me.

      1. nonegiven*

        No name is unique, as long as you use your work email to sign up for the dummy account who would know you’re the same nutella fitzgerald as your personal account and at least it’s a dummy account with only basic information you don’t mind the public knowing. I’d never want to even sign into my personal account on a work computer, anyway.

  40. Emily*

    I have the strongest sense of deja vu reading this letter and reply, particularly where Allison suggests contacting the company to let them know they need to migrate the site… Does anyone know what other letter I might be reminded of? I can’t figure it out, but I have the strongest feeling there was a very similar one!

    1. Maddie*

      Yes there was a similar letter awhile back that was a guy under investigation and later fired and still had access to computer security.

  41. Elder Dog*

    If this is really upsetting you, would it be too much for you to recreate the website using the email from your old work as the owner? Then you can put up a page on the original site directing people to the new site and saying when the old site will be taken down? Then you can enjoy deleting the site off your account, without having burnt your former co-workers who weren’t awful to you.
    If you can’t stomach doing it, then let your former boss know she needs to have somebody else copy the site over to a new one, but if you can do it, you don’t actually have to talk to anybody at your old job, which may be worth the time it would take to recreate the site.

    1. OP*

      I ended up emailing my old boss with all the account information I think they would need to either copy the content to the work-based account, or figure out some other way to put it on a different account, and gave her deadline of November 3. I really can’t do anything else to help them with this, both for my personal mental health, and because I feel like it would be so inappropriate for them to ask me to.

      I didn’t make this clear in my original letter, but I don’t want to delete this account/site to screw over an old employer, but because it was a horrible place for me to work and seeing this site on my account is incredibly triggering. If I was just angry, I could maybe justify doing something like redirecting the page, but finding out I can’t just remove my access to the site has given me panic attacks. It’s definitely not worth it for me.

      1. CM*

        I didn’t see your update before I posted above suggesting you contact them and tell them to move the site. What you did seems like the best solution, and I would also block any emails about this after 11/3. I hope taking the high road helps you move on.

  42. The Snark Knight*

    Don’t delete it, just set up an algorithm that slowly decreases the available bandwidth over time, until they decide to move it on their own.

  43. Katie Fay*

    OP, please be reminded that you remained in a job that made you miserable for 8 months. This was your choice and perhaps you should have removed yourself sooner. It isn’t fair now to somehow ‘get them back’ which I think is your motivation because your first paragraph focuses on how you felt by being wronged by this company. And you shouldn’t have built something for the company on your personal account to begin with.
    Be happy that you’ve moved on.

  44. TP*

    Silver lining here: You built something very cool. Screenshot the heck out of it and use it in your own portfolio.

    I saw already that you contacted them; that’s fine. I don’t know of a single web platform that doesn’t allow you to change the email address associated with the account. So I would have just changed the email address associated with the account to your former supervisor’s, sent her an email to let her know you’ve done that, given her the password, and then be done with it. She probably would need to confirm the email address change but that’s a 5-second process.

    Just my thoughts! Because I develop and create websites for clients on the side, I do know how easy that process really is.

    Good luck with everything!

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