Sunday, November 18, 2007

"Goating" is evil

Goddam it. First thedailywtf and now Jeff. Nothing says "I am purile" more than goating.

For the uninitiated goating is the pulling of some prank on someone who has left their computer unattended without locking it. I used to see things like this when someone would forget to log-off their station when I was in university. If you did that in a public computer lab anyone could walk up and use your terminal logged in as you.

This was actually becoming something of a problem since, at least initially, there weren't that many terminal available. If someone forgot to log-off, the screen saver would quickly kick in and then you couldn't log off someone until the full timeout which was something fairly large. When the labs were really busy it we often asked an admin to kill their ghost session.

For a while there was much pranking but it became clear that many people took this sort of thing extremely personally and so I, and a few others, started to log off people who left there terminal unattended before anyone else could get at them occasionally sending an email off to them mentioning that they forgot to logout and this was a bad idea etc.. This played out well because one time, I don't know what I was thinking, but I neglected to log out and was saved by one of the people I had helped earlier.

I am against pranking for multiple reasons.

The first is it's a big waste of time. Some of these pranks are elaborate and take time to undo. That's wasted time. I dislike spending 45 seconds at a traffic like I dislike people spending 5 minutes screwing with my setting and another 5 me tracking them down and fixing them.

The second is it can alienate those with different cultures, backgrounds or mindsets. If you're doing this sort of thing with a close knit group of friends that's fine. They've all agreed to it. Dragging arbitrary people into it can hurt feelings and breed distrust and bad blood amongst the team.

The third is it's absurdly unprofessional.

There's also this notion that Jeff mentioned that this sort of prank is pulled for someone's good. I'd believe that if those doing the pranks didn't have so much fun doing them.

Many places don't need this sort of security policy anyway. It's just creating stress and conflict where it's not needed.


No comments: