Email. I hates it!

Time for a rant.

I know, shocking for me, but I gotta get this off my chest.


I HATE email!

There, I’ve said it. Let me say it again.

I Fucking HATE email.

It’s not the “getting” of email I hate so much, although there are days I nearly drown in email.

No, it’s the “maintenance” of email and email systems that spawn my hatred.

You see, email is, in the IT world, one of the single most complex, misunderstood, and under appreciated aspect of what we do. Hands down.

It’s that services that everyone expects to “just work”. And when it doesn’t, they all go bat-shit crazy.

The problem is that email is complex and a highly imperfect system.

It’s used for so much these days, and the basic infrastructure is sort of a bubble-gum-and-bailing-wire hodgepodge of protocols and systems, that it always runs the risk of failing. Then you throw in all the flavors and different variations on email services, it gets worse. Finally, the spam controls that are picky at best and vague at the worst…it’s like a group of cats trying to play Mozart on the piano.

To me, it’s freak’n amazing it (and I use “it” in a large, general sense) works as often as it does.

One of the biggest headaches in dealing with email is the Spam problem. Not the getting, but the blocking.

You see Spam filters are a dime a dozen. There are as many flavors out there as there are flavors of ice cream.

And I’m here to tell you, they are NOT all created equal.

Some work great. Others are a miserable failure. It’s the ones in the middle that are a P.I.T.A. This is because they don’t always “talk” correctly to other systems. There are certain communications that have to occur between systems. Protocols require this. But the protocols are sometimes vague and some manufacturers don’t always go the extra mile in their implementations. So a good email system might try to talk to a night so good system, and confusion ensues on the parts of the people trying to make it all work.

It’s like the united nations trying to talk using no translators, only a whole bunch of “language A to language B” dictionaries. Some stuff gets through, other stuff doesn’t, you never really “talk” and it’s nearly impossible to tell why.

So when our email system sends out a large list email to one of our own organizations (on a different email system), and people don’t get the email, it’s frustrating.

When our email system says it was delivered (to the Post Office server on the other end) and people still don’t get the email, it’s maddening.

When the email server on the other end takes it, passes it to a Spam filter on the other end, and promptly eats it (and doesn’t tell the originator) I want to claw someone’s eyes out.

Try explaining this to people who are pissed off (and rightly so) that their important emails didn’t go through.

This is the craziness. A email can technically be delivered, but you never really “know” if people receive it.

You dig into your logs, and YOUR system shows it was generated and sent correctly. You dig more and you find the reply from the server on the other end. It got the email just fine, and acknowledge this. There are no errors, not warning, no bounces, no nothing. Just a little line that says it was delivered to the mail server successfully.

But guess what? No one on the other end got it, because their Spam filter sits inside their email gateway. It eats the email, it’s never delivered and people go bat-shit crazy.

So you are left to call the email admin person on the other end and ask, “Hey…WTF???”.

They you pray that person has #1 a pulse, #2 a clue, and #3 the admin rights to try and fix things.

Yeah…now you see why email administration is the most UNDER appreciated job in IT today. (IMHO)

This is one of the reasons IT Directors have gray hair (or no hair).

So, merrily we chug along. But it’s frustrating when you have a problem for your organization and you can’t get it across to people that the problem is FOR your organization (and you are trying to fix it) and not WITH your organization.

All too often, they are seen as the same thing.


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