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Is A Bad Attitude Damaging The IT Profession?

CmdrTaco posted about 8 years ago | from the who-cares-and-shut-up dept.


dtienes writes "Why does IT get a free pass to insult users? Slamming customers isn't acceptable in any other profession; doctors don't call their patients "meatbags" — at least, not publicly. But IT professionals think nothing of wearing their scorn on their sleeves (or at least their chests — just check out ThinkGeek). There's more at stake here than just a few hard feelings. IT may be seriously damaging the credibility of the profession. See the essay I'm An Idiot (And Other Lessons From The IT Department) for a former IT professional turned user's take on insults, attitudes and ethics. (Full disclosure: The submitter is also the author.)"

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An example (5, Funny)

maztuhblastah (745586) | about 8 years ago | (#17603646)

Nothing for you to see here, please move along

See, it's attitudes like that....

Re:An example (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603706)

What about those customers who then treat IT like dirt every time a problem occurs? IT is only the savior when something gets fixed.

Re:An example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603752)

excellent point.

arent we going overboard with this full disclosure shit? i mean, who freekin cares that an author submitted his own work?

Re:An example (2, Informative)

KingOfGod (884633) | about 8 years ago | (#17603858)

You must be new here...

If an author doesnt disclose that he submitted his own work, 50% of the comments will be about how bad all the slashvertisements are, how full-of-him-self the author is and how the article is a piece of crappy self-promotion.

Re:An example (3, Insightful)

Xaositecte (897197) | about 8 years ago | (#17603784)

That's true of pretty much every career field. You're not worth something until it works, and if it's not, it has to be the expert's fault.

Re:An example (1)

BSAtHome (455370) | about 8 years ago | (#17603798)

No, all others have it wrong. Why are you offended. I only offer the truth. It might be blunt and direct, but it _is_ the truth.

Re:An example (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603874)

Cue everyone tagging the article 'fuckoff'?

Almost expected (5, Interesting)

williamhb (758070) | about 8 years ago | (#17604018)

It's generally thought to be part of the reason why so few female schools students do not apply to study computer science at university ("why would I want to spend my career working in a culture like that?").

More recently I've noticed a worrying trend -- a lack of social skills has become an expected trait for programmers by a few employers (whereas most employers value social and communication skills very highly). I have recently seen job adverts in the UK that have included lines such as "the sort of person we are looking for is a geek. You probably prefer to relate to computers and have very few friends". If even a few employers are actively reinforcing the all-too-common stereotype, then that cannot be healthy for the industry.

Re:Almost expected (1, Troll)

williamhb (758070) | about 8 years ago | (#17604080)

Speaking of bad communications skills (or at least editing mistakes), that first line should read "why so few female schools students apply to study computer science" rather than "do not apply"

Preview, dammit, preview!

car mechanics do it too (5, Insightful)

yagu (721525) | about 8 years ago | (#17603654)

Insulting the "client" isn't constrained to the IT market, it may be more visible to /.ers, but seemingly many "professionals" think an attributes of being a professional include being an unmitigated asswipe to those less knowledgeable.

My personal experience with over 25 years now in IT is that many times the asswipe-ness of an IT professional is inversely proportional to what they know and how well they know it. While I've known some brilliant IT staff who were grumpy, most of the anointed geniuses-with-attitude were self anointed, and less than geniuses (doesn't mean they didn't know anything, just that the attitude was a convenient and easy facade to hide behind).

The insulting IT staff were the ones I avoided -- mostly their expertise, as it were, was a diminished return in being held hostage by "their schedule", and their attitude. I'd much rather find assistance with a less competent person who is self aware and interested in helping find a solution if they don't know it themselves.

Admittedly there is a consumer demographic cowed by the angry IT support, and they probably accept and suffer more insult than they deserve. But, in the long run, I think any IT staff member who glories in his or her rancor and animus with the client grossly underestimates the long term impact on their reputation and career. If you think customers don't talk... and consider alternatives when they present, think again. (I long since have avoided Circuit City for not only rude treatment and condescension, but that kind of treatment coupled with virtual incompetence on that for which they condescended..., literally thousands of my dollars have gone elsewhere solely on "rude behavior" by "professionals".)

It pays to be nice.

(And, regardless of the sans-clue clientèle's, there are rarely circumstances that warrant abuse of the customer.... )

Article has poor focus (4, Insightful)

Alaren (682568) | about 8 years ago | (#17604094)

Insulting the "client" isn't constrained to the IT market, it may be more visible to /.ers, but seemingly many "professionals" think an attributes of being a professional include being an unmitigated asswipe to those less knowledgeable.

Agreed. I think the article makes a good point--IT practitioners as a whole can stand to be more professional--but it's a little silly to hold up doctors and lawyers as beacons of professionalism. I'm only in my first year of law school, and already many of my classmates have adopted a "smarter-than-thou" attitude toward staff, undergraduates around campus, and the world in general. Just because lawyers don't wear smarmy t-shirts doesn't mean they're not insufferably arrogant toward the "unelite."

Moreover, how do people feel when talked down to by their auto mechanics? Their dentists? Even retail clerks tend to begin badmouthing the ignorance of customers the moment the store is empty. People like to feel superior, and one (bad) way to do that is to make fun of people who know less than you do, even if "less" is only measured in a narrow area of knowledge. Let's face it, even the lowliest Whopper-flopper knows more about the inner workings of Burger King than most educated professionals, and can find a way to turn that into a feeling of superiority when the stupid customer doesn't realize that X meal is a better deal or whatever.

The fact is, just about everyone could stand to be kinder to others, IT professionals included. But don't pretend IT professionals are worse because they express themselves on the internet while other professionals refrain from advertising their disgust on t-shirts and instead mistreat you to your face.

No. (5, Funny)

exspecto (513607) | about 8 years ago | (#17603656)

Is A Bad Attitude Damaging The IT Profession?
No. And if you don't shut up about it, I won't get around to fixing your computer until *after* lunch!

Re:No. (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#17603826)

Never mind the fact you *only* fixed computers after lunch. Can't let work interfere with a rousing game of mine sweeper in the morning. :P

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17604062)

Job security.

Yes. (4, Informative)

Southpaw018 (793465) | about 8 years ago | (#17603668)

Of course it is. [ntk.net] And companies are starting to get wise to the fact that things could be better - when applying for jobs after college, not one but two of the interviews I had were filling spots of IT admins who'd been fired for this kinda crap. And the interviews were all questions like "What do you think of users who know absolutely nothing about computers?"

Re:Yes. (5, Interesting)

sphealey (2855) | about 8 years ago | (#17603924)

> And the interviews were all questions like "What do
> you think of users who know absolutely nothing
> about computers?"

Speaking as a business manager, I think that is quite appropriate. For an interview conducted in 1986, or perhaps even 1996.

My question to that organization is, why in the year 2006 do you have employees who do not possess the skills to use basic, standard tools to process basic business information, and to extend their own skills by themselves moderate amounts (not to learn a new ERP system by themselves, for example, but to figure out the fairly minor differences between AP module 5.5.7 and the new 5.6.1 version now in pre-production testing)? Why do you still have employees who believe that an inability to do a basic search in their own e-mail box merits a deskside visit from an ultra-qualified, ultra-patient analyst who will provide 4 hours of no-charge tutoring? Can you name another support department that does this? Does Finance provide remedial tutoring in financial accounting to sales managers, not just once upon promotion but over and over and over again over 20 years? Is the CFO on call 24x365 to provide personal tutoring on how to read sales reports? Why not?

Again, I am speaking as a business manager who has been through this entire cycle 3 times since the 1970s and who spent tremendous amounts of time in the 1980s providing basic business (computer) skills tutoring.


It's a two-way street (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603674)

Well, it's a two way street. Most "IT" folks, are treated as nothing more than cable-pullers, and server-rebooters, driver-installers, and the like.

Pay IT people for what they are worth (IF they are worth it), and watch the attitude improve.

Treat IT people like people, not and robotic cable-pullers, server-rebooters, and troubleshooters, and again, the attitude improves. There is a reason why I now have an Engineering Degree, and not a computer-science degree, and went from "IT" to "Engineering Services"..

Re:It's a two-way street (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | about 8 years ago | (#17604002)

There is a reason why I now have an Engineering Degree, and not a computer-science degree, and went from "IT" to "Engineering Services"..

Cheers to that. I graduated with an engineering degree but ended up doing freelance work in IT because of good money. Recently took the EIT exam 4 years out of college, passed despite 2 hr. sleep the night before and a 3 hr. drive in the morning to take the exam. I'm now looking to practice under a PE so I can get my certification in a few years and maybe go freelance again as an engineer in a decade or so.


GROLIES (5, Informative)

alanw (1822) | about 8 years ago | (#17603690)

Doctors refer to the patients in disparaging terms: from This BBC news article [bbc.co.uk]

GROLIES: Guardian[1] Reader Of Low Intelligence in Ethnic Skirt
LOBNH: Lights On But Nobody Home
CNS-QNS: Central Nervous System - Quantity Not Sufficient

[1] UK left wing newspaper


Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 8 years ago | (#17603838)

and nursing humor seems to be alive and well [enw.org]

Re:GROLIES (0, Troll)

ettlz (639203) | about 8 years ago | (#17603846)

That is to say,
GROLIES: civil servant


linuxwrangler (582055) | about 8 years ago | (#17603852)

They left out GOMER: Get Out of My Emergency Room.

Perhaps this is more of a US term. It refers to people who show up to the ER for relatively trivial stuff because they can't be bothered to actually make an appointment. Most are on public assistance and aren't going to pay for it anyway so they don't give a s*** about abusing the system.

Re:GOMER (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | about 8 years ago | (#17604026)

And the solution would be to give them a helpful but extremely bitter tasting medicine that also acts as a laxative.

An Initial Thought (4, Insightful)

wideBlueSkies (618979) | about 8 years ago | (#17603694)

Sure, our profession and hte durrounding culture allows for the type of user tratement the author describes.

But don't think for a minute that IT folks don't need ethics. We often get to see data first hand that lawyers need subpoenas to obtain.

One can laugh at their user's technical abilities all they want, but the minute you talk about their data or the inside of their business, the IT career is over. As is the option for any other meaningful career.

This story is just BEGGING (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 8 years ago | (#17603698)

for a comment from twitter [slashdot.org]

Ignorant != stupid (4, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | about 8 years ago | (#17603714)

One thing IT professionals should always keep in mind is that someone may be ignorant without being stupid. I've seen too often people make this confusion. Also one should never confuse "obvious" with "usual". Just because we are used to doing things in a certain way it doesn't mean newbies should be able to guess how to do it by themselves.

Re:Ignorant != stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603908)

Being ignorant to something which is vital for your business, maybe even your life, is stupidity at its worst. If your business depends on your IT system, wouldn't it make sense to at least understand some basic concepts, like the value of backups?

This "but you have to be nice to every piece of shit" typically comes from people who have made it a point in their life not to understand things, and build a career on butt-licking and cock-sucking.

Re:Ignorant != stupid (2, Insightful)

elgatozorbas (783538) | about 8 years ago | (#17604092)

This "but you have to be nice to every piece of shit" typically comes from people who have made it a point in their life not to understand things, and build a career on butt-licking and cock-sucking.

There is a difference between "every piece of shit", often people with an attitude (like you), and people like the one the GP was referring to, being people that just don't have a technical background. Backups are important indeed, but don't forget that making backups is not the core business of most companies, and these "pieces of shit" are probably making the money that pays the IT department.

Re:Ignorant != stupid (1)

jalet (36114) | about 8 years ago | (#17603950)

> it doesn't mean newbies should

I don't understand the word 'newbies'. Do you mean something like 'lusers' ?

Re:Ignorant != stupid (5, Insightful)

moranar (632206) | about 8 years ago | (#17604068)

I don't get angry at ignorance, but at wilful negligence. Too many people not only do not know, but they demand help _without wanting to know_, and being very rude about it. When the customer prides himself on his ignorance, it's high time for niceties to stop. JM2c.

Re:Ignorant != stupid (1, Interesting)

Sancho (17056) | about 8 years ago | (#17604070)

Absolutely. I don't get upset when someone makes their first, second, usually even third identical mistake. Like opening attachments from untrusted sources and getting their computer infected. But after you've told them over and over that this behavior is causing problems and they continue to do it, that's when it becomes a problem. That is when it has crossed the line from ignorance to stupidity (or gullibility, stupidity's cousin).

I get it. Computers are new and frightening. People get almost a mental block when trying to use them because they're so different. If anything, I would think that would mean they would be more careful, not more careless.

User education doesn't always work. What is needed is for there to be pain associated with repeated instances of the same mistake. Give them three freebies, then start docking their pay every time their workstation is infected. Give them some real incentive to avoid the infection, since right now, they know that the already overworked IT guy will just come fix it if they screw up.

I think that this is pretty typical for most IT people. While some certainly do feel superior and believe that everyone should just know how to operate the computer, for most, it's not the ignorance, it's the stupidity.

Re:Ignorant != stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17604082)

It also comes the other way around: don't think that you are clever because you are knowledgable. Arrogant IT (or any other specialised area) professionals completely miss this point, probably because they are not very clever, at least socially speaking.

Nick Burns The Company Computer Guy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603720)

You're Welcome!

House (4, Funny)

Tide (8490) | about 8 years ago | (#17603724)

What, all doctors aren't like House?

Re:House (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603760)

I want to be House, but for computers.

Very few doctors are as smart, or caring, as House (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 8 years ago | (#17603856)

The character Dr. House acts all rough and tough, but he will risk his medical license, and even his freedom, for the good of his patients. He is exceptional smart, and he is always right.

Pure crap, in the real world. Real doctors are interested in their investments, and covering their asses. Very often, lay-people are better at diagnosing medical problems. Real doctors see themselves as too busy, and too important, to worry about the problems of bothersome nobodies (you and me). The one area where House is like a real doctor is arrogance - only with House, the arrogance is justified.

Same deal with TV lawyers. Real lawyers don't give a damn about their clients. And real lawyers are usually not very smart.

Re:Very few doctors are as smart, or caring, as Ho (1)

DavidTC (10147) | about 8 years ago | (#17603970)

Amen. I'd rather go to House 10 times, and have him mock and berate me nine of them and find some obscure thing wrong with me the tenth, than got to a normal doctor and have him not pay attention.

OTOH, doctors like House probably don't actually exist.

Re:Very few doctors are as smart, or caring, as Ho (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | about 8 years ago | (#17604022)

Very often, lay-people are better at diagnosing medical problems.

It's a matter of time. If you or someone you love has a set of obscure symptoms, you have a lot of time to do research as to what it could be. A Dr. needs to keep seeing a patient every hour or two to make a profit.


poor nerds (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603726)

If IT guys were considered professionals then their performance and attitude would reflect professionalism rather than angry, nerdy, can't-get-laid-in-high-school or college angst towards people who didn't spend three quarters of their lives installing GNU/Linux.
Hell, I know when I've tried to instally GNU/Linux it seems to take 3/4 of my life and even then nothing works.

Would the author like... (0, Troll)

giorgiofr (887762) | about 8 years ago | (#17603728)

some cheese with that whine?
Cry me a fscking river you hypocrite - when you start paying me like a lawyer or a doctor and ask for an appointment before barging into my office because YOU luser broke something, that's when I'll start treating you with the respect you expect from professionals.
Until then, you get a hearty RTFM + STFU, n00b.

Re:Would the author like... (1)

thelifter (1017186) | about 8 years ago | (#17603878)

We DO make as much as lawyers and doctors - especially doctors. You sound like a desktop support tech confusing himself with an IT professional.

Re:Would the author like... (1)

controlguy (818801) | about 8 years ago | (#17603948)

Should you be paid like a lawyer or doctor? No. (1) The supply and demand (of IT professionals) doesn't justify it, and, frankly, (2) the skills required in IT are not even close to that of, say, a surgeon or a prosecutor.

I speak from experience. I have lawyer friends who run circles around me when it comes to their work. They don't call me "stupid," they simply understand that our specialties do not overlap very much.

Keep in mind that IT is a *support* field. You job is to develop and maintain the infrastructure that allows them to carry out their (very important) jobs more efficiently.

Re:Would the author like... (1)

controlguy (818801) | about 8 years ago | (#17603992)

Darn -- that was in response to the statement "would the author like cheese with that wine," but it was posted incorrectly.

Re:Would the author like... (1)

thelifter (1017186) | about 8 years ago | (#17604072)

You're dead wrong about IT not requiring a comparable level of skill and knowledge as the legal profession or medicine. I agree with the original poster and with you that we should excercise a comparable level of professionalism as doctors or lawyers but our professions have a lot more in common than you think - particularly software development or hardware engineering. For example the acronym-of-the-week hamster wheel never stops turning and like lawyers and docs we have to maintain a constant state of continually learning about the latest developments in technology - except here our job is harder - since doctors have JAMA and lawyers have law review - all of which are heavily peer reviewed - whereas the technology press has no editorial standards at all. We have to apply a pretty good BS filter while still staying current. And by the right set of rationalizations medicine and law are also support fields.

Interesting Thought, But... (5, Insightful)

bmac83 (869058) | about 8 years ago | (#17603736)

IT can be a fairly arrogant profession, but I think this is a more common occurrence in technical fields than we might originally guess. The big driver, from what I've seen and heard, is the visibility of IT, and its importance to everyday life. The fact that many people are so perilously inept at operating and managing an increasingly core life staple prompts much of the snobby behavior.

Perhaps rampant irresponsibility is not quite as visible or dominant in other fields. For instance, imagine if a shocking percentage of the population drove their cars without any thought to changing their oil, airing their tires, or even filling their tank with gas. We would probably have a community of technicians and knowledgeable people ridiculing and advising these irresponsible "users."

IT has been an odd case, as normally the expense of adopting a new, non-user-friendly technology is prohibitive for people not prepared to maintain and operate the equipment. But, the drastic adoption and commoditization of IT has led this to be out of balance, with people trying to treat everything as a black box when at least comprehending the nuts and bolts is still essential for responsible use.

What about the other way round? (5, Insightful)

stefaanh (189270) | about 8 years ago | (#17603738)

Customers also insult staffmembers or for that matter, anyone in the proximity, without restraint, for issues that are not directly their fault.

Insulting is the problem, not IT, nor the user.

Re:What about the other way round? (1)

iamacat (583406) | about 8 years ago | (#17604078)

If you agree to represent a particular company or department, you deserve to get any feedback I have about the same. Otherwise you can connect me to the person who IS responsible so that I can express my frustration appropriately.

Sometimes it's imagined (1)

sarahbau (692647) | about 8 years ago | (#17603740)

I'm not saying that there aren't any genuine jerks out there in the IT industry, but sometimes I think clients are imagining a bad or condescending attitude. There have been many times where all I'm trying to do is explain to the user what went wrong, and what I was going to do to try to fix it, and they thought I was talking down to them just because I was using words like "motherboard."

Of course I would do plenty of customer trash talking in the repair room, but never in front of them.

Because live is to short wasting it dealing ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603746)

... with idiots. Other professions have made a point of being inherent dishonest (markedroids, banking, management). It is refreshing to work in a profession where there is some honesty left.

Because IT people ... aren't? (2, Interesting)

micromuncher (171881) | about 8 years ago | (#17603750)

Most people who flock to IT support are technophiles. Technophiles like technology, not people. Dot boom brought many more people into the tech industry - that really had no apptitude but were there for the boom - and these people really don't care but are trapped in IT - so you have misanthropes and people who hate their jobs in IT. Nuff said?

Didn't make Oprah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603762)

As with any shiny new "unique" ability, people of all professions regard themselves as doing something no-one else can. Truth is, except for probably some high math and sciences, most people could do each other's job (after training or college) with varying degrees of success. What makes you special is the fact you spent the time and tears studying one area vs another.

I found the jibbing and trash talk was more prevalent among younger IT people. It's fun for a while until you find out you really don't know that much in the first place. Eventually it no longer matters; you've got better things to do like refine your department's piss-poor communication skills and learn how to network - all in order to get projects accomplished and inform people what the actual problems are.

It all boils down to a level of maturity, and for the most part that comes with age and time no matter what the profession.

Speaking of lusers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603768)

Why can't an OS exist that does the following:

1) Any application installed can write to nowhere on the system but its own installation directory.
2) Any application installed that attempts to open up a socket elsewhere pops up a message warning the user it's doing so. The user can choose to say "no" to it accessing the network.
3) Applications that load at boot/login time must be installed by an administrator who is, by default, *not* the default user.

I'd sacrifice application interoperability for security any day. Some users aren't all that bright, but some OSes aren't all that bright either.

Re:Speaking of lusers (1)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#17603988)

I'd sacrifice application interoperability for security any day.

It's called Windows Vista. Not only is spplication interoperability is being sacrificed, so is the user interface. Enjoy!

There are lots of great ones out there (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603774)

Two of the three people I've ever had to fire in my 25-year carreer
were BOFHs. They were both replaced with talented, socially well-balanced
guys who treated users like customers and actually enjoyed finding
solutions to problems that were right both for the user and for the IT department.

I don't think it's the bad attitude of some IT people that's doing the damage,
it's management toleration of that attitude. Plenty of good people out there
if you go looking.

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603776)

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Jackasses are just jackasses (4, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | about 8 years ago | (#17603780)

I'm more than familiar with some perceived stereotypical behavior in some IT people. Some of my least favorite attitudes are those displayed when the "IT Pro" is protecting his ignorance. Gone are the days, I think, when IT people were looked upon as techno-god figures... and feared as such.

I'm an IT manager and I'm all about helping business work better through IT. Some of my favorite endorsements are along the lines of "you don't make me feel stupid." What would be the point in that? I don't do what they do... which is most often making money for the company. In my job, I spend the company's money, so I do my best to make sure they feel they are getting their money's worth.

But back to the topic of jackasses: I hate people who hide their ignorance and attempt to put up some sort of "I won't share what I know" front as if he were the exclusive container of knowledge. Further, I hate it when people attempt to "secure their jobs" through obfuscation and indirection of information. In my opinion, the latter complaint amounts to malpractice. And I have a close friend who is presently suffering the worst of all scenarios -- the knows less than nothing boss who got where he is because he lies on his resume. (This moron thinks that if you block port 80 on the firewall that users will not be able to surf the web!!)

I see these offenders as a dying breed, fortunately... but they aren't dying fast enough.

Re:Jackasses are just jackasses (1)

semiriot (99245) | about 8 years ago | (#17604032)

I worked telephone Tech Support in the late 90's for a ISP that catered to small and medium sized businesses. Often I would hear things like 'Thanks for your patience, I'm not very computer literate.' I always told the caller not to worry and that I would be absolutely clueless trying to accomplish what the caller does on a day to day basis.

This attitude paid off as I'm now a member of their Network Engineering team.

Doctors insult patients regularly (5, Insightful)

NexusTw1n (580394) | about 8 years ago | (#17603782)

Doctors have always insulted their patients in their notes [bbc.co.uk] .

More detailed list here [wikipedia.org] .

The only difference between the average emergency room doctor's attitude to some of their patients and the cliched sysadmin's hatred of 'lusers' is the fact that doctors wear shirts and ties.

Re:Doctors insult patients regularly (1)

rs232 (849320) | about 8 years ago | (#17604084)

"Doctors have always insulted their patients in their notes"

Not just in their notes. I don't know why they call them 'surgeries' as no surgery is ever done their. They could just replace the 'doctor' with a vending machine for all the use they are.

50 - 50 (2, Insightful)

GC (19160) | about 8 years ago | (#17603790)

Users have just as much contempt for IT as IT has comtempt for the user.

Nevertheless, IT continue to solve the user's issues, because of their professional attitude.

What I tend to dislike is the fact that a user with 3 computers at home, running their own local network, with shared Internet access and wireless connectivity to their laptop, DHCP, DNS, network printing etc... all of a sudden turns into a blatant IT fool the minute that they walk into the office. Just because there is an IT department they continue to be high maintenance, refuse to acknowledge problems and generally make things worse.

Then again, there's the other type, the genuine clueless user who thinks that they know what they're doing, but doesn't - you know the type, the ones you never should have given local administrative privileges on their own machines.

In my opinion the way to discourage this divide in your company it to have the IT department take each of the other departments out for lunch, say once a month - the relaxed environment in the absence of IT equipment and their problems aids the communication between the departments and generates an understanding of what IT is actually doing (Similarly IT get an understanding of what Finance, Sales, Marketing etc... do for the company as well).

Re:50 - 50 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17603936)

Those are the only two types of users? It's shocking that none of the IT pros here have copped to a computer problem that might actually be their fault. Sometimes things break not at the fault of a user. But even more so, why complain or get annoyed when a user does screw up a computer? It's why you're there in the first place.

Re:50 - 50 (1)

GC (19160) | about 8 years ago | (#17604054)

Those are the only two types of users? It's shocking that none of the IT pros here have copped to a computer problem that might actually be their fault. Sometimes things break not at the fault of a user. But even more so, why complain or get annoyed when a user does screw up a computer? It's why you're there in the first place.
Actually I am quite quick to admit my own mistakes, a few months ago I misconfigured the load balancing pool for one of our websites and users started seeing the test website.
I was the first to put my hands up and admit fault.

Had, as is often the case, I been working for a company where IT are looking over their shoulder worrying about their job (Yes, the usual IT doesn't make any revenue, just cost) then I may have denied any knowledge of the problem and blamed the fault on the load balancer.

And no, I wasn't providing an exhaustive list of user stereotypes, just a couple of examples, which I am sure any seasoned IT professional has encountered during their career.

Slamming customers (1)

nacturation (646836) | about 8 years ago | (#17603796)

For an example of slamming stupid users of other products, one need only check the Darwin Awards. And no, this isn't the case of a doctor laughing at someone because they have cancer -- what a ridiculous comparison. People get sick through no fault of their own, but when people screw up their computers, whether they meant to or not, it is their fault. The software design does play into this and I agree that software can be better designed to handle different kinds of users.

The author compares it to a vehicle where the brake/gas pedals switch on you. And if only software were so simple! Computers can do so many things and the software reflects that complexity... it's more like somebody who hasn't had any training sitting down in the cockpit of a 747 and trying to fly. You don't think actual trained pilots would laugh at the hilarity that ensued?

Re:Slamming customers (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 8 years ago | (#17603862)

So do you laugh at alcoholics who get cirrocis? Or smokers who get cancer? It's the same argument "they did something to get sick" so therefore they deserve nothing but contempt according to your argument.

Re:Slamming customers (1)

nacturation (646836) | about 8 years ago | (#17604064)

So do you laugh at alcoholics who get cirrocis? Or smokers who get cancer? It's the same argument "they did something to get sick" so therefore they deserve nothing but contempt according to your argument.
Yeah, I suppose I should have thought about what I wrote a little more carefully. There's a huge difference between people being hurt because of an illness, whether through their own fault or not, and a computer screwing up. The Darwin Awards show that many people do in fact laugh when someone gets injured because of their own stupidity... though I've yet to see a Dawin Award for someone getting cancer through their own fault. Apparently it's only funny when people die suddenly and spectacularly, not through many years of suffering.

It' Simple (1)

Jimhotep (29230) | about 8 years ago | (#17603808)

IT workers keep the users ignorant. Then make fun of them for being ignorant.

Power trip.

Re:It' Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17604006)

People keep themselves ignorant. If you have to use a computer every day for 8 hours per day, learn how the hell it works. Make the tiniest bit of effort to educate yourself. I think most users would find that folks in IT are far more willing to help someone who is at least making an effort to help themselves.

Theres a saying... (4, Funny)

stimpleton (732392) | about 8 years ago | (#17603860)

I heard a saying one time. I don't know the origins:

"Accounts departments love IT Departments. For before there was IT, everyone hated Accounts. But now everyone hates the IT Dept."

This seems to hold some truth from my experience.

My view (4, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | about 8 years ago | (#17603870)

Certainly IT isn't the only customer focussed industry where this happens, it's an extremely naive viewpoint to suggest that is the case. I can think of countless call centres for things such as gas, phones and so forth where I've been treated by people with abysmal attitudes.

As to why it happens at all, I think the reasons are rather varied.

You have people who are forced into using IT because everyone needs to use it for their job nowadays, only some people don't want to so they purposely make moan and make out the situation is worse than it is just to satisfy their own technophobic paranoia - people like this are extremely frustrating to work with.

Then there are people who treat IT workers as their own personal slaves, requests such as "change my printer cartridge too" - things that frankly, even a monkey could be trained to do, this type of thing is completely demoralising. If you had a mechanic out to look at your car, what do you think their reaction would be if you turned round and say "Oh go and fill it up with gas for me too".

There's the people who simply ask too much, most IT departments are staffed okay for looking after the business but there are those that seem to feel that the IT staff should deal with the home too. We've currently got a situation where we're staffed fine to run a secure, locked down network but our company has decided to push homeworking - this means people are wanting to setup home broadband on their laptop, this leaves us with a choice between having to visit each and every persons home - where two technicians have to do the visit, because one person can't go because of the danger of some pathetic low-life claiming the technician tried to rape them, steal from their house or whatever or alternatively we can remove the security settings so that the users can setup their home broadband on their laptops themselves. Again, this is a hopeless scenario because we then have to spend day in day out clearing spyware, viruses, finding space on their laptop for their work after their kids have installed Quake 8 or whatever on it.

There's plenty more reasons, but it seems more generally that IT has an identity crisis - users aren't entirely sure what we actually do, where the line is drawn as to what a user issue is and what an IT worker issue is. Do we fix printers? probably, do we fix photocopiers? probably not, what if we have a multi-function printer/photocopier? What about telephones, if it's VOIP we most likely deal with it, but if it's a typical old fashioned Nortel or whatever system then there's likely a phone technician to deal with it. Now, I'm personally willing to have a go at fixing anything if there's a real need, but I don't like whiping the asses of lazy people who can't be bothered to change a printer cartridge and secondly, I simply don't have time to do absolutely everything. The issue is lack of well defines roles for most IT people and also hence lack of definition for users as to what they should and shouldn't expect from their IT department.

It's the frustration (4, Insightful)

slughead (592713) | about 8 years ago | (#17603882)

"Users are stupid and that needs to be the starting point for software developers." I read their trade magazines: "No matter how hard we pray...every network is at one time or other exposed to the ultimate technology risk: users."

People working in offices should have a modicum of training with a computer. If a person had terrible spelling in the oldendays (before spellcheck was prevalent), they would probably be fired. IT people like myself (at my old job) having to go around and teach the most basic of tasks to people who should know a thing or two is extremely frustrating.

In the modern business world, being computer illiterate is like not knowing how to read. Imagine 'grammar' techs going around saying "now what does sound the 'A' make? ... no, it makes the 'aaah' sound, see now? Good, have a cookie."

Some things I don't mind doing, like when windows bugs out and the printer gets deselected, I'll happily mutter "you know, windows should be a little robust, this kind of thing shouldn't happen, we should switch to macs" while I'm fixing the box and me and the user can find some common ground to grouse about. Other things, like how to change the margins in a Word document (which people forget sometimes twice a day) really pushed the limits of my patience.

The same goes for software development. I developed my own CMS recently. 99% of it was just tweaking the interface to make it more and more usable--not having too many options on a single page so as to not confuse people--that sort of thing. UI is a huge pain to deal with. I ended up just having layers of complexity so I could bring the learning curve to zero. Writing the 'help' pages was so tedious and interminable I nearly gave up after I wrote in "Enter domain here, click here for more information on domains." Is it so much to ask that a person running their own website who uses my CMS should know what a domain is? After working technical support for so long, I realize that yes, yes it is. The only hope you have in UI development is to dump as much user-friendliness in there as possible and pray that they can figure the rest out on their own.

This example pretty much says it all: I got an e-mail from a person using my CMS which read something like, "How do I get this thing started? I double clicked on the 'index.php' and it just opened a notepad with a whole bunch of gibberish [...] "

It's not always the IT guy's fault he's pissed off.

I want to know... (2, Insightful)

DavidTC (10147) | about 8 years ago | (#17603886)

...who the hell blames 'overambitious deadlines, changing requirements, and design compromises' on users? Everyone I've ever met blames them, quite rightly, on management. Or in companies developing applications to sale, on marketing.

I can just see it now:

'Bob, we've got to ship Thursday.'
'What? We haven't tracked down that crash-during-export bug! Damn users!'
*blank stare*
'Um, Bob? What users? No one's using the program yet, it hasn't shipped.'
'Oh, right. Damn marketing for promising random ship-dates without consulting with us!'

Yes and no (1)

Tanuki64 (989726) | about 8 years ago | (#17603894)

doctors don't call their patients "meatbags"
True, but patients usually have a bad conscience, e.g. the know they are smoking, they know that they are too fat, they know that they are doing things wrongly. Doctors are there to help, to mitigate or repair what very often is the patients own fault. Therefore doctors are usually respected. At least most of the time.

When it comes to IT it is the god given right of a user to be stupid. It is the administrators or developers fault that something went wrong. There is no need for a IT user to read manuals or even heed advices. Whatever happens: Not my fault, I had no intention to study computer science. The idiot admin/developer made it too complicated.

With this widely spread attitude I can understand why users are scorned. It still might be wrong (only in a sense that it might hurt revenue), but it is understandable.

And Help Desk gets the blame... (3, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#17603904)

I noticed this a lot at my job on a help desk. Re-route the ticket to the IT department responsible for the problem and the customer doesn't get a response for days, weeks, months, and, on a few occasions, years. The Help Desk gets the blame from the customer when this happens. A lot of the backend IT people have no customer relationship skills whatsoever because they're not required to deal with people outside of their department and there's always something more important going on (at one company, it was Diablo 2).

Not a bad attitude (1, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 8 years ago | (#17603912)

It's not a bad attitude, it's just a different set of values.

Personally I will outright go "you're being stupid, THINK" to someone, but I wouldn't go "oh that's okay, every body forgets which mouse button to click and can't find the little X in the corner you've used a hundred times before". Some might think I have an attitude problem for it, but personally I see it as different values. Geeks (who are drawn to IT) value the truth and no sugar coatings involved, 'normal' people are the opposit.

So why we may upset people or say the "wrong" thing, to us we're not having an attitude problem, we're just acting how we'd like everyone to act.

The idiots are the IT staff (1)

Sentient-Luffa (969242) | about 8 years ago | (#17603920)

It is usually IT wannabees who think they are well trained in the IT field, for the simple fact they have a "certification", that end up calling the users idiots. They are frightened by the fact that they are barely capable of understanding the basics of their jobs and are one step from the unemployment line. The older, far more wise and seasoned professionals usually don't call the end users idots, they just refer to the junior admin staff as idots.

Quid Pro Quo (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | about 8 years ago | (#17603922)

When users who don't understand the thing they are using take out their frustration on you, it is a natural response to return said frustration back on the object that scorns you. This isn't a problem with IT but with IT education of end users. If end users understood what they used a bit better and become a bit less technophobic/xenophobic (and this will happen with time just as with any introduction of new technology), this too will go away. There I have summed it up without a book and saved you all a trip to Barnes and Noble.

Not fair to compare (1)

ParraCida (1018494) | about 8 years ago | (#17603926)

It isn't really fair to compare IT professionals to doctors. I mean, doctors don't go around telling people they're stupid because they got sick because people usually can't help it. In IT however, that's usually not the case. If you want a real analogy, try going to the dentist complaining of teeth rotting and then explain to him that you never saw the need to actually brush them once or twice a day.

Now, I'm not excusing bad behaviour towards users, but merely pointing out the source of the problem. A problem that doesn't exist way as much as in other professions. People usually take care of things, they exercise, they eat healthy, they maintain their house, their car, their garden, they take out insurance, they watch both ways when they cross the street. But the second they sit themselves down in front of a computer, things get real ugly, real fast. And once they do, they come to us, the dentists, complaining of a toothache but upon further inquiry, turns out they never bothered to brush. So until the users start taking an interest in the welfare of their systems as much they do with other aspects of their life, they are always going to be the subject of scorn and ridicule, and a lot of the time, they are quite deserving.

On a brighter note, it's my own personal experience that people are in fact learning how to take care of their systems more and more. Personally, I do think that a lot of the perceived ignorance is simply just that, perceived. Things change, and as they change, so will the jokes.

Medicine is not a good comparison (3, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | about 8 years ago | (#17603934)

Comparing IT with medicine isn't a good comparison. You didn't buy your life from a doctor.

As for why IT staff don't always respect their customers, try working in support. Customers threaten you, provide you with no information, blame you for everything.

That'll be the day (1)

SuperStretchy (1018064) | about 8 years ago | (#17603938)

The day a user figures out what I mean when I say that they are experiencing an ID-10T error is the day I'll stop insulting them. Who needs IT anyways, right? Its not like end users just don't download that anti-everything-ware in that ad anyway.

boot-other -foot .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | about 8 years ago | (#17603952)

How about when the PHB, for the umpteemed time, drags and drops the C:\Progr~1\Excel folder into the the trash can and thinks your function is to listen to a tantrum.

Dealing with the "customer" (1)

xaosflux (917784) | about 8 years ago | (#17603960)

Generally the lusers are the customers, and why we have jobs, That being said I keep a wide array of LARTs [wikipedia.org] nearby at all times. The most useful one so far has been a nice heavy spanner that came with a rack.

Every profession has assholes (5, Insightful)

lpangelrob (714473) | about 8 years ago | (#17603968)

Futures traders are notorious for being assholes to get what they want. Bankers have a reputation, occasionally well earned, of looking down on their customers. Professional athletes don't care about their image. In most of the above professions, if you're not rewarded for this behavior indirectly (by not being criticized as "soft" and therefore getting paid more), acting like an ass doesn't get you fired. As for burger flippers, flight attendants and Disney employees; tough luck. Acting like an ass gets you fired, immediately. As to where IT fits, it depends entirely on the existing culture of your organization. If everyone acts like an ass, you'll probably do fine acting like an ass. But choosing not to is generally better no matter what.

Re:Every profession has assholes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17604050)

> As for burger flippers, flight attendants and Disney employees; tough luck. Acting like an ass gets you fired, immediately.

Flight attendants? What country do you live on, and can I fly there on one of your airlines? Because it sure as hell isn't any airline I've ever had the displeasure of flying on.

Er, OK. To summarise: (2, Funny)

WombatDeath (681651) | about 8 years ago | (#17603972)

Given a sufficiently large group of people, some of them will be wankers.

Wah! Some IT people are nasty! Yeah, isn't humanity a horrible thing? Ever met an unpleasant doctor, lawyer, bus driver, teacher, plumber? But let's forget about reality and hurl some ill-considered generalisations instead.

Or better yet, let's not. I've worked in IT for ten years or so and the vast majority of my colleagues have been professionals who behave...well, professionally. Some users are easier to interact with than others; a particularly incalcitrant customer will provoke the odd grumble back in the IT office. A member of staff who publically insults/intmidates/ridicules/humiliates a user should, and usually will, get a smack from the management stick.

Of course attitude problems will sometimes arise and fail to be corrected, and the appropriate manager should be bludgeoned with the aforementioned stick. More often, IT staff will work with their user base to achieve a mutually satisfactory goal. Painting the entire industry as a bunch of ill-bred sociopaths is wrong, stupid and insulting.

Typical fucking user.

It goes both ways (1)

TheRealFixer (552803) | about 8 years ago | (#17603976)

I my experience, IT departments are often viewed by the business as pure red-ink. An annoying drain on their income that, because they often don't understand technology, know that they need but don't know why. IT deparments, in traditional businesses, don't directly add income. And because of that, they are expected to do the impossible at the snap of a finger, whenever the business asks for it. The IT group can start getting pushed around by "clueless users", and this can lead to a somewhat adversarial relationship within the company, with negative reactions from your IT staff.

I think this is slowly starting to change, as technology becomes more integrated into business, and executive types are starting to see the benefits of technology to their bottom line. You'll always have the Comic-book-guy type geek who feels disdain for the lower forms of life he is forced to deal with. But that's hardly limited to IT. Look at how doctors often treat nurses, or lawyers treat paralegals.

IT tends to be trapped in the middle (1)

aussersterne (212916) | about 8 years ago | (#17603980)

They are paid less than most professionals in the white-collar world, they must routinely adapt to clueless and often unimplementable (or perilous) edicts from upper management, and they are expected to solve all problems (most of which are you must admit created by users themselves, often as the result of ignoring previous IT advice) instantly, or heads will roll, people will be upset, the entire company grinds to a halt. At the same time, computing and networking resources are often limited and IT has the role of actually trying to manage access to these in such a way that users and departments are satisfied without upsetting management or having budgetary or downtime issues.

In short, it's one of the more political jobs inside most corporations, has to answer to nearly everyone, has more immediate responsibility for ongoing operations that most anyone, and yet is typically seen as not truly white collar--and thus doesn't enjoy quite the same level of respect or pay as the bunch doctors, editors, stockbrokers, or whomever else happens to be around.

It's basically a tough job and it's easy to see how IT professionals might develop a short fuse. In my experience (and having worked in IT years ago) it's not so much a bad attitude as a very limited (often for very pragmatic reasons) tolerance for bullshit, cowboyism, or the failure of employees to take responsibility for themselves and the damage they can cause to things.

Not much different from highway patrol vs drivers (1)

iamacat (583406) | about 8 years ago | (#17603990)

There are legitimate reasons to get angry at users who a) should have known better and b) cause serious damage by being reckless with powerful machines. If you are woken up and taken away from your family at 4am you might feel like giving the responsible person some firm education.

Once I was developing something for Zaurus and created an Ethernet bridge between its USB interface and corporate intranet so that I could connect from the device to other machines. Well, it turns out that Zaurus runs DHCP server by default to configure the USB interface on the host. It then proceeded to give bogus IP addresses to all the machines in the building. I sure appreciated the sense of humor of the IT person who had to probe all the routers to find out the socket to which socket the DHCP server was connected.

Why don't you (1)

ruffles321 (1023357) | about 8 years ago | (#17603994)

ask BOFH

Flawed comparison (1)

Baron Patsy (1040878) | about 8 years ago | (#17604004)

I don't think that the doctor comparison is very balanced. Doctors save people's lives for a living. There's a large difference between maintaining networks and saving people's lives. And you'd be surprised how many doctors talk about their patients. In lines of work like that, where you are required to deal with death on a regular basis, dark humor at the expense of others is very common. This article is interesting, I suppose, but very flawed in its logic.

Attitude does not exist in a vacuum. (4, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | about 8 years ago | (#17604010)

Too many users are proud of their ignorance of technology. You don't see patients being proud of their ignorance what's going on with their body. So doctors feel venerated and act as such. Even plumbers know that their work is appreciated. Since technology works best when it works invisibly, IP workers are often met with the attitude of "what the f**k is wrong with you guys... oh, never mind... don't want to know.. just fix the damn thing". So they get trained to treat users as willful ignoramuses. That's just the nature of environment in which they work. I think it used to be better when computers had to be maintained MORE often. Their maintenance was seen as a noraml think and those who performed were seen as saving the day. So there was mutual respect.

The first rule of A.S.R is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#17604014)

... down and not across!

Never - a jerk is a jerk. (2, Insightful)

JasonBee (622390) | about 8 years ago | (#17604034)

I don't understand where anyone got the idea that it was okay to be an ass to any client - even those who can't comprehend the work you do.

Try imagining that scenario between a Doctor and a patient. Does it feel any better? No. It creates confusion and mistrust.

Our jobs depend on us being able to make one part of the system work within a larger unit called "the business" If the client/userbase finds an IT resource that acts nicely and says please and thank-you, then you might one day kiss your job good-bye because at some point it will _seem_ like that person does a better job, even if they actually don't.

I treat my people with the respect they deserve. I don't always understand their jobs, and they sometimes wonder aloud what a genius I am. I just make an analogy comparing our two professions and point out the similarities. I find myself discovering just how much talent is required for what may seem like paper-pushing jobs. I just do something that requires a specific skill. When they see that it makes them much confortable with IT issues and how to handle them. Dumb requests are just as hard to stomach by everyone.

The IT undustry (management) is all over the new "concept" of IT being part of the "business". That may seem like a semantic shift to some, but it marks a specific change in how IT is looked at. It is now being pulled back in to the business, and requires that IT staff often know how their work impacts the users and vice versa. Just like any business component should. If you're still treating your users as sheep when that happens just because they can't understadn your work, you'll just look like the breat big asshole you likely are.

There are just as many idiots within IT as without it.


where do you get away with that?? (1)

grapeape (137008) | about 8 years ago | (#17604038)

Odd but I kindo of wish I worked in the parallel universe described in the article. In most of the jobs I have worked the IT staff spends the entire day recieving insults and abuse from the president down to the file clerks only donning our "I See Dumb People" after work when we go to drink beer and talk about whatever stupid thing some Luser did that led to their tirade against the IT worker.

Some of my favorites were the deparment director who would have one of us in her office at least twice a day because outlook wouldnt work, it was always the same problem she would have 15-16 instances open at once from just continually clicking from the time the desktop was visible,, but of course that was our fault, her computer just wasnt fast enough for her work habits. Or how about the presidents personal assistant who treated web surfing and spyware like some twisted game of pokemon "gotta catch em all" then whined to the president about how her computer never worked right. And finally, the receptionist who would open any attachment and would in fact call the IT staff to her desk if the latest joke email or urban myth making the rounds didnt open properly.

Over the course of my employment history I have been with only one company where the IT staff actually was respected..in fact they were revered. IT staff was friendly, and bent over backwards to keep everyone happy, mistakes were forgiven but instructions were given to prevent them from happening again, users felt free to ask questions and in turn the IT staff asked questions to determine what requirements were needed and what could be improved.

There have been great strides to reduce the average IT position to equal that of the mailroom clerk but its obvious as time goes on you need us more, not less. Respect has to be earned, but its a two way street, treat us like crap all day and yep after hours we're going to discuss how stupid you are. Treat us well and more likely we will be talking about how proud we were that you figured out such and such...

It is a bad aspect of IT culture (1)

wallet55 (1045366) | about 8 years ago | (#17604042)

I confess I have fallen into this mindset, sometimes getting myself into trouble. The problem for me is that the answers being sought sometimes seem so obvious, and in fact some other users see them as obvious, those that don't, well I often hope that the jolt of being teased will get them to look at things a little more carefully rather than just assuming they cannot do it. I try to do it with a smile, but that does not always come accross, and in fact I have had to apologized more than once, sometimes through gritted teeth.

IT is not at all different (1)

plopez (54068) | about 8 years ago | (#17604052)

Hanging out with people in both the med. and legal profession I would say it is not limited to IT either.

A lawyer friend clued me in on how they sometimes have to deal with barely functional people, family law seems to be the worst.

A friend who works in an emergency room is constantly astonished at human stupidity. And here's some advice, if you are hurt DO NOT piss off the people who can stick needles in you arms, insert catheters into your ureathra or stuff tubes down your throat. That's just common sense.

Be involved in your care (they are people too and make mistakes, so watch them carefully), but do not be insulting or combatative. Or you might find a couple of burly cops holding you down while they stap you to the bed.

There really isn't much an IT person can do that matches what a medical person can do with a difficult patient.

BTW, I love House. My favorite TV asshole.

That being said, I find myself most short tempered with IT people. I expect them to know better. Users, I like to talk to to try to understand thier problems and give them some guidance. I can forgive them for not knowing things as it is not thier job.

IT people who expect to be led by the hand, are lazy, lack initiative, lack ownership of thier own skills development or are just plain stupid I cannot stand. The faster the IT field has grown the worse it has become as the standards were lowered. This attitude is a sure sign I need to get out.

Most IT professionals aren't in tech support (5, Insightful)

fireboy1919 (257783) | about 8 years ago | (#17604056)

I don't know about the rest of them, but my job description doesn't actually include hand-holding someone through computer use.

I just do that because I want my coworkers to get their jobs done well, so I do it, and I don't mind - especially if they learn something (I've got a teacher inclination). My ability with computers stems from the fact that I try to learn as much as I can about everything that I can. That's part of it.

The reason I get upset is the implicit lack of respect. Knowing how to use a computer is like learning how to drive: it's an expected part of society. You don't ask your mechanic how to drive, but people are regularly asking IT people how to use their computers. Asking the mechanic to do something like that would be disrespectful - he's not responsible for your ability to drive. It doesn't take a tradesman with a vast knowledge in his field to do it. Most five year olds can grasp basic computer operation.

If you work in a job where people didn't treat what you do with respect, how would you feel about them? It takes more patience than many people have, and they can't keep their frustrations to themselves.

Of course, if your actual job is teaching people how to use computers I could understand that you might feel differently about it, but I don't think that condition applies to most IT people.

Most jobs are to do one of these things:
1) Make computers do something they haven't done before.
2) Make computers do something that they used to do but don't do anymore.
3) Figure out the cause of condition #2.

Only a very small number of IT professionals are actually responsible for showing the users how to use their own computers, but this comes up a lot in the other jobs, and makes some of us a little testy.

A lot of it has to do with the systems (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 8 years ago | (#17604088)

This is just a symptom of the systems we're putting in place. They're over complex and as a result unreliable, expensive and difficult to maintain, requiring relatively menial maintenance which shouldn't really be the responsibility of the user.

Users should simply be able to sit down at a system, log in and have all of the applications they need (and no more) available at the touch of a button. They should be unable to break the system, or otherwise infect it with spyware or viruses. And it should work that way day in, day out without fail.

Everyone would be happy. The users would have a consistent, easy to use and reliable system which means they wouldn't have to call IT three times a day. IT would be able to add value to the business, increase business productivity instead of having to fight fires or re-train users constantly.

Really this is down to poor IT leadership.


Conflict of interest (1)

eggnoglatte (1047660) | about 8 years ago | (#17604096)

I think part of the problem is that in the IT world, the organizational structure creates a conflict of interest for IT professionals: the same people who are responsible for helping users and providing services are also responsible for security. Everywhere else in the corporate world those two jobs are separated. For good reason: the people who provide services should have only the benefit of the user/customer in mind, while the security people need to be able to get nast when bad things happen.

A simulation for you to consider. (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | about 8 years ago | (#17604098)

1 The software industry makes money by forcing regular upgrades, locking in its customers and delivering poor products.

2 Self-consolidating IT managers who lack competence and do no research buy the poor products.

3 Low pay cultivates the worst attitudes for staff assigned to support the poor products.

4 Lack of training for people who have to use the poor products causes them to call the Help Desk for help with the poor products.

Repeat as many times as necessary to populate this imaginary world with a lexicon of derogatory terms.

If you can't figure out how to do it, try defragging your monitor, Luser!

Don't you understand? (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 8 years ago | (#17604100)

Users are stupid!

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