Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tech support stories: "id 10 T" and other IT acronyms

Years ago, I developed an online community for Computerworld called Shark Bait. It was targeted at IT staff, and anonymous users often shared stories from their workplaces. Sometimes they were about confusing technologies (which everyone has suffered through) or frustrating office politics. At other times, the stories were about people failing to follow instructions, mixing up different technologies, or otherwise behaving in a clueless matter when calling the IT support desk ("where can I get a Google Docs for Dummies?"). No names were ever used in these stories, of course.

tech support stories, idiot usersI recently spotted a reddit thread about the secret codewords that are used at some companies to describe certain types of customers. A gaggle of IT staff weighed in with their code names for stupid computer users, starting with this comment:
I work at an IT center. We regularly talk about the "id 10 T" error. Meant that we were dealing with an idiot.
Other terms/acronyms followed:
  • PICNIC: Problem In Chair, Not In Computer
  • TSTO: Too Stupid To Operate
  • EBK: Error Behind Keyboard
  • EBCAC: Error Between Computer And Chair
  • PEBKAC: Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair.
  • Layer 8/9 error: There are seven layers in the OSI model of computer networks. The 8th layer is the user.
  • Code 18: The problem is located 18 inches away from the monitor.
  • EEOC: Equipment Exceeds Operator Capabilities
  • FB-PC: F***tard behind PC
  • OHE: Operator Headspace Error
  • C2K: "Chair to Keyboard" problem
  • CBE: Carbon-Based Error
  • ESO: Equipment Smarter than Operator

When tech support acronyms go too far 

While secret codewords and acronyms help IT staff relieve the boredom or frustrations of their own jobs, it's cruel to be on the receiving end of these jokes. Sometimes, things can go too far. It's easy to create a culture of "us vs. them" or build up so much contempt for users that a culture of mutual hostility emerges and festers.

To wit: Jimmy Fallon's SNL character, "Nick Burns, Your Company's Computer Guy":

(Sorry, I couldn't find any longer videos of Nick)

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