I’ve had a number of ridiculous requests recently. Perhaps ridiculous is a harsh word, but the queries mostly stem from the fact that my co-workers don’t understand what I do and/or that they are too lazy to undertake a little investigation on their own to obtain an answer. Here’s a sample:
After explaining how to do a search for links to our site at Google I wrote: “I did not find a way to filter out our own pages or review any listings beyond the ones shown. If you do, please let me know.”
Q. Just a thought, but would it be worth e-mailing the Google administrator to see how to better look at the list?
A. Maybe. You’re welcome to give it a try and see.
Q. … can we pirate a good deal of the information contained on the [competitor school] site?
A. I assume you are referring to the information and forms at [competitor school]. It’s obvious they spent a great deal of time developing the content for those pages. We absolutely cannot appropriate any of it. You should know that both the design and content of most sites is copyrighted, and like most published works, permission must be obtained to use either text or images. Also, any use of materials must be appropriately credited. You may survey other education websites, but only to determine what your competitors are doing, where their emphasis is, and as guidance to determine whether you’ve forgotten any important topics or features that are standard. Any content you write must be original or from a document produced by our publications group.
Q. Our current online application needs to be changed. It’s on the web, can you do it?
A. At the request of Motorhead (my boss), I undertook an investigation and spoke to the support department of the online application vendor and Mouseman (my office-mate). I learned that maintaining the application was originally a function of your department and that Mouseman had trained several individuals to use the administrative web tool for that purpose. Unfortunately, those individuals are no longer here and it seems the knowledge was not passed on to their successors. Your department will need to be trained again to use this tool. Please designate staffers to learn this function.
Q. I know that you are aware that we would like to know if/how we could move to having our online application done by us rather than by an outside agent. Have you been able to explore this?
A. In order for me to begin investigating the possibility of bringing this function in-house via our website, I need to understand:
– Why do you want to change the process?
– What is it about the existing process that should be eliminated or improved?
– How do you envision the process to occur if we move the application to our website?
– What do you expect to gain or save by internalizing this process?
The best way to proceed would be for your group to document the processes (existing and proposed) in flowcharts and include them in a written proposal that provides answers the questions above. Please also include information about the cost of our present service so that I can include a cost comparison for the alternatives recommended in my response.
Naturally, this group will not bother to write a proposal. Ever. That would require work. Instead, they called a meeting and invited Mouseman and I to give a technical overview of the alternatives and submit our recommendations. We told them to stick
it with what they have now and to investigate alternatives A and B over the next six months. Mouseman and I decided they won’t bother to undertake any investigation and that sometime down the road they’ll whine about what they have and then ask us “Did you investigate A and B yet?” We have bets on it.