×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why Your Sysadmin Hates You

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the you-wouldn't-like-me-when-I'm-angry dept.

IT 572

jfruh writes "We've learned many lessons in the fallout from Edward Snowden's whistleblowing and flight to Hong Kong, but here's an important one: Never make your sysadmin mad. Even if your organization isn't running a secret, civil-rights violating surveillance program, you're probably managing to annoy your admins in a number of more pedestrian ways that might still have blowback for you. Learn to stay on their good side by going along with their reasonable requests and being specific with your complaints."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

572 comments

So... (5, Funny)

DarkRat (1302849) | about 9 months ago | (#44058241)

So... it has come to this...

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 9 months ago | (#44058267)

It has.
Managers have to be forced by pressure of fear (a.k.a. "terrorized") into going along with reasonable request by employees.
It is a sad day indeed.

Re:So... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058297)

Those poor, poor managers ... someone should hug and cuddle them!

Shanti, shanti my friends!

Re: So... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058467)

My manager is allergic to human contact, you insensitive clod!

Re:So... (2)

crutchy (1949900) | about 9 months ago | (#44058305)

if TFA has any effect at all (probably wont) it will be the exact opposite of its intent

Which is the most counterproductive act of all. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058723)

In which case, what conclusions can be drawn about those managers who, after ignoring reasonable requests without threats to back them up, respond to a threat to back them up by pre-emptive retribution that will merely cause EVEN MORE reason for the sysadmin to sink the company?

Alpha-Idiots?

Re:Which is the most counterproductive act of all. (3, Insightful)

warrigal (780670) | about 9 months ago | (#44058847)

I think that may be the first time I have seen "reasonable request" and "sysadmin" in the same sentence.
The sysadmins I encounter are invariably anything but reasonable. Aloof, patronizing, condescending... all of those. Most have a very narrow specialization niche and absolutely no social skills or business experience.
I have seen them reduce naive users to tears and effectively discourage any user from making a request of any kind.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058313)

Managers have to be forced by pressure of fear (a.k.a. "terrorized") into going along with reasonable request by employees.

I generally prefer to hire professionals and behave like one myself. Then I don't have to worry about all this kiddy-playground shit.

Re:So... (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#44058381)

That works if you're only supporting technical staff. It's not much good when you're running a Helldesk in a non-IT-focused sector. The rest of the organisation may be the best in the world at whatever they are hired to do, but that doesn't mean they can work out which way up a DVD goes.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 9 months ago | (#44058415)

I worked one of those places. They had a lease on the copiers and the lease included things like toner and such, with a number on every copier to the office manager, and directions to call if there was a problem, low toner, out of paper, etc. But the "experts" at marketing would fill it up with paper, getting lots of jams, and change the toner themselves, breaking the printer and toner cartridge (yes, I know that's hard to do, but they managed), and calling the IT department when things went bad. We'd call the office manager. So many people there had the idea that if it had an electric cord, IT was in charge of it, from coffee machine to light bulbs, it was all IT. Educating them made them mad, and they'd threaten to call the president on you (not CEO, but Barak). God I'm happy I don't have to deal with users anymore.

Re:So... (2, Funny)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#44058891)

That's nice when available, but it's really quite shocking how many adult children are in the workforce. It would be better if we could fire the lot and replace them with actual children. At least that way there would still be hope they may grow out of it.

Why Your Sysadmin Hates You (4, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | about 9 months ago | (#44058253)

Because he's the BOFH, that's why.

Re:Why Your Sysadmin Hates You (5, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | about 9 months ago | (#44058491)

Takes years of neglect and careful abandonment to make a BOFH. You have to be exposed to the worst of human behavior, on a daily basis, for years, with no possible outlet, and no compensation / consideration, before a BOFH is born. At some point, the human mind gets tired of playing defense, and goes on the offense. Voila, a BOFH is born. Granted, it does give rise to superior forms of character disorders, but then, when surrounded by people who themselves employ or adopt character disorders as offensive weapons...

Re:Why Your Sysadmin Hates You (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 9 months ago | (#44058557)

I've seen my share of BOFH and not just in IT. Seems to happen most with people working in relative isolation (having few or no professional peers around) and under a high work load... like sysadmins in a small organisation, but also accountants or paralegals. And if they are the only one in that position, it'll be that much harder to replace them. In larger organisations, a real BOFH would find himself escorted out in the street in the blink of an eye, possibly facing charges as well...

Re:Why Your Sysadmin Hates You (5, Informative)

MouseAT (945758) | about 9 months ago | (#44058747)

It's an old article, but it's still relevant today: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9137708/Opinion_The_unspoken_truth_about_managing_geeks [computerworld.com] The worst characteristics of Sysadmins tend to emerge when the organization treats them badly. The stereotypes exist for a reason. The conditions that create them? Always the same.

Re:Why Your Sysadmin Hates You (2, Interesting)

ThePhilips (752041) | about 9 months ago | (#44058885)

The worst characteristics of Sysadmins tend to emerge when the organization treats them badly.

I yet to have an employer who treats sysadmins badly.

And if you treat admins well or very well, the IT becomes a money sink hole, with admins generally caring about their own problems. They feel like they own the whole IT infrastructure and can do with it whatever they want, not giving a single fuck about people who do the actual work of the company on that infrastructure. (Hey! ITs often don't even know what company actually does!!) Oh, and when some problem gets really escalated by the employees, IT often makes sure that the meeting is held only with the managers, who can't refute their "arguments." After all, the stereotypical manager can be always convinced with the unbeatable irrefutable argument "if we do that, the Exchange server might break!"

IMO, the stereotypes appear not because admins go bad in toxic environments. But because IT often degenerates into a self-centered parallel universe of its own, what eventually de-evolves into the toxic environment.

Re:Why Your Sysadmin Hates You (1)

Drakonblayde (871676) | about 9 months ago | (#44058997)

And then there are folks who are just natural sadists and need no incubation period to become BOFH.

I've known a few in my time. Been accused of it, as well.

Re:Why Your Sysadmin Hates You (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058855)

I hate them mainly because they dont know their own job. people who claim to be professional admin / clerical staff should know how to cjange to a diffent printer if the office has more than one!

Why Your Sysadmin Hates You... (-1, Troll)

betterprimate (2679747) | about 9 months ago | (#44058263)

Because he hates himself?

Re:Why Your Sysadmin Hates You... (3, Insightful)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about 9 months ago | (#44058337)

Because he hates himself?

Or probably because you expect a service from the sysadmin which the users manager did not want to pay for?

HAWKS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058275)

That is all.

Re:HAWKS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058309)

That's why my current sysadmin hates us. Well, that, and he "gets" to update the Hadoop cluster due the recent Java flaws. (One server at a time, because we need Oracle Java for some reason and yes, the Oracle Java installer is that crappy.)

Have fun watching the Bruins lose while you're stuck patching servers from your Boston-based desk, asshole! Bet you're feeling Boston Strong now, huh?

Re:HAWKS! (2)

blippo (158203) | about 9 months ago | (#44058923)

I'm pretty sure that I could hack together something that could install java patches on a cluster if I had to do it manually over and over again,
so maybe it's not only the java installer that's crappy ?

Hire professional people, get professional results (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058289)

If a syadmin is abusing their position of power then they need to be removed. That's it. There's no petty revenge or "blowback" to consider.

It's no different to other jobs where people hold a position of power (e.g., police officer, principal, medical doctor, judge, etc). We expect and demand that those people behave professionally and appropriately at all times (even when they don't like you). Just because a computer is involved doesn't excuse a system administrator from being held to the same professional standards.

Re:Hire professional people, get professional resu (5, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 9 months ago | (#44058333)

If a syadmin is abusing their position of power then they need to be removed. That's it. There's no petty revenge or "blowback" to consider.

It's no different to other jobs where people hold a position of power (e.g., police officer, principal, medical doctor, judge, etc). We expect and demand that those people behave professionally and appropriately at all times (even when they don't like you). Just because a computer is involved doesn't excuse a system administrator from being held to the same professional standards.

Agree 100%, but that doesn't make the point about don't make your sysadmin hate you. It would not be a good idea to make a police officer, principal, medical doctor, or judge hate you. Sure their professional ethics mean that they should put this to one side when dealing with you, and they could get in trouble if they didn't ... but I wouldn't go picking a fight with one just in case

Re:Hire professional people, get professional resu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058741)

Wow, you are so smart! Nobody ever thought of firing a bad employee!
Now, what to do when your sysadmin hates you, shows no signs of it, secretly gathers data against you, flees the country, then releases the data?
What now smart ass?!?

Not related at all (5, Insightful)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about 9 months ago | (#44058295)

We've learned many lessons in the fallout from Edward Snowden's whistleblowing and flight to Hong Kong, but here's an important one: Never make your sysadmin mad.

What a silly excuse for linking to (in itself a reasonably good) article on how to relate to sysadmins and IT support in general.

And for those who are not sysadmins: Sysadmins do NOT reveal your company's secrets because some user bypassed the helpdesk system, or run some test code on a production system.

However, nobody should not tolerate that their employer engage in illegal activities. I am not paid to break the law, neither are you. But that is no no way related to being a sysadmin or any other specific position. It is part of being a decent human being.

Re:Not related at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058319)

We have a winner.

Re:Not related at all (5, Funny)

Intropy (2009018) | about 9 months ago | (#44058383)

Nu-uh. It says it right there in the summary. Snowden leaked information about PRISM because "5. You make urgent, last-minute requests." It had nothing whatsoever to do with having evidence of a massive, illegal, covert surveillance operation being conducted against the American people by its own government.

Re:Not related at all (2)

Pecisk (688001) | about 9 months ago | (#44058807)

Sorry, there's difference between "goverment does legal stuff which I don't like" which is completely reasonable claim, and actual criminal activity by goverment which seems not to be a case. But it's politics, and we don't like politics, do we? :)

Seriously, people, get your act together. Some parts of Patriot act maybe is anticonstitutional, and must be repealed, however acting on current set of laws (not how immoral or injust they are) is not criminal. Saying it is bad is enough for your emotional message, thank you :)

Re:Not related at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058397)

Seriously, as an AC this is the only post that makes me want an account - just to mod parent up.

Re:Not related at all (4, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | about 9 months ago | (#44058441)

We've learned many lessons in the fallout from Edward Snowden's whistleblowing and flight to Hong Kong, but here's an important one: Never make your sysadmin mad.

What a silly excuse for linking to (in itself a reasonably good) article on how to relate to sysadmins and IT support in general.

I agree. The summary seems to be trivializing NSA's illegal actions. It also seems to be ignoring the ethical dilemma that can arise when you come to find out that your own organization/company/boss/colleagues are acting criminally.

Re:Not related at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058727)

At every company I've worked for, they've had some sort of moral code which required to you to report ethical issues. In those places, not taking action would be grounds for termination and be against company policy. Though if you told a person who supports it I expect they'll fire you even faster.

Re:Not related at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058615)

I am not paid to break the law, neither are you.

Yeah, neither of us work for the NSA...

Re:Not related at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058783)

I am not paid to break the law, neither are you.

Yeah, neither of us work for the NSA...

Well, same goes for the NSA.
If they don't follow the law then their funding needs to be cut immediately.

Re:Not related at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058787)

There are many people paid to break the law.

Wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058299)

If you don't go along with reasonable requests and be specific with your complaints, at _work_ for godsakes, then you're way past the point where some blogpost is going to help you.

(Haven't RTFA. "IT World" quite hilariously hasn't got a good enough server to handle a late night slashdotting.)

Reason 6 works both ways (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058307)

"You waste your admin's time"

And people hate admins when admins waste their time. Mostly by forcing them to use software or mandatory processes that simply aren't well suited to their problems.

Re:Reason 6 works both ways (5, Insightful)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about 9 months ago | (#44058323)

And people hate admins when admins waste their time. Mostly by forcing them to use software or mandatory processes that simply aren't well suited to their problems.

That is like blaming the accountant for the accounting policies. The sysadmin implement what management decide. If you do not like it, talk to your manager.

Re:Reason 6 works both ways (4, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | about 9 months ago | (#44058345)

And people hate admins when admins waste their time. Mostly by forcing them to use software or mandatory processes that simply aren't well suited to their problems.

That is like blaming the accountant for the accounting policies

Blaming the accountant? Why not help him [theregister.co.uk] finish the inventory control sooner (drop table assets semicolon return)?

Re:Reason 6 works both ways (3, Informative)

malkavian (9512) | about 9 months ago | (#44058843)

Forcing people to use mandatory processes? Well, whatever next? Why does turning up for work when you have a hangover from the night before have to be mandatory? Doesn't suit your problems very well?

For every person's problem that's fixed by altering a process, it may well be that hundreds are adversely affected by that change. In an enterprise, there are often checks and processes in place to ensure that hundreds of projects and tasks can occur simultaneously, all being balanced and prioritised. What the company needs to happen will happen, when it's appropriate that it happens, in the interests of the company.

If you have a solution, present it as a business case. Sometimes, you may find you were right. Mostly, you'll get your eyes opened to a wider picture than you normally see, and the explanation "we don't do that, because it doesn't work under the majority of circumstances we face in the big picture".

Not so special (0, Flamebait)

ccguy (1116865) | about 9 months ago | (#44058315)

For some reason some sysadmin think they're really special and no one should be able to reach them - go via helpdesk, etc.

I'd like to see those sysadmin having a problem with their checks and being told "no no, you can't talk to anyone in HR or the payroll department directly, are you crazy? Please open a ticket and wait for a reply, an intern will get back to you in 24 hours or less".

Re:Not so special (4, Insightful)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | about 9 months ago | (#44058359)

If you have a question about a password reset, then it is cheaper to go through the Helpdesk, this is not about arrogance (for most anyway), let the sysadmin solve the tough problems, let him update his hard and software.
You don't ask a brainsurgeon about a pimple.

Re:Not so special (3, Interesting)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about 9 months ago | (#44058361)

I'd like to see those sysadmin having a problem with their checks and being told "no no, you can't talk to anyone in HR or the payroll department directly, are you crazy? Please open a ticket and wait for a reply, an intern will get back to you in 24 hours or less".

We have a system like that. Works quite well, actually, because I do not need to know who exactly in HR or payroll to talk to. Saves me time, saves them time and I get my problems fixed.

Re:Not so special (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058367)

For some reason some lusers think they're really special and they should be able to jump the queue and talk to a sysadmin directly about their trivial problem and monopolise the time of the skilled professionals who are dealing with company-wide issues that will cost millions of dollars if not resolved quickly.

I'd like to see the look on that lusers face when the company they work for lays them off because they can't afford them any more.

Re:Not so special (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058369)

Err, that's exactly how it works in the multinational I work in.

Re:Not so special (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058411)

Of course, if the sysadmins purely put those things in place to isolate them from the Users and their legitimate interests, what's one to do?
 
We have an old printer in the office, and it consumes about 400 pages a week. We'd like to replace it, but the IT policy, enacted without our consultation or representation, is to not supply printers, as the photocopiers in the hallway (contracted to an outside company) can do that, at the price of 10 cents a page (a percentage going to IT), with, of course, locked feed trays and sporadic maintenance.
 
So now they're upgrading the LAN, and sent us an email saying that they will be deactivating the legacy printer and forcing us to use the hallway. Of course, we do not have an extra $2k in the budget. So for what reason should I listen to the sysadmins, rather than setup a rogue subnetwork with a printing station? I mean, these are the guys who, six years ago, when I fired up an IRC client, called me to tell me my PC was botted.
 
So, no, I don't hate the sysadmins. They just don't serve my interests, nor are they there to help me and my colleagues get the job done. They are there first and foremost to justify their own existence, to increase their presence, and to make their job as easy as possible. Actually helping us is secondary.

Re:Not so special (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058445)

Uh-huh, sounds like the sysadmins were your friends and the corporate policy was your enemy. Many botnets use IRC as their communication channel. That the sysadmins picked this up tells us:

1. They were competent and noticed rogue traffic on/leaving the network.
2. They didn't use packet inspection, so they weren't snooping on you.
3. They didn't assume you'd installed an IRC client on company property.
4. They didn't assume you were talking on IRC while you were meant to be working.

Re:Not so special (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058469)

And you clearly made a business case to your manager why keeping your own printer would save the company money, right?
Next up, blaming security grunts for "everyone out at 8PM".

Re:Not so special (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 9 months ago | (#44058701)

They just don't serve my interests

Indeed they don't. They serve the interests of the company. You as an individual are not the company nor are you or your department the most imporant part of the company (not even considering whatever reason you may think you have).

nor are they there to help me and my colleagues get the job done.

Indeed they are not. They are there to help you, your colleagues and every other employee in the company get their job done right.

They are there first and foremost to justify their own existence, to increase their presence, and to make their job as easy as possible. Actually helping us is secondary.

Indeed they are. Their performance is judged by cost, just like your own department. You may be in a department that also generates profit but IT departments don't generate profits and are judged primarily by cost. Cost is probably why they calculated supporting your old printer is more expensive than sharing a single printer with outsourced maintenance. Feel free to increase the cost of your own department by giving the IT department money to supply you with a new printer and the additional expenses required to support it.

Re:Not so special (5, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | about 9 months ago | (#44058471)

Hardly -> sysadmins just realize that 99% of all user problems can be solved by the help-desk, and be done in a more pleasant manner than a sysadmin will do it. A sysadmin's speech and mannerisms are not laden with the fluff language that people consider being polite -> they have a lot of things to accomplish during the day, are perpetually running behind schedule, and tend to interact with people who understand that when a sysadmin says "Do this," there is a "Please" prefixed to it. We've tried it the other way, with people having constant contact with sysadmins, and people bitched incessantly that they weren't communicative enough (a sysadmin knows exactly what he / she is talking about, spending 30 minutes looking for an analogy to explain something to someone who thinks the monitor is the computer is really stressful) or that they weren't servicing them fast enough (sysadmin has a server go down, needs to get it back up; someone complains that the sysadmin wasn't working on their laptop during that time).

And yes, those sysadmins do run into problems with other departments. Surprise! When they need to call an equipment manufacturer to get some firmware only available by phone call, and need to sit through the various escalations and so on, they feel the pain. It really isn't them purposefully being dicks to you, it really is a limited resource / time thing. Why not stock the help desk with sysadmins, instead of low-level techs? Because it would cost too much.

Everyone wants access to the people who can solve their problems in a few snaps of a finger, or who can remove a lot of the 'unnecessary work' that they are going to encounter. But that means in a company of 200 people at least 20 people dropping by for a 10 minute chat per day. Companies / organizations, who actually pay the sysadmin's salary, want him / her working where they will do the most good for the company; everyone below VP or CEO gets the help desk, everyone above gets the sysadmin. It sucks, and you'll see sysadmins volunteer their time to help out with more trivial problems when they have nothing else on their platter, but that's something of a rarity.

Do you know what sysadmins do? Are they just a better version of tech support so far as you are concerned? Consider a network admin -> to a user, they look like a very highly priced tech support guy; to anyone with any knowledge of tech, that doesn't even begin to describe what they do. They're management. They have purchase power, they plan future designs, they execute those implementations, etc. They report to the IT director, or the CIO, or the CEO. But to the average user, they're just a funny guy with eclectic tastes, who knows the ins and outs of the entire network, and is the guy they want to fix all their problems, personally. A funny guy, who's there at weird hours sometimes...who has access to every room....all emails, voicemails, etc....and which those who actually understand what his / her duties are, tend to avoid getting on their bad-side, even if their professionalism practically guarantees that they'd never do anything in retaliation. A funny guy who usually reports to the IT director, or to the CIO, or the CEO directly.
     

Re:Not so special (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 9 months ago | (#44058507)

I called the CFO about changing my direct deposit, and he told me to contact the intern and wait 24 hours for a response.

Every other department has similar responses, so why not the IT dept?

Re:Not so special (1)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 9 months ago | (#44058693)

Why would you contact the CFO with such a trivial issue? They're at the top of the food chain, dealing with more important matters. There should be accountants (lower level employees) to deal with issues such as this. Your best course of action should have been to email one of the lower level employees and CC their direct manager.

Re:Not so special (2)

Zelos (1050172) | about 9 months ago | (#44058593)

I'd like to see those sysadmin having a problem with their checks and being told "no no, you can't talk to anyone in HR or the payroll department directly, are you crazy?

I think that's the case in lots of big companies? It certainly is where I work, there's a big central HR helpdesk ticket system.

Re:Not so special (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 9 months ago | (#44058649)

Okay then, go ahead and tell the sysadmin directly.
But don't be a bitch if he doesn't reply though; he's probably forgotten it amongst the hundreds of simultaneous requests.
Perhaps he should have written it down then, like on a piece of paper.
Perhaps even a form on a computer so the computer can monitor progress.
Now all you have to do is run around the building, trying to track down the sysadmin and tell him your problem that he than puts into a computer form.
The only thing more convenient than that would be if you could just put in the form yourself!
You can; it's called a "ticket".

FWIW, in sufficiently large organizations, HR and payroll use helpdesk and ticket systems as well.

In large companies, that's exactly what happens. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058679)

The sysadmin's workload is rather special. Maybe you haven't noticed, but getting many "small" requests at unpredictable intervals while you're supposed to be working on something bigger means you never get the big stuff done, you keep on firefighting. If you think that's short-bus special, yes, yes it is. It's no fun.

So you try and gather up the small stuff and do them all at once. You do that with some sort of queue, like, oh, a ticketing system. Doesn't change that most ticketing systems are themselves rather "special", but that's another issue. The point is very simply to bring a little structure in what otherwise looks and feels like wading through diarrhea.

On top of that, this also conveniently keeps track of what sort of request come in, how often and how many of each, possibly how long it takes, that sort of thing. Without some input to produce metrics with, organisations become blind to what their sysadmin does for them. Accountants, on the other hand, are expected to produce a yearly booklet with all that spelled out already.

Then again, sysadmins are far from the only ones that work with ticketing systems or work orders or the forms any bureaucrat loves or similar systems to gather up the ingredients and keep track of the work done.

And fronting with a helpdesk? That is for many reasons, including cost cutting, dishing out prefab answers to frequent questions (a live FAQl, if you will), but also helping people fill out the tickets because, for some reason, they feel too special to do it themselves.

Imagine going to payroll and complain that "the banking system is broken", then you spend half an hour arguing that you're right and they're wrong ("look! the bank doesn't woooork!") until they finally work out, no thanks to you, that somehow your last paycheck must've gotten lost in the mail.

I'm sure that sort of thing happens, it just seems to happen a lot more frequently when computers are involved. Like people see that thing and they stop thinking, or something.

Re:Not so special (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058781)

And some people are really stupid because they think the sysadmins are special, and should fall over themselves to answer every petty question (because the person asking IS so very special). I'd like to see those people be able to do their jobs when the tea lady is constantly pestering them to go and get more biscuits, and then sort the stationary cupboard.

Re:Not so special (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058845)

Do you want a sysadmin looking at your HR files without an auditable reason?
If I were a sysadmin, I would not want to be CAUGHT fiddling with stuff I didn't have a ticket for.

What if 10,000 people in the company had a problem with their checks? Should you phone up the person who is dealing with it already? Or get your mate to have a crack at it, and possibly screw up the person who has it assigned to them.
The helpdesk is there to tell you 'yes we know about it, we are sorry, someone is dealing with it, should be fixed by 4pm' (or whatever)

Obviously a helpdesk can be useless (as can we all on occasion). but thats not by design.

Re:Not so special (4, Insightful)

malkavian (9512) | about 9 months ago | (#44058949)

It's not that nobody should be able to reach them. As an sysadmin role myself at the mo (I've worked in most jobs in IT over the years), it's a case that I've only got time to field a limited set of things. These are the things that change the big picture in the infrastructure, and that's what takes most of my time.

I'd like to be able to help out more with the individual systems, seriously... The techs that get to go out and fix the small problems are the knights in shining armour; they get to fix the smaller mistakes that users get themselves into (oops, I accidentally deleted some files, oh my PC works again now you've fixed it, so on).
The people that do know me are the heads of departments; they filter in requests that make a business sense to them, and request that they be implemented as a technical solution. Things relevant to the business in the wider scope make it to me.

When I took on the role, it had an inordinate amount of calls from users who wanted to short circuit the help desk (no logging means we can't prove we've done the work to the accountants for a start). Everyone's work, to them, is top priority, after all, it's they who are affected. It took a while to get that under control, and even to people who I consider friends in the organisation, if it's one PC that's affected, it really isn't my problem. If a thousand are, it probably is my problem.

To run a company, roles need a frame of reference. Some make the mistake of believing their frame is the whole of everything that is (hint, it's not). The further you work from your core frame, the less effective you are at doing the core work. If you find your strengths are in a different frame, you're in the wrong job, so change that.

Assuming you should be able to go direct to the admin assumes you know the technical impact of the problem you have (in the enterprise wide scope), know exactly how to describe it, how it's impacting every other system, the amount of users affected and a whole host of things (which is a picture that's built up by the Helpdesk and escalates through the technicians). If you've spent time doing that, what have you been doing in your real job? There may be many people with your level of skill also phoning the help desk, and they may have different views and conclusions based on a different geographic/business perspective.
Doing things the right way lets an accurate picture be built. If all 5k+ staff phoned me in a huge incident, I'd neither be able to get a real picture of it, communicate with the people I needed to, nor actually talk to most people. I'd also not be fixing the problem, which is the real kicker.

Incidentally, HR does work that way; it's the only way they can research the query, and give me an accurate answer that lets me work on a factual basis (rather than "Oh, I seem to remember that it's something to do with X. Probably. Bye then."

Simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058317)

He hates anyone that has enough knowledge to question his decisions. Kinda like Religion using Latin to keep their underlings in darkness in the time of the Inquisition.

Re:Simple. (2)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about 9 months ago | (#44058357)

He hates anyone that has enough knowledge to question his decisions. Kinda like Religion using Latin to keep their underlings in darkness in the time of the Inquisition.

Or maybe there are just too many who THINK they know more than the sysadmin and who question his work as if they do know more than him.
And those "decisions" are most likely not made by the sysadmin, but by his manager, or your manager or simply they are the result of having to make the best out of limited resources.

Re:Simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058463)

Or maybe there are just too many who THINK they know more than the Church and who question His work as if they do know more than Him.
And those "decisions" are most likely not made by the Church, but by Jesus, or GOD or simply they are the result of having to make the best out of limited resources.

See? They also tried that one

Transparency of the process comes a longer way.

Re:Simple. (2)

Belial6 (794905) | about 9 months ago | (#44058519)

When a sysadmin decides that 3 days of rolling backups is plenty, then yes. I know more than he does. I've known some great system admins, and I've know some completely incompetent ones. The problem is that due to their position, the incompetent ones can hide their incompetence from management for a very long time.

4. You do not upgrade (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 months ago | (#44058327)

"It forces us to work harder than needed to find a path to get data off the dead system and onto the new system."

That's not caused by a failure to upgrade hardware. That's caused by a failed or non-existent backup strategy.

Hates? That requires a level of competence. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058343)

Most of the sysadmins I've had the "pleasure" of working with were simply incompetent. This morning our email was broken. About five hours later I got an email saying it was broken. Awesome stuff there. A couple of months ago I was given a machine to install -- it couldn't. A second one? That couldn't either. The third one I found myself did. Networking problems? I usually locate the problem before our sysadmins.

I've worked with good sysadmins who were efficient and helpful, I've been a sysadmin and know the pressures they face. Competence isn't that difficult.

Re:Hates? That requires a level of competence. (1)

malkavian (9512) | about 9 months ago | (#44058629)

So, you can fix one problem in your area that affects you before the admin team? Great. What does the fix do to the rest of company? How many other people and problems are the admins working on?
Sounds like you can cope with the really simple stuff, but you've not mentioned anything about scaled up problem solving (believe me, most people can solve a simple network or PC issue; scaling it up to deal with heterogenous systems on a large network is another thing entirely).

Re:Hates? That requires a level of competence. (1)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | about 9 months ago | (#44058975)

Not just this, but personally I want to know what is being done on our PC's, for the simple reason, if it causes another problem (for the user or for the network), if I have the knowledge of what has been done, I can take that into account for the solving of problems.

Other side of the coin (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | about 9 months ago | (#44058351)

From someone who's more of a user than a sysadmin: and what about unreasonable requests and lack of knowledge?

In fact, who defines what constitutes a reasonable request, and what's an abuse of power, however slight or ambiguous that abuse may be (say, banning Facebook: sure, employees shouldn't waste company time, but what about downtime when they are between projects or tasks, and have nothing to do)?

What about cases where the user can simply not elaborate on their problem? For all they know, Word is just "not working right", and they know nothing about DLLs, dependencies, and such, so they can't be more specific, like "xyz.dll somehow got removed, and now module abc in Word is throwing an exception whenever I try to print to a PDF. Could you restore it from a backup?"

Also let's not forget that sysadmins themselves, or most of the IT staff (in a non-technological company, at least), are not making money - they are spending it and drawing it. They are there to make sure the accountants, marketeers, and others who can make money for the company can do their jobs. Indispensable as they are to this, they are a cog in the machine (or a transistor to go higher tech), and one that's not in the engine.

Time is... limited (4, Insightful)

Arrepiadd (688829) | about 9 months ago | (#44058455)

But the sysadmin's time is limited. He also only works XX hours a week. And his day also only has 24 hours. If everyone sees themselves in the right to write to the sysadmin because Firefox is slow, because the password isn't working anymore, because... then the real problems can't get fixed (e.g. a screwed up backup policy left by the previous sysadmin, or a failing front end machine who needs to be transferred to new hardware).

Sure, the user doesn't know why Word isn't working, and he thinks he can just write that guy we met last Christmas party. Turns out, that guy is the Linux guy at the company and he doesn't know either, nor does he care. Now he has to forward that email to the helpdesk himself! If the Help Desk is properly implemented, then going through it is the easiest way for the regular user. Not only it gets him to the right person, but when it does, the right person may already have all the information he needs (because the first level guy asked for a snapshot of the error Word gives).

Indeed, sysadmins are just a cog in the machine. But so is the secretary of the assistant director of whatever. And by screwing up everything, you can't let those cogs perform at their best. You also expect the secretary will tell her boss "You have a meeting at 2 pm with person X in building Y" and not just "you have a meeting today" and wait for his questions "when? where? with whom?" (or the same in reverse when he asks her to put something in the agenda)

Re:Time is... limited (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | about 9 months ago | (#44058511)

I didn't mean going around Helpdesk, like you make it out to be, I meant the part about being specific in my requests. How could I be specific if all I can see, as an average office worker, that whenever I try to print to PDF, Word pops up the red X and spits out 123 screens of code on the level of the Voynich Manuscript, completely unreadable to the uninitiated.
Conversely, the secretary does have all the necessary information at her disposal, she just has to present it, and the reverse also applies when the boss is asking her to make an appointment.

Not really the right counter-examples, but you did give a good breakdown on a completely separate problem from what I presented.

Re: Time is... limited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058677)

Your request is simply not something a sysadmin deals with. A sysadmin doesn't fix your pc, he sets up systems that allow the helpdesk to do it.

Re:Other side of the coin (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 9 months ago | (#44058517)

They are there to make sure the accountants, marketeers, and others who can make money for the company can do their jobs.

How exactly do accountants and marketeers make money for the company? Marketeers arguably have an impact on sales even if they do not make them, and they can be an important differentiating factor in a company. But accountants surely are part of the plumbing, just like IT. And more so than accounting, IT can also be a differentiator even in non-tech firms.

Re:Other side of the coin (4, Insightful)

rusty0101 (565565) | about 9 months ago | (#44058563)

If there is someone in your company, who is in a position that management can not show is making the company money, then the problem is that said person should not be in the company, or optionally you have incompetent managment.

You may think that most IT staff in a non-technological company is not making money, but someone along the line did something you are unable to. They looked at the ability of each individual that you think is 'making money' for the company, and evaluated whether that person would be able to make more than the cost of the additional support person if a support person was hired, and what the expected return on investment in that person would be before they even opened that position for a manager.

_Every_ person working at a company is expected to contribute to the company's botom line. If they are in a position that doesn't contribute in some way or another, they don't belong.

And if you continue to treat your IT staff as if they don't belong to the company, because you are incompetent enough that you don't understand how vital your IT department is to your company, you are contributing to the sense that your IT staff doesn't belong, and you should expect that your IT staff will recognize that, and treat you like the enemy of your company that you are treating them as. And if you are in upper management and are treating your IT staff this way, you should expect no loyalty from anyone in your IT staff.

And in your example, the user does know more than 'Word is just not working right.' they know that when they attempt to print a PDF, Word does something unexpected. (put up a dialog with strange content, closes, makes the screen start doing odd things...) In most cases the fact that the user can only say 'Word is not working right' means that an IT tech has to come to the desk the user is at, or possibly gain remote access through an internally approved remote desktop support platform, and find out exactly what the user is doing that causes the problem to happen.

As for Facebook or other social sites, it's very rare that your IT department has specified those decisions. Almost everyone in your IT department knows full well that social websites, news sites, and e-mail sites on the web are almost invariable safer for your computer than the internal e-mail system and very likely the intranet environment that you have in house. In almost every case, the reason that your corporate policies marke these resources off limits has to do with the perception of the people making policy with respect to what they expect that employees will be doing on these sites, and how that will affect performance. In some companies there may be liability issues as well related to the possibility that internal information may end up becoming generally available on the internet, which can open the company to liability for privacy issues through insider trading issues and worse.

Re:Other side of the coin (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | about 9 months ago | (#44058631)

I did not treat IT staff as if "they don't belong to the company", although I may have overstated when I said they are not making money [at all]. Let's make it into an example from the military: marketeers are the front-line soldiers, the ones doing the fighting; while IT is the logistic chain and the medics all rolled into one, not fighting as such, but still being indispensable if the war is to be won. But let's face it, while logistics is a force multiplier, an enabler, no war has ever been won with supply lines alone, if there wasn't an army to utilize those supplies. In the same vein, IT is important, but not as important as you think - it makes the others' jobs easier, or even possible in the first place, but you have to face the fact: an IT department alone is as good as dead, it desperately needs every other department to do the actual moneymaking. Even if many of those departments are just as equally dead without IT-support.

Re:Other side of the coin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058659)

Err, no. Sales makes money. Marketing is a cost center.

Re:Other side of the coin (0)

FaxeTheCat (1394763) | about 9 months ago | (#44058669)

Also let's not forget that sysadmins themselves, or most of the IT staff (in a non-technological company, at least), are not making money - they are spending it and drawing it.

If sysadmins are only spending and drawing money, why not simply get rid of them? If they do not contribute to the bottom line of the company, why were they hired in the first place?

not just sysads (1)

hurwak-feg (2955853) | about 9 months ago | (#44058365)

I don't see the connection between whistleblowers and sysads. Anybody could blow the whistle on unethical or illegal practices in an organization. I don't think TFA applies to just sysads. The things in TFA are generally showing a lack of respect. All co workers and employees should be treated with respect. Lots of people in an organization can do damage.

The hate is mutual :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058387)

Some of the complaints in the list are legit. For instance, one should not bother a sysadmin with personal requests. But others are less obvious. For instance, I do pop sometimes in their office, especially when I ask for something the "standard" way and then wait for one week with no response, only to find out that they would do nothing unless you pop up in their office.

#7? (0)

Intropy (2009018) | about 9 months ago | (#44058401)

"7. You test code on production systems"

WTF are you doing having your sysadmins touching the production systems? Why does he care or even know how and where you test your code? I have a lot of respect for the sysadmins and the job they do keeping us productive. But that's like giving the nurse the scalpel and letting him have a go at the patient.

Re:#7? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 9 months ago | (#44058419)

Actually the job of the sysadmins is to keep the production systems live and productive. I think you're confusing sysadmins with the helpdesk.

Re:#7? (1)

malkavian (9512) | about 9 months ago | (#44058671)

Whoah... The sysadmin is the person responsible for making sure the production environment is stable, and for fixing the problems that arise there. They're the ones that know the theory and practice of keeping the big iron running.
If they're not to touch the production environment, then who? And if you say "developers", I'll consider it a marvelous joke.
In your healthcare analogy, sysadmins are the "top consultant" in the specialist area. There's one of them to many technicians; technicians are the eyes and ears (and sometimes extra hands) for the sysadmins.. Those would be more akin to the registrars etc. and Junior Doctors.
The Helpdesk staff would be more akin to the nurses; they can be trusted with a lot, but I certainly wouldn't want them holding the scalpel in surgery on me.

Developers are more like the drug vendors. They do essential work, and they understand how it affects the patient in specifics, but I'd really not trust them to rock up in an operating theater and wield the scalpel.

To all who hate helpdesk (2)

mybeat (1516477) | about 9 months ago | (#44058425)

Think of a sysadmin as a airplane pilot and stewardess as a helpdesk.
When you're on your flight do you bug a pilot as often as you bug stewardesses? Thought so...

Re:To all who hate helpdesk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058809)

Well, I left my cheese roll on a seat back in the airport. I need to talk to the pilot as the flight attendant can't turn the plane around. Let me through!

Just a job (1)

kramnostam (670664) | about 9 months ago | (#44058473)

Mostly fair enough but I don't think they need to be explicitly thanked just for doing their job well (aside from polite "thanks" at the end of conversations)... there are many other roles that are pivotal in a business; payroll gets us paid, safety dept stops accidents, salespeople find revenue streams, lawyers stop us getting sued, etc. I don't walk around the office thanking these people for doing their jobs, even if they are doing a good job. I appreciate that Sysadmins go through a lot of grief and pressure with some projects and issue fixes but that's because computers are a bitch; but they chose that job. I reckon it's because sysadmins generally think they're more important than they actually are... hehe In closing I would say that I sometimes feel bad because Sysadmins and IT staff do often get put down by the rest of the office... people begin to associate them with problems because that's the only time they engage them. I don't think that's going to change unfortunately.

Re:Just a job (2)

Narcocide (102829) | about 9 months ago | (#44058481)

The point is that they are almost always the first and only person to get yelled at when something goes out, but the circumstances for this are almost always also completely out of their control.

Re:Just a job (1)

kramnostam (670664) | about 9 months ago | (#44058761)

I understand your point, but that's part of the job they chose. And many other people in different roles get raked over the coals for things that are out of their control, it's just not as visible to the general office population as IT issues.

preventer of information services (1)

spectrokid (660550) | about 9 months ago | (#44058501)

At one job I spent a lot of time trying to circumvent the helpdesk. Did you know that if network policy forbids you to have automated login after a reboot, you can still do it? Just make a script that sets the correct registry keys, and use the feature where you can run scripts on computer shutdown. The network won't have time to overwrite the registry again. Even the power saving settings of the computer were "administrator only", and we had hundreds of PCs displaying flashy screensavers all night long, because the users didn't want to wait for startup in the morning. Rule no 1: if you forbid something, make sure you have a really good explanation why.

Sysadmins and like secretaries and lunchladies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058515)

They hold a position of power without any authority and it makes them angry. Their job, much like legal, or any other counterbalancing function, is to guarantee stability and minimize risk. Their power is not in getting things done, but stopping (bad) things from happening. Conflict are inevitable.

Your sysadmin hates you because you ask him to do something which distracts him from his cheeto-eating-bathroom-cam-voyeruism afternoon ritual. God forbid you ask him to do something at 9am when he's still sleeping because "normal working times" start at noon.

Best way to keep your sysadmins in line: expose them regularly to fresh air. Make them come out of their hobbitholes and sit with the regular line workers once per week. Cutoff the supply of Mt. Dew. and random inspections of his workspace.

Either all this, or you just treat them like rational people, then if they still act like assholes, fire them - they're clearly not team players.

Some additions: (2)

SharpFang (651121) | about 9 months ago | (#44058585)

1. You bypass the help desk system, 2. You're vague.

Both are acceptable providing you schedule your problem as lowest priority. If you submit a ticket, you expect the admin to start working in the earnest, soon. If you signal a problem: "My machine sucks, probably not enough RAM and generally old" you signal the admin to consider you in the next round of purchases. If you say "Wifi reach is dodgy", they will adjust the layout of access points with the next upgrade. "My ethernet cable is loose" - next time they do something in your room, they will replace the plug. It's preferable to a full-blown ticket.

3. You abuse your rights, 4. You do not upgrade.

You want to run obsolete system as root? Be my guest. I may even serve you some advices for free. Still, if I shrug and say "I don't know, you're on your own" you're on your own. I can always get you an upgraded system with limited privileges if you grow tired of trying to fix it yourself.

5. You make urgent, last-minute requests

Scheduled. Expect answer within three workdays.

6. You waste your admin's time

Scheduled. Expect answer within three workdays.

7. You test code on production systems:

You broke it, you take the flak. I can fix it for you if you ask really nice.

8. You make personal requests:

Reward appropriately. Don't expect the admin to do your private work for free.

9. You take your admin for granted:

More importantly - if everything works, don't find work for "slacking" admins. If you see an admin who is constantly busy, he's a poor admin, fixing everything constantly. A good admin slacks all day while all their work is done automatically.

Both sides (1)

os2fan (254461) | about 9 months ago | (#44058663)

I worked on both sides of the help-desk in my time.

Being a computer whizz back then, one is asked of members how to do this or do that. One gets 'programming projects', to pretty-print and sort the download docs, and to Y1999 fix proggies. Still. One acquires a reputation from the newtork lads, because while the fixes work, they were not really in accord with the network aims.

On the other side, one gets to see the strange sort of things users do. They look strange, some work and some dont. Network people see boxes as swappable things, not places where users hide things. Some of the things i used to do there (like drop live icons on the user's desktops), sort of horrified them, but it saved a walk, and a good deal of time.

Tales of Sysadmin Hate (4, Interesting)

Molt (116343) | about 9 months ago | (#44058695)

The only time I had a sysadmin hate me it was more due to me documenting their dangerous incompetence.

After a security hole was found in our multi-million daily users web application I was given a project to look into other potential security issues with the application. After trying SQL injection, cross-site scripting, and other fun stuff I started to poke into the application server it was running on, and a quick read through the documentation told me how to get diagnostic information from the system- unless it's been disabled as part of the standard installation process. I try it on my dev server, and get the info- not a problem. I try it on the test server and it's the same. I then try the staging server, which should be a copy of the live service, and start to get scared.

After a quick chat with my manager as I wanted to be covered should the system flag me as an attacker I try it on the live service from an external IP address, again the diagnostics appear. I now had our database schema, the network architecture of the live service, and a lot of configuration details. My manager, who'd been watching over my shoulder as they'd become curious now, suggested we test this properly. I used my non-work mobile and called the sysadmin and, using only the details on screen, convinced him I was a database admin from elsewhere in the company working off-site. He was very helpful, I soon had a nicely unofficial SSH tunnel into the network set up for me, a temporary user account on all of the live servers, and root access to the live database with all of our customer details.

Oddly enough the sysadmin didn't think it fair that we'd 'tricked' him, and said that no one would normally see that information and think to do what I'd just done.

Most sysadmins I've worked with have been very good, and the in-department one I'm working with at the moment is absolutely amazing. It's not the case with all sysadmins though, some of them don't need users running random software as root to make things go stupid.

Re:Tales of Sysadmin Hate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#44058753)

Your story isn't of a sysadmin - it was of someone posing to be one.

Article is based on false premise (0)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 9 months ago | (#44058897)

The false premise is that Sysadmins are capable of "liking" someone.

Sysadmins hate everybody. It's the fourth law of quantum bogodynamics.

Sysadmin ethics (1)

Pecisk (688001) | about 9 months ago | (#44058919)

While I don't see connection here between NSA case (leaker were clearly motivated by politics), sysadmin ethics is one of painful topics not a lot of people like to talk about.

First of all, sysadmining can be a very stressful job, and in IT industry it's one of least favorites. It can pay well - if you have good experience and work ethics along with solid recommendations, but getting there sometimes can make you to ask yourself is it worth it. As you mostly work with human beings full time, your social skills matter and if they are not up for task, you will be frustrated and angry at the end of the day. It's definitely not a job for someone who are very vocal about his/her world view. After all, you provide a service for people with very different POVs. My experience tells - be polite and respective, and people will respond same way.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...