[quote]A bit harsh, don’t you think Bob?
Nope. Not at all, considering the amount of time this problem has existed, and the patronizing tone of the admin’s response.
[quote]I’m sure a more encouraging and friendly
message “asking” rather than “demanding” would go down a lot better.
Wil, there is substantial history involved here, of which you are apparently not aware.
I have encouraged, and kidded, and begged, and asked and pleaded for what? months? for the announcements to include information that is necessary for me and many other users, no doubt to conduct business.
I have been assured several times by Dream Host management that communication would be improved, and that the announcements would contain all the pertinent information.
The announcements got better-- temporarily… And then they started going back to being vague.
I asked Support to clarify, and Support acted as though I was being unreasonable.
[quote]As a System Administrator myself, these kind of messages do not go down
well, and most likely ignored.
As a lower-level system administrator myself, I know that the announcements that are being sent out are completely inadequate.
There is no way I would ever send out a notice to my users that said their machines would be going down for a half an hour sometime in the next 24 hours, when the reality was that they would probably be going down for 3-5 minutes sometime within a certain hour or hours.
As a lower-level admin myself, I also know that the tone of the response that prompted my response – the one that offends you – was unnecessarily patronizing, and that acting like a BOFH is going to get a reply like mine a majority of the time.
And responding to a BOFH attitude with strong words is completely understandable, and is sometimes the only way to get the attention of some admins.
Acting like a snivelling, lowly, totally unknowledgable user only encourages some admins to maintain their BOFH persona.
And I don’t like bullies – especially bullies who are paid to be helpful. An admin who bullies me will get a response like that every time, and his superiors will be CC’d, and/or the post will be made public.
I would never talk to one of my clients the way that one particular admin talks to me and other users. I expect to be treated with the kind of respect – and to be given the kind of information – that I give my own clients.
[quote]This kind of tone is certainly not appreciated.
The admin’s patronizing tone is certainly not appreciated.
Re-read the response I got from the admin.
His tone is the reason for my tone.
It’s clear that at least one admin at Dream Host is suffering from a case of “High Priest Syndrome”.
This is a very old problem in the computing world. The problem arises from an admin attitude that says “Users don’t need the arcane information that we possess; you are not knowledgable enough to handle it… And what would you need it for, anyway? All you have to do is to put your faith in us, and we will take care of everything.”
The parallel to this is “Black Box Syndrome.” It’s based on the belief that users don’t need to know how a piece of software or hardware works… they just need to blindly trust the makers.
It’s easy to fall into this pattern, and it doesn’t necessarily result from a lack of caring about quality on the part of the admin/support person. It’s usually used – consciously or not – as a kind of defense mechanism.
Admins can be flooded with questions or complaints, but instead of offering as much information as is possible, they sometimes do the opposite, and close off communication, elevating themselves above the users, trying to maintain a “trust us-- we know what we’re doing” kind of persona. This persona can be optionally warm and friendly (a la the “Happy” announcements) or snippy and condescending (a la the admin’s response).
The problems with these syndromes are sometimes subtle, sometimes not.
The announcement said:
The announcement does not give any of these necessary points:
- Which IDC? All of them?
- If just certain IDCs, which machines? All of them?
- When will this service window begin?
- When will this service window end?
In addition, the annoucement says that the servers should be down for only [sic] half an hour… It is not saying how long each individual server is expected to be down, although it’s making it sound as though a single server could be down for 1/2 hour… when the actual downtime, according to the admin’s response, would probably only be 3 to 5 minutes.
The problem here is that the people who are writing the announcements – and/or the admins who ask them to send out an announcement – are forgetting that the recipients of the announcements aren’t the only ones affected.
I have clients who need to know what’s going on. They need to know how long they’re going to be out of business, and when.
There is a huge difference between my sending an email to my client that says this:
“Hello. Sometime within the next 24 hours, your website and other services will be unavailable for up to half an hour.”
…and sending an email that says this:
“Hello. At sometime between 6pm and 6:30 pm, your website and other services will be unavailable for approximately 3 to 5 minutes.”
A huge difference… and the specific information – which the admin apparently had – should have been in the original announcement. If the window needed to be longer, fine. Just tell us “between 6pm and 9pm” or whatever’s appropriate.
The admin maintained that he was unable to send out details, but in saying that he couldn’t send out details, he gave me the details:
The original announcement said 1/2 hour. Now he says 3-5 minutes. Why didn’t the original announcement say that?
And why didn’t the original announcement say that 65 machines would be affected? More importantly, does he mean that all Dream Host servers are involved? If that’s true, why not say so?
Since the original announcement said that this was a power strip upgrade, and it would take a half an hour, I asked why it would take so long to do that, and if it wouldn’t be possible to install redundantly and then just cut over. To which the admin replied:
Reasonable enough. But this information wasn’t in the original announcement. The thing is, though, that I would not have asked that question if the original announcement had contained the correct estimated downtime of 3 to 5 minutes.
As for being more IDC- or server-specific, the admin said:
In the “High Priest” world, it’s all or nothing.
I didn’t ask for a separate announcement for each machine, yet the admin jumps to that conclusion, and tries to make it look like I’m being totally unreasonable.
All I asked for was the information they have-- the information that should have been included in the original announcement.
The time window in the original announcement could have been – depending on the time of day it was written – as long as 24 hours.
The original announcement didn’t say how many machines were involved. It could have been two. Since they chose not to tell us, how could I have known that 65 were involved? The admin acts as though I should have somehow magically known that many machines were involved, and that predicting individual downtimes wouldn’t be safe or practical.
All I’m asking for is that the announcements contain the specific information that they do have – most of which the admin was able to give me in his reply.
I shouldn’t have to write back to TS after an announcement and get the information that the admin apparently did have, and which should have been in the announcement in the first place.
This has happened time after time after time.
And Dream Host staff agrees with me that this is a problem.
[quote]I understand your argument, and I hear what you’re trying to say. But
bashing and publicly insulting someone’s work is hardly going to encourage
them to change to your liking.
I’m not insulting someone’s work-- I’m criticising it.
The admin (in repeated incidents) insults me with his patronizing tone, and then I guess I’m supposed to cower off in a corner, saying “Thank you sir, may I have another”? Please.
I don’t have a short fuse. But when this kind of problem continues for months, and the response is repeated browbeating, I don’t expect to have to apologize for reacting asa I did.
If the admin is insulted because they think they’re doing a perfect job, and there’s no reason to give the users the information they need and have a right to, there’s not much I can do about that.
I have talked to Dream Host privately – and nicely – for long enough.
The longer this inadequacy goes on, and the more times I am forced to write to TS just to get some minimal information out of them, the more one or two certain admins are able to privately dismiss me as some sort of crank/malcontent.
It’s already apparent from another response yesterday that more than one support person is reading my messages. One remarked (without my prompting) that he knows “how much you like details.”
This says to me that the support people think that users who ask for information are a PITA, or at least strange. Otherwise, why would he mention that at all?
All users want and need information about what’s going on. My asking for information is completely unremarkable, but somehow the admin felt a need to express – in not so many words – that I am not normal in asking for details. High Priest Syndrome once again.
By airing these difficulties publicly, others will know exactly what’s going on, as will Dream Host management.
And, as I mentioned, I have been encouraged to post publicly about this problem, and other problems, by Dream Host management.
A member of staff has told me that if there is a message in the forum that he can show to his higher-ups, he can point to it and say, “See? There’s a problem we need to take care of.”
Posting publicly is entirely approriate, and apparently entirely necessary in this situation.
Dream Host has asked me to do it, so I’ll keep doing it.
[quote]I’m personally glad they put the 30 minutes head on the maintenance task.
This allows room for error, and if difference services are hosted on
various machines, then the outage would have amounted to 30 minutes or so.
I’ve got mail, ftp, web, web-redirects, mysql running on 5 different
machines. That’s 25 minutes downtime according to the calculations
provided by the support staff. That sounds just about right for all users
I should imagine.
I think that’s an inaccurate way to look at the announcement.
All the announcement said was 1/2 hour. That makes it sound as though it was likely for each server/domain to be down for a half and hour, when that just wasn’t the case. The real downmtime was estimated to be 3-5 minutes.
Sure, it’s always necessary to offer a worst-case scenario, but that’s not the way in which 1/2 hour was couched.
Saying when the downtime will occur – within a window that’s smaller than 24 hours – combined with an estimated minimum and maximum downtime is the right way to do it, and it’s information that we as users need and deserve.
As I said, Dream Host agrees with me.