back to article BOFH: Stick this

"You've got to think of it in terms of sticks and carrots," I say to the PFY, "because users are complex - but stupid - stubborn animals, like donkeys." "Meaning?" "Meaning they respond to both rewards and punishment. So what you've got to do is find a balance between rewarding them for good behaviour - like not calling you …


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  1. Small Wee Jobbie

    Thank you...

    oh and you owe me a new monitor....again

  2. Andus McCoatover
    Thumb Up


    Simon's now in the Keyboard Debt club. (God, I've a lotta keyboards coming my way...)

    (Snot-riddled keyboard icon, por favor??)

  3. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Very much back on form

    Top notch stuff.

  4. Dave Ross

    I have a sudden unexplained craving for...


  5. sauerkraut
    Thumb Up

    hell YEAH

    i'll offer our secretary a carrot. and the boss, too. and i'll keep that extinguisher handy...

    good ideas simply are good ideas!

  6. Mark Milaszkiewicz
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    I've never thought

    about offering users a carrot... might be worth a shot here..

    genius work as always, a laugh out loud episode today... amazing..

  7. JimC
    Thumb Up


    Nice one Simon :-))

  8. Dex


    I feel complete now :-D I don't feel like a dirty junkie needing a fix, Very nice BOFH as just goes to show that a BOFH can be compassionate.....when it suits, all other times BOFH does what BOFH does best :D

    Cheers Simon!

  9. Darren Murphy


    I'm thinking of adopting that approach in my workplace only i'm fresh out of carrotts.

    Mines the coat with the steel bar in the lining.

  10. Dr. Mouse


    Nicely done Simon!

    Well, I guess it is a hard concept for a BOFH to understand, I can see the PFYs confusion. I mean, REWARDING the user for doing what he should? That's a sissie approach.

    In this situation, the correct level of response would be to TELL the user to clear out his mailbox. If he didn't, delete it. Simple. The users must do as they are told, and they must learn this.

    I think the company was careless anyway. They could be sued for the faulty fire extinguisher bracket!

  11. Annihilator
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    Love it!

    I bow down to you Simon (for fear of having a nasty accident).

    Now about my mailbox 50MB limit...

  12. D. M
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    100% agree

    The only way to deal with stupid lusers.

  13. Tim Schomer


    Back to the good 'ol BOFH, that user was gaggin' for some .. uh .. re-education.

    Must remember that fire extinguisher trick.....

  14. call me scruffy
    Thumb Up

    I knew a user once.

    He had 5Meg of storage to call his own, including mailspool.

    He wanted to use pine, which the site didn't support, and systems staff were not happy about non cs students having executables in their home directory. His response was to get someone tro send him the pine binary, which he kept in his mail box, to be extracted with elm and run, of course by the time there was the pine in his mailspool, and the running copy as an existing file, he didn't have any space for more messages.

    He was, it turned out, a jerk.

  15. B4PJS
    Thumb Up


    Reminds me of some of the lusers round here...

    Good return to form and I am liking the increased output recently :)

  16. mrlumpy

    Why don't people listen?

    We didn't write the software we just look after the servers and the pc you are working on. If the people who make your client or the mail software say there is a filesize limit then please just move some of your emails and everything will work nicely again.

  17. Geeks and Lies
    Thumb Up


    Fun for all the family :-) nice work!

  18. Ben Cooper 1
    Paris Hilton

    I can only dream.....

    Ah, some good old-fashioned violence towards management.

    If only I was able to tw@ my boss in the face with a fire extinguisher or strangle them with the fire hose then my life would be complete!!

    Paris because she looks like she could handle a decent size hose.


  19. Jan 7

    Now that was a good one...

    ...wasn´t it?

  20. JP Strauss
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    Comedy gold


  21. Chika

    Veeeery interestinnk!

    Actually I've been having this very problem lately. I'll have to go invest in a bag of carrots and go round with the screwdriver later on!

  22. Richard Morris


    I know where to buy sticks..

    ..... but where do I get carrots from?

  23. TheWhiteIdea
    Thumb Up

    Muuuuuch gooderrrr betterer

    That's more like the BOFH I know and love..

  24. Andraž Levstik


    Mmmmmm I think I'll make a nice statue of a bloodied stick sitting atop a broken carrot. Would make the perfect holiday gift for a BOFH to have on his desk when users walk in...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The Leatherman multi-tool approach...

    ... would be to eventually beat the user with the carrot.

    BOFH I salute thee, & my firstborn is christened Simon. :-)

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Garrotte and stick?

    Mine's the one with bulging pockets beside the mailbox.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Music to my ears.

  28. Mark Rosher

    A User Grins

    But over here, if your mailbox is full the system sends you an email to tell you, and another, and another until you can't actually access the mailbox to delete your mail. Funnily enough this happens every time I take a couple of days off...

    But there's no target icon for admitting to being a user...

  29. Nebulo
    Thumb Up

    Two sticks?

    Let's hope nobody in HMG reads BOFH ... might give them ideas!

    Magic. Thanks, Simon.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ..once again you've caused me to cackle like an idiot in my little cubicle. You Bastard, why must you embarrass me so?!?

    *sigh*, thanks, Man...

  31. Adam Salisbury

    Crtl+C, Crtl+V...

    Instant company policy :D Utter genius as usual, now to see if it works on vendors too....

    <RING, RING>

  32. Ron Loftin
    IT Angle

    Carrots ??

    Perhaps some alternatives to the carrot should be considered, targeting the (l)user involved.

    Perhaps bananas, for the monkey types who insist on "monkeying" with their config ??

    Or maybe some grass, for the sheeple.

  33. Andus McCoatover

    @ Richard Morris

    I knew I could find it...

    <<So this rabbit walks into a butcher’s shop and says to the butcher, ‘Got any carrots?’

    The butcher says, ‘No, we have only meat here. It’s a butcher’s shop.’

    The rabbit comes in the next day and says, ‘Got any carrots?’

    The butcher says, ‘No, we sell only meat in this butcher’s shop.’

    On the third day, the rabbit comes in and says, ‘Got any carrots?’

    The butcher politely says, ‘We have only meat. Meat.’

    The next day, the rabbit comes in and says, ‘Got any carrots?’

    ‘Listen,’ the butcher says, ‘we have only meat here. If you come in one more time and ask if we’ve got any carrots, I will nail your ears to the floor. You hear me?’

    The next morning the rabbit comes back to the shop and sees the butcher. ‘Got any nails?’ he asks.

    ‘No,’ the butcher replies.

    ‘Wicked,’ says the rabbit. ‘Got any carrots?’>>

    Old as the hills...

  34. MrJP

    Love it...

    ...jolly good work old boy!

  35. Il Midga di Macaroni


    Is anyone else trying to picture SimonT nibbling a carrot and saying "What's up Doc?" while a user tries to work out his beak has flown off and his face is covered with cordite smoke?

    Come to think of it, we could draw several parallels between BOFH and Bugs. They both exhibit amazing amounts of planning ahead. They both hold the power of life and death over everyone they come across. And they both win. Always.

  36. Jamie Kephalas
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    ... it might have taken me a minute to get into it but I'm laughing now!

    /me goes to buy some more fire extinguishers....


    Thanks Simon!

  37. not'known@this.address

    Any fule kno you can always make a file bigger

    Microsoft do it all the time. It's called "Windows".

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Pure Genius

    The best one yet (in 2K9 at least...)

    Keep 'em coming...

  39. Maty

    It happens

    Had a user once who insisted on storing his mp3 collection that way. Sadly his collection got so much larger than his file size allocation that it overwrote the buffers on the filestore and consequently the MBR was unable to locate where his files were on the hard disk.

    Normally I'd be able to restore from backup, but sadly my last backup was made on the assumption that he'd reduced his mailbox size as I'd strongly suggested. Also, my recovery tools only work on text and pictures, because that's all that's meant to be stored on that server, so while I 'might' be able to get his emails back the MP3s were toast.

    He believed it. Actually his taste in music was so crap that I didn't even bother keeping the MP3s for myself.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Clong indeed

    Boss - I don't understand why that's not possible.

    BOFH - let me walk you back to you office to show you (as he heads for the stairs)...


  41. Reverend Brown


    ...really is wonderful.

  42. DGRC

    I need a new monitor and keyboard

    When Simon is that funny, drinking coffee while reading is ill advised. The laughter forced the really hot coffee up my nose which further initiated a full coffee spew over monitor and keyboard.

    Then the fire extinguisher fell off the bracket. When I woke up, the carrots from my lunch were missing.

    Somehow I don't think it was all an accident. At least not the fire extinguisher part.

    Because the fire extinguisher has gone missing.

  43. Anonymous Coward
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    Ok hold on

    You mean I was supposed to be offering my (l)users FIGURATIVE carrots and beating them with FIGURATIVE sticks all this time???? Huh I had no idea, why did anyone explain that to me before now. Well hell that would explain a lot of things though, like so many of my (l)users suddenly expiring due to blunt force trauma to the head. ~shrugs~ Oh well I can't see where that whole figurative method is nearly as fun as the way I've been doing it so I think I'll stick with that one instead.

    Cheers Simon, nice classic BOFH.

  44. John Dougherty


    Obviously the BOFH has not really explored the full coercive potential of a carrot - never been hit behind the ear with one for instance. Leather sap in your pocket, the police politely ask for your hands behind your back, fresh, hefty carrot, they just think you're strange. There isn't after all that much difference between a carrot and stick in terms of basic design.

    Mine's the one with half a handcuff in the pocket.

  45. Woodgie

    How Art Imitates Life.

    I've been dealing with a luser this week with over 86,000 eMails in their INBOX (16GB or so). Not their whole account. THEIR INBOX. They're wondering why things were running slowly and their account keeps needing to be rebuilt...

    If only I'd thought of the fire extinguisher myself, I could have used it on the poor bloody server to cool it down!

  46. Dex


    You paint a cattleprod orange, would that class as a carrot? or am i just giving the PFY ideas

  47. Bill Cumming

    So you offer Carrots as a "Reward"!!...

    Well i never....

    With the Carrot and stick approach I used, If the stick failed I'd use the carrot and placed it sideways into the Users......Oh pub time......

    See you lot on Monday.....

  48. Kristian Durvin 1

    Thick Users

    Reminds me so very much of the guys in engineering who would try and attach a 4GB DVD image of a movie to a message and send it to 20 of their pals in the field offices, over 128kbps WAN links.... We needed more sticks in that office. Maybe more bullwhips at times.

  49. John Uhercik

    Right tool for the job.

    A CO2 fire extinguisher makes the best LART. Blasting the luser with a shower of

    dry ice particles will usually suffice. For the tough ones, CLONG!

    As an added bonus, they can be used to get a 6 pack of warm beers down to

    drinkable temperature in mere seconds.

    LART = Luser attitude re-adjustment tool.

    Flames, because someone emptied the fire extinguisher to cool all the beer.

  50. Chaitanya

    Thats why they call it

    The carrot 'AND' the stick. Neither one works independently - together they make a smash hit...

    me luv carrot and sticks

  51. dr_forrester
    Thumb Up


    Absolutely back on form. Must admit, though, that I expected to see the Boss get the fire extinguisher, too.

    Mine's the one with the screws off the fire extinguisher bracket in the pocket.

  52. night shift

    sticks through the phone anyone?

    sadly my job as third shi(f)t requires me to deal with (l)users of less than capable abilities....cant find thier arses with a 1:1 map, torch, gps, mirror and supervisor guiding thier hand.... any idead on how on earth i can shove a sick through the phone to beat idiots around the head that are over 100miles away from me?

    fire becuse i am about to find the exact location of the next moron who calls and introduce them to a propane blow-torch


  53. Anonymous Coward
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    The carrot approach.. hmm...

    Where are you supposed to insert the carrot?

  54. Simon B

    Like the CLONG!

    PMSL nice one :) .. the CLONG! cracked me up!

  55. Phil 34
    Thumb Up


    Ah, back to basics. Great job Simon - a BOFH for the ages. Admins across the world will have carrots on their desks now. I must go rush out and buy some.

    Although I must say, I wouldn't even talk to the user - their "funny" folder would be deleted and that would be the end of it. In fact, I personally would likely take it up a notch, write a little script, and every movie or song file on the email server would be deleted. (Besides my own a few other key people - those who I hit the bars with).

  56. Phillip Bicknell

    Two lots of laughs

    I laughed hard at the article - thank you, Simon. But I also laughed hard at loads of the comments - thank you, all.

  57. DavidWallis
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    Reminds me of the Clive Owen Film Shoot Em Up where he stabs someone in the eye with a carrot!

  58. LaeMi Qian

    For the sake of efficiency...

    ...use a carrot ON a stick.

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