Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More on (moron?) agencies -- the worlds funniest IT policy

This one left us with damp trousers.

A major international agency who shall go nameless published IT guidelines not long ago.

Our correspondent, who shall also remain anonymous, had this to say: "It isn't so much bad grammar and usage as a generalized inability to make sense. I'm sure I am the only person who read it, which is a shame because it's marvelous in its way."

Let's make sure a lot of us read it now.

We invite you to revel in these gems from a major global firm, one of whose ostensible skills is the ability to communicate clearly and unambiguously.

The policy is in italics, our correspondent's keen observations are in standar type:

“Throughout the Agency network, streaming of music is not allowed. Streaming of music includes but is not limited to iTunes, Real Player and Music Match.”

The company puts a copy of iTunes on every computer they issue to employees. Apparently, you’re just not supposed to download anything.

“Listen to personal copyright music and/or DVD’s as long as the files and/or data on those CD’s or DVD’s are not transferred to any Agency computer resource;”

So you’re not only to avoid downloading anything with the copy of iTunes the company gives you, you’re also not supposed to load in your own music. I guess they hand out copies of iTunes so their employees look “with it.” They probably try to entrap people with that “Meet Your Fellow Employee” profile question, “What’s on your iTunes?”

“DON’T: Eat or drink around the keyboard or computer.”

Of course, people in an advertising agency consume breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and coffee with one hand on the keyboard. As I’m sure they do in the White House and Google’s server farm and everywhere else people use computers except maybe missile silos.

“The use of flash devices (also called removable media) may only be used with the express permission of both the IT Manager and the CFO.”

Both, okay? I pointed this rule out to the CFO, and he looked frightened and shouted, “You have my permission!! You have my permission!!”

Then there’s this helpful description of what email is for:

“The e-mail system, like the phone system, helps with communications both internally (i.e., with Agency employees) and externally (i.e., with clients, vendors and media).”

I was pretty sure it was to help with communication. I’m glad to know for certain.

And to finally get some clarification on which people are internal and which are external. And there are some special people to avoid harassing:

[Don’t] “Initiate or forward Harassing, pornographic or indecent messages as they are prohibited. (This includes but is not limited to initiating or forwarding to agency or non-agency individuals)”

At first, “includes but is not limited to” agency or non-agency individuals seems to mean that it includes a third group, people who are neither with the agency nor not with the agency. They live in other quantum states that we can’t see, but can forward emails to.

When you keep working on it, though, you see that the “or” means you may be allowed to send indecent messages to some people, it just doesn’t say whom. Trial and error would be the only way to find out.


We've seen bad writing from lots of departments of lots of companies, but this is particularly excellent bad writing.

Would that it were intentional.

We cast an Idiot Flag at the agency and its IT department. How we long for, for the days when internal communication was clear...and when agency communications had intentionally humorous constructions.

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