Abuse response [Was: RE: Yahoo Mail Update]

Steve Atkins steve at blighty.com
Tue Apr 15 19:09:44 UTC 2008

On Apr 15, 2008, at 11:54 AM, William Herrin wrote:
> On Tue, Apr 15, 2008 at 2:04 PM, Steve Atkins <steve at blighty.com>  
> wrote:
>> Unfortunately many of the skills required to be a competent abuse  
>> desk
>> worker are quite specific to an abuse desk, and are not typically  
>> possessed
>> by random technical staff.
> Steve,
> You don't, per chance, mean to suggest that random back-office
> technical staff might not have the temper and disposition to remain
> polite and helpful with the gentleman from the state capital so upset
> about the interdiction of his political mailings that he's ready to
> sic the regulators on you and wipe you off the map?
> The problem is that the individual who -does- have those skills along
> with the technical know-how to deal with the complaint itself usually
> ALSO has the skills to be the customer contact for a multi-million
> dollar contract. If you're a manager at a company that wants to, well,
> make money, which chair will you ask that individual to sit in?

Not really.

IMO, with decent automation[1] and a reasonably close working
relationship between the abuse desk, the NOC and an internal
sysadmin/developer or two, there's not that much need for a high level
of technical know-how in the abuse desk staff.

Good people skills are certainly important, and it'd be good to
have at least one abuse desk staffer with a modicum of technical
knowledge to handle basic technical questions, and help channel
more complex ones to to NOC or developers efficiently, but the level of
technical know-how needed to be an extremely effective abuse
desk staffer is pretty low. The specific technical details they do
need to know they can pick up from their peers (both within
the abuse desk, in other groups of their company and, perhaps
most importantly, from their peer at other companies abuse desks).

It's closer to a customer support position, in skillset needed, than
anything deeply technical, though an innate ability to remain calm
under pressure is far more important in abuse than support. If you're
big enough that you need more than one person staffing your abuse
desk you can mix-n-match skills across the team too, of course.


[1] Yeah, I develop abuse desk automation software, so I'm
both reasonably exposed to practices at a range of ISPs and
fairly biased in favor of good automation. :)

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