UnNews:Research: Uncyclopedia worker interruptions costly

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Research: Uncyclopedia worker interruptions costly

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14 December 2006

Problems playing this file? You might be a dope.

YOUR DESK, Your office (Work) -- The chances of you finishing writing this article without getting interrupted or distracted are slim.

U.S. office workers get interrupted on the job as often as eleven times per hour, costing as much as $588 billion in paid time lost to open content production each year. The digital communications that were supposed to make working lives run smoothly — cc'ed email jokes, Internet porn and chatting up that hottie in the next office by IM — are actually preventing people from getting critical tasks like writing Uncyclopedia or Wikipedia accomplished.

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The typical office worker is interrupted every three minutes by a phone call, e-mail, instant message or other distraction. These take up 2.1 hours of the average day — 28 percent — with workers taking an average of five minutes to recover from each interruption and return to their original gag-writing or witty picture editing, or querulous talk page arguments and arbitration cases about the correct format for subheadings on articles about disused former US highways. The problem is that it takes about eight uninterrupted minutes for our brains to get into a really creative state.


You, hard at work.

From online shopping at work to planning the office holiday party, workers are bombarded with distractions. "It's certainly a recipe for even less writing getting done," said a typically bone-idle and parasitical Uncyclopedia timewaster. "It's 'There's my BlackBerry. What time is it in Kittenhoeffer right now? How many phone calls did I get? Can I win the sales office spider solitaire competition?' It's a lot of productive timewasting turned to useless 'productivity.' People like the convenience and possibilities that this technology affords them when they want to use it, but that doesn't increase the average quality of Wikipedia or pump up the funneh on Uncyc!"


Classic Windows time waster.

Still another study found a group of workers interrupted by e-mail and telephones scored lower on an IQ test than a test group that had smoked marijuana. Unfortunately, EPA regulations still forbid bong hits at one's desk, even when trying to fix one's makefile.

There is a mini rebellion under way, however. Desperate for some quiet time to think, people are coming up with low-tech strategies to get away from all their technology. "If you don't have that sort of free time to dream and muse and mull, then you are not being creative, by definition. I find hiding in the server room with my laptop is a good place to work on witty tales of Britney Spears flashing her lunch at paparazzi."

The problem appears to be getting worse. A study by Wikia earlier this year found that 62 percent of British Uncyclopedians are addicted to their e-mail — checking messages during meetings, after working hours and on vacation, hoping to get their funny take onto UnNews first.

"If I wanted to work," said the user, "hell. I'd get a job."

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