10 most dangerous species of help desk analyst

IT veteran Jeff Dray takes a lighthearted look at different types of help desk analysts. Are you or your coworkers on his list?

IT veteran Jeff Dray follows up his hilarious 10+ most dangerous species of help desk caller and 10 most dangerous species of IT manager lists, with this lighthearted look at the people who inhabit the world's IT help desks.

I picked a few photos to illustrate Jeff's great descriptions, and put them together in a slide show. Click this link or the image below to see Jeff's species of help desk analyst in the flesh.

Author: Jeff Dray

It has taken nearly ten years but finally, after many months lurking in hides or camouflaged as a photocopier, I have identified the genus and species that inhabit our IT support teams.

Photo credit: ©

1. Auxilium foetorus: "Pig Pen" help desk analyst

Related to the "Pig Pen" user this guy, and it is sadly usually a guy, lives for computers to the complete exclusion of everything else including washing and buying clothes. What they don't know about the minutiae of obscure networking protocols or graphic card refresh rates isn't worth knowing. The trouble is, most of what they know is of no interest or use to anyone. Once he re-enters the real world he makes a great addition to the team.

2. Auxilium reinitium: "When in doubt, reboot" help desk analyst

This person tackles every fault by advising a reboot. Yes, this is a sound first step which cures a host of transitory PC ailments, but the users see it as the IT equivalent of the doctor who advises their patients to "Take two aspirins and call me in the morning."

If the reboot fails to resolve the issue Auxilium reinitium has to find other ways to get to the bottom of the problem. He will buy time by asking the user to read out random strings from the registry. This time is used to scour Google, TechNet and possibly Sporting Life for inspiration.

3. Auxilium complicatus: "I'm better than you" help desk analyst

One of the worst types of help desk analyst I have observed in the wild is the one who uses too much jargon and obscure industry references when talking to non-technical users in an attempt to either show them how clever they are or to belittle them. This species will never use two words when fifty will do. Whereas you and I are happy to keep our jobs in this difficult climate, Auxilium complicatus refers to his "Ongoing recurring employment and deployment situation." He thinks he is a genius, anyone who meets or works with him thinks he is an annoying idiot.

4. Auxilium Tediosa: "Know-it-all" help desk analyst

The boring help desk tech; He won't just fix the problem, he will explain in minute excruciating detail just what caused the problem and what a clever so-and-so he is. Outside of work he lives with his mother, in a similar arrangement to Norman Bates. He passes the quiet winter evenings cataloguing his collection of 1980s power supplies.

5. Auxilium Benifica: "I feel your pain" help desk analyst

Auxillium Benificia is a revered and kindly person who, by some strange paperwork accident secured a job on the Help Desk. If it were up to him every caller would get a brand new PC every time he or she placed a call and in addition would get a week off to get used to it. The callers love him but the managers are close to despair. He is often asked for by name and is considered a legend by those who use his services. Sadly his knowledge of problem solving is somewhat less than rudimentary.

6. Auxilium Attentissimus: "Attention to detail" help desk analyst

When you call the help desk and the ACD lottery machine drops your call on this analyst, you're in for a real treat. The job ticket MUST be completed so that every detail, no matter how trivial, is recorded. OK, so the asset number of the machine, your name and telephone number and details of the operating system and application might be useful but your date of birth, social security number and blood group may not be, it all goes into the log, unless you stop it.

7. Auxilium Evangelista: "Evangelising" help desk analyst

No matter what you are trying to do, this person knows a better way of doing it. He or she may be an advocate of open source products, Apple Macs, alternative platforms in general, in short, anything that you don't have available. Whereas they may have a point in what they say, they miss the point, that the company supplies a standard system and image right across the enterprise and talk of Red Hat, open office or Leopard is purely idle talk.

8. Auxilium Buzzwordia: "Only opportunities" help desk analyst

Closely related to Complicatus, this character picks up on any office buzzword and runs with it until he learns a new one. Ten years ago he was running things up the flagpole and saluting them. Four years ago he would take any immediately irresolvable problems and "put them in the parking lot", even in England, where the words "Parking lot" are not part of the language. This is the chap you want to condemn to a slow and painful death when he uses the phrase "There are no problems, only opportunities." Try telling that the person who is trapped in a burning building. If ‘Offshoring' is ever a likelihood, beware Auxilium Buzzwordia, today's bizmeth is ‘aligned' to ‘downsizing' and ‘leveraging' efficiencies.

It should be noted that if ‘Leverage' is used as a verb it is invariably pronounced the American way, even in the UK.

9. Auxilium Methodica: "Mad scientist" help desk analyst

This tech knows all the usual fixes but likes to ring the changes, if he develops a theory about a problem he will try it out on the callers, despite the fact that there is a tried a and tested fix that takes seconds. He hasn't grasped the fact that the caller wants and needs to get back to work. Methodica sometimes stumbles upon a new way of doing things but is mostly a pain in the neck.

10. Auxilium scriptomania: "Know-nothing" help desk analyst

This is a particularly dangerous Help Desker, and one I had the misfortune to encounter only this week. This one will stick to the script no matter how irrelevant and or unhelpful. As an example I will give a brief reconut of the call I had:

Tech- "Hi my name is xxx how may I help you today?"

Me-"Good Morning, this is Jeff, one of the field techs, can you please reset the download flag for unit number xxxxxxx."

Tech-"Sure, first I will need some details from you—your name and company name, your email address…"

Me-"No, I'm one of your guys, I just need the download flag reset."

Tech-"Sure, can you remove the mains cord for me and wait one full minute then restart the machine."

Me-"No, there is no problem with the machine, I just need the download reset".

Tech-"Please hold one moment"

20 minutes of Mantovani ——

Tech-"Thank you for holding, is there anything else I can help you with today?"

Me- "Grrrrrrrr!"

This call usually takes about 8 seconds, but Auxilium Scriptomania can make it last forever.


Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

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