The tendency of sysadmin
s to give Weird Stuff the benefit of the doubt.
As explained by Hank Schoepp:
Given a college, there was a computing system. Access to this system was restricted and computing resources were very limited. At some point, someone managed to get a classic Star Trek game on there. It is an old text based game where you fly through sectors trying to kill all the Klingons as quickly as possible. You ration
your shields and energy and determine when to refuel/repair at a starbase. In any case, this became popular at the school.
The school soon found that the computing resources were being taxed most significantly by this game. A policy was announced to allow no game play. The announcement had a modest effect on the situation. Next sysadmins were sent out to kill these unauthorized processes and remove the offending binaries. That worked for a short time. The avid gamers simply renamed the file and changed the process
names to conceal it. At first the names were obvious, like Kirk or Spock. As the sysadmins recognized this tactic, the names became more obscure.
The sysadmins responded by writing complex batch jobs to hunt through the contents of every file seeking tell-tale signs that it was the game executable (which had a few variants by this point). The gamers responded by compressing or encrypting the file, thus frustrating the simple searches. This left the sysadmins to their own devices for hunting down rogue computer usage and stopping it. One day a young sysadmin found a file called RAT-PENISES.TXT and determined there is no way this is legitimate use of computing resources. The sysadmin deleted the file.
As it turned out, this file contained the final results of a multi-year study of the effects of steroids on rat penis size. The computer was used to store all the data and to perform the statistical analysis on the results. The
sysadmins went to their incremental backup and found no record there. Apparently it had not changed in a week (the group estimated poorly about the computational resources needed to do those statistics). No problem, back to the weekly full backups. Unfortunately, those backups were corrupted. Time to go to the quarterly backups, now at a significant loss of work. Unfortunately, these tapes had just been recycled while they were looking for the data in the more recent tapes.
Worse yet, the study was contracted by a major company at a multi-million dollar cost. Now there was no accurate results. This made the administration come down hard on the sysadmins. The new policy was not to mess with a user's files.