Has something, perhaps, slipped your mind? Is it somehow not on the official office calendar? Now in its 17th year, Friday is National Sysadmin Day.

Officially known as System Administrator Appreciation Day (which, in a tragic irony, is sometimes abbreviated to SAD or SAAD), National Sysadmin Day is always celebrated on the last Friday in July (when, frankly, you’d think that any self-respecting sysadmin would be on vacation anyway).

Wondering how to properly fete the sysadmins who work the night shift or in a follow-the-sun office? Not to worry –you can celebrate at any hour. According to the System Administrator Appreciation Day official website, the party doesn’t end. “All day Friday, 24 hours, your own local time zone.”

There’s also a movement to have the day nicknamed Sysmas and to expand the celebration to 12 days, starting on July 18. In recent years, there have even been Sysmas socks and videos.

“Let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t know our System Administrators as well as they know us,” writes the Sysadmin Day site. “Remember this is one day to recognize your System Administrator for their workplace contributions and to promote professional excellence. Thank them for all the things they do for you and your business.”

With all their hard work, some believe they have more than earned the right to slack off a little for one day a year. “No sysadmin should lift a finger on System Administrator Appreciation Day, unless it’s for the purpose of pointing to the co-workers where to stick their cables and which buttons they should press,” exhorts the Days of the Year website.

Some also discuss the charming traditions for each kind of sysadmin, ranging from Windows to Unix. Other divisions include the various sysadmin personalities, ranging from The Martyr to The Survivor. New this year is also a Sysadmin Meme contest. The Linux Foundation is offering a series of free tutorials by which sysadmins can win prizes, and a number of vendors are also offering prizes for Sysadmin Day (check the Twitter hashtag #SysadminDay).

If anything, system administrators deserve even more appreciation this year than usual. After all as the Sysadmin Day website points out, “Let’s face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year.” With this year being a Leap Year, not only did sysadmins have an extra day to work, and presumably an extra day to not be respected, they needed to ensure that no critical systems broke during February’s extra day this year.

Admittedly, with sysadmins being the rugged individualists that they are, it’s not always easy to know the best way to recognize your particular sometimes-crusty honorees. “Hug a Sysadmin!” exhorts one Tweet, then amending it to, “Well, make sure they’re ok with it first.”

One poll that asked sysadmins how they’d like to celebrate the day found that while 39 percent wanted the day off, 41 percent wanted something apparently even more valuable: An ice cream and pizza party. This won out over having either pizza (14 percent) or ice cream (6 percent) alone. There’s also a selection of tasteful SysAdmin Day e-cards, which seems particularly appropriate.

What sounds especially effective is a Cambodian petition calling on CEOs to “allocate one hour of their time to spend with the IT Department on this date.” Admittedly, one would like to think that any CEO worth their salt would spend more than one paltry hour with the IT department a year but at least associating such a meeting with this day would ensure that it happens once in a while.

Of course, speaking of unsung heroes, there still doesn’t appear to be any sort of movement yet for a National Chief Information Officer Day. Maybe next year?

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