Download our list of help desk caller species

Help desk callers come in all shapes and sizes. One IT support pro finally sat down and created a classification system Darwin would probably be proud of. Check out this lighthearted look at the species of end users who drive us mad.

IT pros deal with end users of all types, from the knowledgeable to the truly clueless and everything in between. In a recent article and a follow-up, Jeff Dray grouped help desk callers into separate species, each with its own distinct habitat and behavior. TechRepublic members responded in droves, adding their favorites to the not-so-endangered species list.

Categorizing help desk callers
One of the most dangerous species of help desk callers is The Train Spotter, or Userus geekissimus. Dray writes that “The Train Spotter is most often the offspring of an Expert and a Fiddler. These callers are usually harmless and don't have many computer problems. What they do have is an IT magazine, which they have read from cover to cover. The Train Spotters will invariably corner an unsuspecting help desk tech and proceed to bore the tech rigid by sharing their knowledge. The main difference between Train Spotters and other callers is that Train Spotters do not usually phone the help desk; they visit in person.

“I'm not quite sure what they want from the help desk, but they take up a lot of time asking various questions about new innovations, about which I usually know nothing. I have found no explanation for the existence of this user other than that the Expert and Fiddler conceived the Train Spotter on a trip to a computer trade fair.”

Download the list of help desk caller species
Download Jeff Dray’s complete list of the 12 most dangerous species of help desk callers. This download is available as a Microsoft Word document and an Adobe PDF file. To increase download speed, we have zipped these two files together into one file named You will need an unzip utility such as WinZip or PKZIP to expand the zipped file. You will also need Microsoft Word, Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, or another application capable of reading DOC files. You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Here's your chance to evaluate us
Tell us what you think about this download. We'd like to hear your comments and suggestions, so send us a note.


About Bill Detwiler

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...

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox