Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
PLS RPT IN ENGLISH THANSK - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
We have a runaway winner for email of the day:
"i have a pdf file which needs converting to a webpage. should i save the pdf in the spreadsheet or wait unti it has been made into a web page first?"
This is from the person responsible for communications in what is probably the second most externally-facing department of the Administrative Services.

Now I admit that sometimes I am wilfully obtuse with content providers, in a probably-doomed attempt to get them to communicate more clearly, but in this case I don't have to pretend: this time I really don't have a clue what they're talking about.
Read 9 | Write
hairyears From: hairyears Date: December 13th, 2004 09:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Frustrated already? You are trying to sort out someone's ideas when they literally have no idea. I usually ask: "What are you trying to do?"

Trouble is, that rarely works either - does anybody have a reliable question or interrogation technique that they have found effective? Really we're in giving-clues-to-the-clueless territory.

And yes, the failure to think and communicate is all too common with people you'd think are paid to communicate.
offensive_mango From: offensive_mango Date: December 13th, 2004 09:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I think the knife icon complements the post perfectly.
d_floorlandmine From: d_floorlandmine Date: December 13th, 2004 09:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Eh? [grin]
ewx From: ewx Date: December 13th, 2004 11:07 am (UTC) (Link)

a pdf file which needs converting

You could offer to pray for it.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: December 13th, 2004 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)


They want a page which can be opened via Adobe, or they want a page whose content can be viewed directly on the Web. Probably the former.

Question techniques which tend to work with these types are: what do you think it should look like? Will there be what we call a "button" you can click on with the mouse? Yes? Will that open a new page, or will you go to a PDF[, that thing which usually tells you you'll need Adobe Acrobat to open it]?

If asking what it should look like gets you nowhere, you can ask them to point you to a website which does what they think their site should do. Working from a common example almost always helps both parties.

The 'clueless' tend to work from a position of what things on a screen look like; they tend to lack the imagination to guess that there are underlying processes, nor do they understand what functionalities may be built into a webpage. If you meet them where they are ("it's pictures on a screen, like a TV") you can elicit from them what they want, or at least an approximation thereof.
j4 From: j4 Date: December 14th, 2004 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: hmmm...

They want a page which can be opened via Adobe, or they want a page whose content can be viewed directly on the Web.

They (and I, thank you) know what a PDF is; we put 100s of PDFs up on the web for this content provider. Usually they just say something like "please put this PDF on the web" which is fine & makes perfect sense. It's the saving it in the spreadsheet that makes no sense. The thing they're asking for is something that should be part of a regular update process, & shouldn't require any clarification by now; without wanting to explain the whole situation in detail (because it's unutterably dull), the spreadsheet in question is a mechanism for automatically updating some pages -- they send us new spreadsheets, we run a conversion script on them, & hey presto! - we have HTML. They've put links to pages on the web (both HTML and PDF) in this spreadsheet before and that's fine, the script is set up to deal with that. It's a process that they should be used to. Clearly they're having some sort of problem with this bit of the process this time, but really, it's not clear what the problem is.

Question techniques which tend to work with these types are

... absolutely no use when their reaction to that sort of super-simple question is to get more irate & send even more incoherent replies with more exclamation marks in. They think they're asking as clearly as possible for very simple things which I should be able to do in seconds; they get frustrated when I ask questions which they regard as patronising (this person is, after all, higher up the ladder than I am though in a different department...).

The thing is, they're not technologically clueless -- they create the PDFs, they know as much as they need to know about HTML (which let's face it isn't much) and 'how the web works', yet they persistently fail to communicate helpfully on email. (They're slightly better on the phone, but they're also always 'too busy' for phonecalls.) Requests for simple updates (where all that's really needed is the URL, the original text/link/etc. & the replacement text/link/etc.) come in such garbled form that I struggle to untangle them. This is probably a simple update, and I've asked a couple of questions which should only require yes/no answers, and now am getting silence. It's a pattern that keeps on repeating with this person; and in about a week's time I'll get an email saying "SEE BELOW THIS STILL NOT DONE AND NOW URGENT!!!! THANSK", with their boss and mine copied in, but still no further clarification. Fortunately by then I'll be on holiday & it'll be someone else's problem.
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: December 14th, 2004 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: hmmm...

After reading that, it sounds like they want to put a new PDF up, with a link to it in the spreadsheet as per, and they are asking whether to do the link now or wait until the pdf is up. The answer is wait, as otherwise you put up a sheet with a link that points nowhere. It's not clear though, so somebody ought to create a (or point them at the existing) written procedure for this scenario (and the similar ones they might really be talking about)
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: December 14th, 2004 04:34 am (UTC) (Link)
We have a cartoon here. It features a helpdesk droid saying into the phone:
"I'm sorry, I don't understand your question. Please call back with a question I can understand"

It makes us laugh, anyway.

Somebody came in the other day complaining that they'd bought a PC with wireless networking and couldn't contact their ISP. From a place we know has no wireless network availability. She'd equated "wireless" with something akin to the the BBC World Service.
From: mikewd Date: December 16th, 2004 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Well if you go by the annoying Intel Centrino TV ads, showing people getting wireless connectivity from random remote places - where its unlikely there'd be a nearby WiFi hotspot (e.g. the middle of an ancient amphitheatre), then its not altogether suprising people would think that.
Read 9 | Write