Sometimes people can be so helpless: Finding the owner of a Web page


Internal to Microsoft are thousands of Web sites. This is a story about one of them.

On an internal discussion list, somebody asked

We just created a new Flurb. Does anyone know how to get listed on http://internalsite/newflurbs?

I hadn't heard of that site before, but I checked it out. Neat, it's basically a blog which announces new Flurbs. I can see how somebody would want their Flurb to be listed there. I also saw lots of pieces of information on the page which the person appears not to have noticed. I replied,

Um, how about the Email link in the navigation bar? Or did you try that and it didn't work?

Also, each entry has the same name at the bottom. You could try contacting that person.

Just giving you some ideas on problem-solving techniques.

Pre-emptive snarky comment: "Hey, Raymond, where's your contact link?" I was forced to disable the contact link some time ago because it was being used primarily to send spam. Finding my email address is left as an exercise. (It's not hard.)

Comments (13)
  1. Joshua says:

    As my dad used to say, "Use your noggin."

  2. Are we supposed to guess at your email ? Because it's nowhere on this page, and I don't particularly feel like scanning through the links on this page to try to find it if I ever want to contact you.

  3. Rick C says:

    Not that I have a need to contact Raymond, but I tried googling "raymond chen email" and got this amusing link: http://www.uspto.gov/…/chen_bio.jsp

  4. DWalker59 says:

    What's a flurb?  :-)  (Kidding.)

  5. DWalker59 says:

    Oh… did you get a reply from the person asking the question?  Did they admit that they couldn't figure anything out?

  6. Ken Hagan says:

    @Alex: email.about.com/…/What_is_Bill_Gates_s_Email_Address.htm

    …and then use Joshua's noggin (well, he offered).

  7. Pseudo-Anonymous says:

    Alex Marshall:

    Raymond's email address can be found in the "Raymond Chen" link in his TechNet column. It goes in the form of somebody@someoperatingsystem.somecompany.com. I hope he doesn't get too much spam. And why was my previous comment deleted?

  8. Joshua says:

    If I were to speculate, I'd say that finding Raymond's email address is supposed to be something like an intelligence test to discourage casual use. I did find an email address that either is or was his; I just don't know for sure if it's current.

  9. Larry Hosken says:

    "I hadn't heard of that site before, but I checked it out."

    Not sure whether their question was an internal PR stunt for the new Flurb or for http://internalsite/newflurbs itself.

  10. BigStew says:

    Can't find Raymond's email address? You're all a bunch of idiots :-)

  11. Stefan says:

    > Sometimes people can be so helpless

    Or Clueless. I maintain a website, and received an email (not too long ago) sent through the contact form of the website (!) asking me if I had any RSS-feeds that they could use. So I replied: sure, have you seen the links on *every* page on the website (including the page that holds the contact form!) that say "RSS"?

    The answer: Oh yes, I guess I should have looked at your website first.

  12. j b says:

    @stefan,

    If the information is available on the web: sure. But I have several times been in arguments with vendors who won't disclose their documentation until we've bought their products. I insist that reading the (complete) documentation is one of the essential ways to discover limitations and restrictions in the software, important to our decision to buy or forget. Referring me to "the URL and login code you received when you bought the product" is quite meaninless then.

    Obviously, this is a different situation from the one you describe. but it shows that the user (read: potential customer) doesn't always have all the information you take for granted, or operates in a context like the one you take for granted.

  13. Stefan says:

    @jb,

    Very true. But they also for some reason do not look for or search for the information that they want if it isn't immediately shoved in front of them. They also do not seem to understand that there may be other users with different needs/requirements that you also have to serve, so as provider you have to find a middle ground where basically nobody is competely satisfied. As an example: I once gave a customized training on a piece of software to 6 employees of a customer. When I received the evaluation forms on that training, 4 of them said they were not entirely satisfied, two of them were. On closer inspection 2 of the 4 said that there was too much practical exercise and too little theory, the other two said they received too much theory and too little practical exercise. The last two thought the split was just right. So from my perspective as the trainer I did it exactly right, even though 4 of 6 said that I didn't. But apart from training them separate there was no way I could have done better.

    That's from a provider/vendor's point of view. From a customer's point of view, you are absolutely right, and if a vendor would ever say that to me I would take my business elsewhere (and I would let them know too!).

    I guess it all boils down to: You can never do it right :-) (but you can find a middle ground usually)

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