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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Email, RFCs, and the Growth of Knowledge

When I first started technical training, I was intimidated by the sheer volume of knowledge in the field of Information Technology. I remember thinking, "How can I possibly stay ahead of the students in my seminars?". I began to realize that it's not a matter of staying ahead of the students, but instead an issue of providing information in a particular area or areas that the student didn't already have. That said, I'm still amazed when I run across a new bit of information that I think I should have already known about. That just happened with RFC 2142: Mailbox Names for Common Services, Roles, and Functions. An email I sent was rejected by rfc-ignorant.org, an organization that was new to me. They provide a blacklist of domains that are non-RFC compliant. It appears that they're mainly concerned with RFC 2142 compliance. RFC 2142, as its name implies, specifies standard email names for common services, roles, and functions within an organization. Specifically, it wants you to have a postmaster@(your domain name) and an abuse@(your domain name) mailbox. (It recommends other names as well, but those two appear to be the ones that rfc-ignorant.org wants to see in your domain.) We actually do have those names now, but when our system was originally set up, the mail administrator (no longer with us) didn't include those names. We'd been blacklisted for some time. It's a simple process to get removed. Just send an email to the admin and rfc-ignorant.org indicating that you've created the appropriate mailboxes, they'll send emails to the addresses in question, you click in a link in the emails and you're done. As a network administrator and an I.T. trainer, I'm always a little concerned about what else there is that I don't know.