personal comments edit

(Yes, it is a word.)

I have to go off on this one because it’s one of those pet peeves that I’m sure bothers everyone out there but nobody really talks about it because they don’t want peoples’ feelings to be hurt.

System administrators, especially those concerned with security, are, by and large, excessively pompous individuals.

Either that, or they don’t have any social skills.

Or maybe both.

The reason I say this is that, over the course of my employ with various technology-related companies and whatnot, I’ve had the opportunity to deal with several different sysadmins, and most of them had a particular security focus (as a good sysadmin should). By that same token, almost all of them have committed the following gaucheries while discussing their various interests with me… keeping in mind that I, too, am a reasonably well-versed sysadmin, at least where the applications I am responsible for are concerned:

  • Treated me like I dropped out of school in the fourth grade.
  • Directly contradicted everything I said, then later restated my thought, taking it as their own, denying that I said it to begin with.
  • Spoke to me as though English were not my first language (hey, slower and louder always makes me feel like I’m speaking with a peer).
  • Explained to me a basic concept as though it were the first time I’d ever heard of such a thing. For example, I’m a web application developer… why would you explain to me what a web server does? I’m pretty sure I’ve got that down.
  • Quoted, verbatim, security notifications received from agencies like CERT, and claimed it as their own thought.
  • Suggested that they, as an admitted non-programmer, might know more about programming than me.

I think you see where I’m going. I don’t like being treated as though I’m stupid. And you can’t just say “it’s because they’re trying to teach me.” Bullshit. You’ve been in school, right? RIGHT? There were two kinds of teachers: the teachers that took the time to explain things to you the right way; and the teachers who were condescending about everything and thought all the kids were stupid.

Guess which kind of “teacher” sysadmins are.

One of the main reasons I bring this up is that Sysadmin Appreciation Day is coming up on Friday. I don’t expect anything out of it, but if you do decide to “appreciate” your local sysadmin, keep in mind whether they’re condescending and bitchy or whether they’re nice and explain things reasonably.

Again, not all sysadmins are like that. Sometimes you get the good ones; the ones with social skills. I’m just saying they’re few and far between.