The nine types of users
El Explicito

"I tried the thing, ya know, and it worked, ya know, but now it doesn't, ya know?"
AdvantagesProvides interesting communication challanges.
DisadvantagesSo do chimps.
SymptomsComplete inability to use proper nouns
Real CaseOne user walked up to a certain Armenian pod manager and said, "I can't get what I want!" The pod manager leaned back, put his hands on his belt-buckle, and said, "Well, ma'am, you've come to the right place."
Mad Bomber

"Well, I hit ALT-f6, shift-f8, CNTRL-f10, f4, and f9, and now it looks all weird."
AdvantagesWill try to find own solution to problems.
DisadvantagesUser might have translated document to Navajo without meaning to.
SymptomsMore than six stopped jobs in UNIX, a 2-1 code-to-letter ratio in WordPerfect
Real CaseOne user came in complaining that his WordPerfect document was underlined. When I used reveal codes on it, I found that he'd set and unset underline more than fifty times in his document.
Frying Pan/Fire Tactician

"It didn't work with the data set we had, so I fed in my aunt's recipe for key lime pie."
AdvantagesWill usually fix error.
Disadvantages'Fix' is defined VERY loosely here.
SymptomsA tendancy to delete lines that get errors instead of fixing them.
Real CaseOne user complained that their program executed, but didn't do anything. The sysadmin looked at it for twenty minutes before realizing that they'd commented out EVERY LINE. The user said, "Well, that was the only way I could get it to compile."

"Last week, when the moon was full, the clouds were thick, and formahaut was above the horizon, I typed f77, and lo, it did compile."
AdvantagesGives insight into primative mythology.
DisadvantagesFew scons are anthropology majors.
SymptomsFrequent questions about irrelavent objects.
Real CaseOne user complained that all information on one of their disks got erased (as Norton Utilities showed nothing but empty sectors, I suspect nothing had ever been on it). Reasoning that the deleted information went somewhere, they wouldn't shut up until the sysadmin checked four different disks for the missing information.

"Will you look at those. . .um, that resolution, quite impressive, really."
AdvantagesUsing the cutting-edge in graphics technology.
DisadvantagesHas little or no idea how to use the cutting-edge in graphics technology.
SymptomsFuzzy hands, blindness
Real CaseWhen I was off duty, two users sat down in front of me at DEC station 5000/200s that systems was reconfiguring. I suppressed my laughter while, for twenty minutes, they sat down and did their best to act like they were doing exectly what they wanted to do, even though they couldn't log in.
Miracle Worker

"But it read a file from it yesterday!" 'Sir, at a guess, this disk has been swollowed and regurgitated.' "But I did that a month ago, and it read a file from it yesterday!"
AdvantagesApparently has remarkable luck when you aren't around.
DisadvantagesPeople complain when sysadmins actually use the word 'horse-puckey'.
SymptomsLoses all ability to do impossible when you're around. Must be the kryptonite in your pocket.
Real CaseAt least three users have claimed that they've loaded IBM WordPerfect from Macintosh disks.

"Well, this is a file in MacWrite. Do you know how I can upload it to MUSIC, transfer it over to UNIX from there, download it onto an IBM, convert it to WordPerfect, and put it in three-column format?"
AdvantagesBold new challanges.
DisadvantagesMakes one wish to be a garbage collector.
SymptomsAn inability to keep quiet. Strong tendancies to make machines do things they don't want to do.
Real CaseOne user tried to get a sysadmin to find out what another person's E-mail address was even though the user didn't know his target's home system, account name, or real name.

"Well, first I sat down, like this. Then I logged on, like this, and after that, I typed in my password, like this, and after that I edited my file, like this, and after that I went to this line here, like this, and after that I picked my nose, like this. . ."
AdvantagesWilling to show you exactly what they did to get an error.
DisadvantagesFor as long as five or six hours.
SymptomsSelective deafness to the phrases, "Right, right, okay, but what was the ERROR?", and a strong fondness for the phrase, "Well, I'm getting to that."
Real CaseI once had to spend half an hour looking over a user's shoulder while they continuously retrieved a document into itself and denied that they did it (the user was complaining that their document was 87 copies of the same thing).
Princess (unfair, perhaps, as these tend, overwhelmingly, to be males)

"I need a Mac, and someone's got the one I like reserved, would you please garrote him and put him in the paper recycling bin?"
AdvantagesFlatters you with their high standards for your service.
DisadvantagesImpresses you with their obliviousness to other people on this planet.
SymptomsInability to communicate except by complaining.
Real CaseOne asked a sysadmin to remove the message of the day because he (the user) didn't like it.