Tag Archives: webmaster

Demon PITA

firedBack when I was in the e-biz, we had two kinds of clients: Demon and PITA. Some things never change.

Tom’s Law #42
Like a boss or a customer in a restaurant, anyone paying you money to do work on their behalf believes it is their duty to make your life a living hell.

Demon clients are customers where you lose money. They are basically squeaky wheels that aren’t worth the grease to fix. (That’s not to say, however, that a fix would be having them greased.)

Consider: You and another person are customers of some product or service. You pay on time, are reasonable, and an all-around good egg. The other person, however, is slow to pay, constantly whines, excessively consumes your time and resources, and basically sucks your life away like the machine in the dungeon in The Princess Bride. Coincidentally they use the word “inconceivable” a lot.

What if you both pay the same rate? If so, then simply by being nice, you are getting ripped off. Big time. Essentially your function is subsidizing assholes.

Smart companies know this and charge demon clients more and good clients less. Generally speaking, less subsidizing that goes on the better. Subsidizing is an affront to concepts like fairness and equity.

PITA? That stands for, of course, “Pain In The Ass.”

When you combine demon and PITA into a single client? That’s where the magic happens. That’s when it’s truly something special. A singular experience worth writing home about.

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[More] Tales of the Webmaster


Let’s start with a little webmaster joke. I apologize, but this joke relies on some complicated insider industry jargon. Maybe some of my fellow webmasters will get the humor. The rest of you might miss it.

Q. Why did the webmaster throw in the towel?

A. Clients exist!

Now we move on to the following creepy tales of horror. These are true stories that actually happened. You have been warned.
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Tales of the Webmaster


Let’s start with an exceedingly simple┬álogic proof:

  • Hell is other people.
  • Clients are people.
  • Clients are Hell.

Now we move on to the following creepy tales of horror. These are true stories that actually happened. You have been warned.
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Secrets of the website update

Website Finger HoldAs the keeper of a company website, you often have a tough row to hoe. Instructions to perform revisions can be, shall we say, ambiguous.

“Add the SKU to the product title.”

Okay. Where do you want that? Before the title? After? Somewhere in the middle? Sure, you could have mentioned it or even provided the pertinent text to be revised, but that would be too easy, right? By making me guess what you want, you guarantee two things: I’ll be wrong and the task will have to be done at least twice.

You’re very clever that way.

So I put the SKU where I think it makes sense. You then tell me it’s wrong and make me move it. Thus, you have demonstrated your power and that you’re the only one for miles around that can make real decisions.

“Make the product sound more exciting.”

Ah, the quintessential request to get me to write your copy for you, even though you know damn well I don’t do copy. Why don’t I do copy? Because it never works out. Nothing I can produce will ever be up to your exacting standards. Just yesterday I lived through this and it only pertained to a single sentence. Not even a sentence, really. Just a bit of text preceding an input field. Luckily you were there to direct me at the level of editing a single character at a time. Who knew that you don’t need a space between a word and a beginning parentheses. “I like that,” you say. “Welcome to amateur hour,” I say.

“Insert these phrases into the hype on the product page.”

That’s pretty damn open-ended. At first I thought the phrases were bullet points, and those are easy enough to insert, although I’ll do it wrong and then there will be an editing phase where, one cycle at a time, we play with the friggin’ order of the bullet points. Somehow, though, I knew these weren’t bullet points. So I wrote back and asked for clarification. “Please provide insert points. Provide context for where the new content is supposed to go.”

Next thing I know, the page was edited without me. And no courtesy of a reply. They cut me out. And there it sits as an open item on my list of things to do. Even worse, their update included shitloads of <FONT> tags, the scourge of real HTML.

Thanks for, once again, wasting my frickin’ time. You know, the time you want me to “prioritize” and keep time sheets because I’m too stupid to manage my day.

The Anatomy of a Recent Update

I was recently tasked to add a new product to an existing page that already contained a shitload of products. (Yeah, that one product per page thing is for the birds.) We want our products carefully arranged on pages taller than the World Trade Center.

My instructions included a new SKU, a link to a product photo, a source product, and the bullet points that were different. In other words, I copy that source product, add a new section to the page, and edit what’s different to make the new product.

Piece of cake.

I was told that the new product was to be labeled “coming soon” but that the add to cart button should be active. (Which means it can be ordered.)

I completed the work and informed my boss. Like always, I included a link so he could review and make sure things were correct. I took the extra step of verbally advising the boss that since price wasn’t included in my instructions, the price for the new product was the same as the price for the old product. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” he said dismissively, as if I was a fly trying to land on his steak tartare.

A few weeks later and a customer orders the product. Oh holy shit! We got problems! First of all, the price is “wrong.” It’s supposed to be $200 higher! (No wonder it sold fast, eh?) And how the hell the was the customer able to buy this at all?

Outcome: More redo of work already done because of a lack of instructions and, I have this in writing, I’m the one who was “wrong.”

The boss and I chatted about ambiguous instructions recently. His point was that if he has to explain what he wants to the level I can understand what he wants, then he might as well do the work himself. This is the same boss who admits he’s never had a single hour of manager training. In my training, things like communicating the task, setting expectations, and checking for understanding were all heavily stressed.

As I listened to the boss explaining his philosophy, all I could think was: Where is the leadership? Where is the inspiration? How are you encouraging me to do my best?

Do you ever meet people who are so dumb that they actually think they are smart? They don’t usually understand that they are the missing link in the room. And yet, more often than not, these are the assholes in power who get to tell you what to do. I call them “bosses.”

Frankly I’m amazed our company can even exist.

Thoughts on “loving what you do”

Just another day at the office

Every once in a while some sanctimonious sick son of a bitch will try to feed me this unpalatable line of disgusting crap:

“You gotta love what you do.”

Usually this this oh-so-useful piece of advice is offered by likes of playboy Hugh Hefner, eligible bachelor Derek Jeter, billionaire / airline owner / adventurer Richard Branson, etc. You know, the “make their own rules” sort of people.

Yeah, if my job title was “adventurer” then I might be a tad happier, too.

For most of us, the harsh realities of employment are, shall we say, a skosh less than “ideal.” In my case, the trip to dirty whore didn’t just happen overnight. It took a little bit of time, patience, good old fashioned luck and a healthy dose of deceit.

I’ll try not to bore you with the nitty gritty details, since you’d probably pass out and hit your head, and nobody wants that. I’m a webmaster by trade. I had a hard time finding work after moving to a small town. I ended up taking a job (on 09/11/2001 no less) that turned out to be heavy phones and heavy sales and just a little bit of technical duties thrown in to maintain the illusion that I was actually a “webmaster.” I wasn’t. It was my first exposure to the position of whore. But I was desperate for work and had no other choice.

I did some side work for a company and long story short, they needed a “webmaster.” (You’ll see the reason for the quotes soon enough.) I interviewed for the job of “webmaster.” The job of “webmaster” was offered. I accepted the offer and put in my two-week notice with my current employer. It was a very hopeful and exciting time for me.

At that point, I was pretty much committed to switching jobs. It would have been hard if not impossible to undo.

Before I started work at the new company I was brought in for a meeting. I was shown the operation, met the team, and then given some training. I quickly realized that something was seriously askew. I was being trained on the product line, how to answer phones, operation of the cash register, and retail floor operations. In other words, absolutely nothing to do with actual “webmastering.”

I’ll never forget that day as long as I live. I left the building, sat in my car in the parking lot and threw up. Good times to be sure. And it has been all downhill from there.

Now, five years later, I’m still here, still in this small town, and my hate and despair is palpable. I’m totally miserable being a phone bitch, talking to customers, and working as a salesperson. Yes, I do have some “webmaster” duties heaped on top of my regular bullshit, but it is nothing I “love.” It mearly represents additional stress and pressure on top of the daily secretarial things that have to get done.

There is no point to this post. I’m just having one of those days. Now you know why I always call myself a “whore.” My loose definition is getting paid to do that which you hate. I got that covered.

I guess my main beef with “you gotta love what you do” is that it implies that I choose this, that this is somehow what I want. I’ll bet millions and millions of workers would tend to disagree, even these days when a job, any job, is as valuable as a gold nugget.