Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Password Confusion!

At the helpdesk we experience users with all sorts of skill sets, or lack thereof. One thing that counfounds me is how many people seem to be completely confused about passwords. It seems simple enough, your username is your identity, your password is your key. You can only have on password at any given time. What follows is a frequent call:
User: I have forgotten my password.(Verifies identity)Me: Your password has been reset to 'abc123'User: So do I put in my old password now, because I don't remember what it is?Me: No, your password has been reset to 'abc123' so that is what you will need to enter.User: That didn't work.Me: Did you put 'abc123'?User: No I put in my old password.Me: Ok, I have set your password to 'abc123' Please type that in to your password field.Me: Did that work?User: Oh, you want me to do it now?Me: Yes, please put in 'abc123' in the password field, and then press the enter key.User: That didn't work either.Me: What error message did you get?User: "Your passowrd has expired. Please enter a new password in both fields."Me: Ok great. Now put your new password in the "New Password" and "Confirm Password" fields. The password must be at least six characters long.User: It wants my old password. I don't know my old password.Me: Your old password is abc123 and should already be typed in.User: Oh no, it had something in there but I removed it.Me: Ok, in old password type in 'abc123' and then put in your new password in the "New Password" and "Confirm Password" fields.User: It says that my password is invalid.Me: Did you put 'abc123' for your old password.User: No, I put in my old password.Me: If you do not put in 'abc123' for your old password it will not work. Please put 'abc123' for your old password, and type your new password in the "New Password" and "Confirm Password" fields.User: It says the passwords do not match.Me: Did you type your new password in the "New Password" and "Confirm Password" fields?User: Oh no, should I do that.Me: Yes.User: Ok, it works now.
Keep in mind that through all of this it is our responsibility to remain pleasant. There are some things that are inherently confusing If passwords confuse you, think of the password as a key. If you loose all of your keys you will need to have the locked change. Once you change your locks your old keys don't matter any more, only your new keys will work. If you find your old keys don't try them in your new lock. They won't work.