Over-zealous input checking



  • I worked at my current job for a year as a temporary employee before I was hired permanently.  My employer offers domestic partner medical coverage and I found out at my benefits orientation that my partner was eligible to be covered.  That was great since he wasn't covered where he worked and I was feeling a little weird that I would be covered and he wouldn't.  I signed up right away and covered us both under the medical plan and the dental plan.

    After a few weeks I got the medical insurance cards, but no dental cards  I waited a few weeks and still no dental, so I called the HR department and they said they would look into it.  They got back to me and told me that for some reason the dental insurance company didn't have us on file, but not to worry, they resubmitted my paperwork and I should get my info in a week or two.  A few weeks go buy an no word about the dental insurance.  I call HR and they tell me the same thing, not on file, don't worry the paperwork is being resubmitted, a week or two, yadda yadda.  This happens a couple time over and now I'm calling weekly and they still can't figure it out.

    It turns out that the dental insurance company had just switched to some fancy new computer system for electronically submitting and verifying their forms.  Apparently this new system was silently rejecting my paperwork.  Well, it took them a little while longer to figure out why.  The application was comparing the gender of the primary person to the gender of the spouse, and if they were the same, it rejected the record, silently.  The information would then just cease to exist on their system.

    I am giving their programmers the benefit of the doubt and assuming they were just trying to catch a situation where somebody accidentally clicked male when they meant female (or vice versa) and not that they were trying to impose their own ideas about relationships onto others.  Even with that assumption, they still goofed by not providing any feedback to the monkey entering the data.

     



  • Not that I'm seriously suggesting this at all, but would this be grounds for an anti-discrimination lawsuit in the US?



  • @elgate said:

    Not that I'm seriously suggesting this at all
    Why-ever not? Lawsuits have been filed for less.



  • I remember being asked to implement this type of validation when I worked for an insurance company. I asked them if they were sure about it and they said "Yeah, company policy. Hey, I didn't write it, but there it is".

    I'm not sure if we ended up leaving that rule in or not, but I do know that at least all our validation rules returned explicit feedback.

    Also, in another more recent project there was only on gender selection input. The other gender was simply assumed to be the opposite. 



  • Silently failing is as bad as it gets for this sort of thing. Even obnoxious overbearing error messages are preferable. Slow, crap, awkward, "enterprisey", archaic - all preferable to "untrustworthy", which that is. Obviously the don't have even the simplest of auditing going on, either. Who knows what else is missing, or corrupted. Let's hope they don't have you recorded as a mother of two.

    +1 to "sue their asses", if only to protect yourself from the inevitable "malicious homosexuality with intent to corrupt our systems" suit that their lawyers are filing against you as we speak. 



  • Okay, I'll bite.

    Same-sex marriages are The Real WTF.



  • While I would not rule out an innocent oversight (understandible given that 90% of the population is straight), I find the silent failure a little suspicious.  Why isn't it throwing an exception of some kind?

    Now, I'm also not saying that the software company behind this piece of work is directly or deliberately at fault, and, in fact, I would say that they are probably not.  I do know, however, that there are vigilante activists out there of all stripes, and in all lines of work.  Is it unethical and unprofessional?  Sure it is.  It is also very easy to do. 



  • @Spectre said:

    Okay, I'll bite.

    Same-sex marriages are The Real WTF.

     

    That comment is TRWTF.



  • @Critter said:

    While I would not rule out an innocent oversight (understandible given that 90% of the population is straight), I find the silent failure a little suspicious.  Why isn't it throwing an exception of some kind?

    Now, I'm also not saying that the software company behind this piece of work is directly or deliberately at fault, and, in fact, I would say that they are probably not.  I do know, however, that there are vigilante activists out there of all stripes, and in all lines of work.  Is it unethical and unprofessional?  Sure it is.  It is also very easy to do. 

    [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor"]Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.[/url]

    I doubt that it's a vigilante programmer striking back at the nefarious forces of The Gay Agenda. More likely, the DBA put in a unique constraint to prevent screwups with gender, considering edge cases of LGBT to be not with the trouble of dealing with angry calls from "Mrs. John Smith." The developer wrote this code, but occasionally the database would fart and throw an ugly exception. The developer either didn't care, or his boss didn't like this horrible screen that implied that something may be wrong with the system they're trying so desperately to sell. "Just ignore the problem, and pretend it all worked perfectly! They'll never know, and they have tech support to deal with this crap anyway!" he would cry. The insurance company, seeing this wonderful system that [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Babbage#Quotations"]worked correctly even with the wrong data[/url], immediately purchased a copy, set forth a brief training for their data entry staff, and merrily watched their productivity double. This happy affair meant that they could reduce costs by "re-evaluating workplace employment status priorities" on half of their data entry staff, and never had another thought of this wonderful software except to perhaps send a fruit basket as thanks.



  • I can well believe this is a case of stupidity / ignorance / lack of communication, rather than anything malicious as such.

    At one of my previous jobs, we were writing a document management system. The DBA put in a trigger on the database so that you couldn't have a document with certain combinations of status / assigned to etc. We then added a screen to edit the fields manually (in case something went wrong), and we kept getting calls from people who said they were saving the new fields but nothing was changing. It turns out that the trigger wouldn't raise any kind of exception, it would just silently discard anything which it didn't think was "acceptable".



  • @slyadams said:

    @Spectre said:

    Okay, I'll bite.

    Same-sex marriages are The Real WTF.

     

    That comment is TRWTF.

    You didn't read the tags, did you?



  • @Spectre said:

    @slyadams said:

    @Spectre said:

    Okay, I'll bite.

    Same-sex marriages are The Real WTF.

     

    That comment is TRWTF.

    You didn't read the tags, did you?

     

    Welcome to my world.



  • Does NOBODY see something wrong here? If the spouse is suposed to be female when the applicant is male, why is there even a choise? If they descriminate then this makes sense they want to fuck over gays, but other than that... its like a question:

    "Please choose A or B, remember B is not a valid choice."



  • you can have any color car you want, as long as its black



  •  I think it's pretty clear that the front-end and database were written by 2 different guys with little cooperation.  Selecting MM or FF passes the front end validation, but gets rejected somewhere else along the line.



  • @elgate said:

    Not that I'm seriously suggesting this at all, but would this be grounds for an anti-discrimination lawsuit in the US?

    They were working to fix the issue as soon as they were notified, so probably not.  It's a good thing that a programmer tripped up their system.  I know how easy it is to make a mistake like that, especially when you think you are doing something clever.

    Also, it depends on whether sexual orientation is included in the the relevant anti-discrimiation law.  In my city it has been for decades, more recently the state added it also.



  • @Spectre said:

    @slyadams said:

    @Spectre said:

    Okay, I'll bite.

    Same-sex marriages are The Real WTF.

     

    That comment is TRWTF.

    You didn't read the tags, did you?

    Oops, I hold my hands up, I was in a hurry and didn't. Sorry.



  • Technically, as far as health insurance goes, a Spouse is different than a Domestic Partner.  When data is rejected it should not be silent, but the rule that a Spouse has to be the opposite gender is fine.  As a FYI, Spouse is "01", Child is "19" and Domestic partner is "34".  Health insurance programming is what I do for a living.



  • @Salami said:

    When data is rejected it should not be silent, but the rule that a Spouse has to be the opposite gender is fine.

    Unless you live in a state that permits gay marriage... 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Unless you live in a state that permits gay marriage... 
    Or country that permits 'civil partnerships' (where it would be wrong for the sex of the partner to be different, at least (currently) in the UK.)

     


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