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In which our heroine accidentally torments a client... - Qualified Perceptions
In which our heroine accidentally torments a client...
So, it is frequently the case that users are not very clear in their complaints. "My email is broken." "My account doesn't work." "I can't get into my Athena." So, today:

"I'm trying to log into my mit edu account and it says my password is wrong."
"Okay, how are you trying to log in to your account?"
"I'm going to my mit edu and typing my username and password."
"Um, okay. Where are you typing this? Are you sitting in front of an Athena workstation, or trying to access your email, or get a certificate, or something else?"
"No, just my mit edu."
"Okay, but can you describe where you're trying to type your username and password? Is this in a web browser?"
"Look, I'm just trying to talk to some sort of representative to help me with getting into my mit edu account."
"Yes, that would be me, I should be able to help you, but I'm just trying to understand how you're trying to connect so I can start trying to tell what the problem is. Is this a web page you're trying to access?"
"Yes. It's my.mit.edu."

And this time, I manage to hear the unspoken periods.

my.mit.edu, it turns out, is the Admissions Office web site. It's for people applying to MIT to check on their applications. Not, in fact, something I can help with at all. But wow, that was painful.

Current Mood: embarrassed embarrassed

10 comments or Leave a comment
From: readsalot Date: November 29th, 2006 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, you did ask if they were using a web browser.

How did this person get your phone number? I just looked at that site, and they have their own contact info that presumably doesn't point at you.

firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: November 29th, 2006 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
In addition to "not clear at stating problem", "not good at following the instructions on the page you are looking at" seems woefully common. (I suppose if everyone were able to follow said instructions, there would be less reason to employ me...)

But starting from scratch and doing something like searching web.mit.edu for "password," it's pretty easy to get to my phone number, so I am not too surprised there.
From: readsalot Date: November 29th, 2006 04:12 am (UTC) (Link)
But, but...right there under the username and password there's a link for "forget your password?" and another for "forget your username?". Wouldn't it be more logical to use those than to go and search the main mit.edu site?

Though this suggests to me that those links should really be merged into one called, "Problems logging in?" Perhaps you could call the Admissions Office and describe the problem to them?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: November 29th, 2006 04:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I can't really describe it as a Big Problem, having gotten one misdirected guy, and not having any idea how many people successfully and correctly see the "Forgotten password" link and follow it without ever coming to my attention. :)

I think the more general cause of this sort of thing is that people have a weird tendency to not try to get help when they're at the thing they need help with. I have to assume he wasn't *at* my.mit.edu when he decided to go look for help getting in; perhaps he thought later, oh, I should really find someone to help me with that problem I had yesterday.

We had someone the other day who called in for help because he was having trouble with his email - but he called from his car, on his cell phone.
chenoameg From: chenoameg Date: November 29th, 2006 05:09 am (UTC) (Link)
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: November 30th, 2006 04:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, what if you're convinced that you haven't forgotten anything, but it's rejecting you anyway? Then neither link is appropriate. (Actually, they're the same link, just repeated with two names.)

Also, how does a page about admissions get the incredibly uninformative name "my.mit.edu"? What would be wrong with something like "admissions.mit.edu" or the like?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: November 30th, 2006 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I think it's the same sort of marketing/titling decision that came up with the email address of mykidis@mit.edu for parents to send questions to. :)
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: November 29th, 2006 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's interesting that, on re-iteration, the caller didn't say "my dot mitt dot ed-yoo account". Or even "my mymitedu account".
astra_nomer From: astra_nomer Date: November 29th, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Given this person's inability to follow directions, I'd say MIT doesn't really want him anyway.
From: readsalot Date: December 1st, 2006 10:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
You know, I was thinking that myself, but wondered if I was being too mean.
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