Communication breakdown

Two separate small annoyances the other day revealed a host of deeper issues with internal communications structures:

  • Colleague A emailed our departmental ‘chat’ mailing list (we have two all-department mailing lists, one for ‘chat’ and one for ‘work’) saying that he needed someone to “make a change to the DNS” to redirect from one URL to another. His email ended, rather desperately, “Can somebody help?” Colleague B then followed up to this email (moving the discussion to the ‘work’ list) to say that what A meant to ask for was an HTTP redirect.
  • Colleague C, from another department, emailed me asking me to forward an email to a University-wide mailing list for web managers. I used to administer the list when I was part of the webmaster team, 3 years ago; I still have posting rights but I’m not really responsible for the list any more, so I forwarded C’s request to the appropriate role email address so that someone from the webmaster team could deal with the request via our ticketing system. In the course of the subsequent correspondence on the ticket (visible to everyone in the department) I learned that C had been told to email me directly by someone who is explicitly responsible for managing internal communications.

Exercise for the reader: how many separate communications problems can you identify here? Or do you think it’s all part of one big problem?

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