Apparently we struck a nerve with our recent article on “users behaving badly.” True, nobody was surprised that users behave badly; what might have been a surprise, we wrote, was just how many of them had been bad.

Little did we know.

Sysadmins promptly took to reddit to describe, in great detail, some of the offenses caused by their miscreant users. And, my goodness, some of those users have been very naughty indeed. 246 comments later, we’d learned a lot. (Postings edited slightly for clarity and, in some cases, for obscenity.)

“I don't mind if users want to kick back and watch a movie, browse Facebook, etc. when they have some downtime. I'm not their supervisor, that's not my concern,” writes Meatwad75982. “My concern is when some idiot goes to and I have to spend the next morning cleaning up the toolbars and junk that has overtaken the system after installing some ‘necessary codec’ or ‘media player.’”

“If my users are on Facebook or looking for jobs, I don’t really care, I mean, admit it, we all probably do at some point or another,” agrees Serath62. “But when they start just plugging in random people’s flash drives so clients/customers can print out documents for people, I lose it.” (In case you didn’t know, flash drives can contain malware.)

Employees letting their children use their work computers are among the worst offenders, sysadmins note. “I recently cleaned up all kinds of adware and ‘Optimizer Pro’ stuff off of an exec's machine,” writes LeBean. “Surprise, surprise, it all got installed during the week of spring break when their kid came into the office with them for a day or two.”

“Employee recently gave his laptop to his 13 year old son to work on homework,” reports aywwts4. “I don't know when the last time you met or were an Internet-connected thirteen-year-old boy. But yes, the porn sites infested it quite thoroughly, thank you very much.”

Interestingly, somewhat of a schism developed in /r/sysadmin, with some posters saying organizations—and, by extension, sysadmins—needed to lock down their systems better to prevent this bad user behavior. Others scoffed, saying that it was up to the sysadmins to protect their corporate data and systems better and that people were entitled to use their computers for a little personal R&R.

“Strong policy is key to IT,” writes Gawdor, who goes on to describe how many non-work sites were locked down at his/her employer. “If you don't have a policy framework in place, then you have my sincerest condolences.”

“Imagine if they started cracking down on using a pen at work for personal use,” argues Hellman109. “Sure, there's a million ways to control people on a computer, but it's not always good to do them.” It was also noted that in some cases, having the freedom to do a little personal surfing helped promote alertness and stave off boredom.

Some sysadmins write, however, that locking down systems is their only choice. “I didn't want to be a Nazi about it, I really didn't,” reports the720K. “But after repeatedly cleaning malware off of the same few PCs in the course of three months, I reluctantly obtained the greenlight from the firm partners to block Facebook,” which solved the problem. Other sysadmins said that lockdown was a policy decision, and their job was to enforce policy, not set it.

In particular, sysadmins gave the stinkeye to companies that were concerned about employees looking for a new job on company time. “Well to be fair, it's good etiquette to not look for a new job while at your current job,” concedes Dudgey-the-destroyer. Nonsense, say others. “If someone's already made the decision that they're going to go look, blocking job hunting websites isn't going to stop them,” writes Mr_Mars. “If your employee attrition rates are truly that bad, you need to figure out how to make the job more appealing, not just try to stop them from looking.”

Finally, in our post we posited the notion that, in the “don’t do what I do, do as I say” school, perhaps the sysadmins themselves were also among the offenders. A number of them concede this, but insist that for them, it is different. “IT people do most of these things even more than others,” admits chimney3. “We just never file a ticket or bring it up with anyone, so it never makes it into discussions like this!” This drew a reply from Loki-L quoting the Latin phrase, “Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi ["What is permissible for Jove is not permissible for an ox"].”

Got it.

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