Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In addition to yesterday's griping, I also have been thinking about a list of little things people could do to make my job easier. Well, now that I phrase it like that it sounds pointless. Of course everyone should do things to make my job easier, right? But still, a lot of this is pretty simple stuff which seems straightforward and yet nobody does them. The two examples that came up yesterday: Given that people use the Microsoft Word "insert comment" button all the time in my office, it seems to me like people should add further comments of their own by using that, and yet yesterday I got one document with a comment inserted into someone else's comment and another document with a comment inserted directly into the text. In either case it's easy to miss, and the second way if it's missed then it would even wind up in the finished product, which would be very stupid. So why don't people do it? I can't think of any reason other than thoughtlessness. (At my last job, comments from editors were made in the text of documents. However, again, there's already a practice here of using comment bubbles, so why some people don't insert comments in bubbles, and some people only do it sometimes, is the mystery.)

And the other example from yesterday: we all have access to the same file server. If everyone worked in the same master document then version control (that is, which version of the document is the latest and incorporates all the edits made by various people) would be no problem at all; people could see what changes earlier people made and make their own next to or on top of them or make comments disagreeing. The only problem is that two people couldn't work in it at the same time, but that seems like a small problem and relatively easily circumvented. So why does almost everyone insist on e-mailing drafts of documents back and forth as e-mail attachments? This way, someone (that is, me) has to go through and combine the two documents. If I'm lucky, they were working on two different parts, so I can just copy-paste one into another. If I'm unlucky, more likely, they have made edits close to or overlapping with each other, so I have to go through and review the changes line by line and hope they were just stepping on each other's toes but not actually disagreeing. Again, I have no idea why people insist on doing this by e-mail. It's possible that they really are so busy they couldn't get their job done around someone else occasionally working in the file, but it seems far more likely to me that they just can't be bothered.

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