I’ve always relied on my mail servers having a complete and correct /etc/aliases file with all the necessary aliases. I never even thought about who puts them there and why. It was just one of those many things that just work. Today I discovered that there is actually an RFC 2142, which describes standard mailbox names for common services, roles, and functions. Here is the abstract:
This specification enumerates and describes Internet mail addresses (mailbox name @ host reference) to be used when contacting personnel at an organization. Mailbox names are provided for both operations and business functions. Additional mailbox names and aliases are not prohibited, but organizations which support email exchanges with the Internet are encouraged to support AT LEAST each mailbox name for which the associated function exists within the organization.
More and more people spend more and more time online. I wish more and more of them read RFC 1855 which covers netiquette guidelines. This document is more than 10 years old, but most of the points that it discusses are as valid today as they were back then. Some are even more important today than they used to be. Another good thing about this RFC is that it has theoretical directions combined with some practical advice.
A good rule of thumb: Be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you receive. You should not send heated messages (we call these “flames”) even if you are provoked. On the other hand, you shouldn’t be surprised if you get flamed and it’s prudent not to respond to flames.
Reading this document won’t make you wise enough to avoid all the mistakes of online communications, but it can seriously minimize them.