Rampant idiocy



  • We are just about to migrate from a Novell network to MS Active Directory. I, for one, welcome our new MS overlords.

    An email was sent to all concerned with their new logon and password. One of our people replied to that email, directly to the project manager, asking for clarification on whether to just log off or to shut down. Ok, not everyone is savvy. That's what keeps us in jobs. The PM replies back to please shut down. The user replies again asking whether her C: drive will be affected because she has mission critical stuff going on there. Ok, a slight WTF on it's own but, what followed has had me writhing and gnashing for a couple of days, now. The PM replies again, this time cc'ing a whole bunch of other people, including my boss. Remember, this all started with a reply that included the user's logon info! Now that info is known to quite a few people.

    Can't stop there. One of the people this was forwarded to is a person who really should know better. She's partly responsible for our intranet and has worked in our IT for years. She got her panties all in a bunch demanding that the user be assisted in transferring the contents of her C drive to her network drive. Yup, still cc'ing everyone and their dog. Actually, a few more people were cc'd.

    One of these new people, once again someone who should know better because he is ON the migration team, replies that the user should contact him so he can perform this data transfer to her network drive. WTF?

    It was barely within my ability to post here instead of hitting Reply All and blasting these stupid fu ... misguided individuals back to typewriters and memo pads.



  • Seen this many times, and it's not worth telling everyone how wrong they are.

    Basically some of them already know, but are afraid of making someone else look stupid in front of everyone.

    For the rest, no matter how right you are, you will be a lone voice in the crowd, so are obviously wrong and will be ignored, but also remembered just how wrong you are when it is all over.  The proof will be that after the copy and migration and restart, all her stuff is still easily available (to everyone now that her credentials are known) so they must have been right and you sir just have to be an idiot.

    So yeah, not worth hitting reply all.



  • Yeah, I know it's not worth it. Still, sometimes you want to grab these yoyos by the scruff of the neck and shake them till their eyeballs pop out.



  • @rudraigh said:

    She got her panties all in a bunch demanding that the user be assisted in transferring the contents of her C drive to her network drive.
     

    ummm... what's so mission-critical that needs to be transferred off her local disk which wasn't stored on the Netware server anyway?

    @rudraigh said:

    Still, sometimes you want to grab these yoyos
    by the scruff of the neck and shake them till their eyeballs pop
    out.

    See that automatic weapon over there? It needs delivering to the nearest clock tower. I'll hold the phone for you...

     



  • @Cassidy said:

    @rudraigh said:

    She got her panties all in a bunch demanding that the user be assisted in transferring the contents of her C drive to her network drive.
     

    ummm... what's so mission-critical that needs to be transferred off her local disk which wasn't stored on the Netware server anyway?

    It's fiscal data. The error of her ways has been explained to her and she's getting better. I said in the OP that was a bit of a WTF in it's own right. It just wasn't the main focus of my rant/wrath.



  • @Cassidy said:

    ummm... what's so mission-critical that needs to be transferred off her local disk which wasn't stored on the Netware server anyway?
     

    Who in their right mind would store mission-critical data on a Netware server?



  • @Cassidy said:

    See that automatic weapon over there? It needs delivering to the nearest clock tower. I'll hold the phone for you...

    According to unwritten bylaws and social convention the monthly limit for jokes about weapons and clock towers have been reached on this forum.



  • @Lorne Kates said:

    @Cassidy said:

    ummm... what's so mission-critical that needs to be transferred off her local disk which wasn't stored on the Netware server anyway?
     

    Who in their right mind would store mission-critical data on a Netware server?

    Hence the old joke: "netwhere is my data?"



  • @rudraigh said:

    Remember, this all started with a reply that included the user's logon info! Now that info is known to quite a few people.

    So what it boils down to is that TRWTF happened about a decade and a half in the past, when the unwashed masses started to use e-mail on a large scale and for some completely unfathomable reason all began using the Microsoft method of top-replying to messages rather than trimming unnecessary stuff and replying inline so that the conversation is actually readable and makes sense — not to mention gives much greater opportunity to spot and remove things that people who are CC:ed the reply don't need to see.



  • You know, I've actually been told off at work once for trimming the quotes in my email replies, because according to one higher up that "destroys the context" and "makes it so much harder to understand what the discussion was all about".

    @Gurth said:

    @rudraigh said:
    Remember, this all started with a reply that included the user's logon info! Now that info is known to quite a few people.

    So what it boils down to is that TRWTF happened about a decade and a half in the past, when the unwashed masses started to use e-mail on a large scale and for some completely unfathomable reason all began using the Microsoft method of top-replying to messages rather than trimming unnecessary stuff and replying inline so that the conversation is actually readable and makes sense — not to mention gives much greater opportunity to spot and remove things that people who are CC:ed the reply don't need to see.

     

     



  • @Gurth said:

    So what it boils down to is that TRWTF happened about a decade and a half in the past, when the unwashed masses started to use e-mail on a large scale and for some completely unfathomable reason all began using the Microsoft method of top-replying to messages rather than trimming unnecessary stuff and replying inline so that the conversation is actually readable and makes sense — not to mention gives much greater opportunity to spot and remove things that people who are CC:ed the reply don't need to see.


    It's not all that unfathomable: Outlook invites top-replies. It's [i]designed[/i] for people to top-reply. You hit reply, it pops up the compose window with the message all neatly placed below the top with a nice gap and cursor for you to write your reply in. At the top.



    The unfathomable part is why Microsoft thought this was a good idea. I can only assume pure laziness or contrariness for the sake of it.



  • @Vanders said:

    @Gurth said:
    So what it boils down to is that TRWTF happened about a decade and a half in the past, when the unwashed masses started to use e-mail on a large scale and for some completely unfathomable reason all began using the Microsoft method of top-replying to messages rather than trimming unnecessary stuff and replying inline so that the conversation is actually readable and makes sense — not to mention gives much greater opportunity to spot and remove things that people who are CC:ed the reply don't need to see.

    It's not all that unfathomable: Outlook invites top-replies. It's designed for people to top-reply. You hit reply, it pops up the compose window with the message all neatly placed below the top with a nice gap and cursor for you to write your reply in. At the top.

    The unfathomable part is why Microsoft thought this was a good idea. I can only assume pure laziness or contrariness for the sake of it.
    Applying on the top makes sense for emails, since odds are the person you are replying to has already read their email and normally dont need to reread what they typed.  The only place bottom replying makes sense is in forums where there are multiple chains of thought going on and you need to know who the person is replying to.



  • @top-reply

    Granted, this is beyond the ability of most users, but...

    <reply><ctrl-a>type type type



  •  i would agree with your higher ups - hell I have even stopped working with some contractors because of this horrible practice, it leads to them just writing defensive emails... maybe they have something to hide.

    @Anonymouse said:

    You know, I've actually been told off at work once for trimming the quotes in my email replies, because according to one higher up that "destroys the context" and "makes it so much harder to understand what the discussion was all about".

    @Gurth said:

    @rudraigh said:
    Remember, this all started with a reply that included the user's logon info! Now that info is known to quite a few people.

    So what it boils down to is that TRWTF happened about a decade and a half in the past, when the unwashed masses started to use e-mail on a large scale and for some completely unfathomable reason all began using the Microsoft method of top-replying to messages rather than trimming unnecessary stuff and replying inline so that the conversation is actually readable and makes sense — not to mention gives much greater opportunity to spot and remove things that people who are CC:ed the reply don't need to see.

     

     



  • Sounds like this user is a security risk, and should have password expiration set to "weekly", 16 characters minimum, can't repeat the last 10000 passwords.



  • @Speakerphone Dude said:

    @Cassidy said:

    See that automatic weapon over there? It needs delivering to the nearest clock tower. I'll hold the phone for you...

    According to unwritten bylaws and social convention the monthly limit for jokes about weapons and clock towers have been reached on this forum.

     

    Fucking right. The next person who makes a clock tower joke, I'm going to prison rape them to death with a tsunami.

    An UNDER-AGED tsunami!

     



  • @Vanders said:

    It's not all that unfathomable: Outlook invites top-replies. It's designed for people to top-reply. You hit reply, it pops up the compose window with the message all neatly placed below the top with a nice gap and cursor for you to write your reply in. At the top.



    The unfathomable part is why Microsoft thought this was a good idea. I can only assume pure laziness or contrariness for the sake of it.

    Were you planning to explain at some point why it is not a good idea? Other than "I don't like it", which is all I'm seeing here.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @Vanders said:
    It's not all that unfathomable: Outlook invites top-replies. It's designed for people to top-reply. You hit reply, it pops up the compose window with the message all neatly placed below the top with a nice gap and cursor for you to write your reply in. At the top.



    The unfathomable part is why Microsoft thought this was a good idea. I can only assume pure laziness or contrariness for the sake of it.

    Were you planning to explain at some point why it is not a good idea? Other than "I don't like it", which is all I'm seeing here.

    It makes it much, much easier to not read the thread before replying. Which, from a business perspective, is a big plus since statistically half of the people who wrote or replied to original emails have a below-average intelligence and therefore should not impede Business Decisions to be made.

    Furthermore, the odds that a programmer or sysadmin was involved in the email thread make it even more important to top-reply because it is a known fact that those people tend to write long, emotional messages containing tons of arguments that they think are convincing (but really just make them look like Lisa Simpson writing her diary); without a top-reply design, Important Business People would have to take a long time to scroll down in those messages, and this major negative impact on productivity is compounded by the fact that the handle in the scrollbar tends to get much smaller when there is a lot of text in the textbox and this slows down Decision Makers, which are known for their bold, market-driven strategic thinking, not their motor skills.



  • @Speakerphone Dude said:

    It makes it much, much easier to not read the thread before replying.
     

    Yep. Top-quoting in emails is currently annoying for longer email "discussions" since mail applications don't autoscroll to the bottom. But email is a terrible discussion platform and should not be used as such. It's a relatively fast communication method, and so bottom-quoting is preferred.

    Contrast with a forum, where top-quoting is preferred since there's a complete narrative or document that new readers can read from beginning to end, top to bottom.

    Now let us move to the Penny Arcade and Diablo sites, where comments are sorted newest-on-top for no discernible reason other than to actively prevent people from reading the entire discussion.



  • @dhromed said:

    @Speakerphone Dude said:

    It makes it much, much easier to not read the thread before replying.
     

    Yep. Top-quoting in emails is currently annoying for longer email "discussions" since mail applications don't autoscroll to the bottom.

    Ok now we can't even reach consensus on the language (top-replying versus bottom-quoting). This is like arguing over if(!condition) versus unless(condition) in Perl while the actual issue is the condition itself.



  • @Lorne Kates said:

    Who in their right mind would store mission-critical data on a Netware server?
     

    Erm.. okay, perhaps I should have used the generic "server" to imply that data held there was probably subject to safeguards (backups) that the workstation may not have had - or at least responsibility has been passed to those supposedly employed to preserve it.

    Eh, I quite liked NW3.12 - had some funky features that pissed over NT at the time. NW5 was a bunch of arse, though.

    @Speakerphone Dude said:

    According to unwritten bylaws and social
    convention the monthly limit for jokes about weapons and clock towers
    have been reached on this forum.
     

    But the Babelfish is a dead giveaway, innit?



  • @Vanders said:

    It's not all that unfathomable: Outlook invites top-replies. It's designed for people to top-reply. You hit reply, it pops up the compose window with the message all neatly placed below the top with a nice gap and cursor for you to write your reply in. At the top.



    The unfathomable part is why Microsoft thought this was a good idea. I can only assume pure laziness or contrariness for the sake of it.
     

    AIUI, most mail clients used to bottom-post but this caused the AOLism of posting back the entire message with a single "me too" line included.

    Changing the starting position of the cursor encouraged people to trawl down through the post, snipping irrelevant content before appending their message at the bottom.

    Unfortunately, business email users nowadays either don't know of this convention (or know but are too lazy to reparse and snip), leading to top-replying.

    (I personally find top-replying annoying - especially when there's no reference to which part of the original message relates to that response, requiring yet more emails to seek clarification). 



  • @Vanders said:

    It's not all that unfathomable: Outlook invites top-replies. It's designed for people to top-reply.

    I know. It wasn't until Windows made its way into most peoples' living rooms that this started becoming widespread, but if you look in Windows 3.1 for Workgroups manuals, they already show top-replying in the examples of using e-mail, long before Outlook was introduced … That's why I called it the "Microsoft method". It might have some minor advantages for business use, but when you exchange long messages with people that discuss many different points, it just gets annoying really fast. Especially because most of the people who use it forget to reply to a lot of the things you're expecting answers to … Or maybe that's just me ;)


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Cassidy said:

    or know but are too lazy to reparse and snip
    I cite, as an example, the work emails on one thread that I've not bothered reading today about a proof of concept trial we have in in Poland. Gmail is normally good at condensing such cruft, but someone on the CC list is using some broken client that renders whatever algorithm google uses to do the condensing useless. Or maybe the existance of such algorithms is the problem... (that said, I'm sure that most of the people in our company don't use gmail to access their work mail - I know of only one other person who does, so I'm guessing everyone else is seeing the cruft and simply accept it.)



  •  I've got some discussion of mail reply formats here:

     http://mailformat.dan.info/quoting/



  • @Cassidy said:

    Unfortunately, business email users nowadays either don't know of this convention (or know but are too lazy to reparse and snip), leading to top-replying.
     

    This is a very good thing.

    I'm a manager, and I handle various kinds of project approvals for a group of about 65 people.  I often get thrown on an email chain late in the game because they want my signoff on something.  I sure as HELL am not going to read every email in entirety or I'd never leave work.

    What people know to do is summarize the issue for me succinctly at the newest (top) reply.  Most of the time, all I need to do is read the top message and make a decision.  If I have further questions or concerns, I have the rest of the email thread which I can read or search to see if there are answers.  I don't really like when people reply inline because to someone who is added late in the chain, the flow of conversation is unclear.  When I am in a chain since the beginning, I prefer top replies so I don't reread what I've already read.



  • @Cat said:

    I'm a manager, and I handle various kinds of project approvals for a group of about 65 people.  I often get thrown on an email chain late in the game because they want my signoff on something.  I sure as HELL am not going to read every email in entirety or I'd never leave work.

    What people know to do is summarize the issue for me succinctly at the newest (top) reply.  Most of the time, all I need to do is read the top message and make a decision.  If I have further questions or concerns, I have the rest of the email thread which I can read or search to see if there are answers.  I don't really like when people reply inline because to someone who is added late in the chain, the flow of conversation is unclear.  When I am in a chain since the beginning, I prefer top replies so I don't reread what I've already read.

     

    You could have stopped after the first three words there.  Knowing you're a manager, we already know that you prefer to make decisions with an incomplete understanding of what's going on.

     



  • @da Doctah said:

    You could have stopped after the first three words there.  Knowing you're a manager, we already know that you prefer to make decisions with an incomplete understanding of what's going on.
     

    Not so much a preference as a simple necessity.  I can't know every detail about everything people are doing.  Information flows through my inbox at a rate that no human could process. It would be interesting to know all the little details of every project my division does, but these people combined do almost three thousand hours of work per week.  I do about fifty.  Even if my entire week was spent only managing their projects - and it's not - for every hour they work on a project, I could devote at most one minute. Better to spend that time where it's most valuable.

    When people need my input, or are raising awareness of a problem, I expect them to summarize issues and make recommendations.  Depending on the size and risk of the project, and my assessment of the reliability and judgment of the person I may or may not dig deeper, as is appropriate for the situation.  Some situations need careful scrutiny, others only need a cursory evaluation and some infrequent followups later.

    Summarizing issues at the top of an email works for the same reason executive summaries on documents work - they pull out all the key points needed to make decisions, and the rest serves as a reference for more information about a given topic.



  • @da Doctah said:

    @Cat said:

    I'm a manager, and I handle various kinds of project approvals for a group of about 65 people.  I often get thrown on an email chain late in the game because they want my signoff on something.  I sure as HELL am not going to read every email in entirety or I'd never leave work.

    What people know to do is summarize the issue for me succinctly at the newest (top) reply.  Most of the time, all I need to do is read the top message and make a decision.  If I have further questions or concerns, I have the rest of the email thread which I can read or search to see if there are answers.  I don't really like when people reply inline because to someone who is added late in the chain, the flow of conversation is unclear.  When I am in a chain since the beginning, I prefer top replies so I don't reread what I've already read.

     

    You could have stopped after the first three words there.  Knowing you're a manager, we already know that you prefer to make decisions with an incomplete understanding of what's going on.

     

    While I'm not a manager I also like to make decisions with an incomplete understanding of what's going on. This is much more interesting than getting all the data and taking forever to ponder pros and cons. What matters is to have guiding principles and a bit of common sense. Everything else is details and basically becomes irrelevant once the decision is made.



  • You're talking about the content of the mail you receive. I'm talking about the format in which you get it. You seem to believe that the format in which you get it (up-side down quoting) affects the content.

    It does not. 

    @Cat said:

    Summarizing issues at the top of an email works for the same reason executive summaries on documents work - they pull out all the key points needed to make decisions, and the rest serves as a reference for more information about a given topic.
     

    Perhaps if you were to flick back and read my original post, you'd have seen that my preference is to trim unnecessary content and provide more concise details relevent to the point, rather than continuously prepending additional responses. The latter, which you seem to prefer, is actually counter-productive to your requirements... which I believe your post has illustrated.

    @Speakerphone Dude said:

    While I'm not a manager I also like
    to make decisions with an incomplete understanding of what's going on.
    This is much more interesting than getting all the data

    Not going to bite. Good try, though.

     



  • @Cat said:

    Information flows through my inbox at a rate that no human could process. It would be interesting to know all the little details of every project my division does, but these people combined do almost three thousand hours of work per week.
     

    So when are they going to hire an extra PM?



  • @Cassidy said:

    Perhaps if you were to flick back and read my original post, you'd have seen that my preference is to trim unnecessary content and provide more concise details relevent to the point, rather than continuously prepending additional responses. The latter, which you seem to prefer, is actually counter-productive to your requirements... which I believe your post has illustrated.
    IMO you're making the assumption that the people trimming the data know what is actually relevant to other people and are making valid interpretations of the previous data. By preserving the complete email chain you get the ability to to follow the complete line of thinking from start to finish and better identify any implicit assumptions and outright mistakes that have been made in other peoples analysis. If you don't preserve the complete chain then you are opening yourself up to a written version of Chinese whispers

    Or for another example, people can go back in this forum (where the complete chain of conversation has been recorded) and read your original post. They can then make the decision to either call me out as full of shit or praise me based on the original data rather than just the small part of your post that I extracted for this comment.



  • @Cassidy said:

    @Speakerphone Dude said:

    While I'm not a manager I also like
    to make decisions with an incomplete understanding of what's going on.
    This is much more interesting than getting all the data

    Not going to bite. Good try, though.

    Good idea. Sarcasm doesn't taste that well (or so I heard).



  • @OzPeter said:

    By preserving the complete email chain you get the ability to to follow the complete line of thinking from start to finish and better identify any implicit assumptions and outright mistakes that have been made in other peoples analysis.

    At least cut off the sig block....

    Meanwhile, everyone who has been getting CC'd all this time already [i]have[/i] the email chain - the previous emails they were CC'd on. Admittedly this does not help those who get added to the list late in the sequence, but the number of such people tends toward zero very quickly.



  • @OzPeter said:

    IMO you're making the assumption that the people trimming the data know what is actually relevant to other people and are making valid interpretations of the previous data. By preserving the complete email chain you get the ability to to follow the complete line of thinking from start to finish and better identify any implicit assumptions and outright mistakes that have been made in other peoples analysis. If you don't preserve the complete chain then you are opening yourself up to a written version of Chinese whispers
     

    Or perhaps I'm assuming that:

    • those currently involved in the email chain already know the story and don't need to be patronised by having the entire story re-read back to them prior to supplyig new information
    • those not involved will either need to be pointed to relevent documentation or require a precis to get them up to speed so that they can hit the ground running.

    I don't disagree with preserving the complete chain, I disagree with the way in which its preserved - being contained in every email that circulates. Then again, I believe email is a communication tool and not a discussion tool, and maintaining a virtual meeting by appending to an increasingly large email isn't the most effective method of doing it.

    @Watson said:

    Meanwhile, everyone who has been getting CC'd all this time already have
    the email chain - the previous emails they were CC'd on. Admittedly
    this does not help those who get added to the list late in the sequence,
    but the number of such people tends toward zero very quickly.

    Yeah. That. (I should have read lower down before responding)

     



  • @Cassidy said:

    Perhaps if you were to flick back and read my original post, you'd have seen that my preference is to trim unnecessary content and provide more concise details relevent to the point, rather than continuously prepending additional responses. The latter, which you seem to prefer, is actually counter-productive to your requirements... which I believe your post has illustrated.

     

    I did notice you had said that.  I dislike that because what content is unnecessary can vary greatly, and I don't always trust others to make that judgment call in the right way. 

    Especially since I usually get added late in a chain, and the level of scrutiny I need to give varies wildly based on both the project and the people associated with the project. Sometimes I just need a summary, and sometimes I actually do read every bit of every reply.  Most often it's somewhere in the middle, where I read some posts and either skim or search the conversation for specific pieces I want more information on.  If someone had good enough judgment that they could summarize exactly the pieces I needed to see and nothing more, they should be approving things alongside me, not sending things to me for approval.



  • @Cat said:

    I dislike that because what content is unnecessary can vary greatly, and I don't always trust others to make that judgment call in the right way. 

    Especially since I usually get added late in a chain, and the level of scrutiny I need to give varies wildly based on both the project and the people associated with the project.

     

    Okay... so are you advocating that all emails should not trim any previous content, because a project manager may join a project late in the day and can take the time to understand the current state of the project by weeding through email chains?

    If so.. firstly, "WTF project documentation", and secondly it seems a blanket catch-all approach to an exceptional situation. 

     



  • @Cassidy said:

    @Cat said:

    I dislike that because what content is unnecessary can vary greatly, and I don't always trust others to make that judgment call in the right way. 

    Especially since I usually get added late in a chain, and the level of scrutiny I need to give varies wildly based on both the project and the people associated with the project.

     

    Okay... so are you advocating that all emails should not trim any previous content, because a project manager may join a project late in the day and can take the time to understand the current state of the project by weeding through email chains?

    If so.. firstly, "WTF project documentation", and secondly it seems a blanket catch-all approach to an exceptional situation. 

     

    Cat's proposition makes sense if he/she is a lawyer...



  • @Speakerphone Dude said:

    Cat's proposition makes sense if he/she is a lawyer...
     

    Point. Didn't factor in that particular edge case.. but then IANAL.



  • @Cassidy said:

    Okay... so are you advocating that all emails should not trim any previous content, because a project manager may join a project late in the day and can take the time to understand the current state of the project by weeding through email chains?

    If so.. firstly, "WTF project documentation", and secondly it seems a blanket catch-all approach to an exceptional situation. 

     

    Mostly this isn't involving ongoing projects that I manage, it's often proposals for new projects; rarely do full design documents get drawn up until we've decided to begin that project. I also get pulled into conversations late all the time because I am the primary point of contact between two divisions, so when one of them has a project that might impact the other's product, I generally get CCd.

    Mostly I just get the general management stuff - a dispute happens, or an issue comes up where the parties involved are at an impasse as to how to proceed and want me to make a call for them.  Or they need resources or approvals that I can give.

    I'd say in the majority of emails with multiple people, I am not in them at the beginning.  Often it's two or three people discussing a new idea and then sending it my way to see if we have the resources to do this, or if we have other plans to tackle a similar project.



  • @Cat said:

    Mostly I just get the general management stuff - a dispute happens, or an issue comes up where the parties involved are at an impasse as to how to proceed and want me to make a call for them.  Or they need resources or approvals that I can give.

    Don Corleone, is that you


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