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Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been, A Maverick?
November 13, 2008 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Want one of the roughly 7,000 jobs in Obama's administration? Hope you've got a pencil and some time to spare. Obama wants any internet "handles" you've used, too, presumably for vetting past snark. But lengthly questionnaires aren't anything new...

Google has had a few [login/bugmenot required] in their day.

Being an astronaut also requires a little bit of paperwork.

And of course, Scientology. ("Have you ever eaten a human body?")
posted by cobra_high_tigers (77 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Google's statistical hiring system is idiotic, everyone will just try to game it.
posted by delmoi at 7:28 PM on November 13, 2008


I applied. The microscopic probe? Bring it on. I would truly like to do something in the Obama administration.
posted by nickyskye at 7:29 PM on November 13, 2008


This same thing was happening to me a lot a month or so ago, when I was applying for rental properties. It always ended with me saying to the real estate agent "So, between you and me, it was because of that one guy I ate, wasn't it?" Of course, they could never tell me exactly.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:32 PM on November 13, 2008 [8 favorites]


Well, intense vetting like that will probably be a big step up from giving people like this policy advisor roles. I would also feel better knowing that anyone working directly for a presidential administration hasn't been off dicking around on the internet.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:34 PM on November 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Are the Internet forums I've been banned from going to be held against me in the future? Dammit, AnimeNation.net moderators, you've put me out of a job.
posted by shii at 7:35 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


A lot of this is scary perception management. I guess Obama has no use for closeted homosexuals, for example.

And the result is, of course, not an administration free of impropriety, but one full of those willing to lie about it.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:36 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


You can't hide from google, TheOnlyCoolTim.
posted by puke & cry at 7:38 PM on November 13, 2008


I guess Obama has no use for closeted homosexuals, for example.

You really don't want people keeping giant secrets in sensitive positions. It leaves them open to blackmail. Unfortunately, being a closeted homosexual is a pretty big secret.
posted by Justinian at 7:39 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Obama wants any internet "handles" you've used

But I poop from there!
posted by fleetmouse at 7:40 PM on November 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


I should note that most jobs aren't exactly sensitive positions.
posted by Justinian at 7:40 PM on November 13, 2008


Who's this guy people want to work for?
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 7:45 PM on November 13, 2008


TheOnlyCoolTim: And the result is, of course, not an administration free of impropriety, but one full of those willing to lie about it.

FWIW, this was also the result the other way
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 7:45 PM on November 13, 2008


Well that's the other question - how much of this is old and new, i.e. what did Bush's questionnaire look like.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:47 PM on November 13, 2008


I don't want to be Secretary of State anyway.
posted by mazola at 7:49 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


So if you have kept your online activities hidden behind anonymous names, like some people do, instead of using your given name, like I have, can't you just deny having any online names?
posted by paisley henosis at 7:51 PM on November 13, 2008


What did Bush's questionnaire look like?

One of the questions asked of every bureaucrat, coffee boy and truck driver who applied to work in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq was "Where do you stand on Roe v. Wade?"
posted by rokusan at 7:51 PM on November 13, 2008


• Have you ever killed the wrong person?

I really try not to. I just hate it when I kill the wrong person!
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:52 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can't you just deny having any online names?

I cannot WAIT for one cabinet member to stand up and accuse another of being a sockpuppet!
posted by rokusan at 7:53 PM on November 13, 2008 [19 favorites]


I was once disemvoweled on the internet, is that going to be something I need to confess?
posted by maxwelton at 7:59 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I recently had this rather disturbing incident in the past of senior Obama advisor Larry Summers drawn to my attention; seems like the qualifications to part of the new audacious hope might not be so stringent after all.
posted by Abiezer at 7:59 PM on November 13, 2008


One of the questions asked of every bureaucrat, coffee boy and truck driver who applied to work in the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq was "Where do you stand on Roe v. Wade?"

Bollocks. Everybody knows Bush doesn't give a crap about hurricane victims.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:00 PM on November 13, 2008 [26 favorites]


Bollocks. Everybody knows Bush doesn't give a crap about hurricane victims.
posted by Afroblanco


Eponyfavorited.
posted by rokusan at 8:01 PM on November 13, 2008


They need to add a "are you now or have you ever been an investment banker" question.
posted by clevershark at 8:02 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


~ I cannot WAIT for one cabinet member to stand up and accuse another of being a sockpuppet!

That reminds me of a joke I saw somewhere
posted by paisley henosis at 8:03 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Once again, my failed dotcom, onlinepuppykickingservice.com prevents me from gainful employment.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:10 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


That application should have one question only: "When you are online and you come across another user that you ascertain to be the opposite of a winner, do you accuse him/her to be a "looser" or "loser?" If the applicant answers the former, off to Gitmo they go. If they answer the latter, they should still be extraordinarily rendered somehow. The only proper answer is, "Arthur Lee."
posted by NoMich at 8:14 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, curious, I just did some sums of a subset of sites I've participated in.

Hypothetically, regarding "Please list and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or "handles" you have used to communicate on the Internet.":

Would it be more hilarious for me to give them a list of 8050++ URLs and make some poor sucker spend days on end typing them in or dealing with OCR, or PRINT OUT FUCKING EVERYTHING and submit that ridiculous tome?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:15 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Do you think that if archive.org returns that you have a long, dweeby, perverted history online that they recruit you directly into the Internet-background-check division? We can't leave this to the amateurs.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 8:15 PM on November 13, 2008


paisley henosis wins!
posted by jeffburdges at 8:46 PM on November 13, 2008


parmanparman is definitely not getting a job
posted by parmanparman at 8:59 PM on November 13, 2008


Handles?
posted by lukemeister at 9:08 PM on November 13, 2008


~ paisley henosis wins!

I'm totally putting this on the first page of my internet "publishing" section in my application!
posted by paisley henosis at 9:11 PM on November 13, 2008


I'm glad cortex was able to answer all these questions so mathowie could hire him full-time.
posted by lukemeister at 9:18 PM on November 13, 2008


Holy crap, thats a lot of questions. I'd love to compare it with what the bush administration asked (besides Roe v wade.) I guess I'm glad they ask so much. But I hope they're careful with these questionaires, I'd hate to answer all that personal stuff and have it get onto the internet or something like that!
posted by aacheson at 9:33 PM on November 13, 2008


"Oh come on man, if you hammer just one nail that doesn't make you a carpenter. If you plug just one leak that doesn't make you a plumber. Yet if you eat just ONE human body..."
posted by clevershark at 9:41 PM on November 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


~ But I hope they're careful with these questionaires, I'd hate to answer all that personal stuff and have it get onto the internet or something like that!

Especially since it will be linked to both your real name and your online 'handles,' so anybody Googling either would find all of that personal stuff.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:44 PM on November 13, 2008


So I guess years--YEARS!--of filling out forms like this to get a goddamn file download is going to be problematic?

First Name: Joe
Last Name: Blow
Address: 6969 Reciprocal Way
City: Asshole
State: IN
ZIP: 69696
E-mail Address: foo@bar.com
Phone Number: 969-696-6969
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:57 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I just finished filling out the full application on change.gov, and I didn't have to fill out any sort of questionnaire. But I guess that's for the 7,000 top level positions?

Really, I don't know what use the Obama Administration will have for a twenty-five year old perpetual-student, wannabe editor, and half-assed writer who has never held down a paying job for more than a few months at a time, but I'm happy to offer my services.
posted by Caduceus at 10:07 PM on November 13, 2008


That reminds me of a joke I saw somewhere…

Me too.
posted by washburn at 10:24 PM on November 13, 2008


Have you systematically set up mysteries?

Best. Question. EVAR.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:32 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man, how are they going to fit all those 7000 people in the White House? I bet there's not enough toilet paper.
posted by crapmatic at 12:03 AM on November 14, 2008


But I guess that's for the 7,000 top level positions?

The reporting is pretty mangled but it looks more like the heavy duty questionnaire is for the top couple of hundred jobs out of those 7,000. And these are exactly the sort of questions you would expect ambassadors and other senior civil servants to be asked. Or indeed more junior staff in sensitive areas like foreign policy and defence.

And the result is, of course, not an administration free of impropriety, but one full of those willing to lie about it.

A lot of the point of the length and complexity of such questionnaires is to catch people in lies and they are not so much interested in what you lie about as the fact you lied. I've heard of people who have failed drugs tests for government jobs but still got the job because they have admitted taking drugs.
posted by ninebelow at 2:47 AM on November 14, 2008


I looked for the job of Secretary of Marijuana Legalization...but unfortunately, there is no such position. What was I talking about? I need some Fritos!
posted by jamstigator at 3:51 AM on November 14, 2008


Copies of all writings, posts and publications, eh? I hope Barack likes my erotic Thundercats fan fiction.

In any event, I spotted a typo. Can I be Secretary of Nit-Picking?

I have never written erotic Thundercats fan fiction, or indeed any Thundercats fan fiction of any nature.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:53 AM on November 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Would it be more hilarious for me to give them a list of 8050++ URLs and make some poor sucker spend days on end typing them in or dealing with OCR, or PRINT OUT FUCKING EVERYTHING and submit that ridiculous tome?

I'm loving the thought of someone having to go through my Facebook status updates:

Simon is going to the gym....
Simon is back from the gym....

Repeat ad nauseum.

I also wonder if they'd accept an admission of posting "LOL" 5000 different times, or if they actually would want a printout or URL for each of those 5000s LOLs?
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:40 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or indeed more junior staff in sensitive areas like foreign policy and defence.

OH GOD WE'VE BEEN INFILTRATED
posted by kittyprecious at 5:15 AM on November 14, 2008


Good lord. Do you know many Usenet posts I'd have to dredge up for this purpose? The interview would at least be entertaining.

"And what precisely was the cause of this flamewar, Mr. Spatch?"

"Well, it started in alt.config when they got all up in my business over their snake-oil pyramid scheme newsgroup. alt.config always rejected their proposals, but they kept sending newgroup posts to control anyway. I kept rmgrouping their newgroup posts, they started forging headers to cancel my rmgroups, I made fun of their business and trolled their ads, they retaliated by creating obscene newsgroups with my name in them, and after that it just becomes a blur."

"Did you really use the phrase 'all up in my business' in 1994, Mr. Spatch?"

"... no."

"I believe that will be all, thank you. We'll keep your resume on file. Officer Reardon will escort you out of the building."

Guess I'd also have to include the FidoNET incident from 1991 where I wandered into a Russian-language echo, used one of my Russian teacher's pet phrases (which, unbeknownst to me, was a colloquial obscenity) and nearly caused an international incident.
posted by Spatch at 5:52 AM on November 14, 2008 [10 favorites]


Fleetmouse, you made me bust out laughing!
posted by a3matrix at 5:56 AM on November 14, 2008


I regret I have but one sauce to give to my country.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:06 AM on November 14, 2008


Yeah, I thought about this last night, and I am well and truly screwed. I have been a member of too many sites, while perfectly legal, I wouldn't want disclosed. I'd either have to tell them my usernames there, or live in fear that someone would connect the dots. No thanks.

I'm sure it's fairly trivial to go from username >> real name, but I'm not sure how difficult it is to go from real name >> all usernames, if one has been moderately careful.
posted by desjardins at 6:07 AM on November 14, 2008


How would you describe your online persona? [Check all that apply]

[ ] Troll
[ ] Stalker
[ ] SEO jackass
[ ] Earnest pleader
[ ] Astroturfer
[ ] ZOMG lewt ninja
[ ] Quonsar
posted by Mister_A at 6:41 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


[X] Horse
posted by cellphone at 7:38 AM on November 14, 2008


Please. For my State Department internship back in the day I had to endure being asked, by a semi-retired, creepy-old-man agent -- IN PERSON, so I couldn't just put down the phone and laugh -- if I was sleeping with all of my (male) housemates.

Not one.
Not two.

ALL OF THEM.

I was tempted to say "Well, there is a chore roster on the fridge, and everyone takes turns on the fucking me one..." but I didn't.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:43 AM on November 14, 2008


Spatch, I laughed so hard it actually brought on tears.

btw, if anyone manages to come up with my lost username at Zappos while filling out an application, I'd really like to buy some shoes.
posted by nax at 7:44 AM on November 14, 2008


All this security and screening and we still have government employees placing millions of peoples' private data on a laptop and then losing it...

Honestly I would prefer to hire a handsome, intelligent guy who may have once or twice used the word 'fucktard', over some milquetoast with a crappy MySpace dedicated to pictures of his cat and links to YouTube videos of crustaceans doing funny things.
posted by Mister_A at 7:58 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


A cohabitant is a person with whom you share bonds of affection, obligation, or other commitment, as opposed to a person with whom you live for reasons of convenience (a roommate).

For some reason I've become fascinated by this and its possible implications. Which of the people I've ever lived with would be classified as 'cohabitants', I wonder, as opposed to mere roommates? I'm going to use this in the next argument I have with any of the friends with whom I share a house: "I honestly thought of you as a cohabitant, but I see I was wrong. I've never been anything but a roommate to you."

Seriously, is this a commonplace distinction in US English?
posted by Acheman at 8:03 AM on November 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I applied for a job in the Obama administration but I didn't have to fill out this questionnaire. I guess that means I'm not being considered for a Cabinet-level position after all. Dammit, I've been so careful boring on the internet too!
posted by Quietgal at 8:09 AM on November 14, 2008


I think it's funny that in the midst of all these elaborate intrusive questions they ask for only three references... the same as any random job I've ever applied for. And they probably won't call 'em, either.
posted by yarrow at 8:14 AM on November 14, 2008


A lot of people are assuming the questionnaire answers will be used to throw out candidates. I think it's more likely they'll be used to eliminate surprises, but it will depend on the balance between the candidate's positives and the transgression admitted to.

If Hillary Clinton answers that she once called somebody a poopyhead once in a huffpost forum under the handle whatwater, and he really wants to name her as SecState, at least he's going in eyes wide open, knowing he won't be ambushed by somebody at fox news digging it out. If on the other hand she has posted an extremely detailed answer to this AskMe, that's going to get her eliminated.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:27 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Which of the people I've ever lived with would be classified as 'cohabitants', I wonder, as opposed to mere roommates? I'm going to use this in the next argument I have with any of the friends with whom I share a house: "I honestly thought of you as a cohabitant, but I see I was wrong. I've never been anything but a roommate to you."

Does it count if you had the total hots for one of your roommates and it wasn't reciprocated? Like, to the point where if this had happened, it would've been fine by me?

(well, just with him, anyway)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:29 AM on November 14, 2008


Nice recursion there, b-g!

On the cohab. v room-mates thing: I guess "fuck-buddy" is a subset of the former category?
posted by Mister_A at 8:48 AM on November 14, 2008


Or if you got drunk and had sex with your roommate, but you, ah, er, 'under-performed' and so you never managed to have sex with them again, much as you wanted to redeem yourself in their eyes?
posted by bashos_frog at 9:00 AM on November 14, 2008


....I thought the Scientology one was later found to be a hoax, wasn't it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 AM on November 14, 2008


the diary question is a bit worrying. And seeing as someone tiook a photo of me messing about in fancy dress and posted it on a D/S blog without my consent, I'd be in trouble.

I think there are several things I've done which 'might cause embarrassment to your family'. That's what closed fora are for.
posted by mippy at 9:07 AM on November 14, 2008


So let's see, Mister_A, we've got 'cohabitant,' 'roommate,' 'fuck buddy'... what about 'hobo I let sleep in my garage for a while but who was kind of cute'? or 'stripper friend who lost her apartment and lived on a futon in my spare room for a week'?) We could get reallllly detailed...

(p.s. I didn't even HAVE a garage then)
(p.p.s. The stripper thing is totally true, though)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:22 AM on November 14, 2008


I applied. Didn't get asked to tell them about MeFi yet, though.
posted by bonaldi at 9:28 AM on November 14, 2008




"...Biht yew fook hwon goet..."
posted by notsnot at 9:38 AM on November 14, 2008


"Well that's the other question - how much of this is old and new, i.e. what did Bush's questionnaire look like."

It mostly consisted of spelling "Jesus" right and completing all the mazes and word-finds on a Denny's place mat.
posted by klangklangston at 10:34 AM on November 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


If Hillary Clinton answers that she once called somebody a poopyhead once in a huffpost forum under the handle whatwater, and he really wants to name her as SecState, at least he's going in eyes wide open, knowing he won't be ambushed by somebody at fox news digging it out. If on the other hand she has posted an extremely detailed answer to this AskMe, that's going to get her eliminated.

Wait, are you saying that we need to start referring to her as MeFi's own Hillary Clinton, now?
posted by Caduceus at 10:39 AM on November 14, 2008


Slaps blank application on counter as I walk in

Well I'm out.
posted by Danf at 10:47 AM on November 14, 2008


Man, how are they going to fit all those 7000 people in the White House? I bet there's not enough toilet paper.
posted by crapmatic at 3:03 AM on November 14 [+] [!]


Eponysterical.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:08 AM on November 14, 2008


Do the first kids need a babysitter? That's about the only job in the Obama adminsitration I would want/be qualified for.

And the background check on that will probably be exactly the same as the background checks I've gone through for every job in childcare I've had. This questionnaire is only moderately more detailed than what I've had to do as a nanny. I had to go through criminal background check, employment background check, character references, CPR certification, vaccination records, TB test, credit check, disclosing all online accounts (which were then extensively checked - I had interviewers bring up stuff I didn't realize anyone could *find* and only vaguely remembered saying), verification of clean driving record, fingerprinting for checks against any outstanding federal/state/etc crimes - I've had to do everything short of providing a DNA sample.

No one cared if I was a lobbyist though. That seems to be the only major difference.

It seems only right that we should subject the people who work in government to the same kind of scrutiny to those working in childcare. (Methinks the two actually have a lot in common... "John McCain is on my side of the aisle again! MOOOOM!")
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:16 AM on November 14, 2008


I think i'd just print this out and send it in as my application.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:47 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes! grapefruitmoon for First Nanny!
posted by nax at 12:29 PM on November 14, 2008


What if I'm a closet heterosexual?
posted by sandraregina at 1:43 PM on November 14, 2008


I applied for a CIA position once, and they stalked me and my friends for like 3 months afterwards. Plus the lie detector test (I didn't even get that far, naturally.) This is bliss in comparison.
posted by naju at 2:23 PM on November 14, 2008


I think i'd just print this out and send it in as my application.

US Gov't: Thanks! Bill, we need another 7-proxy trace. Jim, go warm up the van.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:33 PM on November 14, 2008


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