evaluating students, ex-students and colleagues is an important part of my job; I'm not complaining about being asked to do it (so no need to feel remotely guilty about asking me) -- I'm complaining about the cumbersome, inefficient and sometimes downright obstructive infrastructure.
Regarding academic references (for students applying for postgraduate study), Beard notes that some departments
To save themselves money and to maximise your irritation, many departments now have feeble, barely secure systems where you hand the reference back to the student in an envelope, signed across the seal and then covered with sellotape.
From recent experience, having produced a bunch of references for students applying for MSc study, I can reveal that Cambridge is by far the worst offender in this respect. At York and Edinburgh, they email you a URL, you go there, and upload the reference in PDF. At Oxford, it's bit worse, they email you a URL, username and password, you login and have to provide details of your contact info, affiliation and next of kin (I exaggerate slightly) which gets checked by "inspector" software, then you finally get to upload a PDF. At Cambridge, the student has to come by your office with a reference form in triplicate (you don't often get to use that word these days) and you have to print and sign three copies of the reference (one for each reference form) then you go through all the amateur cloak-and-dagger stuff with the signature and sellotape.
The point is, I guess, that Cambridge (and to some extent Oxford) are the only universities that can afford to be so obstructive to potential customers. The trouble is, they are mainly wasting the time of the referees, not just the students, and referees are ethically obliged to cooperate with whatever stupid system is being used. But I will complain to them about their system, and report here on any response I receive.