Congratulation to Ethan West of Carriage House, the first weekly winner of our blog contest!  Ethan has won a 1.0 GB USB drive.  (To enter in this random drawing, simply post a comment to any article on our blog now through May 31.)

I attended the Bagels & Bytes of Westmoreland County group’s monthly meeting earlier today.  (Bagels & Bytes meetings are peer support groups for professional and “accidental” nonprofit techies or anyone who has an interest in nonprofit IT.)

At one point, we had a conversation that had us all laughing to the point of tears because it “hit home” for all of us.  In a discussion on dealing with computer users, one of our members said he keeps them from “doing stupid things” by giving them a “rueful look” when they ask him about computer issues.  I think all nonprofit techies (and probably quite a few non-techies) have had that look more than once in their careers.  It’s a pretty typical face that is made when a nonprofit worker, especially one who has a full-time position worth of work other than IT, gets pulled away from their regular duties to deal with IT problems they aren’t technically being paid to sort out.

It was a comical conversation at the time, but I got to thinking afterwards.  Is “rueful” the way we want to be perceived as nonprofit techies, professional or otherwise?  Does that reaction lessen our credibility or personal power in any way?  Does it really help us to keep users from doing things they shouldn’t? 

Perhaps a different approach might be more effective and to our own advantage.  If we are feeling rueful, perhaps we are submitting too much to the beck and call of our users, instead of allowing them to make mistakes and not automatically answering their cries every time they yell for us.  They say that you shouldn’t pick up an infant every time it cries because it will associate crying with getting what it wants and keep on using it to manipulate its environment.  Perhaps our end-users have learned to get what they want in the same manner because we have been too responsive.   Perhaps its better to let users mull it over for a while and try self-support first so they learn on their own and become a bit less co-dependent. 

At any rate, I’m thinking out loud here and I’m interested in hearing anyone else’s musings on this subject – please leave a comment if you agree or have a different take on things.

Oh, and as a special treat for my friend Radly Brichards, here’s a little something from the LOLnptech blog: