Rules of Tech Support

Posted: 22nd May 2018 by Jab in Stuff I see at work
Taken directly from

Rule 1 – Users lie.
Rule 1A – It may not be malicious or willful, but Rule 1 is always in effect.
Rule 1B – Users assume you don’t know they are lying.
Rule 1C – Users continue to lie as a result.
Rule 1D – When caught in a lie, users get angry.
Rule 2 – Explain everything as simply as possible.
Rule 2A – There is no language simple enough to make a user understand anything.
Rule 2B – Emojis are NEVER an answer.
Rule 3 – User caused problems are caused by tech support.
Rule 3A – As it’s your fault, they don’t want to be billed.
Rule 4 – If it doesn’t work, it is your fault.
Rule 4A – If it does, you had nothing to do with it.
Rule 5 – If you take the time to visit the user’s desk, the problem will magically have fixed itself.

Rule 5A – Or the solution is bound to be really simple.
Rule 5B – Or the user left the office moments after entering the ticket, and won’t be back for days. How long is uncertain as these users never use their calendar.
Rule 5C – Or when they do, they won’t have shared it with you or they entered an all-day event as taking an hour.
Rule 6 – All users consider their situation to be more important than others, even if they know you are helping someone else.
Rule 6A – All users want VIP treatment.
Rule 6B – But they don’t ever want to pay for VIP treatment.
Rule 7 – It doesn’t matter how much time the user claims something will take. See Rule 1.
Rule 8 – Users never read error messages, if they read anything at all.
Rule 8A – If a user reads an alert or error message, they don’t know what to do even if they can only do one thing.
Rule 8B -The more advanced degree a user has, the less likely they are to read anything.
Rule 8C – Users already have a certificate of proficiency in computering. See Link L6.
Rule 8D – If a user receives an error, when asked what it says, the user will reply: “I don’t know, just an error. I closed it.”
Rule 8E – “Isn’t it YOUR JOB to know that?”
Rule 9 – Expect any and all jargon and technical terms (such as wireless) will be misunderstood.
Rule 9A – Expect everything to be misinterpreted.
Rule 9B – All jargon is the same to users.
Rule 9C – All jargon will be used incorrectly.
Rule 10 – People will ask you for help with anything that uses electricity.
Rule 10A – Or anything that doesn’t.
Rule 11 – About half of tech support is solving issues that are only partially related to what is supposed to be fixed.
Rule 12 – No system is idiot-proof enough to best all users.
Rule 12A – If you haven’t found an user able to best your system, it’s because they haven’t found you yet.
Rule 13 – There is nothing so stupid that no one will do.
Rule 13A – Stupid questions do exist.
Rule 14 – Never believe a user who claims that there is nothing that needs to be saved. See Rules W10 and W10A.
Rule 15 – Sometimes you need to trick users in order to get the job done.
Rule 15A – Sometimes you have to make people terrified to get them to do what they are supposed to.
Rule 16 – Users care more about things working than in how you pulled it off.
Rule 17 – An user’s appreciation for your work is inversely proportional to how difficult it was.
Rule 18 – If you are a female tech, users will ask to speak to a man.
Rule 18A – You will be the only one who can actually help the user even though they will not believe a girl really knows anything.
Rule 18B – You actually know twice as much as the male techs but get only half the respect.
Rule 18C – Guys will pay more attention to your looks/voice than your mind.
Rule 18D – You will get tons of calls from men (especially if you are attractive) who will even disconnect stuff to get you to go to them.
Rule 18DD – Women will cause IT problems to keep you away from men.
Rule 19 – If you have an accent, then you will be perceived to be in a foreign country.
Rule 20 – Never trust a user.
Rule 21 – The most intelligent person you know will be defeated by a mere computer.
Rule 21A – Even if it’s you.
Rule 22 – The quickest way to find out who is responsible for something is to do the scream test. Remove that something and see who complains.
Rule 22A – If nobody screamed instantly, users may wait until it has been long enough that the thing has been thrown away and can’t be recovered any more. Then you will learn that said thing was critical for some task that absolutely has to be done right now, just like every X years.
Rule 23 – Never underestimate the power of the end user to complicate things.
Rule 24 – If it looks different, then it’s broken.
Rule 25 – Never give a user options.
Rule 26 – When you receive a ticket and call the user immediately, they definitely won’t be at their desk.
Rule 26A – If you email them they will already be on vacation.
Rule 26B – The less time that they’re in the office, the more urgent their issue is.
Rule 27 – Watch out for Finagle’s Law which states that ‘Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment.’

Rule 34 – Never refer to this Rule by its name.
Rule 42 – You already know the answer.
Rule 69 – Refer to Rule 34.
Rule 80 – If this port is taken, port 443 will be as well.
Rule 404 – You will never find it. See
Rule 404A** – If a page is not found, then the entire site|Internet is down.
Rule 99 – It’s always Dave or Steve or Kevin.
Rule 81N6 – The GoogleBing awaits.
Rule 600613 – Used to go to websites instead of going directly.

Users Will…

Rule W1 – Users will never follow instructions.
Rule W2 – No matter how much skill and knowledge and experience you have, users will claim they know more than you.
Rule W2A – No matter how much skill and knowledge and experience you have, users will claim others know more than you.
Rule W3 – Users will always try to talk with your manager.
Rule W4 – Users will delete or remove things they shouldn’t, since they figure they don’t need what they are removing or because it might “fix things”.
Rule W5 – Users will believe one single thing is responsible for the current situation.
Rule W5A – Often they think you are that one single thing.
Rule W5B – Telling them otherwise will only anger them.
Rule W5C – Unless asked, they have no reason for doing something. If asked, it is computering or wizardry.
Rule W6 – Users will try to make and use their own solutions and not accept blame when they don’t work.
Rule W6A – If the solution happens to work, the user will think they are now qualified for future issues.
Rule W7 – Users will plug cords into places they shouldn’t.
Rule W8 – Users will forget their password (and often their username), even if it’s their own name and written down next to them.
Rule W9 – If a document fails to print, users will keep trying just to make sure it prints.
Rule W9A – The True importance of the Documents they are trying to print will be inversely proportional to the fit they are throwing.
Rule W10 – Users will store important documents where they shouldn’t. The Recycle Bin, the Trash folder, the Deleted Items folders…
Rule W10A** – You will be blamed when things get deleted.
Rule W11 – Users will always call things by the wrong word(s).
Rule W11A – Users will often have one phrase for everything, like “The Internet is down”.
Rule W12 – Users will refuse to take any training since they consider it to be a waste of time.
Rule W13 – Users will claim that they are not stupid even after ample evidence.
Rule W13A – A user’s self-perceived intelligence is directly proportional to the level of condescension to which they treat you.
Rule W13B – The lack of knowledge a user has on a subject is proportional to the amount they claim to know about a subject.
Rule W14 – Users will be certain that the laws of physics and the (current) limits of technology do not apply.
Rule W14A – Users will believe that anything in a movie that involves technology is real.
Rule W15 – Users will never think to use a search engine for answers to their questions.
Rule W15A – When users do search, they will try to use GoogleBing.
Rule W16 – Users will use cheap equipment like surge protectors to protect their expensive equipment.
Rule W16A – Users will use cheap chargers for expensive items like smartphones.
Rule W17 – Users will refuse to accept that anything involving computers isn’t too difficult for them.
Rule W17A – Or give up at the slightest obstacle.
Rule W17B – Users will refuse to accept that anything involving computers is too difficult for you.
Rule W18 – Users will wait for days or weeks or months before seeking help.
Rule W18A – Users will demand help at any hint of trouble.
Rule W18B – The longer it takes to report it, the more urgent the user will claim that it is.
Rule W18C – The time it takes to fix the issue is inversely proportional to the amount of time it took to report it.
Rule W18D – The problem has retroactively been your responsibility for the months or years the user never told you about it, not just for the 10 minutes since they did.
Rule W19 – Users will believe something that can only affect one device can affect others by their mere presence.
Rule W20 – Users will expect all devices to know that it is them.
Rule W20A – Users will believe anything that can connect to anything can completely control that thing.
Rule W20B – Users will believe one entity (a server or the cloud) controls all things digital, as well as time and space.
Rule W21 – Users will believe their desire for something to happen is sufficient for it to happen.
Rule W22 – If you fix something quickly, the user will not want to pay.
Rule W23 – Users will order stuff they have no clue about.
Rule W23A – They will plug it into your network.
Rule W23B – And demand you support it.
Rule W23C – While the DHCP server, and the rest of the network, crashes.
Rule W23D – This will be your fault.
Rule W24 – Users will expect you to teach them stuff they should have learned in school.
Rule W24A – That users should have learned in primary school.
Rule W24B – Users will think that a single course is sufficent.
Rule W25 – Users will try to do things like type in uppercase numbers.
Rule W26 – Users will be unable to find the correct button or menu. Or correct anything.
Rule W26A – They might not even be on the correct screen, page, website, or operating sytem.
Rule W27 – Users will click on things that say “Click Here!” or “Download Now” just because they think they are supposed to.
Rule W27A Unless that “Click Here!” or “Download Now” button is the one they are actually supposed to click on.
Rule W28 – Users will try to use their computer while you are working on it, especially if you are not present.
Rule W28A – Users will get mad that you have to kick them off the computer to fix the problem.
Rule W28B – No matter how important it was that you had to do so.
Rule W28C – Any attempt to justify your actions will just get you in more trouble.
Rule W29 – Users will claim something can’t be done, even if you are doing it.
Rule W29A – Users will claim that something impossible worked before.
Rule W29B – Despite all evidence to the contrary, users will insist that things having worked yesterday means they must also be working today.
Rule W29C – In fact, it always worked that way before, even if doing so would have been physically impossible.
Rule W30 – Users will go out of their way not to read or learn something.
Rule W31 – Users expect to be rewarded for their mistakes.
Rule W32 – Users will hand expensive items to kids, even if it’s work property.
Rule W32A – And leave the kid(s) alone with said expensive items.
Rule W32B – And not fix anything that might happen. Also see Rule W18.
Rule W33 – Users will claim to have credentials that they don’t.
Rule W34 – Users will use jargon in an attempt to make it seem that they know what they are talking about.
Rule W35 – Users will insist on not using products that are better than what they are currently using.
Rule W36 – Users will call you from anywhere, even in a speeding car about to go into a canyon.
Rule W36A – Users will call from anywhere except in front of the equipment with the issue.
Rule W37 – Users will see no link between something they did and something breaking.
Rule W38 – Once you’ve touched something, whether you fixed it or not, users will blame you for all further issues.
Rule W39 – Users will confuse a company with the products that they make.
Rule W39A – Users will confuse a company with products that it doesn’t make.
Rule W40 – Users will expect you to know everything about their computer at home even if you only deal with large corporate systems.
Rule W41 – Users will give permission then get mad when you make use of it.
Rule W42 – Users will have liquids near their equipment.
Rule W43 – Users will repeatedly need help with the same task.
Rule W44 – Users will store stuff in places other than you ask them to, if they can.
Rule W45 – Users will either ask for at every step what they should do.
Rule W45A – Or do things they shouldn’t do without asking.
Rule W46 – Users wanting support for a phone will use that same phone to call you.
Rule W47 – Corporate users will expect you, instead of their boss or training department, to train them on how to do their job.
Rule W48 – Users will want you to do their job for them.
Rule W48A – And insist that it is, in fact, YOUR job, not theirs.
Rule W49 – Users will complain about your security measures but will claim that you should have done a better job when things go wrong.
Rule W50 – Users will give the wrong name of a product, even with the name right in front of them.
Rule W51 – Users will confuse you with other/previous techs.
Rule W52 – Users will refuse to do anything that improves things for them yet go out of their way to make things difficult.
Rule W53 – Users will be confused about how case-sensitive works.
Rule W54 – Users will assume that websites have www as a subdomain unless they are supposed to use www.
Rule W55 – Users will not know the phonetic alphabet, and will suggest the worst possible words instead of the real ones. They will also refuse to use the ones you’ve previously used in the current conversation.
Rule W56 – Users will believe every hoax.
Rule W57 – Users will turn things off and NOT back on again.
Rule W58 – Users will be certain that IT has infinite faster/shinier/better gear that they are keeping for themselves.
Rule W59 – Users will believe that it’s safe to connect anything to the Internet.

Tech Only

Rule T1 – CYA
Rule T1A – Always have someone else to blame it on.
Rule T1B – This is the most important rule.
Rule T2 – Never lie to another tech.
Rule T2A – Unless that tech is the person you’re about to blame. See Rules T1A and T25.
Rule T2B – Sometimes you will need to lie in order to deal with things like warranty repairs or getting ISPs to do the right thing.
Rule T3 – Never assume anything.
Rule T3A – Does the issue even exist?
Rule T3B – Is it even plugged in?
Rule T4 – Don’t expect your boss or coworkers or users to understand just what it is that you do.
Rule T4A – Even if they are a tech.
Rule T5 – Always have a small list of phrases to get users to do what you are trying to get them to do.
Rule T5A – Never share these with non-techs.
Rule T6 – Don’t let people know you are a tech. They are likely to ask for free tech support.
Rule T6A – Never, EVER, give out personal contact information.
Rule T7 – Sometimes, you will be the one who is wrong.
Rule T8 – You will really screw up eventually and it is going to be a doozy.
Rule T9 – Expect equipment to be placed in bad locations.
Rule T10 – It’s always the printer|DNS|server|browser|connection. It’s never the printer|DNS|server|browser|connection.
Rule T10A – It’s always the printer. Printers are evil.
Rule T10B – Printers are evil because of users.
Rule T11 – Just because it worked yesterday does not mean that it will today.
Rule T11A – Just because it didn’t work yesterday does not mean that it won’t today.
Rule T11B – Things only work when you are paying attention to them.
Rule T12 – Updates will be both solutions and banes, usually at the same time.
Rule T13 – Sometimes, you have to nuke everything.
Rule T14 – Backup following the Rule of Three. A backup, a copy of the backup, and a copy of the copy. Test them.
Rule T14A – Try to have at least one more backup going at one time in case one has issues.
Rule T14B – There is no backup. If there is a backup, it is either corrupt or years out of date.
Rule T14C – If you can’t restore from it, you don’t have a backup.
Rule T15 – Assume that there are inside threats, even inside IT.
Rule T15A – Don’t trust your coworkers. They might be using Rule T2A.
Rule T16 – Everyday errors are the most dangerous overall, due to how often they occur.
Rule T17 – Focus on getting things working, then on getting them done right.
Rule T17A – By hook or by crook.
Rule T17B – When things are working right, leave them alone.
Rule T17C – If something starts working, even if you KNOW what you just did shouldn’t have fixed it, raise your hands in the air unthreatening-like and slowly back out of the room.
Rule T18 – There’s always a relevant xkcd.
Rule T18A – If you can’t find a relevant xkcd, it’s because you haven’t looked hard enough.
Rule T18B – If there is no relevant xkcd, there is always a relevant Dilbert strip.
Rule T18C – If you can’t find a relevant xkcd or Dilbert strip, your problem does not exist.
Rule T19 – You and your work will never be appreciated by users since if you did your job right, none of these problems would have happened.
Rule T20 – All IT urban legends are true.
Rule T21 – When you need tech support, the tech support person is likely to be clueless.
Rule T21A – Whenever you have a problem, you will be unable to find a solution until just before the tech you called for help arrives.
Rule T21B – If the tech you called in isn’t clueless, then you were and your problem has an obvious solution that you completely missed that they will point out seconds after they arrive.
Rule T21C – If none of these apply, the solution will be something random that will make no sense whatsoever to you or the technician.
Rule T22 – Vendors will tell you that you need to upgrade to the newest version in order to fix things. If you are on the latest version, they will tell you to wait till the next version.
Rule T22A – If the problem remains reproducible on the latest version, they may tell you to downgrade. Even if you just upgraded per Rule T22.
Rule T22B – It’s not a bug, it’s an undocumented feature.
Rule T23 – If it takes TFTS to turn you paranoid, you likely haven’t been in tech support for very long.
Rule T23A – You aren’t paranoid. They really are out to get you.
Rule T24 – Every tech has their own set of Rules, even if they don’t know it.
Rule T25 – Every tech is also a user.
Rule T26 – Never make changes before going on vacation.
Rule T27 – The more you specialize, the less you will remember about basic desktop functions.
Rule T28 – No technical person reads all of the rules. They will act like they know them until the place catches fire, then complain about incomplete documentation.
Rule T28A – Especially if it was the documentation that went up in flames first.
Rule T29 – Never assume anyone else is smarter than you.
Rule T29A- Never assume you are smarter than anyone else.
Rule T29B – A user’s intelligence will always be precisely what is needed for maximum damage.
Rule T30 – Scheduled updates won’t.
Rule T30A- Anything scheduled will break things, especially if you are not available.
Rule T31 – Drivers will drive you bonkers. They are an accomplice to Rule T10A.
Rule T31A – Drivers are the real threat, not hardware.
Rule T31B – Drivers using hardware [heavy machinery] are also a real threat. Backhoes/diggers have a magnetic attraction to fiber optics and the drivers have an innate ability to find optical fiber. See Link L4.
Rule T32 – Third-Party IT will make configuration overhauls without notifying your company’s IT Dept, and then blame your company for problems caused by their configuration mishap.
Rule T33 – No is the answer for every request as long as it’s plausible.
Rule T34 – Users will be a lot more cautious if they have to pay upfront. Make sure they pay upfront for as much as you can.
Rule T35 – Treat your job like a role playing game.
Rule T35A – See Link L1.
Rule T35B – See Feedback F5.
Rule T36 – You are incompetent. You just don’t know it. At least, that’s what your replacement will think.
Rule T36A – You will have to deal with techs who are incompetent.
Rule T36B – Sometimes, you really are incompetent.
Rule T37 – Don’t run stuff that you are not supposed to unless Rules T17 and T17A apply.
Rule T38 – The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries are always applicable.
Rule T38A – Sometimes the applicability of the Maxims is not immediately obvious.
Rule T39 – Use your inner laziness to do the most elegant solution possible.
Rule T40 – Get to know the Dunning-Kruger effect. See Link L3.
Rule T41 – Every company has a Production environment. If you’re lucky, they have a separate Test environment.
Rule T42 – You might want to consider starting the day with coffee or tea and ending with whiskey or scotch or bourbon or beer…
Rule T43 – You might find people who support you. Reciprocate.
Rule T44 – When a user activates the Swedish Fish rule, they get preferential treatment.
Rule T45 – Make sure your fellow techs agree on what Rules to use.
Rule T46 – Like the military says, never volunteer.
Rule T47 – Some bugs are Heisenbugs; they can only occur if they are not being observed. Users do not count as observers.
Rule T48 – Something will be needed right after you get rid of it.
Rule T48A – Once you replace it, you will no longer need it.
Rule T48B** – You will buy something and then find out that what you currently have already has what you needed.
Rule T49 – User managed projects will always fail.
Rule T49A – And they will blame you.
Rule T50 – You will complain about something and then realize that you are the one that is guilty.
Rule T51 – You will find yourself putting out fire after fire without any chance to document anything.
Rule T52 – Cables look just like ropes…

Rule T1000 – Buy stock in Boston Dynmanics but sell all of it before 2029.


Rule M1 – Management might find these rules. Plead ignorance.
Rule M2 – Never believe anything management tells you.
Rule M2A – Especially if a merger or bad news is involved.
Rule M3 – Management will order stuff they have no clue about.
Rule M3A – Management will expect the thing they bought to work perfectly out of the box.
Rule M3B -You will be blamed when it doesn’t work.
Rule M4 – Management will be puzzled as to why you have no clue about the thing they have no clue about…
Rule M5 – Management will expect you to be up to speed on their under-the table projects, with decisions based only on what the salesman says, without consulting IT.
Rule M6 – Your boss will not have a tech background.
Rule M7 – Management will present impossible tasks to be done.
Rule M7A – Management will then become outraged that said tasks were not completed.
Rule M7B – Management will blame you when things do not work.
Rule M7C – Management will blame you if anything that was completed does not meet their expectations (they won’t), no matter how difficult they were.
Rule M8 – If a project makes sense, something is wrong.
Rule M9 – If it’s free (e.g., open source) or very cheap, management will think that it cannot be as good as the commercial stuff.
Rule M10 – Not all management is bad. Seriously.
Rule M11 – Do not, in any circumstances, send private anything via email. Especially if you’re the CEO.
Rule M12 – You will never get interviewed by anyone who will actually understand your answers.

Rule P1 – Have you tried turning it off and on again?
Rule P2 – Is it plugged in?

OM1 – Mentat Mantra (Dune modified)
It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
It is by the beans of Java the thoughts acquire speed.
The hands acquire shaking.
The shaking becomes a warning.
It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.

OM2 – We the Willing mantra
We the willing, led by the unknowing
Did the impossible for the ungrateful
We have done so much for so long with so little
That we can now do anything with nothing.


Feedback F1 – Should Rule numbers be in the format of <number> (e.g., Rule 8) and <letter><number> (e.g., Rule T32)? That is the current system. Or in <xxx> format (e.g., Rule 201)? Rule 1 would stay Rule 1 in either case, though it would also be Rule 100 with the latter.
Feedback F2 – Should this list be split into individual posts or stay as one?
Feedback F3 – Only contributions from here and that I come up with independently of any other Reddit are here, per this Reddit’s copyright policy.
Feedback F4 – I will post on the first of each month, conditions permitting, with at least one revised version within a week to address feedback. The version format will be YYYY-MM-DD, including for changelogs. No changelogs on GitHub.
Feedback F5 – A set of tech support RPG cards (or a rulebook) would be awesome. Anyone willing to join forces?
Feedback F6 – Planning on moving changelogs and links to previous versions to GitHub.
Feedback F7 – Suggestions for new sections?
Feedback F8 – Should I make changes/additions on GitHub and just post on TFTS the version that is current as of the first day of the month? That would make it easier to see what is new or corrected and still allow people to catch up without having to deal with GitHub.