Sysadmin Personality Types
Well we all are familiar with the canonical "Know your Unix System Administrator" survey, by Stephan Zielinsky. link. Unfortunately much of the humor is lost in time, and chuckling is tanemount to admitting you yell at kids to get off your lawn. In addition, today, we don't use time sharing systems. The Admin most people are familiar with works at a higher level, on the Network.
So here is an updated for 2010 version of the Sysadmin survey.
Rather than paint the sysadmins of the world into 4 distinct species, I think it more appropriate to look at them in dimensions of thought, much like the Myers Brigs system.
I do not wish to cast judgment on one dimension vs. another. Indeed, a healthy IT department has need for a little of everything. These qualities are based on my own experience as an System Administrator, as well as a manager responsible for herding, hiring and firing subordinate Admins.
Fascist/TaoistThis dimension reflects the sysadmin's approach to control. A Fascist looks to exhibit active control through decisive action. Taoists shy away from direct action, instead they exhibit control by manipulating natural processes.
Fascists, by nature, are confrontational. They speak of performance in terms of trouble tickets resolved. Every administrative logon is a badge of honor.
Taoists prefer to do their dirty work through "process". They speak of performance in terms of a well run system that requires a minimum of intervention.
Neophile/TraditionalistThis dimension reflects a sysadmin's approach to incorporating new technology. Neophiles love progress for progress sake. Traditionalists are really only concerned with keeping everything running with as little disruption as possible.
A Neophile loves new ideas, and new approaches. The speak of improvements to performance, and new uses for technology.
A traditionalist values a track record of reliability. The speak of uptime and maintainability.
Right/CorrectThis dimension sounds meaningless, but it is perhaps the deepest window into the soul of the admin. Usually answers are both Right (they fix the problem) and Correct (they fall within the norms of society.) But... what about the borderline cases. What if they have to chose? "Right" is the absolute, works in every case solution. "Correct" is the situation that resolves, or documents as know the lack of resolution, with a minimum disruption to the status quo.
A Right admin speaks of design philosophy and architecture.
A Correct admin speaks of protocol and economics.
Compatibility with the Zielinski ScaleThe four personality types in the Zielinski Scale can be represented as "clusters" of the 3 personality dimensions. My scale also predicts 5 "new" personality types. So for a breakdown of all 9:
And Evil Twin Skippy is?My own leanings. Have shifted over time.
At heart I'm a daoist,neophile,automaniac,right.
Brutal experience has shifted my responses more toward the Traditionalist and Correct dimensions of the scale.
So what is my Admin?Here are a few common situations on a modern network, and a breakdown of how each of the four Zielinski scale personalities