Keith Allan has bravely outed himself as editor of the journal from which I recently received a thoroughly discourteous message sequence. I thank him for responding to the discussion, and for confirming that it was not about him pressing the buttons in the wrong order. The reason his fine journal (the Australian Journal of Linguistics) sent me a message sequence I found annoying and presumptuous is the design of the stupid ScholarOne Manuscript software. Let me explain a little more about the nature of my life (perhaps my experiences will find an echo in yours), the part that involves those arbitrary strings of letters and digits we are all supposed to carry around in our heads like mental sets of keys.
I have to keep a secret laptop file (it had better be secret — I can only hope I have hidden it well enough, since laptops do get stolen) containing more than a hundred triples consisting of URL, login name, and password or PIN that I have been issued with in pursuance of my many duties. Many of these accounts are for duties absolutely required of me in my university roles. Often there is no option to change either the login name or the password. (One of these also involved a complicated and entirely numerical login name. I was expected to use it the other day to fix a problem with student records entry that arose in 2005 at a university that I left in 2007. Apparently people expect you to keep in perpetuity these records of the unmemorizable passwords they give you.)
I simply hate being issued with new account names and passwords, to add to this burden. Yet these days a new one is obligatory for every association membership, email service, records database, blogger identity, banking arrangement, credit card, cellphone service, online purchase, loyalty program, travel agent, grant application, computer account, encryption system, or reviewing chore.
For many of them, I know, it is true that I would in principle be able to pick my way slowly through their "Edit my profile" page and figure out how to change the password to a standard one (not that they recommend it: security experts say you should have different passwords for every account!); but with over a hundred to work through, it would be hours of work, and I would still need to keep records of which ones I had changed so far, and what I had changed them to. There are widely differing rules regarding password composition: some (with no financial interest to protect) are ridiculously slack, and would accept "abcdef" (I even encountered one idiot organization that sent me an email confirming what password I'd chosen, and repeated it in their message, in plain text!), but others insist on something like "aQz&g9#B", with at least 8 characters and including case distinctions and non-alphabetics and embedded numerals, and repeatedly reject passwords until they get one they consider properly secure. I haven't got the five minutes to fiddle around with each such account and choose which memorized password to try and make it accept. I just hide the passwords in a file and look them up.
But this is not optimal, and I want to minimize the problem. So one thing I want to insist on is that no new accounts are set up for me without my permission. The ScholarOne/ManuscriptCentral software violates that tenet, and it then spams me to tell me it has done so! I find it infuriating. But the editor, I now learn, has no power to use the software without it behaving in this way. Thomson Reuters is to blame for what is apparently an uncustomizable piece of garbageware that editors everywhere are increasingly taking up in order to ease the intolerable burdens of their virtually unpaid work. But it is not the fault of the hard-working editors. I sympathize with Keith, and with others like him all over the world.