February 2, 2001

Never the Twain Shall Meet
   by stacy <>

A vast gulf exists between users and system administrators, and the only way across it is a foot bridge made of rope and loose wooden boards. It is a perilous crossing, and only the very brave (or very stupid) dare to cross it. The ones who attempt it and fail get pissed off because they get eaten by the crocodiles waiting in the river below, and those who succeed think they are the Second Coming and we should all bow before them.

I sometimes take metaphors too far. Sorry.

Seriously though, in my experience, users have one way of thinking, and admins have another. It's rare when you find people who can be comfortable with either point of view. Often, users just don't have the technical knowledge to see things from an administrative point of view, and admins are too elite to think about the users at all. The users exist as a convenient way for them to get to play with cool tools, and they sometimes get in the way.

There's an email war going on, and I don't care who wins. I like pine. It's simple, I can use it from anywhere, and best of all, I know it in and out, so I can customize it for whatever I need it to do. It can do just about everything. The users like Outlook. It can also do just about everything you want it to do, but sadly it does a lot you don't want it to do. Like propagate viruses. I try to see things from my users' point of view. I let them use Outlook, even when I wish they would use something less suicidal. It's a sad part of my job, when I know I'm right and they are wrong, but I'm too darn generous to say so.

It gets more serious when the users say "I want this" and as a sysadmin, I have to tell them no. That really brings out the worst in the users, and it's not that I'm trying to BOFH them, but you really do have to put your foot down sometimes. So they think I'm an ogre and never forgive me, and treat me like the necessary evil that I am when they really need me the next time around. These are the occupational hazards I suppose.

Published: February 2, 2001
Editor: stacy

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